Having been most fortunate to have spent the majority of my summer’s holiday abroad, whether it had been in Italy or time spent living in Turkey, this year was an exception. I thought it would be nice to ‘experience’ the 6 weeks of the school holidays at home for a change, in Edinburgh, sampling the delights of the city and its many treats! HA! Not a chance – this having been the wettest summer ever in the history of the world! Or so it felt. Being reminded daily by my charming children that it had been my clever suggestion not to go abroad, and listening to their daily blow by blow accounts of what we would have normally been doing had we actually gone away. Inside I was quietly agreeing with them having regretted bitterly my decision then to stay home!
So in sticking by guns, I had turned down the opportunity to have had a beach front, white washed villa, 2 yards from the sea, nestled in a quiet fishing village in Turkey, where no noisy bars, clubs or cars allowed as it is a historic sight preserving the traditional Turkish village for all its glory. Where we have been going for so long now that we have become ‘well-kent’ faces to the locals and so have a real sense of ‘coming home’, when on arrival, we are greeted as long lost friends. Being able to only reach our villa by walking along the beach, you can glance out over the bay where you see the remains of an ancient sunken city; we have spent hour after hour bobbing on the sea with a snorkel and the kids,“oohing and aahing” at the sight of an ancient old roads or at the variety of coloured fish.
The villa (one of only around a dozen on the beach) is drenched in bougainvillaea, shading the courtyard: the location of long balmy evenings, barbequing fresh fish caught daily in the bay and delivered personally by the local fisherman. It overlooks the tiny stone jetty where the kids spend days, throwing themselves off the end into crystal clear blue waters with the local children holding ‘diving competitions’. The beach is so small and really only used by the locals and seasonal visitors, so has a feeling of exclusivity and feels busy if we have around 30 or more people.
It seems as if time slows down here, spending all ours days lying on the beach, swimming, reading or snoozing under the vines in the courtyard until the sun goes down around 8ish. This is my favourite time of the day. As the beach begins to clear, our nightly ritual begins. We bring down the ’comfy’ chairs facing them in the direction of the setting sun, to watch the sky change from brilliant blue, to orange and red whilst sipping on a cold beer or wine. The background noises consist of splashing water as the kids still swim in the sea; the chinking of plates and glasses as the restaurants set up for their evening trade and the rattle of the boat’s anchor chains as they berth for the night. No matter how many times we have gone there, I am still overwhelmed by this beautiful setting and utter the words; “this really is the life”. We spend the majority of the time in swimming togs as it’s only if we have guests that we feel the need to get dressed up. There is no need to change as evening wear consists of throwing on a shirt or a wrap over your swimmers.
If do we feel the urge to venture out, then it’s a gentle stroll along the beach front to the evening market stalls, where the traditional handmade crafts are made in little wooden sheds on the road side. Or to sit in local restaurants that are built on wooden pillars sitting on the water and watch tea lights as they float off into the sea. Or there is nothing better to sit at home and watch the world go by from our own wee courtyard.
Needless to say, I will no longer be a member of the holiday committee in our house !
Stuffed Aubergines or Imam Bayildi (The Priest Fainted)
- 2 medium aubergines
- 250g of minced lamb or beef (whichever you prefer or mixture of them both)
- 1 onion chopped
- Clove of chopped garlic
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. cumin
- Tin of chopped tomatoes
- Squirt of tomato puree
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil
- Chopped parsley
- Veg or chicken stock
- Heat the oven to 200°C/180°F.
- Cut the aubergines in half lengthways. Leave the stalk if you can. Carefully scoop out the middle of the aubergine, trying not to pierce the flesh and set this aside. You should now have 4 empty cases. Rub these with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the aubergines in an ovenproof dish and cook covered in the over for around 30 mins.
- Chop the inside of the aubergines and fry in a large frying pan until soft and browned.
- Remove this from the pan and place to one side.
- Brown off the mince, then add the onion and garlic and cook until softened.
- Add the cinnamon, cumin and oregano, and cook for a minute or so.
- Put the cooked inside of the aubergines into the mixture.
- Add a squirt of puree and the tin of tomatoes. Add some stock and the parsley.
- Turn down to a simmer and cook for about 20 mins or so until the mixture has thickened. Check from time to time and add more stock if it becomes too thick.
- Now take out the aubergine halves and fill them with the cooked mixture.
- You may wish to sprinkle them with grated cheese or slices of fresh tomatoes.
- Place in the oven, uncovered for around 30 mins.
Serve these on their own or I tend to serve these with natural yoghurt with pureed garlic and grated cucumber and a sprinkling of salt.