Our wonderful quest for finding the pink flamingos in Bodrum made us gain a love for a small fishing village in Bodrum. During our mad search and discovery of the flamingos in Bodrum, we ended up at a small village called Bogazici. Until then, I have not heard of this village. That is my fault. And we are ready to correct this.
So, the next day after our flamingo expedition, we set out to learn more about this little village. It is located at the left end of the Tuzla Lake‘s opening to the sea. Somehow, it kept its charm as a fishing village, but it sits at a corner waiting to be gobbled up by the ever-growing complexes of white villas climbing from the other side of the hill where this little village is nestled. You really cannot see these vast spans of the villas from the village. These villas are visible only if you take a different route to visit Bogazici, and that is what we did. We also see the signs for the Vita Park Golf Resort.
After driving through the labyrinth of the roads connecting all those white villas to the main road and to the Aegean Sea, and asking at least eight security guards all ready to defend these giant white dragons, we find ourselves perched on top of the village. While Al is driving the stick-shift car down the 45-degree slopes, I try to locate how to reach the village. I am not kidding. The whole thing is a maze.
Finally, we reach Bogazici village center. There is a nice size statue of Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, with its back to the Tuzla Lake. There are village teenagers playing soccer in front of the statue. The weather is sunny and warmer today after ten very cold and rainy days.
We watch the fishing boats lined up along the entire length of the village shoreline. We watch the fishermen mending their nets. A small boat with a motor is pulling a smaller boat with no motor, looking like something resembling a coleman crawdad. There is a fisherwoman on the boat with no motor. She looks quite confident that she will have a good catch today. Like in any fishing village, the fishermen have a coop.
We take tiny steps to take the town in. We look at every corner, at their small market, at the roosters and chickens leisurely feeding themselves. We look at the pots filled with geraniums. We look at the stone houses. We look at the small restaurants right on the lake. We are facing the hardest decision of the day. Which restaurant should we choose for lunch?
Well, they all serve the freshest fish possible. There are no middlemen between the fishermen and the restaurant chefs. There are no more than a few hours time lapse between the fish being caught and served.
We choose the Lagun Balik (Lagun Fish) Restaurant. Maybe, because it it all blue and white. Maybe, because it was the first one when you enter the village. We are pleased with our choice.
We walk into this sun-filled, all glass-walled, cute restaurant. We are greeted by the friendly owners, Guloren and Ahmet. Not only do they serve us one of the best seafood meals I have eaten, they also fill us with their wonderful love story.
We are the only customers at the restaurant since it is neither lunch time or dinner time. It is about 3 in the afternoon. Ahmet says they are full during summer months and have many customers during winter. People come either via highways or the waterways by boats.
I walk out onto their deck. Tables are ready to receive diners with blue chairs and white-blue tablecloths. I imagine how it would feel during summer nights with all their string lights reflecting in the water.
Like in many restaurants in Turkey, there is no menu and no pricing. At all our dinners at restaurants in Turkey, we never felt cheated on the price or on the quality of the food. So, we leave ourselves at the skillful hands of the chef. He says he will first prepare us a hot meze platter and a fresh salad from local produce, then will serve us levrek (seabass).
Ahmet goes outside and waves at the four ducks. They come literally running on the water as fast as they can. Ahmet feeds them bread while their dog tries to befriend the ducks but they ignore.
We order raki and stick to one glass each since we need to drive back home. As we continue to exchange our life stories with Guloren and Ahmet, our hot meze platter arrives.
Wow! What a sight. It has levrek wrapped in swiss chard, the sweetest shrimp I ever tasted (right from the Tuzla Lake – those flamingos must be very happy), grilled octopus, calamari with walnut sauce, and strips of levrek in yogurt-garlic sauce, all adorned with fresh arugula leaves. We feel that we need to eat very slowly, otherwise we will miss a half-note in our taste buds’ happiness dance.
The salad is as fresh as it can get. It is filled with greens, scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, with a great lemon-thyme dressing. All from the gardens of Bogazici.
We think we are almost full, then two large plates appear with our levrek split horizontally in two equal portions. It is fresh, moist, and tastes incredible. We ask how they cooked it, and we only get an answer that they have a very special way of preparing levrek and they are famous for that. This is going to require more investigation on my part since this is the best levrek I have tasted.
Our raki glasses are almost empty. We order our Turkish coffee. They bring us a dessert,baked tahini, that is on the house. It is baked tahini mixed with orange rind and apple slices. I am not sure whether I am eating a heavy dessert due to tahini or eating a heavenly light dessert because of the orange and apple aromas eminating from it. I was so excited about the dessert (my weak point), I forgot to take a picture of it. You can find a version of this dessert at the Ozlem’s Turkish Table blog.
We finish our dessert and coffee, very slowly. We really do not want to get up and go.
As we leave the restaurant, we realize we have two new friends and a new favorite spot to visit from time to time when we are in Bodrum. I should thank the beautiful flamingos for this.
This summer, we will go back to Bogazici and explore the history of this beautiful village. It used to be called Bargylia. Bargylos is Bellerophon‘s (who killed Chimera) companion and gets killed by a kick from Pegasus. And the city was founded by Bellerophon in honour of his beloved companion. Near Bargylia, there is a Temple of Artemis. It is believed that rain or snow would fall around the temple but never touch it. There are coins of Bargylia dating back to the 2nd century BCE with Artemis Cindyas and Pegasus figures appear on.
One worry I have is about a recent article about Bargylia, It talks about some devastating news that the ancient site of Bargylia is put up for sale. There are many reports about this in many Turkish websites, but there is no evidence on the real estate’s website. Time will show.
On our drive back to Bodrum, we stop one more time to take pictures of the flamingos and watch them feed themselves with their heads totally immersed in the water, upside down.