February 01st, 2011  | Category: Travel

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Alaçatı, also known as the windsurfers’ paradise, is a small village with stone villas situated on the eastern shoreline of the Aegean Sea. The closest town is Çeşme, which is another popular holiday resort on the west coast of Turkey. Two very dear friends of mine, Mahir and Vera, bought an empty lot there a year ago and had been working on building their dream house. The construction was finalized at the end of last summer and I had been looking forward to a visit ever since. There was a 9-day-long national holiday in November and when they invited me over for a short stay, I didn’t think twice.

By the way, sorry for being so late to share the photos, but considering it took me almost a year to complete the Paris posts, this is quite an improvement, wouldn’t you say?

Ever since I started working from home, my definition of an ideal vacation has changed drastically. Back then, it was a week-long vegetation at an all-inclusive resort on the Mediterranean, preferably the lovely Club Med in Kemer, Antalya. I would dream of nothing but lying under the sun without moving a muscle. Possibly reading a magazine or a book, but that’s it. I would always choose the spot farthest from the pool, where most of the activities were held and always felt like I could have spent the rest of my life like that, given there’s a constant supply of icy-cold Campari and orange juice.

But now that I call “baking a cake and taking its photograph” my job, all I want to do while on vacation is… to keep on working!

And that’s what I did.

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The initial plan was to arrive on a Sunday. But then Vera called and told me that we were going to miss the Alaçatı Farmers Market, which was open on Saturdays only. We decided to change our flight, ditched the rest of the group and arrived in Alaçatı a day early.

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And I am glad we did.

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November is considered off-season for Alaçatı, but I think it was perfect timing as I can’t even imagine those narrow streets filled with people on a hot summer day.

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When we arrived at the market it was almost afternoon, but the stands were still full of produce and none of them looked like leftovers from early risers.

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Fresh fish caught daily, vegetables, fruits, nuts, pickles, dairy products, farm eggs and more… The variety was beyond my expectations.

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We walked the market from one end to the other and decided on the menu according to the ingredients we liked and started filling our trolley.

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Then came home, and Vera prepared the first coffee of the vacation.

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If you’re following me on Twitter you know how many coffees I’ve had during that stay. Vera collects cups (among many other things, which I’ll be using for the cookbook photos), and I documented (a part of) her collection with my favorite (other than my own, of course) iPhone app, instagram!

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She doesn’t just collect, but also puts them into good use. What’s the meaning of collecting if you’re not going to use them daily, right?

And even though she doesn’t like tea or coffee (which is just plain weird to me), she drinks regularly just to make use of the cups she collects (which I am sure is plain weird to many, but definitely not to me).

Once the coffee ceremony was over, we prepared a very nice zucchini gratin for the friends arriving tomorrow, took a shower and walked to the village center to have a piece of chocolate and chestnut cake she was raving about all trip long.

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The place is called Köşe Kahve (Corner Cafe) and the chocolate and chestnut cake (baked daily) is definitely worth a visit. If you ever visit Alaçatı, make sure to stop by and have a piece of that cake. We did. Countless times.

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And the next day…

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The rest of the gang arrived and to celebrate their arrival we opened a bottle of rakı and enjoyed a few glasses each in the garden.

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In the above photo, Vera is preparing another dish for the night. Remember this börek post? Similar to that, but this time you lay the yufka (not to be confused with phyllo) on the counter, sprinkle some cheese on it, roll it into a log, and then to a snail. Place the pieces on a lightly greased baking dish, top with a mixture of egg and feta cheese, and bake in the oven until bubbling.

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I knew I was going to be responsible for the desserts, so I came prepared. That means a pound of Valrhona Guanaja and a jar of Biscoff Spread.

After that much rakı, I was in no shape to bake a cake, so we spread a generous amount of Biscoff cream in between two pieces of petit beurre biscuits and dipped them in melted chocolate.

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We had guests that evening so another dessert was in order. I decided a creme brulee with fresh, segmented tangerines on the side would be great. Unfortunately, I discovered that Vera didn’t have a torch only after the custards were baked, so the brulee part didn’t happen. Drizzled with maple syrup and topped with fresh tangerines, it was quite good. And to be honest, after all that booze I wasn’t expecting anyone to complain about a sugar crust.

