Cappadocia, meaning “the land of the horses”, still stays in my dreams. I really want to live there for an indefinite amount of time to grasp even 10% of this extraordinary place. You can read about the unique history and geography of this place or you can look at the pictures of those incredible landscapes, but there is no way you can come close to how you would feel when you breathe its air and take in its ever changing, vast landscape.
What is more is that Cappadocia is one of the greatest wine producing region – and an ancient one – in Turkey, I wish I had more time to visit the wine producers in the region and savor the delectable morsels at many great restaurants in Cappadocia. I am a hopeless optimist, so I am going to say: “There is always next time.” This area of the world really gets hot, so it’s no wonder every cafe and restaurant requires its fair share of air conditioning. Although, this is expectation of eateries in the United States and the United Kingdom.
I am grateful that my Cappadocia host, HTR Travel, not only gave me three wonderful, full-day tours and visits to many hotels in the region; they also gave me an impromptu afternoon tour right before my evening bus ride to Ankara. I also would like to thank the owners of Ziggy Cafe and Shop and the wine connoisseur and our tour guide at Turasan Winery during this unforgettable afternoon bliss.
I could not pass this opportunity to review these two beautiful spots in Urgup, Cappadocia. Here is a glimpse of a beautiful restaurant, Ziggy Cafe and Shop, and one of Cappadocia’s best wine producers, Turasan.
Ziggy Cafe and Shop
With my wonderful companion from HTR Travel, we enter Ziggy Cafe and Shop around 2:30 in the afternoon. My bus to Ankara leaves at 5:30. This was not in our “to-do” list for the day. But, when we stopped there in the morning just to see what this famous restaurant looks like, we could not resist the invitation by Nuray and Selim Yuksel, owners of Ziggy Cafe and Shop, to come back and taste their food.
About twenty years ago, Nuray Hanim and Selim Bey moved from Istanbul to Urgup, Cappadocia to pursue their dreams. They had a dog named Ziggy, their beloved Airedale Terrier. Why would you name Ziggy for a dog? Because, one of Selim Bey’s favorite albums is David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. (Just a note: David Bowie’s Ziggy has nothing to do with Bob Marley’s son, Ziggy.)
Although she was an economist, Nuray Hanim’s heart was in designing original jewelry, clothing, and beautiful handcrafts. You can find her collection on the first floor of their beautiful building. Selim Bey, as a musician and a jazz lover, arranges live performances of local or visiting jazz groups at their restaurant.
Their main dining room inside looks like a combination of a sitting room and a dining room of a very lovingly decorated house with a blaring fireplace in winter. But the real magic comes from their three terraces used to entertain their guests with a spectacular view of the Cappadocian landscapes. I, unfortunately, miss that since it is not summer yet, just cool days of April, the evenings are still cold, so we eat indoors. Still a lovely setting even without the incredible view. The dining room is half-full at a time when lunch is over and dinner is many hours away. I can’t help but feel they are going to be extremely busy over the summer months. I imagine enterprise application development would help them out! Being busy is a great sign for a good restaurant. We bring a bottle of good Cappadocia red wine as a gift. I wish I brought a case. We enjoy our dining and wining like queens, just me and my wonderful companion.
The small dishes of mezes keep coming, and each one tastes better than the other. It is a parade of colors, textures, smells, and tastes designed just to satisfy the palate. But, it is more than that. You need to close your eyes before you put the morsel in your mouth. You need to inhale the morsel. It is heaven. I want to forget about my bus. We are tasting wonderful local wines with our incredible dishes. They are so kind to even create their signature main dishes in small amounts so that we could sample all of them. It’s great to see an independent restaurant flourishing, especially in modern times where it can be difficult to do so. There are so many things to think about when opening a cafe-restaurant business; training for employees, ensuring the best quality food and drink along with high customer service and purchase of all the equipment, including all the cafe restaurant software. It’s absolutely not an easy task to get something like this up and running! It reminds me of another restaurant I recently visited, that was in a little bit of financial difficulty. They had to look at ways to re-budget to save money. One of the things they looked to do was compare business energy online to make sure they weren’t overpaying. Fortunately they are thriving now.
Their signature dessert,The Ziggy Sweet, is a secret recipe gift to Nuray Hanim from one of her friends. It is, as the menu describes: “melt-in-your-mouth miniature boreks (Turkish phyllo pastry) with cinnamon and powdered sugar.”
But before this great dessert, make sure to try their mezes (all of them) and their other signature dishes. I leave the imagination up to you, since I cannot describe how wonderful they are. I am lucky to try them all.
Unfortunately, we have little time left to explore the shop on the first floor. I really need another hour just to cover what Nuray Hanim creates. Like I said, “There is always next time.”
If you want to reserve your seats, please contact them and send them my best. I am sure Nuray Hanim will remember me since we share the same first name.
Address: Yunak Mahallesi Tevfik Fikret Caddesi, No: 6A-B, Urgup-Nevsehir, Turkey 50400Phone:+90 384 341 49 61
Just a little walk down from the Ziggy Cafe, you can reach Turasan Winery. We still have some time before the bus. We enter Turasan’s tasting room. And a tour is just starting. We know we could only do a portion of the tour, but it is better than doing none. After the tour, it is now time to sample their award-winning wines. Yummm! My bus trip to Ankara will be a great one – a long five hour sleep.
There are 140 registered wine producers in Turkey, and about 45 are well known. Turasan is one them. Since Cappadocia is one of the oldest vineyard regions in the world, dating back to Hittite times, the wine-making still carries the ancient traditions. Many local wineries in Cappadocia are ready to give you samples of their great wines from the grapes unique to Turkey. I am covering only one of them here.
Turasan Winery started producing wines in 1943. After modernization of their wine making and expanding their wine varieties, now they have a 5400 square-meter cave that has a storage capacity of 29 tons of wine. Thanks to the cave, the temperature stays the same throughout year, about 12-15 C, without any added cooling system. Actually, in Cappadocia, many caves are still used for storage to keep produce cool all year around. Different produce from all regions of Turkey are stored in the caves or in the underground cities which can keep the produce fresh for weeks or even months depending on the type of produce. See more at ancient-origins.net
Although running a very industrialized production, Turasan produces excellent wines that have won international medals in many competitions. You can follow them on their blog. There is also a great book entitled Cappadocian Wines: A Guide to Wines of Fairies written by Murat Yanki about Cappadocian Wines.
If you really want to experience Cappadocian wine in a very unique way, there are some very luxury hotels providing a red wine and a white wine tap right in your suite. Well, that was beyond my league.
I am looking forward to going back to Cappadocia to visit Ziggy Cafe, Turasan Wineryand many other amazing restaurants and wineries. I may need many more than four days there. A combination of biking and visiting vineyards could work. My husband could do the biking and vineyards. I will stick to the vineyards since I still don’t know how to ride a bike.
I again would like to thank Ziggy Cafe, Turasan and HTR Travel for giving me one of my lifetime experiences: visiting a dream-like place- Cappadocia. Maybe, take another hot-air balloon ride.