Saturday, 27 September 2008

Sailing the Turquoise Coast 2

Loryma was our next stop.  Loryma is a spectacular hidden harbour where over 200 boats assembled before heading off to Troy.  Guarding this magnificent harbour, Loryma has a ruined fort perched high on the headland.   All that remains are the fort walls which literally skim the cliff.  We clambered along these walls, precariously picking our way around the total circumference of the fort.  The drop is sheer down to the sea and at points you literally have to  dig your feet into grooves in the rock and climb.  The view is magnificent and although it is clearly dangerous, it is refreshingly non-european in the sense that there are no warning signs and no restrictions - people are free to clamber and climb at their own risk.
We had some amazing sails during the week, visiting beautiful deserted bays and witnessing fragments of Turkey's ancient past, it was truly a memorable holiday.  What stands out is how wonderful the crew were.   Every day Mehmet laid on a beautiful breakfast spread, two course lunch, afternoon tea with freshly baked cake or biscuits, pre dinner drinks and nibbles polished off with a three course dinner and all of this in a small galley kitchen ... my hat goes off to him.  Turkey still has national service and Mehmet explained that he learnt all of his skills as an army cook.  Lucky Turkish army if that's the quality of the food they get to eat! I needn't have worried about the brioche!! Two days on board and I'd undone a fair few months of being good! To give you an idea, this was the feast that was breakfast....

N and I are going flotilla sailing in September 2009 and I have already been designated Cook ... I have a lot to live up to!!!! 

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Sailing The Turquoise Coast 1

It was truly a wonderful week... beautiful weather, great company, lots of sailing, lovely food and early morning swims off the boat in the quiet balmy water.  Every day we'd arrive at a new place, jump into the launch and go off exploring.  We stopped at Knidos a (amazingly preserved) ruined ancient Greek town in modern Turkey replete with its own amphitheater ... 

... what a beautiful setting, you can imagine it in full use, crammed with people, twinkling lights, hustle and bustle and then silence before the play began looking out over the glimmering water.  

Our next stop after Knidos was the Greek island of Symi, this involved a short stop at the Turkish port of Datcha where Mehmet the captain had to spend some hours sorting out our papers in order to cross the border.  Mehmet was not only our captain, but also the chef,  so he used this stop as an opportunity to stock up on fresh fruit, herbs, freshly caught fish and vegetables.  Soon we were starting our 2.30 hour sail to Symi.  After a quick stop off for a swim we arrived early evening and oh what a beautiful harbour, little houses all painted yellow with splashes of colour around door and window frames ....

Beautiful.   We had showers to wash the salt out of our hair and the sun cream from our skin and put on our glad rags for our one night off the boat.  For one evening and one evening only we were forsaking Mehmet's wonderful cooking to go ashore for a meal.  We had selected the Mythos Roof Terrace Restaurant.  After drinks and nibbles at the back of the boat we strolled around the harbour in the evening heat to find the restaurant.  What a view, uninterrupted across the harbour.  There are two ways to eat at Mythos, either from their lovely menu or the chefs choice, the chefs choice means that Stavros keeps bringing you dishes until you tell him to stop. Obviously this is what we went for and the food was DELICIOUS, modern Greek specialities galore but there was so much of it ... by the end we were crying for mercy! We rolled our way back to the boat and all slept very well that night! The next morning after breakfast we got into a people carrier and explored the island's dizzying heights before returning to the boat ... Next stop Loryma

The Journey

We almost didn't get there.  N and I arrived at Heathrow airport about three hours early, it was 6 o'clock in the morning and no one else was there... including the check in staff.  This was my fault, I had booked the taxi from his flat in London and needless to say N wasn't very happy.  This is one of the key differences between us, he is happy to arrive at an airport half an hour before a plane is about to take off and rush through by the skin of his teeth.  I operate at the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I like to get there really early, go to WH Smiths and buy an extra book (or three - there's inevitably some kind of deal that I can't pass up!), potter round, have a bit of breakfast, start reading one of my new purchases ...  But okay admittedly this time we were there far far too early ... there was us ... and a cleaner!  

When we linked up with his family and his brother's girlfriend and finally went through to departures we discovered the plane was delayed ... rubbish!  Even more rubbish was that this meant we'd miss our connecting flight in Istanbul to Bodrum where we had to meet the boat.  Considering there were seven of us we didn't hold out much hope of being able to get seats on the one remaining flight to Bodrum that day.  The men (N is one of three boys) got their blackberries out and started looking up timetables - we considered ferries, trains and busses.   Let me tell you - we were worried - even if we did make it we were pretty certain our checked-through luggage would not, and all had visions of a week in the heat on a boat in jeans and a t-shirt.  

