29 July 2014

Turkish Wine of the Week - Corvus Tenia

I'm a little late with this week's post. It's so hot and humid in Istanbul these days it seems that even the Internet can't be fussed to work. Knock on wood but it seems to have recovered at least a little today, although I have to compose all my emails in advance so I can hit 'send' during one of its working moments.

But back to the point. I've had a couple wine now from Corvus and I'm not sure that I'm a fan. Could be I'm just picking the wrong grapes. Th Corvus Tenia is a single grape wine made out of the Çavuş grape. Unfortunately I have no information about this grape despite somewhat exhaustive online searching. Even my trusty Wines of Turkey website let me down. If anyone can tell me about the properties of Çavuş, please do!

Even Sherlock is skeptical

What I got out of it from my own, not so keenly honed, senses was that it's so Chardonnay adjacent as to be a first cousin. One that married its first cousin Chardonnay at some point.

It has a nice color which is probably the last good thing I'll say. A nice dark, yellowish gold which I, correctly or not, associate with barrel aging. It was very floral on the nose which also came out in the flavor. I tasted mostly the floral and some citrus and I'm going to go out on a limb and say there was also a little butteryness from the suspected barrel aging.

If you like dry white (which I don't) and/or Chardonnay (which I also don't) then you might like this. I'm not saying it was terrible, just that it wasn't to my taste. But if this ever made its way back into my wine cupboard here I'd probably save it for use as a cooking wine.

25 July 2014


I've been to Buyukada a few times, most recently in April for the Festival of Saint George (still waiting for my wish to come true) but that's the only of Istanbul's Prince's Islands that I've visited. With MG still in town (no she's not actually still here, I'm just insanely lazy about posting) it seemed like a good time to try a new island.

Personally...they seem really similar. Heybeyliada has slightly shorter hills and unlike Buyukada has some flat spaces. When you debark at Buyukada you have to start walking uphill almost immediately. In theory Heybeyliada also does not allow motor vehicles...but the naval academy/base has vehicles driving hinder and yon so there's more traffic.

What Heybeliada DOES have going for it is a fantastic little bakery just behind the main seaside road. The bakery has a range of scrummy goodness but my favorites are the giant macaroons (cocos) that are 2TL each I think...maybe they're even just 1TL. They're glorious and if you like coconut these will not fail you. It's worth the 90 minute boat ride just to get some of these. Seriously.

Seriously? This cracked me up.
I have decided though that if I need a wee get away from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul, and from Sherlock who now thinks the best way to wake me up is to wrap herself around one of my feet and attack, that I will stay at the Merit Halki Palace Hotel. Who wouldn't want to stay in something cotton candy pink?

The hotel looks beautiful, has a pool (which may even overlook the Marmara), and looks like the perfect venue for a wedding. So I guess it's a good thing they do weddings. They do events of all kinds so I might try to convince my current employers that they need to hold their next meeting here.

Merit Halki Palace Hotel

22 July 2014

Turkish Wine of the Week - Vinkara Domi-Sek Misket

I'm a little late with this week's post. After the "preview" Sunday night I spent Monday largely in bed hating myself. I'm not even sure at this point if I'll manage to drink anything this week to post next Monday! But since this one was already drafted...lets go.
Vinkara has not previously been one of my favorite wine producers and so it is with the quattro domi-sek.

This is the first of the Miskets I've tried that has truly been a semi-dry. Quite probably that's why it's not a favorite for me. It was not at all bad and I think, even at 35TL a bottle, I might like to give it another try and see what I think of it a second time around. As with anything else, if you have a flavor idea in your mind and the actual flavor doesn't match, you end up completely off your stride.

I think the view might have improved the flavor!

While the nose and flavor profiles were within the same family as the sweeter Miskets I've been drinking, the taste was quite a lot drier and the orange blossom and honey flavors I've come to expect much less evident. You can even see in the pictures how much darker the color is which (combined with the drier taste) make me wonder if perhaps this was oaked at any point.

It went quite well with a dessert Stilton I picked up recently in London and with chocolate; however it went far less well with peaches and nectarines. Shudder. That I won't do again. But the wine I just might; just not any time soon...

20 July 2014

Turkish Wine of the Week - A Preview

Yes, it's Sunday night...well technically I suppose it's Monday morning which means I'm early for my usual wine post. And I have no pictures because I'm old school and I actually have to upload them from a camera, resize them, then upload them to the blog. HOWEVER, I've been asked by one of my current guests, to live blog our current wine adventures. It is...1:07 AM and I'm on my terrace with five if my new favorite people, one of whom has asked me to live blog our current drinking adventures.

