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Turkey, Southeast part: Antep, Urfa, Mardin, Diyarbakir


Ferhat Yalcin
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During my vacation of about 2 weeks in Turkey, while I visited my family, I also traveled for 3 days to southeast part of Turkey to these cities: Antep (Gaziantep), Urfa (Sanliurfa), Mardin and Diyarbakir. I was there with my friends who I grow up with, their families, kids and of course my wife. Our main and only purpose of this travel was food and to eat a lot of it.

These cities are full of history. Because of their strategic locations, they were homes to many empires so the structures, homes and current museums tell the stories.

Our first day we arrived in Antep at 8am by plane. From the airport a midi bus was waiting for us and the rest of the trip was done with the midi bus and the local driver who knew a ton about this part of the country.

First thing we did was checking in the boutique hotel on downtown Antep. The hotel is the extended part of Antep castle. post-51-0-98921600-1327353199_thumb.jpg

Everybody was hungry to eat breakfast after checking in so here is the breakfast table :post-51-0-74966000-1327353514_thumb.jpg

Specialty in Antep and it has to be eaten at breakfast is called `Katmer` which is actually a dessert. Layers of homemade phyllo dough filled with local pistachios (by the way Antep is known for its pistachio) and cheese: post-51-0-94506500-1327353479_thumb.jpg

From the breakfast table we wandered in the city and the local copper bazaar post-51-0-37179100-1327353614_thumb.jpg

copper pans, plates and pots are handmade right in front of you here. At our break times when relaxing at a cafe, besides the traditional Turkish coffee we also had Menengic(pistachio coffee) and it is wonderful. I had pistachios raw, roasted, milkshakes and dessert but having a pistachio coffee was first. It takes longer time to make and brew it but there is nothing like it I can describe. and I didn't get a picture.

For the dinner we went to the only fine dining of the city `Imam Cagdas`. Many of Istanbul residents get their desserts shipped from Antep. The desserts are truly, incredibley delish. post-51-0-65851300-1327353956_thumb.jpg

Of course eating lahmacun and kebab is inevitable. post-51-0-53674800-1327354013_thumb.jpg and I just saved me a bunch of time eating them together post-51-0-90446300-1327354066_thumb.jpgpost-51-0-05605700-1327354080_thumb.jpg

another great dish is called `Ali Nazik` which is pureed eggplant with garlic yogurt and topped with a kebab post-51-0-84192200-1327354148_thumb.jpg

me after eating for almost `3 people` post-51-0-55699400-1327354248_thumb.jpg

We spent the night at the hotel. My friend pointed me out that there is a place 2 blocks down from the hotel and open only between 6am and 9am. And all they cook is liver. How could I miss that. I was there at 6.30am to get my liver wrap post-51-0-01708200-1327354428_thumb.jpgpost-51-0-05727800-1327354443_thumb.jpgpost-51-0-96094300-1327354458_thumb.jpg

white pieces are lamb fat.

Next morning we went to my friend`s small village house to have home cooked breakfast. From butter to yogurt and cream and bread all were homemade that morning for us. post-51-0-47391400-1327354686_thumb.jpgpost-51-0-88639000-1327354699_thumb.jpgpost-51-0-91796400-1327354734_thumb.jpgpost-51-0-94238300-1327354759_thumb.jpg couscous

this is where they cooked the bread post-51-0-08577700-1327354824_thumb.jpg

My friend`s family own a huge but huge piece of pistachio land right by the Syria border. We took a tour and went all the way down to the barbwires. Behind the wires is the landmine field and of course, Syria. post-51-0-04192700-1327355027_thumb.jpg

After the breakfast we started heading to Urfa. We stayed at a much modern hotel in downtown. Went to the spice bazaar and I got myself awesome sumac and Isot. Only time we had to eat in Urfa was at a tiny kebab place which only had 6 tables and the cooking was done outside on the sidewalk on a charcoal grill. I don`t know what it was but I could swear by it that it was the best kebab I had in my entire life. So I ordered 4 portions and stuffed myself post-51-0-79475000-1327355318_thumb.jpg

I was just thinking that I had no more room to eat or breathe this awesome `Kunefe` showed up in the size of a car wheel. post-51-0-20232100-1327355409_thumb.jpg yes I ate as much as I can.

After the breakfast at the hotel we started moving and next stop was Mardin. We had lunch at `Rido Usta Kebapcisi`. Meat is grinded with cleavers and they use more fat than usual. It was very good but not as good as Urfa kebab. post-51-0-41217000-1327355880_thumb.jpgpost-51-0-21178600-1327355897_thumb.jpgpost-51-0-27822700-1327355915_thumb.jpgpost-51-0-16295000-1327355937_thumb.jpggotto have those grilled peppers and tomatoes.

We did not stay in Mardin and started driving to Diyarbakir as we had an evening flight back to Istanbul. In Diyarbakir planned dinner was to eat lamb ribs. Long cooking time and spices made this dish very tasty. It was very fatty as well. post-51-0-81696300-1327356447_thumb.jpgpost-51-0-00057400-1327356477_thumb.jpg

there was also lamb intestines stuffud with heart, liver and rice. Yes, I ate all of it and enjoyed it. post-51-0-13332300-1327356568_thumb.jpg Next to the intestines is `icli kofte` bulgur stuffed with ground meat, rice and other spices.

We had dessert somewhere else and I have pictures of them but this post is getting long and I am tired now. If anybody is interested I can email them. Any questions are welcome.

I truly enjoyed this 3 day trip with lots of food. If any of you are going to Turkey, make extra time and go visit this side of the country. I highly recommend and you will be so glad you did.

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