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We drove around, discovered the neighboring villages and shopped for antiques (surprisingly, there are half a dozen antique stores in this tiny village and most them had amazing stuff) for the rest of the vacation. It was short, but I came back home energized and with really nice props for the book.

The next post will include a recipe from Vera. Her specialty is a Sephardic dish called Almodrote de Kalavasa (zucchini gratin). Until then, enjoy the photos.

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  1. 1 - Asli on February 1st, 2011

    Cenk, bu Alacati yazisi ve resimleri o kadar guzel icimi acti ve oralari o kadar ozledim ki… Tesekkuler, cok iyi geldi.

    San Francisco’dan sevgiler!

  2. 2 - elizabeth sprague on February 1st, 2011

    I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this post and the photos. Blue doors- what is more beautiful? And the sun- something we miss on this stormy day in Tennessee.

  3. 3 - Artemis on February 1st, 2011

    What a nice place Alacati is!
    It reminds me a lot of Mytilini island in the eastern Aegean Sea -just opposite I guess or close to Alacati! I will have this place in mind next time I visit Turkey!
    …and I ‘ll be waiting for Vera’s recipe!

  4. 4 - Rachelino on February 1st, 2011

    Cenk, you have transported me completely. This is the Turkey of my daydreams. Beautiful photos.

  5. 5 - Sharon on February 2nd, 2011

    Your photos are poetry! Beautiful!

  6. 6 - Val on February 2nd, 2011

    Man, those photos are really something. Take me with you next time, okay?

  7. 7 - Leesa Garcia on February 2nd, 2011

    Merhaba Cenk….

    OMG! One of my favourite Turkish ‘delights’ EVER!!! I trip through a beautiful place… Oh.. it was wonderful and thanks SOOO much for your lovely, no— GORGEOUS photos… Really really beautiful. Can’t wait to take a month or so and explore Turkey…

    Best regards,

  8. 8 - Ferda... on February 2nd, 2011

    Amazing photos as usual! I have never been to Alacati off-season, it seems much more beautiful than it is during busy summer months…

  9. 9 - Jacquline on February 2nd, 2011


    I always enjoy your blog and photos. And after this post, I hope to visit the places you mentioned. I am an American married to a Greek and we are currently living in Lesvos, not too far from there.. hopefully we can find the time to go soon!

    Thanks for sharing!

  10. 10 - Theodora on February 2nd, 2011

    Oh GOD! this is heaven! i enjoyed watching every pic and reading every written word! Lucky you……

  11. 11 - Jessica's Dinner Party on February 2nd, 2011

    Absolutely amazing and beautiful! I’m putting this on my list of “To Visits.”

  12. 12 - Rachel on February 2nd, 2011

    Cenk – did you taste the “sakizli” biscuits (cookies) at the bakery on the main street if it is still there? divine and a baking challenge. I have been thinking how to re create them and dream about them as much as I dream about dear Alacatli. Your photos brought it back to me.


  13. 13 - Silvia Pietrangeli on February 2nd, 2011

    I’ve been to Cesme this summer visiting my very good friend Elif. We went to Alacati farmer’s market and I wanted to stay there for the rest of my vacation!!!!
    I LOVE it and hope to go once more this summer.


    P.S. I had the most incredible lemonade at the “Corner Cafè” … have you tried it?

  14. 14 - Joy on February 2nd, 2011

    Amazing photos as always! A market visit always inspires some great photos. We visited Dalyan in Çeşme last summer, but obviously need to return to this area to explore Alaçatı.


  15. 15 - Alessa on February 2nd, 2011

    Hi Cenk!
    I’m delighted with this nice Alaçati village and jealous of you for being their on vacations. I really want to go there and enjoy the flavours and the colours.
    It’s absolutely delicious to read your adventures and recipes. You have a sincere, relaxed and not pretentious way to describe you’re emotions that I appreciate. Lovely!
    Thank you for sharing.

  16. 16 - Steph @Lick My Spoon on February 2nd, 2011

    Hi Cenk! I’m so glad I discovered your site! what a stunning post — gives me much inspiration as I plan my travels for our honeymoon! 🙂

  17. 17 - Lollie on February 2nd, 2011

    and Thank you.

