Saturday, 27 July 2013

Hydra

My culinary wandering has taken me to the Greek island of Hydra. A tantalising glimpse of what Bodrum might have been if we'd dug a channel between the mainland and the peninsula. Only a tiny percentage of the island is built on and the  building permits are very strictly controlled.  The result is a harbour town worthy of a film set.  No ugly concrete mars the view and there are no cars or motorcycles. I'm sitting at a bar on the harbour front, listening to a string quintet play Schubert, watching the world and his wife walk by.  At  last I've found a reliable internet source and can attempt to publish a blog post. I've managed to read all my favourite blogs but I don't think any of my comments have got though. The internet sees fit to kick the user off after a few minutes. Before I lose the connection again, I'll add a few photographs.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Win a Bodrum Peninsula Travel Guide





If my posts about life in Bodrum have whetted your appetite and you are thinking of planning a trip to South West Turkey, you could do no better than to pick up a copy of the Bodrum Peninsula Travel Guide written by fellow blogger Jay Artale,  For a gal from Norfolk who now resides in LA, Jay lives up to her moniker "Roving Jay"  as her busy life takes her around the globe, but she has certainly brought together all the relevant information that will make sure you get the best out of your holiday to the Bodrum peninsula. While I ramble on about old ruins, almost inaccessible temples and life 30 years ago, Jay has bang up-to-date knowledge of the best way to get around and what not to miss. Originally planning to buy a house in Greece, Jay was captivated by the Western edge of the Bodrum Peninsula and ended up buying a house here with a view to eventually retiring in Turkey.  She is an ace networker and news-follower and I'm constantly amazed  that she knows what is happening before I do and I'm only down the road. I've downloaded a copy on to my phone so if I find myself  in one of my less-frequented villages, I can have a quick look at the guide to check I'm not missing anything.
Jay has kindly offered BacktoBodrum readers a chance to win 5 digital copies of her guide. All you need to do is to either leave a comment at the bottom of this post or send an email to backtobodrum@gmail.com  and we will put all the entries into a hat and pick the winners on 2nd August.  If you are lucky, we will need to know your email address and which Amazon area you live in.
Good luck!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Pick'n'Mix


I'm used to being smug about Turkish tomatoes and extolling the joys of a plate of sliced toms with olive oil, but I think the Swedes have taken the baton in the taste and variety race and left us standing. This is the small greengrocer I visited every day and there are 15 different types of tomato, ranging from deep purple to bright yellow and large round globes to tiny tubes.  All taste as delicious as they look.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Wide Open Spaces

While the rest of Europe boils, temperatures in Sweden are a mild 21 degrees and a strong coastal breeze makes this feel colder. The views however make up for the lack of heat and just occassionally the wind drops and the only sounds are the screaming of gulls and oyster catchers  and the phut phut of an outboard motor.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Not Just a Potato


Turks do not hold the potato in very high esteem, it comes a long way down the list of essential vegetables and when faced with old fashioned British cuisine that expects to see a spud in some form or another on every dinner plate, they secretly mock our lack of imagination and extol the value of bread with every meal.  I love potatoes and am especially fond of a creamy mound of mash with any dish that involves gravy or a crispy crusted potato with my Sunday Roast. (This is now an imaginary meal as the price of meat in Turkey has rocketed so far up in the stratosphere that a large joint is an economic impossibility.) 





I've just spent 11 days in the land of the potato.  The Bjare peninsula in Sweden is famed for these tubers and when the first of the year is picked in May, the whole event is televised. In June, there is a "potato day". Local restaurants develop recipes to showcase new potatoes and there is talk of "terroir" with flavours being  subtly altered by the amount of clay or sand in the soil or nearness of the field to the sea. A new potato should be eaten on the day it is unearthed and they are sold by the roadside as soon as they are harvested so you buy a good half kilo of mud with your crop.  However the sign above is slightly misleading. If you ask for Karlsson's Gold, you'll get it in a shot glass over ice with a dash of black pepper.  


When overproduction in 2001 caused the price of potatoes to drop, farmers turned to a more lucrative market for their crop and this new potato vodka was created by the producers of Absolut vodka. I'm told it is an acquired taste but is steadily gaining popularity outside the Bjare peninsula. I wonder what Turkish barmen will make of potato vodka. 


Friday, 12 July 2013

Simple Aegean Flavours



When it's hot outside no one wants to spend a lot of time in the kitchen and we live with a very simple diet. A handful of basil from the pot by the front door torn into a bowl of white cheese, peeled tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil has to be one of the tastiest dishes on earth. 



In July, the wild thyme in the forest behind the house is in flower and the heady aromatic oils are at their strongest. Olives, oil and thyme flowers served with crusty bread and a cold beer makes a great lunch


If friends come to eat I feel as if I should make a bit more effort but am still reluctant to spend more than a few minutes prepping ingredients.


