Archive for April, 2013

Altinkum and Didim are located in Aydın Province between the city of İzmir and the resort Bodrum, about a 90 minute car ride either direction.

The Greek holiday island Kos is an hour’s boat ride away and Samos, Rhodes and Kusadasi are also in range. The region has developed from a string of small rural fishing villages into a tourist area. Altınkum and Didim were formerly two separate towns, but have grown together with a combined population of approximately 35,000 permanent residents, including about 5000 foreigners, mostly British with some Germans.

Altinkum, or “golden sands”,

is the beach and promenade area within the town of Didim. Visitors are predominantly Turkish or British but over recent years tourists from countries such as Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania have been visiting in increasing numbers, mostly families and the older generation. Set on a sandy bay, the resort is relaxed and informal. There are three beaches within easy reach, and all have been awarded the Blue Flag Award. With 55 km (34 miles) of coastline in the immediate area, there are many beaches to explore, including eleven that have been awarded a Blue Flag classification.

1st Beach

The Main (or First) beach in front of the resort is a long wide stretch of sand with sunbathing and water sports. Sun beds and umbrellas are available for rent. Boat trips that tour the nearby coastline depart from the main harbour, serving lunch and afternoon tea on board. Along the length of the beach are cafes, bars and restaurants.

2nd Beach

The Second beach area is just to the east of Main beach Third Beach is to the west.



Just beyond Third beach is Didim marina, currently one of the largest in Turkey which opened in September 2009 and has space for 1200 boats. There are café bars and restaurants within the marina.



Altınkum and Didim (previously Didyma or Yenihisar) is surrounded by a number of ancient sites, most notably, the Apollo Temple, located on the outskirts of Didim. The main temple was built in the 8th century B.C., was surrounded by columns at the beginning of the 6th century B.C. and completed around 550 B.C.

Miletos and Ephesus is a short drive away, and also Meryemana – said to be the Virgin Mary’s last home. Many pilgrims visit this place every year.

Didim was originally referred to as Didyma and, next to Delphi, was the most renowned oracle centre of the Hellenic world, first mentioned among the Greeks in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo but preceding literacy and even the colonization of Ionia.

Didyma was originally home to a pre-Greek religious group of nomads that grew up around a sacred wood and holy spring. This natural spring was the place where Leto conceived and gave birth to the twins Artemis and Apollo who were fathered by Zeus.

According to some sources, “Didyma” translates as “twin”. It refers to the twin God and Goddess, Apollo and Artemis, who were born here.[citation needed]

On the grounds of the Apollo Temple is a stone head of the gargoyle Medusa.

A road leading to a small harbour was lined with ancient statues, but they were taken to the British Museum in 1858.

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Turkey is rightly famed for its cuisine, which is rich and savory, not particularly spicy-hot, with abundant use of vegetables (which makes vegetarians happy.)


Though based on lamb and mutton, Turkish cuisine includes beef and chicken (no pork, of course), as well as all sorts of seafood.

The most common preparations are roasting and grilling, which produce the famous Turkish kebaps, including döner kebap, the national dish, and köfte, the workingman’s favorite. But there’s much more to Turkish cuisine than grills.

As my friends at Cooking Alaturka say, “It’s not a complicated cuisine. It can be labor-intensive, but it produces an amazing variety of colors and bold flavors.” More…

The ingredients must be the best, most carefully chosen. The preparation works to enhance the beauties and excellence of the food more than the reputation of the cook.

Originality and creativity, so prized among chefs in some other countries, are deemed appropriate in Turkey only after one has mastered the traditional cuisine—and when one has created a traditional masterpiece, there is little need for much in the way of innovation. Innovation cannot substitute for finesse.

Turkish cuisine has been renowned for a long time. In 1854 the Earl of Carlisle (George W F Howard) visited Constantinople (Istanbul) and sampled Turkish food in a simple bazaar cookshop. The understated praise in his travelogue Diary in Turkish and Greek Waters (1854) reads, “We…went for our luncheon to a Turkish, not kibaub, but cook-shop, where different ragouts of meat and vegetables are always ready in large pans. I think the nation has a decided turn for cookery.

