Cooking on Turkey's Aegean Coast
About the location: Along the southwestern coastline of Turkey on the Bodrum peninsula, discover Ortakent, which means ‘middle town.’ The translation is an appropriate one here, for it’s a place where the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean, where gorgeous coastline meets sleepy hamlets and sun-dappled paths. Soak up the sun in this walker’s paradise, where the small village of Ortakent is full of hand-crafted stone houses that offer breath-taking views of not only the Aegean Sea but also Gokova Bay and the Island of Kos. Just 20 minutes from the city of Bodrum, Ortakent is the perfect place to relax and discover the wonders of Turkish cuisine.
About the accommodations: Your home for the week is in one of 23 unique villas built on a hill overlooking Ortakent. These hand-crafted stone houses are connected to one another with winding stone alleyways and stair streets, which were modeled after ancient Roman models back when Bodrum was known as Halicarnassus. Each stone-villa is different but complementary to the rest. Both exteriors and interiors are outfitted and finished with ornamental wood, ceramics, and tiles hand-made in the village. The complex also includes a restaurant, artistic outlets and artisanal ateliers.
About the cooking lessons: Turkish cuisine may be considered international — as it fuses Middle Eastern, Balkan, and Central Asian cuisine — but it does rely heavily on vegetables, olive oil and garlic. Traditions run deep here, and no one is better versed in sharing those traditions than your host and chef for the week, English-speaking Aslihan. As a graduate of Istanbul Bosphorus University, Aslihan majored in both business administration and hospitality management. After working as an executive in the hospitality industry for many years, Aslihan opened a restaurant in Ortakent and started organizing Turkish cooking classes. She will teach you all about healthy Aegean cooking, which includes a lot of vegetables cooked in olive oil, and traditional Turkish dishes with a twist.