By Derin Solu
To breakfast or not to breakfast, that is the question! And the answer should always be the former. This is especially true if you are visiting the resort peninsula of Bodrum on the Turkish Mediterranean coast.
Breakfast in Turkey is like a passionate love affair: never neglected, full of hours of uninterrupted conversation, and bestowing feelings of comfort and pleasure. A full Turkish breakfast is conducted in family style dining, lasts for hours, and is considered a very important meal during which you spend quality time with friends and family. It consists of ramekins filled with colorful and delectable jams, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers drizzled in olive oil, and various cheeses like soft feta, sharp kasar, and lightly fried, melt-in-your-mouth halloumi.
Your breakfast table is also set with herb-sprinkled black and green olives, plates of different charcuterie, spicy sucuk (dried sausage made of beef), and mouthwatering börek (oven baked phyllo dough filled with cheese or minced meat). Be sure to special request my favorite, a plate of smooth kaymak (a type of clotted cream) and sweet honey to be eaten spread on a slice of bread. At the center of these myriad plates is an egg dish of your choosing.
I am particularly fond of the menemen (dish comprised of scrambled eggs, tomatoes, green peppers, feta cheese, and sucuk). All of these plates are accompanied by an endless serving of Turkish tea and simit (a traditional sesame bagel).
If embarked upon properly, a Turkish breakfast is a true feast for the eyes and a delight upon the senses. Nowhere is this more accurate than in the small, mountainside village of Gokcebel in Bodrum at Havva Ana Restaurant, where Havva Ana herself serves a delectable, traditional Turkish breakfast in her eclectic and rustic backyard terrace. Havva Ana Restaurant is a family-run establishment where all of the organic fare comes straight from Havva Ana’s own garden or the surrounding town. Before venturing off to Havva Ana Restaurant, travelers should know that finding this hidden gem is not for the fainthearted and requires a foray into the narrow, winding back streets of the Gokcebel village with a rental car. It is for those who are truly adventurous in their search for unforgettable and unique dining experiences.
If you are ready to venture off the beaten path in Bodrum, you will be greeted by the friendly Havva Ana upon your arrival and led to a modest table of mismatched furnishings under a canopy of overgrown grape vines. Once you are seated, Havva Ana’s husband will come by to ask in Turkish how you would like your eggs cooked. After that, grab your Turkish tea, sit back among the foliage and watch as the set menu of delicious items is brought out to your table. Even if you are stuffed after your breakfast, Havva Ana is sure to come by and kindly insist that you taste her borek, piping hot from the wood burning oven. During high season, Havva Ana Restaurant is very popular with the locals, so be sure to call ahead to make reservations (in Turkish only) and do not forget to bring cash.
The word for breakfast in Turkish is kahvaltı, which when directly translated is under coffee. This means that you cap off your breakfast at Havva Ana Restaurant with a small cup of strong Turkish coffee, which, if you are lucky, will sometimes be accompanied by a neighboring diner who offers to read your fortune using your coffee grounds. Before you depart, be sure to take a leisurely stroll through the backyard, where you can meander through the fragrant orange trees greeting the farm’s many friendly inhabitants.
About the Author: Derin Solu is an avid traveler and lover of all things food and wine related. During her travels, she can often be found seeking out animal encounter adventures and unique dining experiences. She is originally from Istanbul and currently works as a consultant in New York City.