Sunday, 12 March 2017

Wine and ham at La Tapa

I was invited to a wine and cheese evening at La Tapa restaurant in Bodrum; a glass of bubbly to start then 2 whites and 2 reds paired with 4 tasty cheeses, which gave me 4 ideas for further blog posts on the different cheeses of Turkey, so more on them later. Alongside the cheese plates, a platter of ham arrived on our table of 8.  Palma, prosciutto or any pork derived ham is a great treat for those of us living in Turkey so my eyes lit up and I throughly enjoyed my one slice.  After a while it became obvious that only 3 of us had tasted the ham and the other 5 were not going to be eating haram pork, all the more for the lucky three. 
To cap off a great evening that allowed me to pretend eating cheese and drinking wine was an academic activity because it was accompanied by short lectures, our neighbouring table passed over their untouched plate of ham.  


La Tapa is a great place for fixed price lunches and a la carte suppers and now has a charcuterie section where tasty hard-to-source cheesy and porky comestibles can be bought at prices that don't burn one's pocket. 


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Artemisia - Warrior Queen of Bodrum

Eva Green as Artemisia in 300: Rise of an Empire

Who could be a better subject for 8th March, World Women's Day, than Artemisia.  She was born in  Halicarnassus, ie Bodrum and fought as an ally of Xerxes I, King of Persia, during the 2nd invasion of Greece. We hear a lot about her from Herodotus, a fellow Halicarnassian, and know that she led her own fleet and was not above a bit of tactical flag changing when necessary.  At the battle of Salamis in 480 BCE, which she had advised Xerxes against,  Artemisia's ship was about to be destroyed by an Athenian persuer so she rammed the ship of Damasithymos of Calyndos who was on her side.  The Calyndian ship sank with all hands and the Athenian ship, seeing this, assumed Artemisia had changed sides and left her alone. She hadn't but Herodotus points out that she was not on good terms with Damasithymos so this could be one of history's earliest records of femail multi-tasking. Xerxes seeing the attack, assumed that she had sunk a Greek ship and was impressed, saying " My men have become women and my women, men."


I'd heard that there was a film about Artemisia so tracked down '300: Rise of an Empire' and sat down a couple of evening ago to enjoy a bit of history.

I was about 2 minutes in when I had to look away - I don't think I've ever seen so much blood flying about on screen, all in slow motion. I persevered and worked out that I was watching the Battle of Marathon and the swash-buckling warrior cutting off heads and limbs willy-nilly was Thermistocles, but got very confused when he shot an arrow that killed King Darius of Persia, Xerses' father.  Darius wasn't at the battle and died several years later of natural causes. It takes a lot of suspending of belief when the premise of the film is Xerxes' turning into a massive gold skinned god to avenge his father's death when Thermistocles had nothing to do with it.  I listened to rather than watched some more and shouted at the screen a bit when Artemisia was given a completely false back story too, and then gave up.  It's a shame as the story of Artemisia would make a terrific film and doesn't need Hollywood to rewrite her history. 

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Blessed are the cheese makers.


