The workshop will take place at Zeliş Çifliği (Zeliha’s Farmhouse), a Turkish-run family lodge complete with a loveable cocker spaniel named Bakır (“Copper”), gracious labrador retriever Sasha and young Caucasian shepherd Reis. Spread over a few buildings set in lush green hills overlooking the lake in Sapanca, Zeliş is just two hours by car from Istanbul. Thanks to its high-altitude setting nights at Zeliş are cool even in the heat of summer, the air is fresh and birdsong is the loudest noise you’ll hear. From right outside the door you can hike up a tree-covered incline for even more stellar views of the hills and lake below.
Olga’s mother-in-law Zeliha Hanım, a former national athlete and police officer, turned her former family summer house into a hospitable family-style lodge. Rooms are not luxurious, but are homey and comfortable with good beds, strong showers with plenty of hot water, coffee and tea-making facilities and wifi. (Laundry can be done at additional charge.) While some guest rooms are larger than others, there are plenty of common areas to stretch out in, including the guest room house’s ground-floor living area and the dining lodge, where hot tea and coffee are set out for guests and other drinks are always available to order.
Cooking classes will take place in the family/lodge restaurant kitchen, which has multiple stations, and weather permitting we may make use of the outside mangal, or typical Turkish barbecue. We’ll eat most meals at the lodge family-style, at one large table in the restaurant, which boasts walls of windows overlooking the lake screened by fruit and nut trees.
Zeliha Hanım oversees the heart of her lodge – the kitchen, where she prepares dishes inspired by family roots in Egypt, Romania, Greece and the Turkish Mediterranean. When we’re not commandeering her kitchen Zeliha Hanım will be turning out her scrumptious meals for us. On weekends and holidays her meals (especially breakfast — a jaw-dropping spread of Turkish cheeses, baked goods, house made preserves and jams and more) draw Turkish tourists from miles around.