Paradise Found

One of the great things about Mersin (or Icel) is that it is not usually on the international tourism wish list.  I get it.  I really do.  It is an industrial and farming province.  There is no airport and frankly no one speaks English.  It is kind of cosmopolitan and unique but its lack of infrastructure, its occasional domestic issues and now its proximity to unstable borders means that it is not really a draw card for visitors.  After all why come to Mersin when you can go to Marmaris or perhaps Bodrum for your sunfilled vacation?

For those of us living here though it is a godsend that the international tourist passes us by.  Why?  Well if you, the international tourist, go elsewhere it means that the hidden gems found along this magnificent coastline are left for the Turkish tourists which means – Turkish prices!

During Kurban Bayram the family and I travelled to Yaprakli Koy Susanoğlu and I honestly I feel like I have truly found my new favourite spot in IcelSusanoğlu actually is part of the seaside town of Atakent, 65 kilometres west of Mersin and only 15 kilometres east of Silifke.

susanoglu

Susanoğlu Playa itself is a nice enough beach but there is more to Susanoglu than the main beach.  You don’t want the main beach.  You need to keep looking.  If you blink you will miss it for it is not on the main drag.  It is a secret after all, locals only, and they are not going to give up its location to a yabanci readily.  You are going to have to work for it.  You will need to park your car.  You will need to stalk a Turk (as no doubt they know where to go) but, with perseverance and a little good fortune, you will come across some ancient stone stairs on the side of a cliff (not as daunting as it may sound) leading through a smallish little forest.  Through the pine trees you go until you get a glimpse of that perfect mavi (blue) sea.  Step towards that colour and know that, finally, you have arrived at Yaprakli Koy Susanoğlu, a hidden gem along the coastline surrounded by Turkish beach clubs and restoranlar.DSC00437

This place bay has the feel of a party all day long.  Families gather for picnics, girls sunbath in their itsy-bitsy bikinis while watching the boys prance by showing off their muscles.  Old Turkish men do calisthenics on the rocks before making their way to the nearest lokanta for a glass of raki (medicinal I am sure). The surrounding restaurants sell simple Turkish food, but simple can at times be extraordinary with amazing balik, kofte and tavuk dishes on offer for the low non-touristy price of 10TL.  Even more importantly the drinks too are ridiculously cheap and the Efes’ are ice cold.  The music is blasting and it is always Turkish.

susanoglu 2

No one, I repeat, no one speaks English and you will no doubt find yourself, as I did, sitting next to 70 year old Turkish lady who told me her life story.  Sure you may not understand what they are saying but they will still talk to you anyway.

I think I have found my incredibly cheap but now not so secretive paradise.

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like you, loves to find somewhere special and just love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Cig Köfte 1 – Janey 0

I recently found myself sitting across from my sister in law as she made Köfte.  I have watched her make different varieties of the Köfte many times but this variety was unique and I should have known that right from the start.  Why?  The name – ciğ = raw.  Raw Meatball.

cig kofte

According to folk lore the Ciğ Köfte originated in Urfa.  The wife of the great Nimrod went to cook a feast and found there was no firewood (as Nimrod had used it for a funeral pyre) so she mixed the meat with many spices and crushed them until the meal was palatable.  It obviously worked for her and the Ciğ Köfte is served in one form or another in most restoranlar or lokanta from here to the border.

The Ciğ Köfte is similar to the Lebanese dish of Kibbe Nayyeh or perhaps the Chee kufta which is an Armenian dish but if we go with the folk lore the Ciğ Köfte is Turkish all the way.

After watching my sister in law make them I can say that there is not a lot of raw meat in the köfte rather it has couscous, a small amount of raw mince and a heap of spices.  Anyone who saw my Köfte recipe from a couple of months back will see that making the Köfte is really simple and to make it a Ciğ Köfte it is merely a matter of adding a butt load of spice and, of course, the raw meat.  The spices are crazy hot too (including isot, cumin and, of course, my mother in law’s red pepper paste) and The Turk tells me that being crazy hot they “cook” the meat and remove any germ.  I am not really sure about that but as usual I am the first to give it a go.

And if you want to make this a vegetarian dish then simply replace the meat with crushed walnuts.  Simple.

Wrapped in a piece of lettuce, a drizzle of lemon and an ayran (yogurt drink) to combat the spice, they were pretty damn good.  Really tasty but also really spicy.  I suffered afterwards with indigestion and was sweating up a storm lying on the couch clutching my stomach (which is still not quite used to that much spice in a dish) but it was enough for The Turk to declare the Ciğ Köfte the champion!  Finally something that I couldn’t finish!

Post indigestion I finished off the Ciğ Köfte.  Nothing is going to beat me!

If you want to give this recipe a try follow this link.

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like you, love Turkish cuisine and love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Elektrik ve sürprizler

The good people of Icel are not sharing nicely and now it seems we are running out of electricity.  I am not sure how a city (or in this case a province) runs out of electricity but in order to control the said good people of Icel (and maybe to teach them a lesson in sharing) they have all been put in the naughty corner by the local Electric Company who has decided to switch off the electricity to teach everyone a lesson (although they are calling it maintenance).  

Not only are they switching it off in the middle of summer they are switching it off in the middle of the day so for the next week (with the expected weekly average of 35 degree – that’s 90 degrees for readers in the US – in temperature) the electricity will be turned off for a period of 4 hours each day between the hours of 9 to 5.  You don’t know when.  It will be a surprise. 

elektrik

Speaking of surprises I find that my house is a revolving door.  There is always people coming and going.  Family, friends, neighbours.  It can get on your last nerve when you hear the door bell (which is an annoying tune of Greensleeves) constantly blasting.  Last night we had Kemal’s aunt visit and then a cousin.  Then his sister in law, brother and their two kids showed up.  His elder brother popped up to give me some paperwork (for my fiasco of a residency visa application) and finally . . . it was quiet.  When suddenly that damn doorbell rang again!  Enough!

“Kim o?” (“Who is it?) 

Again.  “Kim o?”

Nothing.  I have had enough.  I put on my shoes and stomp down the stairs to give the visitor the death stare when . . . sürpriz!  A friend and her family visiting from the UK.  Wow!  They are staying in the village with her husband’s family for the next two weeks!  I can honestly say I have never been so happy to see someone.  Not only does it mean I am not the only yabanci in the village it also means there is someone with possibly even less Turkish in the village than me!  Win, win!

They are coming for a BBQ tonight which will be amazing of course but I warned her “Don’t ring the door bell.  Knock on the door!”

____________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like you perhaps run your air conditioning on high during summer and love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.