A culinary journey along the Silk Roads of Anatolia
Minimum number of participants 4 people, maximum 10 people.
In the great cities of the world, fashionable chefs vie to produce innovative dishes for jaded pallets. The result has not only been the proliferation of ethnic restaurants in most major cities around the world, but the attempt to take it all a step further by combining elements from different culinary traditions. The product of this blending of traditions has been called fusion cooking. But here in Turkey, we have been doing it for centuries. Fusion in Turkey is no contrivance, it is the kind of blend that only happens naturally, through time. Anatolia has been the heart of Empires since ancient times; it has been an artery for trade and the cross roads of cultures for 12,000 years. More than that, the heart of this journey is the very place where agriculture was born back in prehistory. Yes, we really have been doing it for that long…..
In the course of our journey you will traverse three distinct cultural, geographic and climate regions and experience the foundations and the complexities of the culinary environment of Anatolia. While you will see and taste things you won’t be able to reproduce at home, we can guarantee that you will be able to take away with you practical and applicable ideas that will make your dinner table the talk of your social circle.
Some food tours will take in Gaziantep in south east Turkey as it is, after Istanbul, a major centre for exceptional cuisine. However, for us it’s not simply an added thought to give a little colour to an old idea, it’s the gateway to a whole new world of the tastes and the smells that are to come, and it’s where we start.
We will not restrict ourselves to any particular restaurants or food districts but our choices will change based on who’s hot and who’s not.
Gaziantep: Zeugma Mosaic Museum, Antep Markets, Cookery Lesson at Mutfak Sanatlari Merkezi, Antep’s College of Culinary Arts.
Şanlıurfa: Şanlıurfa Archaeology Museum, Covered Bazar, 16th century Gümrük Hanı, Pools of Abraham, Göbekli Tepe (10,000 BC).
Nemrut: Mountain of the Gods, Country Cooking class.
Diyarbakir: City Walls, Ulu Camii, Sülüklühan Assyrian Winery, 16th century Hasan Paşa Hanı.
Mardin: Mardin Markets, Old Town, Ulu Camii, Kasimiye Medresesi (15th century), Saffron Monastery.
Van: Akdamar Island and the Church of the Holy Cross, Lake Van, (10th century), Citadel of Van (Urartian 8th century BC to present), Traditional village country feast with cooking lessons.
Doğubayazıt: Ishak Paşa Palace, Mt Ararat.
Kars: City Tour & markets, Holy Apostles Church (11th century) now a mosque, Fatih Mosque, Ancient Armenian City of Ani (9th– 13th centuries), Kars Cooking Lesson, Cultural Event.
1Day 1 -
Itinerary (* denotes a cooking class or demonstration):
Gaziantep Arrival. Known by the locals simply as Antep, this bustling metropolis in Southern Anatolia is an eclectic mixture of Kurdish, Arab and Turkish influences and it has the kitchen to match; it is the gateway to an Anatolian kitchen that few outsiders see.
You will be collected from the airport and will be brought to your hotel for dinner and a chance to meet us and your fellow gastronauts.
2Day 2 -
Antep: City centre sightseeing before lunch at a selected city centre restaurant for your first experience into the culinary world of this ancient city. The blend we’re offering you for your introduction will be savoury soups and spicy meat dishes. Your sweet course will come later, after a visit to the Zeugma Mosaic Museum which houses an outstanding collection Roman period mosaics recovered from the now flooded city of Zeugma. From the Mosaic museum we will visit one of Antep’s premier makers of Baklava to see how it is made and to taste Antep’s signature sweet dish. After, pause for a brief period of rest and reflection, we will go to the Mutfak Sanatlari Merkezi, Antep’s College of Culinary Arts, for a master class* in one of Antep’s famous dishes.
3Day 3 -
After a hearty breakfast we will leave Gaziantep and head across the great River Euphrates and on to the even more ancient city of Şanlıurfa to visit the archaeological site of Göbekli Tepe. This site, dated to around 10,000 years BC, is the earliest example of monumental architecture yet discovered. In a country full of superlatives, this site is truly extraordinary. From Göbekli Tepe we will go to Urfa in time for a light lunch before visiting the Archaeological Museum and the covered bazaar with its central Gümrük Hanı, built by the great Ottoman Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent in 1563 as a Customs Post and distribution point for goods on this section of the Silk Road. It’s the ideal place to sit and enjoy the shade and the goings on of market traders and passers-by. In the evening we will enjoy gardens and fountains of the Pools of Abraham followed by dinner.
4Day 4 -
After breakfast we head north to Mt. Nemrut stopping for a light picnic lunch at the Ataturk Dam. At the summit of Adiyaman’s Mt. Nemrut, with the giant statues erected as part of King Antiochus’ funerary monument, we will watch the sun setting. Coming off the mountain we will stay in a mountain village pension and learn how to make Turkish pide*, a traditional savoury Turkish flatbread dish somewhat like pizza. This is something you’ll definitely be taking home with you.
Overnight: Nemrut Mountain.
