These days there seems to be a lot of debate about what is and isn’t Turkey’s official line on just about everything. Recently, this discussion spilled over into what Turkey’s national drink is — with one rather prominent member of Turkey’s elected government stating: ayran (pronounced: “I ran”). As tempting as it is to boycott something on that basis alone, it really wouldn’t be worth it. Besides, you can’t really blame a drink for its fan club, now can you? Like blaming lager for louts … perhaps I digress?
Made with yoghurt, water and a pinch of salt, Ayran is a powerhouse of refreshment — whether you’re depleted after a day in the heat, a night out, or suffering from insomnia, there’s something magic about this drink. It sets you back on your path somehow. It’s also pretty flippin’ tasty with a spicy meal.
Next time you’re feeling a little under it all, I recommend you reach for an ayran. Whether you have it with mint or not is up to you. I’m going to add a little honey to my next batch, so I can get sweet and savoury all at once. Is that a controversial move? Should I dare to mess with Turkey’s national drink? I really don’t know. Should you drink it in a tin cup or a glass? I rather prefer it in a glass.
If you want to make it yourself, I figure that it’s about as easy as falling off a bicycle. It also has the virtue of allowing you to control the salt content. I find the trick is to put a ratio of about 2 cups of plain yoghurt to one cup chilled water, plus a pinch or two of salt and then blend them together till it’s good and frothy. I hate lumpy homemade ayran, so that’s how I make it myself. Some people use cucumber water instead of regular water for an extra dose of cool. Again, whether that’s adulterating your ayran experience, or whether it’s truly Turkish or not with cucumber water is not for me to say. Turkish purity control is not my concern. I hope you have the freedom to enjoy your ayran in whatever way, shape or form you prefer. Peace be with you.
These days a private garden, shielded from the clamour and chaos of the city is an increasingly appealing idea. For those of us who can’t yet bring ourselves to abandon the manic pattern of our urban days, we can at least find a corner or two in which to plant a seed or two of happiness. With this in mind, Murat Patavi has brought us Epicure, named after Epicurus, the famous live-for-the-moment philosopher, who taught his students in his private garden groves outside Athens.
Located in the neighbourhood of Armutlu, opposite Mr Patavi’s Sushimoto restaurant, the store stocks everything you might need to create your urban oasis, with lots of low maintenance succulents, planter pots, clippers, soil and spades and plenty of decorative details and all sorts of other accessories, which can help you celebrate today and create an escape for tomorrow.
bilgi sok.no:23/b armutlu etiler, İstanbul, 34450, Türkiye
+90 (212) 323-13-53
Istanbul has been sweltering. And even that tricky little trickle of water and so-called strait, otherwise known as the majestic Bosporus, doesn’t seem willing or able to wash the heat out even at night. As I’m cooking for guests tomorrow, I thought I’d start by giving an old favourite a new twist, a cooling little concoction I’m calling”limonade” because I used more limes than lemons. Now let’s introduce you to the key flavours of our episode today …
6 cups of ice cold water
1 cup of brown sugar loosely packed
2 tablespoons of honey
small bunch of basil (washed)
small bunch of mint (washed)
1 inch of ginger peeled and cut into discs
INSTRUCTIONS: Wash all the ingredients thoroughly. In a small pot on a low, low heat dissolve brown sugar into 2 cups of water. Add ginger discs. Zest one lemon and one lime and add to syrup mixture. Do not boil the syrup and remove from heat once sugar is dissolved. Stir in honey and then set aside to cool. Squeeze all the lemons and limes and strain them into a pitcher. Add mint and basil leaves. Once syrup is cooled strain mixture to remove ginger discs and add to pitcher. Add remaining 4 cups of ice cold water to pitcher and stir. Serve with plenty of ice and extra lemon or lime slices.
It’s probably inevitable that anyone who inhabits a loud, sprawling, stinking mega-city believes at one time or another that the only antidote is some form of pastoral life. But would it truly work after a few weeks? If it was somewhere in Prince Edward County it certainly might. Until relatively recently, this large isthmus which juts into Lake Ontario was only inhabited by “Proudly Loyalist” settlers, and overlooked by much of the population of its own province, not to mention the world at large, because once upon a time people, especially Ontarians, sneered at the idea of Canadian wines. Now, however, this latest of Ontario’s appellations proves that’s no longer the case. Winemakers can safely praise such things as the “limestone purity” of their chardonnays and calcaires because over the last decade or so PEC has gained a foothold in the imagination of both connoisseurs and purveyors of enological culture.
For what was once simply a staid but sun-kissed summer land of wheat, corn and potatoes is now a booming area of blue sky thinking on vineyards and green-oriented agriculture. Wine culture has prompted food culture in general to take root as part of the county’s blissful offering, meaning artisanal cheese shops — one of which claims to be Canada’s “greenest” cheese outfit — as well as swanky little bistros, breweries and Waupoos’ County Cider Company (top four pictures), a distillery, and many more food and beverage enterprises have all added their flavour to the County experience.