We began our evening at one of my favorite restaurants in Sultanahment (The Anatolya Cafe and Restaurant) with four bottles of wine. And, like a good Turk, I invited them back to mine for more. We are now on our eighth bottle and I've been asked to both live and guest blog the drinking. I promise that pictures and real reviews will follow.

M has just now helped me fix the view as I somehow managed to make it really tiny. I know how to fix this on Chrome but not Firefox. And while I peer at my keyboard (we're on the terrace so my only light is from the screen and ambient city life (and bleeding ell now I've gone and blown up the view so now I'm typing a blog for either a child or a really really blind person) but the conversation in the background is about gay people, Nosferatu, and fish sandwiches (balik ekmek).

It's been pointed out to me that this might sound less than PC and I should mention that E is gay. So it's ok that I mentioned that we're talking about gay people.

"My office did not say one word when SCOTUS struck down Don't Ask Don't Tell and Prop 8 and DOMA..."and now I've lost the quotation but apparently you need one gay guy on a boat. And you have to pay an extra dollar for white rice at Jandara Thai in Woodley Park.

And we're back to a revolving conversation about C needing to replace his carpet. Apparently his wife is Skyping in from a third county to do house cleaning inspections. Which is awesome.

And apparently, for my visitors, this trip is about  transitioning his job to M and E touching M's milky white skin...dude I don't even know anymore. And now we're making babies. Not actively though, however the conversation is about as fun as actually making a baby. And K and M, who are both under 30 (ugh, seriously that just hurts me) have just been relegated to the children's table.

And now we're talking about how I'm too old to have children and I'm sounding veeery Western MI. Luckily I have K to remind me that we're not from Minnesota...and now E (who's gay remember) has moved on to a woman he slept with in New Orleans. This is fascinating. And I have to correct a lot of spelling errors. More than usual.

I don't even know how to write this but the conversation has shifted to sex and babies with Mexicans. Which I didn't quite think should be included here...but when the visitors tells you to do things, you have to do them.

This is actually a really difficult conversation to document. Having worked in a series of NGOs I'm fairly familiar with a number of acronyms but my friends have a whole different set of their own.

"Have ya'll ever done Ketamine?"

Yes this is my life. It consists of Turkish classes, drinking wine, my cat, online classes (I now know all about blood spatter), and bizarre people. But bizarre people really are the best.

"What is a wet burger?"

"Just let your mouth taste it!"

"What's that brown bag in your freezer?"*

It is now 1:57 AM. I assume that I don't have to work tomorrow. I sent my current employer a message to ascertain whether or not I am needed tomorrow (they're about 45 min away) but I have no emails. So Imma turn off my alarm clock. Which doesn't matter because Sherlock (currently hiding in my bedroom) is going to wake me before 8 AM for her morning wet food feeding.

Apparently C only brought one pair of pants. He insists that M not spill wine on them because he's not going to Gap. I said there wasn't one here but he corrected me. There is indeed a Gap here. In the same mall on Istiklal where there's an Arby's. Sadly, Arby's does not deliver.

I worry we might be too loud but the Ramadan drum banging guy has already started so...and now we're putting things on our nipples. Well, no. E is putting things on his nipples and my not to be named employed friends are posing with said nipples (at C's urging I named their employer earlier  but that has since been edited out). There are pictures. I will not post them. You're welcome.

"This is the one that asked me for the vaginal soap. With cranberry oil.  Triple action."

I don't even know anymore.

Also apparently I'm getting a hundred million dollars to move to Gaziantep. That is my base price for moving there, so that's cool.

E just said one of his subordinates needed a butt plug.  Classy.

'Furtive' is apparently a white verb. I'm not even sure what that means.

And M just broke suuuuper expensive sunglasses trying to pick up poor Sherlock. My poor baby.

"You don't have good people in government." Truer words, man. Truer words.

"Go Ramadan!" (In response to drummer ass butt).