5Day 5 -
From Nemrut we head to Diyarbakir across the Euphrates again, just past the Karaca Dag shield volcano and on into Diyarbakir, surrounded by its giant 2,000-year-old, five-and-a-half-kilometre black basalt defensive walls made of stone from Karaca Dağ. Diyarbakir is known for rich dishes of spicy lamb and for its liver kebabs. The most famous specialty dish from Diyarbakir is Kaburga Dolması which is a dish of slow baked lamb’s ribs stuffed with rice, almonds and many spices. Diyarbakir is also known for its watermelons, celebrated by a monument and an annual Watermelon Festival.
On arrival and after a light lunch we’ll start our city tour including the walls, the 16th century Hasan Paşa Hanı and the Great Mosque and central square which exactly replicate the ancient Roman Forum and Basilica, both in form and layout. We will visit the Sülüklühan Assyrian Winery and we’ll follow that by going to a famous local restaurant to see the preparation of Diyarbakir’s famous kaburga* before tucking in.
6Day 6 -
Before departing Diyarbakir, we will head back to Hasan Paşa Hanı (in front of Ulu Camii) for a traditional Diyarbakir breakfast of roasted egg and ciğer………or even soup, if you prefer. After breakfast we head south to Mardin.
Mardin is known it is known for the Turkomen/Artuklid architecture of its old city, and for its strategic location on a rocky hill near the Tigris and overlooking the plains south towards Syria. Mardin is a visual feast as well as a culinary and cultural one. We will explore the backstreets and markets, visit the Great Mosque, the Kasimiye Medresesi before going on to visit the Syriac Saffron Monastery and the 1,000-year BC Temple of the Sun hidden beneath it. On our return to Mardin we will visit one of Mardin’s top restaurants for a feast of traditional local meze and Syriac wine tasting.
7Day 7 -
From Mardin we will head east across the Tigris at Hasankeyf where we will enjoy a boat ride on this iconic river and then up to Batman for lunch, then up the Bitlis Gorge into the Eastern Anatolian high lands to Tatvan on the western shore of Lake Van. On the way we will stop to visit the El Aman Hanı, one of the many Caravanserais along Anatolia’s Silk Road. This restored 16th century Caravanserai now serves the local community as an arts and recreation centre.
8Day 8 -
From Tatvan we head east along the southern shore of Lake Van stopping at the village of Reşadiye for a hearty village breakfast and a cooking demonstration* in the essential skills for making the iconic Anatolian flatbread. From here we continue on to the regional capital of Van where we will visit the Citadel of Van to watch the sun set over Lake Van. Built on a large lozenge shaped outcrop the fortifications, started in around 850 BC by the Urartians, the citadel has been adapted and added to almost continually ever since by Assyrians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Armenians, Turkomen, Seljuks, Ottomans and for a brief period during WWI, the Russians. This fortress is possibly the oldest continuously used military fortification in the world.
9Day 9 -
After breakfast, we head to Gevaş for a traditional local feast in a local country garden where everybody will participate in food preparations*. We will, however, take a break, and while the ladies of the house stir the pots and turn the meats, we will head to the lake for a boat ride to visit the beautiful island of Akdamar with its exquisite 10th century Armenian Church. Once souls and spirits have been refreshed, we will return to Gevaş to replenish our bodies.
10Day 10 -
After a breakfast we will visit Annemin Vefa Sofrasi to prepare our lunch* under the expert and fun filled guidance of the ladies at this local family eatery, where mother definitely knows best*. While lunch is cooking, we will visit Urartu Carpets where beautiful carpets and kilims are woven by members of a local Women’s Collective. After lunch there will be free time for relaxation or shopping but there will be an optional tour to Van’s new Archaeological museum.
11Day 11 -
After another hearty Van breakfast, we depart Van and head north along the eastern shore of Lake Van and then past Mt. Suphan, across the Tendurek Shield Volcano and into Doğubayazıt where we will have a light lunch before visiting the pleasure Palace of Ishak Paşa overlooking the Plains of Ararat. From Doğubayazıt we will continue north around the eastern flank of Ararat and on to the city of Kars.
12Day 12 -
After breakfast we will head east to visit the ruins of the medieval Armenian city of Ani, protected on its western side with huge city walls and on its eastern flank by a bend in the Arpaçay River gorge which is the border with Armenia. In the afternoon we will return to Kars for a city tour and a break. In the evening we will prepare our supper which will be Piti Kebab*, a version of this international dish specific to Kars and as a final reminder that a kebab is not just meat on a stick.
13Day 13 -
Depart from Kars airport for your homeward journey.
|Tour Price||$4950 per person|
Eastern Anatolia, South Eastern Anatolia
|Fitness Level||Moderate - Able to walk 2 kms over possibly broken ground with incline.|
|What is included?||
Full board 4/5 star hotel *as available All road transport (tolls etc) English speaking guide All state and local taxes All museum and site entries Airport Transfers Lunch
|What is not included||
Personal expenses Beverages Insurance (unless otherwise stated)
|Terms & Conditions||
As the surcharge for single room occupancy can vary, please visit our Terms and conditions for the correct charge.
Please note that there is a 20% surcharge for single room occupancy.