  18. 18 - mayra on February 2nd, 2011

    what camara and lens you use to take this pictures? they are amazing.

  19. 19 - KeLLy Ann on February 2nd, 2011

    Oh, how I miss Turkey! so much…

  20. 20 - irepkrep on February 2nd, 2011

    Wonderful photos and a great post.

  21. 21 - Cynthia Bertelsen on February 3rd, 2011

    Stunning, photographs and descriptions.

    Could you tell me a little more about the mushrooms in the picture, please?

    Thank you.

  22. 22 - ChocolateCentral on February 3rd, 2011

    I’m blown away by your photographs. I just bookmarked your site. I came looking for the chocolate and chestnut cake and am leaving totally inspired to travel to Turkey. The cake looks really good by the way. Not sure where I can find chestnuts here in Mexico though. I’ll start investigating that. Is the recipe somewhere on your site? I can’t seem to find it. I’d love to try this.

  23. 23 - Balbina Oliveira on February 3rd, 2011

    Beatiful, photos, beatiful place! See what you’ve done ???? Now I won’t rest until I go to Alaçati, see the antique shops AND eat the chocolate and chestnut cake!!!

    Have to think of a plan to come up with the money , though….

  24. 24 - Cenk on February 3rd, 2011

    Thank you all for the wonderful comments!

    Rachel – Unfortunately, I haven’t. Hope to taste them on my next visit. Do you remember the name of the bakery?

    Silvia – No, I drank coffee all the time. It was pretty cool there in November so a lemonade never crossed my mind.

    mayra – Thanks! Here’s my photo gear.

    Cynthia – They are called Çintar (or Çam) mushrooms here and known as the Saffron milk cap or Red pine mushroom in the US. Here’s a link to the Wikipedia page.

    ChocolateCentral – Thank you. We ate the cake at a cafe in Alaçatı (mentioned below the photo). Sorry, but I don’t have the recipe.

  25. 25 - Ivana on February 4th, 2011

    It’s been a while since I first thought about visiting Turkey, but your photos definitely “talked” me into doing it ASAP! I think I would start with Isanbul and work my way out… While reading your accounts I notice more and more Croatian and/or regional words that have Turkish origin: Köşe, which we would pronounce something like :tzoshe: is a colloquial term for a corner ;-)) I had no idea it was Turkish!

  26. 26 - Desi on February 4th, 2011

    Very nice place and pictures. I like your blog, everything looks so real.
    Hope some day to accomplish the same with mine.

  27. 27 - oburcan on February 5th, 2011

    Bu yaz ilk defa gittiğim Alaçatı’ya aşık oldum , 3 defa gittim. Kışın bu soğuk günlerinde Alaçatı fotoğrafları içimi ısıttı. En kısa zamanda gitmek gerek!!!
    Fotoğraflar harika,eline sağlık!!

  28. 28 - Shelley on February 6th, 2011

    Dear Cenk —

    I’m laying in bed in Oakland CA on a lovely Sunday morning, researching a trip to Istanbul in June and stumbled upon your blog. WOW. We should have never let you leave the Bay Area!!! Your writing, the photos, the ideas — cafefernando is an amazing gift. Come back for a visit and try Oakland’s Uptown neighborhoods booming dining scene! In the meantime — I am reading every page, preparing to EAT my way through Turkey. THANK YOU! (and if you need me to bring you anything from SF, shoot me an email!)

  29. 29 - Cenk on February 7th, 2011

    Shelley – Thank you! So glad to hear you liked my blog. And thank you for the generous offer, but I am planning a San Francisco trip right now (will arrive at the end of this month) so please don’t go into the trouble. Wait for me Williams Sonoma!

  30. 30 - Fragolina on February 7th, 2011

    Beautiful, amazing photos! The desserts are scrumptious.. You reminded me of the trip I took to Istanbul last year, I liked the city alot, so beautiful, I would definitely go back again..I never thought that such nice houses would exist in Turkey, not its style.

