[Turkey] Exploring Cappadocia with Gastromasa 2017

Hello Cappadocia! I was in Istanbul last week to attend the 3rd International Gastromasa Gastronomy Conference where we heard from top chefs around the world talk about the theme "Product", but first we started our tour of Turkey in beautiful Cappadocia which is best known for its surreal landscape and hot air balloon rides. I heard that the weather had been rather unstable and no balloons had gone up in a week, so imagine my surprise when I saw this magical sight on the rooftop of my hotel Cappadocia Cave Suites at sunrise! Even though I didn't get to ride in a hot air balloon this time, seeing this was just as awe-inspiring and a definite highlight of our time here. 

Designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site, the spectacular lunar landscape of Cappadocia is another must-see while you are visiting the area. The rock formations (aka fairy chimneys) are formed by volcanic ash and erosion, and during 4th century AD humans started to burrowing into the landscape to create caves, churches and even underground cities. The Goreme Open Air Museum is probably the most famous site to see a series of  cave churches and monasteries with carefully preserved biblical frescoes (wall paintings).

We also visited other famous rock formations in the area including the mushroom-shaped fairy chimneys in Pasabag (Monks Valley) and the Esentepe Panoramic Viewpoint with amazing views of Goreme Valley and Mount Erciyes!

Camel rides are available at Pasabag in case you get tired of the views. 

The views at the Esentepe Panoramic Viewpoint were breathtaking and we were lucky to have a clear view of Mount Erciyes in the distance. 

Nature also gave people in Cappadocia valuable red clay to make pottery with from the Red River (the longest river in Turkey), and the town of Avanos is particularly known for this traditional art so we visited Venessa Seramik in Avanos for some pottery demonstration and shopping.

This man is drawing the designs on the vase by freehand.

We were then shown the 5 different stages that the plate has to go through before it turns into an finished product. 

Check out the intricate designs of this plate!

This shop can ship the ceramics to wherever you live so you don't have to worry about lugging them around in your suitcase.

Of course since we were attending a gastronomy conference, we had a few special meals with the first being a local restaurant Uchisar Kadineli Restaurant which was run by all women. We were served delicious traditional comfort food and even got to watch some of the women make Turkish flatbread.

Tea is an important part of Turkish culture and at the end of every meal, Turkish tea is always served.

When we were finished with our meal, we walked outside to a small building where we found a few women making the yufka (Turkish flatbread). 

It was freezing outside but the room was really warm from the heated iron plate that was used to bake the sheets of yufka dough. 

The last meal we had in Cappadocia was a memorable one as it was prepared by future chefs at the Cappadocia Culinary School. We were warmly welcomed by all of the teachers and students while we enjoyed our lunch in the open courtyard.

Our time in Cappadocia flew by quickly and it was time to depart for Istanbul - stay tuned for more of my adventures in Turkey!

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