October 22, 2015

Food Writing and Photography Workshop in Turkey

From time to time it is good to meet with like-minded people to boost your creativity, learn new technics and refresh your inspiration.

So when I found out about this Food Writing and Photography Workshop  in Alacati, Turkey, it did not take me very long before signing up for this new food adventure, with:
- Dianne Jacob, author of the book “Will write about food”,
- David Hagerman, food and travel photographer,
- Robyn Eckhardt, food and travel writer,

And because a meal is not really a meal without an starter and a dessert, I decided to go for a full menu: a few days in Alacati to chill out to start, three days workshop for main course and a few days in Istanbul for dessert.


Alacati is a small charming town on the Turkish Aegean coast; the perfect place to chill out at the terrace of a café, watching people passing by in slow motion on the cobbled streets. Always with a Turkish tea and a sweet something next to it.

My days would start with a frugal breakfast. Breads, Greek salad, cheeses and delicatessen, fresh fruits… and, a Turkish tea. The fresh mulberries and honey served on local cheese were interesting.
Then I would go to the beach for a wander or a swim.

In the afternoon I would get around from terrace to terrace, chilling out with a Turkish tea, preferably next to a pastry shop: I am not blown away with the almonds biscuits. I did not like the mastic ones. Maybe I will try the orange and cheese biscuits tomorrow.

One afternoon I would wander at the market or explore the back streets of Alacati. I would go later for another Turkish tea by the windmill overlooking the city to chill out some more before dinner at Mitu bistro: Traditional poached grouper with shallot, fennel and celery… and a glass of Sauvignon blanc produced locally. Chocolate fondant with geranium ice cream for desert. They call it chocolate Savarin on the menu, but nope, that was a fondant.

Another afternoon I would go window-shopping and end up at Samet’s shoe store buying a couple of nice quality and trendy leather sandals made in Greece. Of course a Turkish tea or two were involved in the transaction.
Samet suggested me to go to Babushka for dinner so I went: meze to start – selection of small dishes - and then oven roasted Parrot fish… I cannot believe I was too full for desert and missed the Nevzine, a walnut and tahini desert.

Main course :

And then things got serious…
Robyn introduced us to the art of food storytelling. Be curious, be creative, be open. Investigate your subject, discover the untold culinary stories, find the right angle for a unique story...

Storytelling assignment : What is your food obsession ?
Hum… My mind went blank. So many food obsessions.

Dianne shared literary techniques and advice. Food writing is not about describing food but telling a story about food.

Writing assignment: Tell us about your breakfast this morning.

“I think my waiter is a food stylist. Every morning he stages my table for breakfast with such meticulousness. First comes the Turkish tea on my right hand side.
Then straight in front of me he sets the little wooden board with cheese samples. That one in the middle is really interesting… a spongy texture to absorb a coulis made of fresh mulberries and honey. 
Exactly between the cheese platter and my Turkish tea is the place for the long and narrow tray with a selection of homemade jams. 

Here is when I am very impressed: how can oneself remember to arrange the cup of wrinkled black olives on my left side and the greenish-purple ones on the right? ...”

I must be a slow writer. By the time I finished to write those lines my food stylist already replaced my Turkish tea twice. I guess a Turkish tea without steam on the glass would not look good on the pictures…
I am blissful with my breakfast. If you are not convinced with my storytelling, do not worry, there is going to be a repeat tomorrow morning.

David demonstrated how to tell a food story with images. Observe, interact, compose and... capture the moment.

Photo assignment: Capture the old Greek village of Alacati
It did not take me very long before I spot a place to satisfy my sweet tooth: Rice pudding and Turkish tea at Imeren’s terrace.
I shamefully failed to complete my assignment.

No guilt, there was another playground for photo shooting: Tire market. Plenty of food and nice encounters.

And because we are not living only on food writing and food photography…

Hands-on cooking class at Babushka’s… cheese and herbs pastry with hand-made phyllo dough, stuffed peppers, semolina cake… 

Cheese and herbs pastry with hand-made phyllo dough
Semolina cake
what else? We cracked the secret of the smoked eggplant paste.

Smoked eggplant
In a blink of an eye, the workshop was over and we left each others with lot of food for the mind and insights from the private coaching sessions and the lively group discussions.

Dessert :

Another couple of days strolling about and enjoying the outdoor cafés at Alacati. I am glad I gave another chance to the mastic. The mastic pudding was delicious.
It was not reasonable to get another pair of leather sandals made in Greece so I went for nice and elegant porcelain dishes made in Turkey at Istlondon

On the way back to Cyprus, I made a stopover at Istanbul. 

Cruise on the Bosphorus

I like Istanbul. There is always something to discover like this new pastry shop in Sultanahmet area. I went for the traditional Turkish pudding… twice.

Turkish Pudding
Friends asking for their photo when enjoying my Turkish Pudding

To end this trip on a sweet note, I had the chance meet Aylin Yazicioglu, pastry chef at Nicole Restaurant in Istanbul. Exquisite dinner ending with three refined desserts.

Aylen is a passionate pastry chef graduated from the Cordon Bleu School in Paris so we had plenty of things to talk about since I recently signed up for their program. I look forward to this new food adventure. Sweet, sweet, sweet…


  1. Dear Sandrine,

    Your story is full of personality, humor, and enthusiasm -- congrats for acing the writing part of the class! It took me back to our time together, which I enjoyed immensely. I hope we have a chance to meet again. And that there are many more pastry and shoe shops in your future.

  2. Thank you, thank you Dianne, I had a great time in Turkey and learn a lot from that workshop. The private coaching sessions were very insightful.
    Right now at Cap Town airport after intensive epicurean vacations. Brainstorming an editorial planning to share my african adventure and address some of my blogging weaknesses. I hope to see you again. Have a great time in Cambodia.