At a cocktail reception I attended, the cocktails were fruit juice, even though the hotel where this event took place had a beautiful bar.
I did have wine one evening, at Bayazhan Restaurant in Gaziantep, a beautiful place with vaulted ceilings like a historical monument (above). Wine was poured there at a dinner during Gaziantep's inaugural Bulgur Festival.
This is a closer look at the label. The words kirmizi sek şarap under 2013 mean dry red wine. Read more about Kayra wines by clicking here.
Dinner started with a yogurt soup that contained cubes of lamb, chick peas and, in honor of the Bulgur Festival, grains of bulgur wheat.
Dolma--stuffed dried eggplant and peppers--contained meat and rice (above). We also ate çiğ köfte, Turkey's version of steak tartare, made with raw lamb instead of beef. The lamb is "cooked" with spices rubbed into it by hand.
In the eastern part of Turkey, each town has its own special cheese. Four of these were on a plate along with dried figs, apricots, raisins, olives, walnuts, cucumbers and tomatoes. On the left is a salad of walnuts with tiny olives.
Another salad combined purslane with onions, sweet red peppers, tomato and flecks of red chile. The purslane salads in Gaziantep were delightful, and I noticed how common that green was in markets there (above). The Turkish word for purslane (verdolaga) is semizotu.
For dessert, there was carrot baklava (above), which includes no carrots but is named for its long slim shape. The Turkish way to eat this is by hand, turned upside down so that the syrupy layer is on top.
Note: This dinner took place during Gaziantep's bulgur festival in 2016. I postponed publishing it because of terrorism incidents at that time and the more recent denial of visas to American citizens. Would I return to Turkey now? Absolutely. The food and people are wonderful. I would love to spend time again in markets, bakeries, restaurants and book stores, aspects of Turkish culture overshadowed by more sensational news.