When in Trabzon, there is no dearth of options to places you can explore, the food you can eat and enjoy this beautiful Northern region of Turkey. Here are our top 5 picks from the local cuisine.
Anchovies. Straight from the black sea, anchovy or ‘Hamsi’ is a culture all along coasts of the Black sea in Turkey and especially so in Trabzon, which is the largest producer of it. Freshly caught and sauteed till crispy goodness with cornflour, beautifully arranged in spirals on a pan (Hamsi tava) swimming in a buttery sauce or neatly fenced around a mound of rice and invariably served with wedges of lemon. Head to any restaurant serving balik (fish) overlooking the sea or even to Boztepe and enjoy crispy perfect Hamsi against the backdrop of stunning views.
Sutlac. From the shoals of fish in the sea, lets shift focus to the cows grazing in the meadows of the Pontics. The select flowers that grow in this region and become a part of the diet of these cows, subtly flavors their milk with sweet floral notes. And the people of these mountains, especially in the village of Hamsikoy have put it to best use in what is thought to be a creation of the Ottoman kitchens – the Sutlac – a silky milk pudding with tender rice grains, a think creamy layer blanketing the top and lightly charred like creme brulee. Whether you make the scenic trip to the neighboring village of Hamsikoy (highly recommended) or seek it in the bustling city of Trabzon, you will surely love it.
Kuymak. Another specialty of Trabzon. Prepared with corn flour, butter, wired cheese, water and salt, you should definitely dig into a bowl of this warm, cheesy fondue like preparation and relish the stretchy, melt in your mouth flavor. Totally satisfying!
Fruits. When in Trabzon, don’t miss out on sampling the ample produce from the lush forests of the mountains. Shop from the city and village markets and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The friendly locals are always helpful in helping you discover the exotic local fruits and vegetables. From pepino melons to strange berries, I absolutely enjoyed shopping for these exotic goodies. The highlight was the ‘Trabzon hurmuz‘ literally meaning ‘the dates of Trabzon’ which is, in fact, the local name of Persimmon or Kaki fruit. The friendly locals who encouraged us to try it, fondly called it ‘jennah meyve‘ (the fruit of heaven). Available fresh in the season but what you are more likely to find are the ubiquitous hanging strings of dried persimmon. Dried to perfection, with a thin layer of crystallized sugar, these delicious fruits are great for a snack on the go and the perfect souvenirs to carry back. Stock up on as much as you fancy as they tend to keep for weeks and are good as is, in your granola, cereal, smoothies, curries – you get the picture.
Simit & Cay. Lastly, let’s not forget the lovely street food culture typical of every Turkish city. The Turks really do love their fresh warm simit (round bagel-like sesame-encrusted bread), are the most avid drinkers of cay (tea) and not to mention the freshly roasted Kestane (chestnuts).