The cookshops that delighted Lord Carlisle are far better now. More…

Meat portions are small compared to those in North America (which are unconscionably huge). Actually, vegetables predominate in most meals, though many vegetable recipes use small amounts of meat as a flavoring. If you’re not strictly vegetarian or vegan, yet you prefer to eat more vegetables than meat, you’ll do very well in Turkey. Here are tips for vegetarians.

Bread is baked fresh early morning for breakfast and lunch, and late afternoon for dinner, and varies from the common sourdough loaf to rounds of leavened pide (flat bread) to flaps of paper-thin lavaş (lah-VAHSH, unleavened village bread baked on a griddle).

Turkey produces excellent, delicately scented honey of many varieties.

Among the best and easiest places to sample Turkish cooking is in a hazır yemek (“ready-food”) restaurant. More…

Snacks, side dishes and street foods include gözleme (fresh-baked flat bread folded over savory ingredients—a sort of Turkish crêpe—and börek, pastry filled with cheese and vegetables or meat. A traditional favorite is the Istanbul fish sandwich.

As for drinks, pure spring water is always available. Drink only bottled water. Some tap water is safe, but it’s difficult to be sure.

Turkey is famous for its succulent fruit, and thus for its fruit juices. There’s also ayran (yogurt mixed with spring water—tastes like buttermilk), which goes well with kebap (roast lamb).

Islam forbids drinking alcohol, but many urban Turks are European in their lifestyle and about 8% of the population enjoy alcoholic beverages with meals: beer, wine, and rakı (clear grape brandy flavored with anise and diluted with water) are the favorites, although gin, vodka, whiskey and liqueurs are also served.

Turkish tea is the national stimulant, even at breakfast, and famous Turkish coffee only a distant second.

Among the favored treats is Turkish Delight (lokum).

There are great half-day Turkish cooking classes in Istanbul.

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Turkish tea, called çay,(pronounced Chai)is a black tea which is consumed without milk, is produced on the eastern Black Sea coast, which has a mild climate with high precipitation and fertile soil. Turkish tea is typically prepared using two stacked kettles (çaydanlık) specially designed for tea preparation.

A Caydanlik


Water is brought to a boil in the larger lower kettle and then some of the water is used to fill the smaller kettle on top and steep several spoons of loose tea leaves, producing a very strong tea. When served, the remaining water is used to dilute the tea on an individual basis, giving each consumer the choice between strong (Turkish: koyu; literally “dark”) or weak (Turkish: açık; literally “light”). Tea is drunk from small glasses to enjoy it hot in addition to showing its colour, with cubes of (Turkish: kesme şeker); beet sugar.

In 2004 Turkey produced 205,500 tonnes of tea (6.4% of the world’s total tea production), which made it one of the largest tea markets in the world Furthermore, in 2004, Turkey had the highest per capita tea consumption in the world, at 2.5 kg per person—followed by the United Kingdom (2.1 kg per person).



Tea is an important part of the Turkish culture. Offering tea to guests is part of Turkish hospitality, tea is most often consumed in households, shops and mostly kıraathane, which is social congregation of Turkish men. Despite its popularity, tea became the widely consumed beverage of choice in Turkey only in the 20th century. It was initially encouraged as an alternative to coffee, which had become expensive and at times unavailable in the aftermath of World War I. Upon the loss of southeastern territories after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, coffee became an expensive import. At the urging of the founder of the republic, Atatürk, Turks turned more to tea as it was easily sustainable by domestic sources.

Turkish tea is traditionally offered in small tulip-shaped glasses which are usually held by the rim, in order to save the drinker’s fingertips from being burned, as the tea is served boiling hot.





