- Food & Drink
Kas, nestled in one of Turkey’s more southerly bulges, is the sort of place that brochures optimistically describe as an ‘unspoilt fishing village,’ a description that’s in nodding acquaintanceship with the truth when it come to Kas. It’s a charming white-walls-and-olive-trees kind of place, crawling with sharp-eyed cats that beg for fish at the tables and dogs that lay belly-up in the sun.
The centre is a loose-limbed network of cobbled streets lined with traditional Turkish houses selling traditional Turkish craftware – bowls, lamps, scarves, silver, fake Chanel bags. And in amongst the jewel bright souvenirs are the restaurants. So many, many great restaurants.
Nuri’s Cafe and Restaurant, Limanagzi Beach
My first meal in Turkey (apart from the hotel breakfast) was actually in Limanagzi Beach, a little stony cove that you can reach by boat or, if you are well tough like me, on foot. After a few miles marching past pine trees and Roman ruins, I arrived at the beach, kicked off my shoes and hobbled across the pebbles to the cafe.
Having gone a little wild at breakfast (there was two types of cheese! Melon and bread and yogurt!), I opted for a light lunch of aubergines with peppers and yogurt (TL10) and a glass of limonata (TL3).
Soft, yielding slices of aubergine and chargrilled lengths of mild green pepper were topped with a garlicky yogurt sauce that I messily scooped up with a slice or 4 of bread. The limonata was a super sugary drink akin to Italian limonata but not quite as gluggably addictive.
After lunch I retired to a hammock and ruefully considered the fresh bulges appearing over the top of my bikini. By the end of the holiday I’d be lucky to squeeze into a tent-sized kaftan.
Kas’im, 15 Ptt Caddesi Ozturk Sokak, Kas
Down some of the more touristy back alleys and next to consistently empty Spaghetti House, Kas’im did not look promising. A huge plastic canopy hanging with lurid cloth lanterns cast a sickly yellow light over the outside tables and made sure they were thoroughly protected from any breezes. Consequently, the ambient temperature was fixed at Inferno. Lightly glazed in sweat, I fought back the heat with 1/2 litre glasses of Efes (TL5).
Inside the plasticky restaurant a huge pide oven was belching heat and along the front there was a cold counter with mixed mezes that you can order by the plateful (they’re not on the menu, you have to ask). Most of my companions opted for this but I was in the mood for meat. And possibly more aubergine, which made the lamb ali nazik kebab the obvious choice.
But first we were brought baskets of the best bread I ate all holiday. Plump rounds of flat bread, they’d been cooked in the pide oven and arrived steaming hot. Protecting my fingers with my napkin, I ripped into the bread and got enthusiastically involved with the bowls of dip – particularly the garlicky yogurt and the spicy tomato paste.
My main course may have looked like slop in a bowl, but what slop it was. A slurry of smoky aubergine purée, dollops of creamy yogurt and spiced minced lamb with a few wedges of toasted bread for crunch. A little under seasoned, but still morishly compelling, this was one of my favourite meals of the holiday.
Home-cooked meal, near Arycanda
For people still harbouring Gladiator fantasies, the ruined city of Arycanda is the stage set of their fevered dreams. Climbing up the pine covered hills, the isolated town has had Lycians, Greeks and Romans sat in its marble-covered city hall and, like all good ancient cities, it has definite proofs that Alexander The Great spent the night there. Or he spent the night nearby. At the very least, he was in the area.
Delicately mosaic-floored houses lead up to the agora and bath houses, a gymnasium where gaudy wall decorations still cling on, ornately carved tombs and the stack-seated city hall. Overlooking it all is flat floored stadium. It costs TL3 to visit Arycanda and on the morning my group visited (yes, I was part of that dread thing: a tour group) we were the only ones there.
Afterwards, when we’d finished our photographing and sketching and rearranged our fanny packs, we drove down the road to site caretaker’s house, where his wife had made us lunch. Sat under shade in the midst of the Turkish Good Life, we ate fabulously.
Crunchy tubes of Sigara borek were filled with mild cheese and spinach while peppers and vine leaves had been stuffed with spiced rice. There was Turkish moussaka, a muddle of aubergine, peppers, tomato and ground beef without the layer of béchamel that can make Greek moussaka a bit wearying to eat in the heat. Spicy, oily barley, a garden salad, yogurt and sheets of thin, flannelly bread completed the meal.
It was all excellent and served on the best plate and tablecloth in the whole of Turkey – I wants that tablecloth. I also wanted seconds and due to the generosity of Turkish hospitality and my lightness on my feet when faced with a buffet, I managed to get some.