"Do you smell my Patchouli?" 2:51 AM

C is now reading my coffee fortune. I tried to speed drink my coffee but it was so hot... I apparently have three smoke stacks. They are overtly good luck and the fact that I have three are a good sign. I have a lot of white sections which excite him because it means I have a lot of opportunity ahead of me. And he sees mountains. Which means heights of expecations which are the challanges I will succeed in achieving. The only concern he has is the dark bottom. I had to thumb print it which was really hard and now my hand is covered in coffee grounds.Now there's Arabic which I don't understand. Now i have a fish and a giver which means I have generosity and opportunity which is the 2nd time he said opportunity. It's a man giving fish apparently. Flying fish represents zeal and enthusians and passion for something. And he sees a pregnant woman. The preganat wonam has long hair. Like mine. I will become pregnant in the next 12 months. C says the baby dadddy is someone in Scotland. I must leave the cup, which is a good one, for a couple days. I will take a not drunk blurry pic tomorrow morning. It's a white a white cup which means clarity and purity, lack of confusion.

He likes the cup. And I must admit that I am not confused. Drink, and faced with wine I did not finish (I abandoned my cup for the coffee) but not confused!

Also I hope my neighbors, mostly my downstairs neighbor who is also my Sherlock sitter, is not disturbed by our noise. After they left and Sherlock came in (poor baby, she was not happy, I had to give her more wet food) I dropped the padlock to my terrace and it made a terrible clatter.

At this point I have no idea what I've written. Apparently it is a masterpiece and I am Pulitzer bound. Is there a blog Pulitzer? I shall post this before we all come to our senses.

I'm pretty sure I've read this and have edited everything that is legally not supposed to be said...if not I imagine they will tell me. I'm to send them all the link. I really hope they make it back to their hotel alive. It would be bad on many levels if I contributed to their death,

It is now 3:22 AM. My alarm is definitely being turned off. I will attempt to stay awake until I figure they've all stopped for a wet hamburger (jealous much) and got to their hotel. Apparently there will be more drinking tomorrow. God help me.

*It's coffee by the way. The brown bag in my freezer.

16 July 2014

Ephesus. Again. Times Five.

Just because we left Cappadocia behind does not mean that my adventures with MG were over! She did a pretty comprehensive tour of the main highlights in Istanbul before we even left for Cappadocia so on the tail end of that trip there were a few days left. And what do you do when you have a day to spare? You go to Ephesus.

I wonder if there's a record for 'most visits' to Ephesus. I think I'd win.

Because we'd had such an early flight and early wake up calls in Cappadocia, MG nixed my usual 6:45 AM flight to Izmir in favor of a 10:30. We had less time but since the day's plan did not include the House of Mary or the Basilica of Saint John (the Apostle, not the Baptist-Lonely Planet and even the Basilica's ticket booth confuse them) I figured we would be ok.

In theory we were. See if you go to Ephesus and want to do the whole tour including Mary House then you're set because there are cabs right at the bus and their sole purpose is to take you to Mary House, wait for you, then drop you off at the first of the two gates to Ephesus. If you don't want to take the cab you better hope you're on a tour bus or have your own car because there's no other way to get to the Mary House or the first entrance. Unfortunately for MG, I insisted that we enter Ephesus from the first gate and was convinced that it couldn't be more than 2-2.5 kilometers. You'd think I'd have learned something in Cappadocia. At least there wasn't flora trying to scratch us to death. That's probably about the only win.

Betting this isn't how it was done back in the day!


A significant while (and a bit of a hill) later we reached the first entrance. Where I was especially happy to have my Museum Card as they've recently raised the entrance fee from 25 to 30 TL.  Even more unfortunate is that the Ephesus Museum, which has been closed for something like two years already, is still not open. And no one seems to know when it will open. Much of the statuary you see when you visit the city, for example the Muses on the library, are all replicas. Original pieces are kept in the (seemingly) terminally closed museum.

By the time we reached the second gate, MG agreed that it was better to start at the first entrance. Which doesn't really mean that she appreciated me making her walk all the way in the heat! The advantage to starting at the first gate is that you get to build up to the Celsus Library and the giant theatre. If that's where you're starting then everything is downhill. Except not really because if you walk from gate two to one it's uphill. Also, much as there are no taxis or dolmus to drop you off at the first gate, there are none to pick you up either. Which means you have to walk back to the second gate. Only something like 15-20% of the city has actually been excavated so you might think that walking it twice isn't such a big deal; but when you're walking around a marble city that seems to double as a sun reflector and have to dodge crowds of (other) tourists it becomes a much bigger issue!

Looks like I might be back here in December. Perhaps I'll ask after a frequent visitor program then!