How to Make, Serve and Drink



An obsession, an addiction, a daily routine, a ritual, a welcome gesture, a conversation starter, a break from work, a Turkish breakfast companion, a pastime favorite and what not. These are many roles and faces of the Turkish tea. As a visitor to a shop, a public office, a friends’ house in Turkey you are often served a tulip-shaped glass of hot crimson tea with two tiny sugar cubes on a saucer and a little spoon to stir. And the pleasure of hugging that beautiful glass with your fingers and feeling the warmth of the tea on your palm does its magic as it comforts you and lets the conversation flow.

While there is a good deal of symbolic meaning to the Turkish tea drinking its very taste is important too. Turkish tea is normally black and most of it is cultivated domestically on the Black Sea coast. However, you will get amazed by the varieties in the taste of the seemingly same tea you will encounter in Istanbul or other places in Turkey as different tea makers would have their own brand preferences, own blends of different teas and a bunch of tea making tricks too.

On my first visit to Turkey I bought a large pack of Turkish tea to take home and was largely disappointed with the results I could produce with it. There was clearly some secret to discover and so I came back.

I have found that the way the Turkish tea is brewed is very close to the traditional samovar technology in Russia. In case with samovar a very strong tea brew (zavarka) is prepared in a porcelain tea pot that gets placed on top of the samovar so the brew stays hot. The tea is served by diluting the brew with hot water from the samovar body.

Turks, absolute geniuses of shortcuts, have created a great shortcut in the tea brewing too: they developed a construction of two stacked kettles called çaydanlık – the bottom part is for the boiling water while the upper one is for the tea brew. Here is how you go about making Turkish tea


How to Make Turkish Tea

While making Turkish tea seems to be the domain of the tea house patrons and young Turkish brides it is not so hard to master for anybody

Prep Time: 5 Min
Cook Time:
20 Min
Total Time:
25 Min

Serves: 6


  • 1/3 cup black tea leaves
  • 1 L water for tea brew
  • 1 L water for serving
  • sugar to taste


  1. Fill the bottom kettle with 2 L hot/boiling water and bring to boil at the high heat on your stove top.
  2. Meanwhile, put the tea leaves into a fine sieve and rinse them with cold water to remove the tea dust. Drain well. Transfer the washed and drained tea leaves into the upper kettle and stack the upper kettle on top of the bottom one.
  3. Once the water in the bottom kettle is boiled, pour half into the upper kettle to brew the tea. Reduce the heat to medium and let the tea in the upper kettle get brewed over the steam coming from the bottle kettle.
  4. Pour out some tea brew (with a Turkish tea glass the rule of thumb will be to pour out the brew to the waist, the narrowest point of the glass) and then dilute it with water
  5. Reduce the heat to low to keep your tea warm as you’ll be serving a few rounds. Once the tea drinking is over turn off the heat.

Making tea is just a half of the deal in Turkey as it is very important to know how you serve it in a proper way. Some of my learnings have come hard way so I will share them to spare you embarrassments while you are in Istanbul or elsewhere in Turkey. Once I served the tea that was looked at and immediately poured out on the ground. This was how I’ve learned that the tea in Turkey can be served in a variety of ways between the two extremes – koyu (dark, strong) and açık (light, weak). I put too little tea brew and the tea came way too weak so I nearly insulted the person without knowing. The distinction and the Turkish words are useful to know if you are particular about your Turkish tea preferences and would like to order it the way you like – strong or weak.

On the other occasion the head of the workers team came down to the kitchen around 5 pm and I was asked to serve him tea. Asked in such a way that assumed that I should have known that a visitor should be served a cup of tea without saying. Ok, noted down. But once I did I had revealed my lack of awareness of one more custom again: I did put sugar in it while you don’t do it here in Turkey. On the contrary to the Turkish coffee that is served  already sweet – you rather serve a bowl of sugar cubes on the side and people add it to their tea as they please. What I saw is care have appeared to be an interference into the sacred ritual of the Turkish tea drinking.

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