  31. 31 - sarah nacario on February 8th, 2011

    its paradise…

  32. 32 - Ülker on February 8th, 2011

    Oğlum hasta ben hastayım, bu aralar hayat çok iyi gitmiyor ve şu anda bu yazı ve fotoğraflar beni o kadar mutlu etti, içimi ferahlattı ki anlatamam, teşekkürler, iyi ki varsın.

  33. 33 - Shelley on February 10th, 2011

    Cenk — so glad to hear you are coming back for a visit! There are so *many* great new restaurants for you to try! And I think Sur La Table is also waiting for you! 🙂 Quick question — what’s your favorite Turkish restaurant in the Bay Area? I am anticipating my trip and want to start eating Turkish food now! xo S

  34. 34 - Mrs Ergül on February 10th, 2011

    Oh my god! This looks like a place I will like to visit. How far away from Istanbul is this place??

  35. 35 - Cenk on February 10th, 2011

    Mrs. Ergül – It takes an hour by plane.

  36. 36 - Cenk on February 10th, 2011

    Shelley – I don’t have a favorite in the Bay Area. It has been a while since my last visit and there weren’t any great Turkish restaurants when I lived there.

  37. 37 - Ozlem on February 21st, 2011

    Canikom!!!!!!!!! As if I am constantly NOT, you made me even more home sick than ever! Cesme is my second home, and I love the colors in Alacati. Thank you for a great post as usual. I can not wait to see you in SF soon.

  38. 38 - nesrin on February 21st, 2011

    Sanirim Türkce blogunuza bu yaziyla ilgili yorum birakmistim. En cok begendigim postunuz diyebilirim. Umarim yemek kitabi bol manzarali, bu posttaki gibi otantik fotograflarla dolu olur. Yabanci yemek kitaplarinda buna rastliyoruz. Iyi calismalar.

  39. 39 - Katerina on February 22nd, 2011

    I’m drooling over the food, the raki and the place. This is one of the loveliest villages I’ve seen! I’ve enjoyed this post of your immensely, made me daydream and made me decide I’m visiting the place first chance I get.

  40. 40 - Margaret Schreiber on February 26th, 2011

    Absolutely stunning. There’s so many intriguing villages and alluring haunts around the globe…this qualifying as one of the most beautiful. We’re receiving record snowfall for the next three days and for those of us who work outdoors…ah, to be in Alacab…these images will warm my thoughts today.

  41. 41 - Estelle on April 22nd, 2011

    Very nice pictures, you sure have captured the spirit of the town. I used to spend all my summers there growing up, Alacati was very different then. My grandpa’s house was in a middle of an empty lot and there were goats tied to the trees! I returned this past summer and could barely recognize the place. However, I like to think that the town’s newfound popularity helps maintain its historical character and I am thrilled about the effort to re-introduce mastic gum trees to the area. Alacati’s market is the best, my favorite! Hopefully we will be back this summer, too.

  42. 42 - Silvia Pietrangeli on June 8th, 2011

    YES! I bought tickets! I’m going …… very soon

  43. 43 - Hannan on December 26th, 2011


  44. 44 - Natalie on April 2nd, 2012

    After reading your post, I have made up my mind. I have a weeks holiday in may and I will spend it in Alacati

  45. 45 - Cenk on April 2nd, 2012

    Natalie – Hope you have a great time. Looking forward to reading your post.

  46. 46 - Moya on February 2nd, 2013

    I never got to eat the chocolate and chestnut cake as it was not on the menu at the time of my visit! We so enjoyed our time in Alacati and hope to return for another visit again some day! Thanks for sharing your wonderful post! 🙂

  47. 47 - Azize Ceylan on May 6th, 2013

    Ne kdr guzel bir sehırde yasadıgımı hatırlattınız.. Kıskanılcak bir yer cidden ve bazen gitmek istediğim için utanc kapladı ruhumu..

    Alacatı kahve keyfidir, cumartesi pazarıdır, tas sokakları, sıcak insanlarıdır..

    İzmirden sevgilerimle,


  48. 48 - Tammy on October 4th, 2013

    Just googling Sunday market as I am in alacati at the moment, can’t wait to go to the market tomorrow! Will try to look out for the cake shop too!

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