Devorah Lev-Tov

Writing ⋅ Editing ⋅ Consulting

Devorah Lev-Tov is a writer and editor with 12 years' experience. She writes about food, travel, luxury, and lifestyle for multiple publications including The New York Times, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, and National Geographic. An ex-pat from the publishing world, she is also an illustrated nonfiction book editor, with expertise in developmental editing and cookbook/recipe editing. In addition, she has several years' experience in event marketing and nonprofit copywriting. She's eaten her way through Central and South America, Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Oceania, and much of the United States.

Filtering by Tag: kofte

Turkey: Kirazli Köy

When we decided to go to Ephesus, I began to look for places to stay. There are a few surrounding towns with accommodations in the area: Kusadasi, which is on the water and popular with the cruise crowd; Selçuk which is the town where Ephesus is actually located but lacks character; and Şirince, a charming town that is famous for it's fruit wines, and apparently, expensive hotels. After poking around lots of hotel websites I decided to check out AirBnB. For those who have never used it, AirBnB is a site that lets home owners rent out all our part of their homes for as little as one night or as long as they wish. The owners have the power to accept or reject any guest applicant and can decide how much to charge.

On there, I found the adorable and affordable Artists Studio in the village of Kirazli, about 15 minutes away from Ephesus. I liked this option because we would have our own studio, completely separate form the owners' house next door so we would have complete privacy, and at $60 a night it was the cheapest thing I'd seen that wasn't a hostel. Plus, Kirazli looked like a very interesting and traditional village, which was more along the lines of what we were interested in.

As we approached Kirazli (which is accessible by a Dolmus that drives from Selçuk to Kusadasi, but we had rented a car), after driving through it's neighbor-village, Gokcealan, we could hardly contain our excitement. This seemed to be the real deal: a traditional Turkish village complete with stone houses and tractors. Not only is Kirazli a traditional Köy, or village, but it is an organic one at that. All the farms are organic and the village has begun working together to market their cottage industry products of jams, preserves, and oils.

There is a farmer's market every Sunday and a small stand set up everyday (where we bought some homemade pasta that we later cooked in India, which was fabulous), and several excellent restaurants serving traditional village food, like koftë (meatballs), manti (meat-stuffed pasta triangles in a tomato sauce and topped with yogurt), and gözleme (thin pancakes with cheese filling).

The most popular restaurant is the Köy Sofrasi, right on the main road as you enter the village, and it did not disappoint.

Our other favorite meal was at what appeared to be someone's home. We sat outside as the wife/mother worked away in the kitchen right inside, serving up possibly the best köfte in Turkey.

Not to mention, everyone in the village is incredibly friendly. The village itself is beautiful. Kirazli means cherry in Turkish and the surrounding mountains are filled with cherry and pine trees, although it wasn't cherry season when we were there, unfortunately. (Although I'm pretty sure it was grape season) There are several hiking trails leading out from the village and it's very easy to be outdoorsy there.

Our hosts at the Artist's Studio were wonderful. Karyn, originally from Wales, built the stone house in the traditional village style five years ago and has become a real part of the community. You can read her blog here. She and her friend Nick know everything about Kirazli and the surrounding area, and they also serve excellent breakfasts and snacks, of course using mostly local ingredients. The Studio was the perfect base for us to explore Ephesus and beyond and we were sad to leave after only two nights.

Turkey: Street and Snack Food At Its Finest

Turkey has amazing food and boasts many specialties. There's kebaps, koftë, pide, simit, baklava, and of course all the yummy items you can get as meze before a meal. While you can get a fantastic upscale modern meal in Istanbul, the traditional delicacies and snack food are affordable and amazing. Let's start with one of the most ubiquitous items: the simit. These can be found all over the streets of Istanbul, sold from wooden carts at all hours of the day. It's kind of like a bagel, but larger and flatter. But it's still fluffy on the inside and with a generous coating of sesame seeds there is plenty of flavor. It makes the perfect snack on the go.

Another snack found all over Istanbul: roasted chestnuts. We didn't sample any, but they smelled delicious.

