I can’t believe how busy it is so early this season. We’re busy and are fully booked through into July already; we’ve been pretty much full since mid April and have been turning bookings away for the last couple of weeks. To be fair we only have the studio available to rent and so being full is really rather easy, but the big tourist sites are already bulging with visitors and with up to six cruise liners berthing each day at Kusadasi getting a tour guide is becoming a bit of a struggle.
Given the shear number of cruise ships any independent travellers hoping for a guided tour of Ephesus with a good guide are advised to make some plans either before they get here or pretty early in their stay. We tried to get a guide for our guests this week and our first choice wasn’t free for five days. They ended up finding one at the gates of Ephesus and report he was really good and so we now have a couple of people we can put guests in contact with but you may still need to be flexible. Given the choice most guides will swop their schedules around to take on a private tour if given a few days notice because, as one said to me this week, “I would rather do private tours, I’m not a sheep herder!”
I’ve just seen a copy of the newest Lonely Planet guide to Turkey and Kirazli gets a mention! This is actually big and rather surprising news and although it is a modest paragraph on the main Kusadasi page it is a specially highlighted paragraph and we rate as “worth a visit” in a small write up that is far more complimentary than the main review of Kusadasi. Is the village going mainstream? God, I hope not! I don’t think we’re about to become the next Sirince but it is really nice to get mentioned like this in a guide like Lonely Planet.Speaking of Sirince, we went there for dinner on Friday evening and in the midst of an impressive downpour had a lovely meal at one of the restaurants at the top of the village. I like Sirince out of hours, without the parking problems caused by the tour buses and the crowds of wandering tourists being lured into wine tasting it’s a low key and much nicer place and if you get the chance to go there in the evening take it. Whilst the clouds descended and the mists wreathed the higher houses we enjoyed a lovely meal with crispy fried vegetables, extremely well cooked liver and a fantastic salad dressed with wonderful olive oil and scattered with succulent purple olives. The family run restaurant was quiet and whilst the adults served us the younger family members played with a tiny, lop eared, pet rabbit at one of the nearby tables.
We went with our new friends to Selcuk market yesterday morning, stopping on the way at the Artemis Ceramic store in the town to see if they could pick up some nice pottery to take back to Canada. The shop was selling pleasant enough mass produced pieces that were pretty but not worthy of an Iznik price tag and we left rapidly when on asking the price of one bowl the bored to death sales girl turned and asked her friend in Turkish “what’s the price for foreigners?” He had the decency to look embarrassed when he realised I understood her but by then its too late. There is only one way to deal with things like that, you leave, and you never go back and you never take your friends there and you tell your friends who tell their friends that Artemis Ceramic in Selcuk sucks like a dyson!Elsewhere in Selcuk the welcome was warmer and on the market the stalls brimmed with quality produce and colourful heaps of cherries were everywhere, their prices halved from last week when the first of the season appeared.
Here are a few prices:-
Mulberries – 4tl for a big punnet, around half a kilo, fantastic taste, hell to get out of your tshirt if you dribble it down your front!
Cherries – already down to 3.5 – 4tl a kilo from 8tl a kilo last week
Various varieties of aged Tulum cheese – between 10 and 14tl a kilo
White cheese – between 5 and 7tl a kilo
Minced beef – 20tl a kilo
Boneless Chicken thighs – 8tl a kilo and far tastier than chicken breast
Olive Oil – home produced, dark green, good oil from the small local farms 6tl for a litre
Mushrooms – 4tl a kilo, no oyster mushrooms currently, only the cultivated button mushrooms.
Fresh herbs including rocket currently 3 or 4 bunches for a lira, I got two types of lettuce (Frisee and a variety of Chinese leaves) plus two bunches of rocket for 1.5tl.
Watermelons everywhere and honeydew melons are particularly nice at the moment.
Yufka 3.5tl for six and new potatoes 1tl a kilo
Kirazli’s farmers market is still running every Sunday in the square by the Muhtar’s office. There are normally about six to eight stalls set up and there are some nice ingredients available in addition to what ever crop is in season. Last week broad beans were available at 1tl a kilo and this week it will be cherry central.
My new favourite ingredient is Grape Molasses (üzüm pekmez) 4tl a bottle, fantastic mixed in with oil for a salad dressing or just drizzled over cheese.Rose petal jam is a another new favourite, it tastes like liquid lokum and costs 2tl a jar, our friends this week loved it and brought two jars to take home with them.
New season pine honey 10tl for a big jar, 5tl for a small jar, very dark, very fragrant and wonderful drizzled over thick kaymak.Finally, today, Vinnie had a hair cut. When he staggered in through the courtyard doors two years ago doing his (excellent) impression of “dog about to die” we didn’t think he would last more than a few weeks but survive he did and with quantities of good food he got fitter and his fur got longer and thicker and longer and thicker and despite threatening to shave him last year we never got around to buying clippers. Well today we got clippers and Vinnie got shaved. He treated the whole thing as a spa experience and just lay there whilst Nick sweated and slogged and sheared away mountains of dense ginger fur. It isn’t the prettiest hair cut you’ve ever seen and it will need tidying up but Vinnie will certainly be cooler this summer, and as an added bonus he’ll be blonde, his fur was only bright ginger at the ends.