I am very rarely invited on to the Turkish bloggers organised circuit, maybe because I write in English or perhaps because I am based in Bodrum rather than Istanbul, but on Friday I was and I have to admire their stamina. I was only with them for one day which started at 8:30 am and finished after supper. The others are on the Bodrum peninsula for 4 full days and are bused from activity to activity - meal to meal, non-stop, constantly updating their blog posts, Facebook pages and streaming live on Instagram. I still use a camera and don't even have my phone connected to the internet, I will have to up my game if I want to join their ranks.
Our first port of call on Friday was The Anadolu High School in Turgutreis to watch Austrian cheese producer, Robert Paget, make a soft cheese in front of students planning a career in catering. He talked us through the process from filling the bain-marie and heating the milk to 32 degrees C to adding the rennet and bacteria and waiting an hour to let the curds set. While we waited,  Izmir Public Health representative, Vet. Hekim Adnan Serpen, talked at length on the awful consequences of poor hygiene around milk production and the dangers of using raw milk and stressing that all milk be heated to 80 degrees before consumption.  At this point our translator added that his friend had died a terrible death after being poisoned by raw milk.   Great! Thanks for that and I had to ask, "Was the milk in our incipient cheese raw or pasturised?".  I sure you can guess the answer and the dichotomy of the dire warning we had just listened to and what we were doing was conveniently ignored as it is on most subjects here.
Back to the cheese making Robert tried to instil the concept that he wasn't just giving them a recipe for cheese, he was giving them the opportunity to enter the world of cheese in all its diverse forms, some they may take years to discover and this chance to see the magic bacteria turn sweet liquid milk into tangy solid cheese was their door.  Most of the students looked unimpressed but I think we discovered one future celebrity chef. Keep you eyes on Savaş, second on the left in the picture. Fluent in English and Turkish, he joined in enthusiastically and was live streamed on Oya Cuisine, Selin Rozane's Turkish Flavours and Dilekita as he helped cut the curds, so he has already been watched by most of the serious foodies in Turkey.
The blogger bus had to move on to the the next rendezvous so we didn't get the chance to see the curds being put into molds or the ricotta being drained, I'll have to wait until the next Slow Cheese Festival in 2019.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Slow Cheese Festival in Bodrum


If you are in or near Bodrum don't miss out on the Cheese Festival.


Head off to Oasis Shopping Mall to taste cheese, cream, butter and yogurt from all over Turkey


Bodrum Mayor, Mehmet Kocadon, was there this afternoon (and so was I, but I'll spare you the selfie)


Better still, learn to make cheese at home - there is a workshop open to the public.


Download the  festival program here: Slow Cheese Program 2nd to 5th March and spend the rest of the week-end being cheesy.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

March On


The year is marching on at a fast pace and I feel I am lagging behind. I couldn't think what to give up for the beginning of Lent today but it is obvious that I should renounce procrastination. If I had a list of things to do, it wouldn't be getting any shorter and my list of things done (much more satisfying than the former) isn't getting any longer.  So today I have embraced action and booked my air tickets Bodrum-Istanbul-Athens-Heathrow-Istanbul-Bodrum (oh for direct flights!) for my March trip, bought my travel insurance - forsaking a single trip policy for an annual world-wide one in the hope that it may spur me to more exotic destinations, and am about to start emptying a wardrobe whose contents have had nobody to wear them for 8 months.

On a self congratulatory note, I have finished my wall hanging.


On an exciting note, our local football team, Bodrumspor who went up a league the season before last are currently at the top of the Spor Toto 3rd league and tensions are running high. It would be a great coup to be promoted to the 2nd league after only 2 seasons.


Football really isn't my thing, but holes in the ground are and a very large trench has been dug just along from the football pitch, on Temple of Mars street.  I've been peering in daily and was surprised that nothing much was appearing and then about 3 metres down this was found: 


Goal! 

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Vin Bodrum


When we built a house in the countryside 26 years ago, we had plenty of grand plans, most of which are still on the drawing board, so when I meet a couple who have had the courage to carry out and make a success of a 'grand plan' I get quite excited.
Erhan and Füsun Yürüt started making wine at home in Ankara in the 1980s.  They experimented, researched and attended courses until their home brew showed promise. In 2010, they decided to turn their hobby into a retirement business and moved to Kızılağac, a village just outside Bodrum town. Here they built a winery in the basement of their house and despite not having the acreage to grow their own grapes, they had the courage to invest in the equipment to make up to 12,000 bottles a year.


Their Vin Bodrum was launched in 2014 and local artists were picked to design distinctive labels.


One sunny afternoon last week, after an informative tour given by their daughter Duygu, I was lucky enough to find myself sitting on their terrace sampling the fruits of their labours.  Being a boutique winery, they can be choosy when picking their grapes and try to source locally from Mumcular and Gümüşlük, but going further afield to Şirince and Urla when necessary.