When we got off in the town of Rumeli Kavağı after our cruise up the Bosphorous we were a little hungry. We popped into a little bakery that had lots of goodies. We got some kind of almond sweet cake number that did the trick.

On our first night in Turkey we were too tired to go very far for dinner so the guy at our hotel took us to a typical pide restaurant. Pide is Turkey's version of pizza, although it's pretty different. It consists of a thick dough made into an oval-ish shape and then topped with your choice of various meats or cheese, sometimes left open and sometimes covered with another layer of dough. I opted for a cheese one while Manor sampled a spicy beef number.

If you're in Istanbul, a must-eat is some fried fish on Galata Bridge. You get to see all the fisherman hauling in their catches, and then you get to eat it! The most popular way is in a sandwich with some veggies. And, it's only 5 liras!

Knafeh, or künefe in Turkish, is a delicious Middle Eastern dessert made from shredded pastry dough that is then layered with soft, creamy cheese, and then doused in a sugar syrup and topped with crushed pistachios. Yes, it is delicious. But half the fun was watching the chef make the tasty treats, it's a fascinating process.

Walking through the spice bazaar, there were many tasty items to smell and eat. We sampled this yummy string cheese and if we had some kind of refrigerator I would have bought some. Of course Manor could not resist buying some halva, which was fantastic--Manor has fully converted me to a halva lover, as long as it's the fresh kind. Packaged halva like Joya that you can get in the U.S. gives halva a bad name!

Of course we had to have a good sampling of baklava. The most highly recommended shop, called Güllüoğlu, actually has a location in New York that I've been to, but I'd like to think the ones we bought in Turkey tasted better. Also, they don't carry my favorite baklava flavor in New York: chocolate! Yup, chocolate baklava, one of the best things ever. We got a nice variety of flavors from Güllüoğlu, including pistachio and walnut in addition to the chocolate. This box of treats took us through Ephesus and Pamukkale and were still just as good.

One of my favorite meze, or appetizers, in Turkey are sigara boregi, these phyllo dough rolls filled with feta cheese and a little parsley that are fried to perfection. They make the perfect snack!

The classic hot drink in Turkey (besides Turkish coffee, of course) is apple tea. If you go into any shop they will sit you down, bring you a glas of apple tea, and try to sell you any number of rugs or other items. It's actually not tea, it's more like a hot apple cider and perfect for those days when it's a bit chilly outside. In Turkey tea is served in these curved glasses that are easy to hold from the top without burning yourself.

The national cold (non-alcoholic--the alcoholic drink is of course raki) drink is sour cherry juice. Tons of cherries grow in Turkey and we actually stayed in a village near Ephesus called Kirazli Koy, which literally means cherry village, as it is surrounded by cherry trees. We stayed at a guesthouse and our hosts served us this amazingly fresh cherry juice. It was a bit tart and super delicious.

We were also served another traditional Turkish delicacy in Kirazli: kaymak, or Turkey's version of clotted cream. I am not exaggerating when I say this may be one of the best things I have ever eaten.  Usually served with honey and best spread on some crusty bread, this stuff is incredible. It's light and fluffy but dense and creamy at the same time. I'm only sorry we didn't discover it sooner as I surely would've eaten it every morning. This article does kaymak justice, as well as mentioning a few places in Istanbul to get some.

Another classic Turkish dish, especially in the area around Izmir and Ephesus, is gözleme. It's kind of the Turkish version of a pancake, but it's more like a crepe. Super thin dough is wrapped around any number of fillings, but cheese is my favorite. It's another one of those things that's super cheap and you get a lot of it.

We also sampled some Ayran, a classic Turkish yogurt drink. It's not sweetened, and in fact contains salt, although not too much. I still couldn't drink very much of it, but Manor managed to finish it.

On our drive back to Ephesus from Pamukkale, we had to stop at the site of this food truck. Yes, even the Turkish countryside has food trucks! The proprietor was serving up kokareç, a spicy lamb sandwich that Manor couldn't say no to. And he was glad he didn't!

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