The Long and Winding Road….

road:

The crescendo of countries and cities are coming so thick and fast now, I can scarcely remember where I am. Today we travel back from Zagreb, Croatia to Ljubljana, Slovenia and repack my bags for a drive to Italy, my final destination before flying back to Australia via Milan-Frankfurt-Bangkok-Perth.

It’s just becoming a haze of place names, of countless border crossings and immigration desks. I’m so glad I ordered an extra-thick passport.

I’m travelling eastward now, and that means a fair bit of jet-lag ahead. I depart Italy Friday night and arrive Perth Sunday night. I can’t promise any blog reports on the way back. Although you know me…

Getting Very Near the End

It’s still raining in Zagreb.

rain over Zagreb:

Yesterday though, the day cleared enough for an enjoyable tour of the city. We started at the Zagreb daily central market, a fruit and vegetable heaven.

zagreb daily central market:

Under the markets are some dairy stalls. These ladies were selling their home-made cheeses.

say cheese:

Here’s some seasonal fruits up in the main square. The black coloured berries are fresh blackcurrants.

fruit:

I had trouble figuring out what these were until it dawned on me – they are fresh cranberries.

fresh cranberries:

These are my favourite plums, and they’re everywhere at the moment. I keep fantasising about turning them into jam, a task not suited to my present travelling lifestyle.

plums:

This sweet little lady had nothing to sell but these few flowers. I hope someone fulfilled her desires.

humble offering:

After the market visit I was treated to a fabulous one-hour shiatsu massage by Sridama, an old school friend of my son Caitanya with whom he used to practice jujitsu in India. Sridama went on to study massage in Japan and has made quite a name for himself in his field.

sridama:

ZZZagreb

I’m resting in a beautiful temple on a mountain overlooking Zagreb. My sojourn in Turkey was what they call a whirlwind tour, and the dust is just settling. I needed some serious recuperation after four days of non-stop action that culminated in a no-sleep night from Istanbul-Ljubljana-Zagreb.

rain:

Today the rain thunders down as the sun peeps out through angry clouds hanging low over the Croatian horizon. Plans are afoot to take a drive to some nice fruit and vegetable markets, have a shiatsu massage, visit a vegetarian eatery run by friends, and generally take it easy. No more cookery classes are planned for this tour.

I have cancelled my Italan leg of teaching. Effectively this gives me a month extra time to tend to personal things at home including the ill-health of my parents. October I commence my Australian touring/teaching.

Looking forward to coming to a kitchen near you!

Barisa Rock

barisa rock:

Spent my last day in Turkey chanting at a massive rock festival for 30,000 people in a forest outside of Istanbul. ‘Barisa Rock’ means ‘Rock for Peace’. Judging by the response, we certainly spread a fair bit of that.

I’m writing this in Ljubljana, Slovenia (again!). I flew in this morning from Istanbul. I’m repacking. Then we drive to Zagreb, Croatia. No rest for the wicked!

Gozleme, Locum, Simit and a Good Lie Down

My time in Turkey is fast running out. So many pictures to show you and tales to tell, so litle time to do it.

On my first day I concentrated on trying to see as much local cookery as possible.
We didn’t have to travel far to find gosleme, famous stuffed breads that look like over-stuffed parathas. There was a shop two doors from my apartment!

The shop has an interesting twist: the ladies cook the gosleme in the shop window. The signage says, “A variety of juicy foods are to be found here”. Seriously.

juicy:

I got a crash course on how it’s done just by standing outside. The owner invited me in to get a better view. The ladies were so expert that I stood, enthralled and speechless at the speed they silently performed their tasks.

gosleme:

They made us some special made-to-order vegetarian ones – spinach, potato, and potato and cheese.

gosleme for lunch:

I just had time on that day to visit a massive and ancient spice and sweets bazaar in Sultanahmet. Truly breathtaking!

spice bazaar:

The interior of this bazaar was truly cavernous.

cavernous:

I have never seen such a range of lokum, so-called Turkish delight, along with hundreds of other sweets and spices arranged in appetizing displays.

sweet:

spices:

Before I left Turkey, I said to myself, I had to find some simit, those ubiquitous disc-shaped fresh breads.

semit:

They are everywhere. You used to have to find a man selling them on street corners. Now every street corner has a simit shop. Times are a-changing.