Always experimenting, Erhan Bey had just taken delivery of five oak barrels to add to their stainless steel storage capacity. 
Not yet available in supermarkets, there are several restaurants on the peninsula that serve Vin Bodrum. I made sure of my supply by buying a box of rose; not a wine I usually choose but I was particularly taken by this one.  Read more about the business, wines, the Yürüt family and how to access their wines on their website  http://bodrumwinery.com/wines.php

Saturday, 25 February 2017

February Brunch



When Spring has Sprung, as it does in mid February, it is best to head out to the countryside to enjoy the almond blossom, anemones and the acid green of newly sprouting nature. The photography group drove out to Etrim Village on Wednesday to take photos - at least the intention was to take photos but mostly we just ate.  Two hours spent over a village breakfast lulled me into a satisfied stupor that would have best been served by a nap under an olive tree. Consequently I have very few snaps to show for my trip. 



I do however remember what we ate:
Village flat bread
Fried eggs
Strawberry, raspberry, orange, pear, quince and walnut jam
Honey
Clotted cream
Herb pastries
Sigara börek/deep fried cheese pastries
3 types of olives
2 types of cheese
Tomato, cucumber and rocket (arugula)
Sweet buns
Deep fried dough with syrup
Chips
Fresh tomato sauce
Oranges




Now I know why a true artist should be a least a little bit hungry. A full stomach does nothing for creativity.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Phew!


I promised pictures of my newly finished wall-hanging, but promises are made to be broken. Said wall hanging is still in a hundred pieces and I'm trying to work out why.  What do I do with my time that stops me from finishing projects? A quick review of the last week shows three mornings filled with lycra-clad limb waving that over the years has gone by many names and now, that it is accompanied by plastic balls and elastic bands, is called Pilates.  The actual exercise only takes 60 minutes a pop but getting there and back and recovery time, write off the rest of the a.m. hours. Three afternoons were taken up with lectures - I learnt about the history of the Fertile Crescent, concentrating on Syria. Reminded myself of all I knew and had forgotten about Herodotus, erstwhile resident of Bodrum whose 2,500 or so birthday we should all be celebrating, and spent two hours in the entertaining company of Prof. Dr. Fahri Işık; hearing more about Hekotomnus and his mausoleum which, inconveniently, was built before The (Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) Mausoleum of his son which coined the word 'mausoleum' - more on that later when I've plucked up the courage. That's more history than I sat though in a week as an undergraduate. Add several kms a day dog walking plus a long walk with Jake's girlfriends Peri and Sevgi, plus an afternoon each spent at writing group and book club,  and the week whizzed past.  No wonder the wall is still bare. 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Love from Bodrum


  No, I didn't buy him a red rose 


We just went for our usual walk through the centre of Bodrum and only twigged that it was St. Valentine's Day when we saw the balloons. 



We stopped to listen to the band and were handed a red rose and a chocolate.  I ate the chocolate so it was only fair that Jake got the rose.

We carried on the walk accompanied by a good cover version of an Eric Clapton classic, surrounded by young and old (but no dogs) carrying single red roses. 

Lots of Love 
from 
Bodrum 

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Pussies galore


Jake will be irked by this post, not only did I leave him for 5 days to visit Greece, but I'm writing about cats. He responded to his abandonment by not eating for 2 days and then by refusing dog food and only eating chicken, eggs and rice. He has had the sole attention of my daughter, treats and plenty of walks but he was keen to get his vexation acknowledged. He will have also noted that when he was responsible for the blog, the posts were more frequent.
I was on Hydra for 4 days and the difference between Bodrum and the island was pronounced; Hydra was very quiet, most of the cafes, hotels and restaurants closed and the streets empty, today in Bodrum there was a buzz in the air - cafes full and a craft street market in full swing. Maybe it is an island thing - I shall have to go to Kos to compare.

While on a lonely walk between Avlaki and Hydra harbour, I came across Valerie - busy feeding the island's street cats. I stopped to chat and found that like Bodrum, a few individuals take on the responsibility  of keeping the street animals alive during the winter. It's a stressful job as once started, it is impossible to stop and when charitable donations are added to the equation there are the constant accusations of misappropriation of funds to deal with, even though good hearted animal lovers are funding the work from their own pockets when contributions run dry.

Valerie and her followers

The street cats all looked sleek and well fed and The Hydra Ark tries to keep the feline population under control with regular neutering session. Luckily, unlike Bodrum, there are very few abandoned dogs.