The cuisine and handicrafts of a region are really two of the most important aspects of traveling to a new place. Since Cappadocia has been a grape growing and wine making region for literally thousands of years – it’s no suprirse that vinophiles can find some extraordinary wines here. And of course, where there is wine – there is culture. Cappadocia teems with wonderful wine, food and art.
Our rooms at Taskonaklar were stocked with both a white and red wine from Kocabag Vineyards. While Cappadocia is more known for its white wines, I found the red (karmezi sek sarap = dry red wine) to be the superior of the two. Light, rich and filled with subtle influences. The Kocabag vineyards are located in the village of Avanos which is also Cappadocia’s center for ceramics and pottery.
Archeologists have found evidence that wine making has been taking place in Cappadocia for nearly 6000 years and since this is the region where the Christian church really came into being – it’s no wonder that wine is such an important part of the sacrament. Another vineyard of this region is the Gestin Winery. Gestin was an ancient Goddess who was worshipped in this area around 3000 BC – Gestin actually means vine or grape.
The largest winery in Cappadocia is Turasin Vineyards which was started in 1943 and offers visits to their showroom and free tastings for visitors in the nearby city of Nevsihir.
It’s no surprise that where there is great wine you can usually find great food and we’ve been eating plenty of it while we’ve been here. Of course, the biggest treat was our anniversary dinner at Elai Restaurant, but we’ve also enjoyed some wonderful food and drink here at Taskonaklar and on our outings in the area. Our tour of Avanos and North Cappadocia with Yama Tours included a delightful Turkish family style lunch and when we wandered into the magnificent Museum Hotel we enjoyed not only the art and artifacts but also the tea provided as we looked out over Goreme and Avanos and everything in between.
In fact, the specialty of the region combines food and pottery with a special meal cooked in a tall ceramic pot which is filled and then placed in hot coals for up to twelve hours. We had a delicious example at Cappadocia Cooking.
With so much great food and wine (not to mention the incredible landscape) there is plenty of inspiration for art here in Cappadocia and while we have barely scratched the surface – we have been enjoying the creative juices.
In Avanos we were walked through the process of creating the famous Cappadocian pottery and ceramics. The clays of Cappadocia are particularly fine and as such, this is really a potters heaven.
Hanane took a short private course in the 500 year old Ottoman art of Ebru (marbling) from Naile Bozkurt, a master of the art. Ebru isn’t chiseled or painted. Its beauty is unveiled through water. Every tiny drop of color descends into a sea of possibilities as a masterpiece is born.
Ebru is the art of creating colorful patterns by sprinkling and brushing color pigments on a pan of water mixed with cactus milk and then transforming this pattern to paper. The specialized tools are brushes of horsehair bound to straight rose twigs, a deep tray made of unknotted pinewood, natural earth pigments, cattle gall and tragacanth (cactus milk).
Coming originally from Turkistan in the 13th Century, this art found it’s way around the world but flourished under the Ottoman calligraphers which is why Ebru, most often seen as the marbled paper in the front of books is commonly called “Turkish paper.”
Art is everywhere in Cappadocia- from the trinkets, dolls and ceramic fairy chimneys sold to tourists to the wonderful rugs, carpets and textiles (also sold to tourists) used in Cappadocian homes during the long winters. In fact, we even found a temporary exhibition of ‘police art’ at the Cappadocia Forum (a big modern shopping mall) when we went there to get a sun hat for Sophia. Here are a few more photos of food, wine and art in Cappadocia.