For villages countrywide, this is a very special time of year, when summer gives way to fall and homemakers and their communities come together to prepare the pantry staples for the colder months with rituals steeped in tradition.
The tomatoes harvested in August are revered as having the ultimate taste and are utilized in vast quantities to prepare "salça," or tomato paste, which homesteads countrywide will consume in the winter months. The world's first condensed soup, "tarhana" or "sourdough," pickles, hand-cut noodles named "erişte" and "pekmez," a mulberry or grape molasses, are all being prepared as we speak and during the months to come, especially in the more rural areas of the country. To purchase, keep your eyes peeled for freshly made tomato and red pepper pastes and other such pantry products at charcuteries and farmer's markets. This is also an opportune time to learn how to prepare some of these wonderful handmade products for your own pantry and luckily, there are a number of festivals and events celebrating these harvest months and the culinary customs that come with them.
Festival of natural food, art in Assos
Coming up on Sept. 2 is the second edition of the Sokakağzı Natural Diet and Art Festival, an organization celebrating natural food and the arts in a beachside town neighboring Çanakkale province's Assos. Popular in its own right for swimming, dining and camping or staying in bungalows with a beautiful accessible sandy beach at your feet, Sokakağzı is a village northwest of Assos that makes for a great base to discover the region, which is also a short drive from the ancient ruins of Troy. For the second time this year, local residents and villagers will be holding this four-day festival devoted to healthy food and arts, in which there will be workshops led by the village's homemakers on how to make products such as butter, cheese, sourdough bread, compost, root paint and soap. In addition to the focus on local culinary traditions, there will also be workshops held on writing, marbling art and Sirtaki and Zeybek dances. The festival will take place from Sept. 2 to Sept. 5, and all of the activities are free and open to all.
Winter prep at Cook's Grove
One of Turkey's leading chefs and jury member of "The Taste," Şemsa Denizsel will be offering a very special week-long program on preparing seasonal products for winter.
At the festivals, various pantry staples like tomato paste will be prepared with fresh ingredients.
The very special Winter Prep Workshop will take place from Sept. 13 to 19 at Cook's Grove, Denizsel's tasting kitchen in Balıkesir province's Ayvalık district, and will be a full immersion in classic pantry preparation for winter, including making tomato paste, tarhana and noodles. Accommodation is arranged at local hotels in Ayvalık, and the itinerary even includes a half-day boat trip. Denizsel will also be leading a 10-day "Cook the Farm" retreat from Oct. 4 to Oct. 13 in which participants will embark on daily excursions to local markets and restaurants and visit food producers in the region while also learning foraging and fermentation techniques and taking part in hands-on cooking lessons and lavish meals with the chef herself. Then later in the month, from Oct. 20 to Oct. 24, Denizsel will be holding a four-day workshop centered on the olive harvest and local delicacies. All of these programs are taught in English, and space is limited.
Best time to be in Bozcaada
This upcoming month will be a wonderful time to visit Tenedos, Bozcaada in Turkish, Çanakkale's quaint Aegean island, which blossoms at this time of year with new festivals and old celebrating the island and its beauty and bountiful harvest. The 20th annual Bozcaada Culture, Art and Vine-Harvest, a festival celebrating the region's culture, arts and grape harvest, will take place over the weekend of Sept. 6 to 8 in venues throughout the island. During the day, there will be booths set up with local products and handcrafts and in the evenings there will be concerts held at the island's castle. A wonderful opportunity to learn about the local grapes and to pick up some grape pekmez, every year there are also two competitions held, one a beauty contest for the island's annual Miss Grape and the other a competition for the best Çavuş grape the island is famed for.
Extra sound advice
Tenedos will host a festival devoted to running for the first time this year.
"Run the Island Bozcaada" will also take place for the first time this year from Sept. 13 to Sept. 14 and is dubbed a festival devoted to running, fun and food. In addition to a 10K, 21K and an elevation run of 2,000 meters, there will also be kids' runs and a wide variety of activities on the sidelines at Ayazma Beach. Workshops on activities such as spinning, yoga, Zumba, fitness and street tennis sessions will be held throughout the day. The festival will kick off with a concert by Gonca Vuslateri at Salhane and popular vocalist Kalben will perform at Ayazma Beach on closing night.