Well, that’s just a small sample of my photos and travel in Turkey. I sure packed a lot into four days. I’ll try to share the rest later.

ZMSA

You may be wondering what happened at my cookery classes at ZMSA (Zanussi Mutfak Sanatlari Akademisi), the Turkish Ministry of National Education’s Culinary Arts Academy.

It all went very, very well!

Here’s the students from my first class.

zmsa crew:

Here’s me and my assistant chef Soner Goksu waiting for the milk to boil. You know what they say about watched pots…

watched pot:

Lunch on day two at ZMSA.

lunch zmsa:

Bunkered in Bakirkoy

I’m staying in Bakýrköy, a densely populated middle class residential suburb of Istanbul, Turkey on its western (European) side, on the North-eastern
coast of the Sea of Marmara. Bakýrköy is an important shopping and commercial centre for Istanbul.

In Byzantine times Bakýrköy was a separate community outside Istanbul and was called Hepdoman, and Makrohori (‘the distant place’) which was distorted to Makriköy in the Ottoman period, when many large houses were built here. In 1925 this was changed to Bakýrköy in a move to eliminate all place names of non-Turkish origin.

I’ve been doing so much over the last three days (gosh, it feels like a week!) that it’s hard to know where to start. I guess here is a good place to begin. The apartment where I stay is just 2 minutes from the sea. It’s been very hot since I arrived – yesterday was 40 degrees. There’s some great sunsets here – here’s a shot of the sun dipping down.

sunset over the marmara:

Istanbul is awash with wonderful fruits and vegetables, amazing spice shops, and wonderful dairy products. There are over 40 types of yogurts eaten here – it is truly the yogurt capital of the world. The most famous yogurt product is the very delicious and very healthy and digestive Ayran, a thick drink made from yogurt, salt and water. I’ve had fun checking out the supermarkets.

ayran:

Ayran has become so popular in Turkey that it is often regarded as a separate market in contrast to the juice and soda industries, and is a challenge for “modern” soft-drink companies such as Coca-Cola. Even McDonalds has it on their menu here.

On my first day I went from local shop to shop marvelling at the ingredients. Our local corner deli had 25 types of sesame halva! The owner was so eager to be in my photo that I had to take this shot.

halva:

It’s melon season. The yellow melons (kavun kirkagaj) are white inside and taste like sweet nectar! Kavun means melon and Kirkagaj means the name of place in Turkey where it grows. They say if you can find a good one, you can keep it at least one year on the shelf.

fruits:

The range of dried fruits and nuts is truly breathtaking.

dried fruits and nuts:

I was interested to note the dried white mulberries, which taste like drier-than-normal figs. Their name is pronounced like ‘toot’.

mulberries:

There’s also a big range of dried vegetables, especially eggplants, peppers and okra. The black ones below are the eggplants.

dried veg:

Probably the most impressive for me is the range of grains. A feast for the eyes!

Bakirkoy grocer:

More soon!

Welcome to Istanbul

istanbul:

I am so busy PLUS I am having so much fun in Istanbul that I haven’t had time to publish any details, or the plethora of very nice pictures I have taken.

So stay tuned, it won’t be long now.

A Visit to Turkey

I’m in Istanbul for a few days, on the invitation of ZMSA (Zanussi Muftak Sanatlari Akademisi), the Turkish Ministry of National Education’s prestigious Culinary Arts Academy.

zmsa:

The Academy offers a vast selection of fascinating courses, including some that sound quite intriguing, like Turkish Desserts, Classical Turkish Cuisine, Jewish Cuisine of Istanbul, Thai Vegetable and Fruit Carving Techniques, and even Ancient Cuisines of Sumeria, Assyria and Babylon.

Add ‘Vegetarian Cookery with Kurma’ to that list. I’ll be presenting two morning classes to groups of 24, and doing a bit of sight-seeing.

Off to…

where:

I fly off tonight to my next (mystery) destination. A clue: it borders Iraq. Yes, that’s right, whip out those atlases. See if you can guess…