My failsafe recipe for summer lunches is sea bass with bay leaves.

Ingredients per person:

1 large potato, 1 large tomato,  1 red onion,  all peeled and thinly sliced
1 sweet green pepper, deseeded and cut in half
Large slug of olive oil
Handful of basil and parsley
salt and pepper
1 small  sea bass, gutted and descaled.
1 bay leaf.
Half cup of water, fish or vegetable stock.
1 whole  garlic bulb - topped and tailed but not peeled.

Heat the oven to 200 degrees C

Put a good splash of olive oil in an oven proof dish, and add all the vegetables, seasoning, liquid and herbs except the bay leaves,
Cook in the oven until the potatoes are just soft.
Put a bay leaf  inside each fish and place on top of the vegetables, baste the fish with the hot liquid, pour some olive oil over each fish and return to the oven for approximately 15 minutes until a knife slips easily between the backbone and the flesh.
Squeeze the now soft pulp from the garlic bulb into the remaining juice and stir to distribute.  Leave to cool for about 10 minutes and then serve, allowing everyone to help themselves at the table and dip bread into the garlicky juice.



Monday, 8 July 2013

Old Friends

1988

At the end of June, our old friends Kath and Dave drove their camper van out of our garden gate and set off for Greece. We were very sad to see them go and tried to persuade them to stay longer but they have a rendezvous with their elder son in Greece so had to get on their way. While they were here we looked through my photo albums and dug up some old pictures of our Famous Five trips. The one above is from 1988. We tried to find the same spot to picnic on the way back from Lagina but the recent road-widening  scheme has obliterated it and the best we could do was a lay-by.   In those days, the fifth member of our group was Brian, a German Shepherd/Anatolian Shepherd cross who shared our life for 10 years.


1988


2013

It is fun to compare the old with the new.  The theatre at Stratonikea has changed a lot in 25 years

1987

2013

We've had fun trying to recreate old photos, but time can't be rewound.  I look completely at ease in the top picture whereas 26 years later I was distinctly uncomfortable sitting on the same edge.

2013


We've had a great couple of weeks remembering old friends and rekindling forgotten memories. A true test of friendship is when it can be picked up and carried on despite the length of time in between visits.

Dave turns on the tap for the first time

Luckily I have a very practical reminder of their stay as while I was away in Scotland, Teo and Dave installed an irrigation system in our garden. I shall be reminded of our 2013 trips every time I turn on the tap.


You can follow Kath and Dave's camper van trip by clicking here

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Kapıkırı - A Hard Sell.


The setting is blissfully peaceful and the description a history buff's dream: Kapıkırı sits on the remains of Carian Herakleia which was later settled by Byzantines. The city walls are well preserved with plenty of accessible look-out towers. Climb higher and caves reveal prehistoric paintings and Christian frescoes. The modern village with it's ancient ruins, nestles just below the Latmos mountains, a name which evokes the image of a libidinous Selene, goddess of the moon and the object of her passion, Endymion, destined to sleep forever for being too gorgeous.  


The approach skirts Bafa lake,  recognised as a wildlife treasury and duly accredited protective status as a national park.

Rock cut tombs

But we had been warned.  Home to a female sales force described in various guides as "robust", "persistent", "relentless", "intimidating" and "annoying", the women of Kapıkırı will hunt you down to get a sale.  They lurk on corners waiting for a hire-car or minibus to arrive and then shoulder their bundles of jewellery and headscarves and hurry off in pursuit to badger and pester new arrivals.


We had our secret weapon - a Teomanater - my husband can not be described as shy and retiring;  on London tubes he is fond of engaging the local loony or drunk in conversation, causing all other passengers to hide behind their papers in case he picks on them too.  As our first saleswoman, Ayşe, approached he subjected her to such a barrage of questions that she had to sit down and didn't even get chance to open her wares.


Our next two venders were rookies so I engaged them while trying to save Jake from a local canine  Lothario who had very amorous intentions . The girls were insistent that I should engage their services as minders to protect us from the "scary"(their word) pedlars in the theatre.


We'd been lucky so far and our arrival at the agora coincided with that of a minibus of more obvious potential and we were allowed to pass by unbothered. From the vantage point of a teahouse, we watched the ladies stalk any obvious tourist . We asked the menfolk sipping their teas what they thought of this commercial activity and not one had a good word to say about it. They'd also heard about the derogatory comments in guide books and on the web and weren't happy.  So it's obvious who wears the trousers in this village and they are flowery baggy ones.



As we walked back to the van we spotted Ayşe in the street but before we could get too close she had darted back into a garden and pretended not to see us.


There is a 3 TL entry fee to the village.