In true N style though he got us to all chill out and soon we were on our way to Istanbul.   On landing we got through to domestic departures and we managed to nab the last seven seats on the last remaining flight - hooray things were going our way!   Before we knew it we were being met at Bodrum airport by Hassan who collected us (and thank goodness all of our luggage) and piled us into his people carrier to take us to the gullet.  During our transfer from the airport to the boat, through the hubub of Bodrum and then out along roads that seemed to hover halfway between land and the sea, the sun fell and the moon rose.   We arrived at the gullet, chose our cabins, and almost immediately the crew made ready to set sail.  We were poured a glass of fizz, all of the lights on board were dimmed, and off we sailed in the quiet moonlight to a little cove where, suitably calmed, we sat down to a scrumptious feast of a dinner  ... in this short space of peaceful time we all forgot airports, luggage and aeroplanes ... we had arrived, we were on holiday!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Sailing the ocean waves

I am going on holiday on Saturday with my fella and his family. We are sailing around Turkey and Greece for a week on this ... I am very excited ... very very very excited. Did I mention that I am excited?!

Monday, 8 September 2008

Tea with jam (and bread)

My favourite confiture is very special indeed. I was introduced to it by an American friend when we took a girls weekend to Paris a couple of years ago. We were all about to finish our training as Chefs de Patisserie at Le Cordon Bleu in London and we thought it only right that we should go to Paris to do some serious sampling. Which of course we did … with great gusto. We tried many beautiful patisseries from the very special Ladurée to an ordinary (but amazing) local patisserie in Montmatre. And then our friend took us to Mariage Frères. Mariage Frères on the rue du Bourg Tibourg, is a wonder. It is one of the finest well- known tea companies in France, founded in 1854. Downstairs the walls are lined with tea caddies (they have literally hundreds of varieties of teas) and tea accessories.
Upstairs are the tea rooms, with starched white table linen. There we each selected a different type of tea and all opted for brioche (of course) with the company's very own gelee. But the gelée! Oh my goodness! The gelée is made from their most fragrant teas, it is fine, almost liquidy in texture and absolutely bursts with flavour! We greedily sampled marco polo and pharaeon both of which were absolutely divine. Of course we all plunged straight down stairs after sipping our beautiful tea and bought jars of it. Back at home I gave some as gifts and kept two delicous jars for myself. But it wasn’t long before it had all gone, however hard I tried to stretch it out. I keep telling myself that I will go back to Paris to buy some more but sadly I have not got round to it yet. It is with great excitement then that I have recently discovered that they have an online shop – hooray! You can visit it at So I am going to place an order and that should keep me going until I can arrange that trip…

Mmmm ... Brioche

Mmmm … brioche, buttery eggy deliciousness. I LOVE it! You can eat it all sorts of ways – plain, converted into a delicious pudding, fried with egg mixture to make the lovliest French toast but I like mine straight out of the toaster with a thin sliver of butter (not that there’s not plenty of butter in it already - I am just really greedy) and some jam. More about jam later. So on Friday evening when I was doing my shopping after work I went to the bakery section and asked them for some fresh yeast (they will always give you some for free, which is lovely) and spent the evening making brioche-a-tete and pate levee feuillete for croissants and pain au chocolat. I have now had a lovely couple of days eating toasted brioche for breakfast. Did I mention that I LOVE it? It leaves you with such a lovely warm feeling inside for hours and hours and although it is really bad for you, I think it must be really good for you too as it makes you feel so lovely. That said I should NOT be eating brioche as I’m trying to be good before going on holiday on Saturday … I just can’t help myself!

Hiding From The Rain

I have a new little house, it is the perfect place to hide from the rain. It is made of wood and the windows are plastic but with a paint brush and a few pots of cream and lavender paint and a few odd bits and bobs rescued from the garage / attic (and some cup hooks), it is as cosy as anything. Its a wonderful place to find some quiet with a flask of coffee to read or write. It's amazing what a difference painting up odd bits of furniture can make. The table with the radio is the cheapest plant table from ikea - dab some cream paint on it and it comes up a treat! The beautiful table and chairs outside the front of The Cwtch are from the lovely Xantippe in Cowbridge ( The Cwtch (as we've named it ... of course) is so cosy that it's hard to tear yourself away from it! Once secreted inside you have your own little world away from television, telephones and other people, it's like having your own 'den' again!