However, let’s get back to the reason that prompted everyone to flock to the PEC in the first place: wine. The county is simply bursting with vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms. These vary from elegant little rustic outfits operated out of reconditioned barns to ambitious forward-thinking complexes constructed of raw concrete, to cater to the needs of high flyers from Toronto.
Huff Estates, for instance, boasts an impressive art collection, indoors and out, with installations ranging from a few hundred dollars to some which cannot be as easily carried away as a few cases of wine. It also has an inn where you can sleep off the enjoyment of one too many glasses. Sofia’s favourite experience was, however, the Hinterland Wine Company, which also raises free range chickens and has a nice little playground behind its main building for the easily bored, underage set.
Although not pictured, the adult consensus seemed to be that Norman Hardie‘s vineyard was the choice place to while away a few hours. In addition to a very welcoming tasting room Mr Hardie offers up the delights of a patio with a wood-fired pizza oven and some very drinkable glasses of wine. This is a place where they only do the things they can do very well. Which is why it was unfortunate to miss Sunday’s oyster shucking.
Winner of the most charming rustic location visited was definitely Closson Chase Vineyards. With a small air-conditioned tasting room, gallery and a beautifully landscaped garden overlooking the vineyard, you could be forgiven for wanting to take up residence.
This, unfortunately, is just a small accounting of the many delicious and satisfying enterprises taking place. The feeling of just having scratched the surface can easily leave one with a long, lingering itch to return to Prince Edward County.
Hello there. Haven’t written in a while, partly because I haven’t had a moment to myself. Last couple of evenings I’ve finally had the chance to sit back a bit and appreciate the beauty of another vista. Have to say I love the way light seems to be unique to each and every place you go in the world. The way it slants. The way it bounces off the scuffed boards of a barn. The way it trickles like honey through a beautiful woman’s hair. Pure, natural magic. Today, I’m going to bottle it.
Is imagination something that’s inborn? Is it something that develops after birth? Is it a gift of the spirit? Or a reward that’s earned? Is it the product of certain genes? The outcome of curious play? Personally, I think it’s all of that and more. And I’d also be willing to bet that as long as humans have indulged and exercised their imaginations, and wanted to share their stories, they’ve turned to wood. Read More…
Open a newspaper or turn on the television and you’ll probably get a pretty troubling picture of things in Turkey these days. Sometimes it’s enough to make an outsider want to switch off entirely. Fortunately, peppered in amongst the drama, life still presents many moments of genuine hope here on a daily basis. One such was a couple of weekends ago in Yeniköy. Over the last couple of years I’ve been truly fortunate to attend and enjoy the welcome of the local Rum (Byzantine Greek) community at various events and ceremonies. It’s something that grounds you. And witnessing the baptism of one small but treasured member of their community was a highpoint in my nine years in Turkey, moreover since it was something my family was welcomed in to share.
Until a couple of Sundays ago, I had never been fortunate enough to attend such a ceremony. It was truly interesting to watch. Religion gets a lot of bad press these days, but when you are part of such an event, it’s much easier to understand the contribution that belief and spirituality makes for a community. Especially in such a small and tightly knit community. Read More…
As some of you know, I’ve become a little concerned of late with what I consume. The other day, though, I realized perhaps it’s just as important to think about what I expel. Hence these pictures of houseplants. The quality of air in this city is, how shall I put this, diminished. Luckily in an effort to beautify our personal environment, my fantastic wife acquired a number of nature’s most elegant air purifiers. Read More…
Can you guess who our special guest is today, friends? That’s right, it’s Coconut — more formally known as Cocos Nucifera. Ms Nucifera is with us to preach a parasite-free existence. Don’t let that hard exterior fool you. At first she’s a tough nut to crack, yet once you get to know her, she’s really sweet on the inside, with plenty to offer in terms of health, beauty and overall wellbeing. However, what I like about her best is that she really helps do a number on pesky parasites.
So what’s her secret in the battle on vile parasitic entities? Does she fling herself with stealth from the security of her palm fronds onto unsuspecting parasites and dash them into oblivion like a kamikaze of the fruit and nut world? Not exactly … she does, however, sacrifice her water and flesh for an array of delicious food and drinks that deal a one-two punch to many parasites, viruses, fungi and bacteria. In fact her water is so pure, nutrient-rich and so readily absorbed into the bloodstream that it has even successfully served for plasma infusions! The coconut has received some bad press in the past due to having the highest saturated fat content of any food anywhere. Yet deeper research has also revealed that not all saturated fats are created equal. Coconut is also the best source of medium chain triglycerides, about 50% of which are composed of lauric acid, which is one of the body’s most important fatty acids, used to build up a strong immune system. So let’s hear it for this parasite-busting beauty.