The cooking aromas in Alacati

By | Category: Travel destinations
a snack in Alacati

a snack in Alacati that has to include many of the local herbs – and wines!

Last year, as part of his Venice to Istanbul travel cum food series, Rick Stein stopped off in the Turkish town of Alacati.Up until then I would be prepared to bet that many Brits had never heard of the town or its famed herb festival. Apart from a  few newspaper stories, there is little information. The Turkish tourist board website has no link or mention to the town that I can see. Is it any wonder then that few people outside Turkey know of it.

Alacati is an Aegean coastal town backed by hillsides of vineyards and olive trees which still has its traditional air of cobbled streets and original stone cottages – many of which have been converted into pretty boutique hotels and guesthouses. As one of the best-preserved historic towns in Aegean Turkey, it is known to have the country’s best boutique hotels and is also a popular gourmet destination, hence Rick Stein dropping by.

It is close to such historic sites as Ephesus but for those with a sporting bent, it is also known as Turkey’s premier windsurfing and kite surfing resort. Alacati is also one of top spots in the world for the sport. Alacati has unspoilt sandy beaches nearby and, the old tourist brochures used to say, is popular with Turks, though as yet not so widely known by international travellers.

Stein has changed all that.

Why does it appear to gourmands? Alacati is an amalgam town with a blend of Greek, Jewish, Levantine and Turkish history and that mixture shows through in its cooking. One of the reasons that the herb festival is so well known is that each of the blended cultures relies on herbs as substantial flavourings in their cuisine. The combination means that a vast array of herbs is available.
One of the most popular Spring activities is wine-tasting, Nearby are the Urlice, Urla, Mozaik or Suvla wineries in Urla with local grape varieties such as Bornova Misketi and Urla Karasi. The vineyards also blend their own grapes with international varieties.

look down as you walk around he town and you see as much as looking straight ahead

look down as you walk around he town and you see as much as looking straight ahead

For those who prefer other activities, the 1.5 km-long beach at Ilica is close as is Cesme, a major port in Byzantine and Ottoman times, with a 14th-century Genoese castle. The Cesme peninsula is renowned for its thermal waters which are today part of the area’s variety of spa treatments; Sifne is also famous for its healing mud baths. For a gentle springtime trek, walk uphill from Ildiri to the ruins of Erythrai, once an important Ionian city dating from around 3000BC, for views of the Aegean Sea.
The closest airport to Alacati is Izmir which is served from Gatwick, Luton and Stansted (about a three hour flight) throughout the year. During the late spring/summer months Birmingham, Dublin and Manchester also have connections. The alternative is to fly via Amsterdam or take a flight into Istanbul and change on to a domestic flight.

For more about Alacati, click here

Images © explorealacati

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