Black Sea Türkiye
Bolu – Karabük – Kastamonu
Bolu, located 190 km from Ankara and 260 from İstanbul, on the southwest of Black Sea, is an important city in terms of culinary culture. Cooks raised in Mengen, a district of Bolu, who served in the kitchen of the Ottoman Palace for years, paved the way for Bolu to become an important city of gastronomy.
Soups, pastries, stews, desserts... Bolu has delicious and well-established dishes in all many gastronomic categories. One of the most known is a special Turkish pancake known as ekmek atımı. In Bolu, all homes in the villages and towns have wood-fired brick or earth ovens which contribute to the characteristic taste of ekmek atımı. Kabaklı gözleme, a staple of local cuisine, is a delicious pastry made using pumpkin.
There are many different types of pastry in Bolu cuisine. The perfect combination of walnut and soft dough is found here: cevizli çörek (sweet walnut bread). Another delicious dish with walnuts is cevizli erişte (noodles with walnuts). Kaşık sapı is a dish made with dumplings sprinkled with walnuts and a local cheese known as keş.
Delicious soups served as a starter are an important part of Bolu cuisine. One of the best-known soups is imaret çorbası (imaret soup), made with rice, milk, and onions.
You can finish your meal with the famous kedi batmaz dessert, a sweet based on cornmeal served with butter, walnuts, and sweetened with molasses.
Apart from Bolu’s delicious food, the nature here is spectacular.
Yedigöller National Park, north of Bolu, is full of tall trees overshading the lakes. In spring and autumn, colorful flowers embellish nature’s shades of green and blue. Yedigöller National Park is a wonderful park for camping!
Another beauty of nature worth visiting is Abant Lake. There are numerous areas around the lake where you can camp – the abundant oxygen and fresh air will revitalize your mind and body.
We leave Bolu to move northeast. We're going to Karabük! The city of Safranbolu is an UNESCO World Heritage Centre, and the earthly paradise of Yenice Forests are located in Karabük. Karabük also has a lot of special flavors to offer.
The best way to start your day in Karabük is by having a cup of dibek coffee! If you like Turkish coffee, you should definitely try this version, served with a piece of lokum (Turkish delight). Safranbolu lokumu is another great alternative to accompany your coffee - its unique taste comes from the saffron inside!
What about having some börek for lunch? You have two delicious alternatives: Safranbolu bükmesi and çullu börek. You can wash them down with a cup of hot, freshly brewed Turkish tea or cold ayran!
If your appetite allows it, you can try some more pastry for dinner: peruhi, a delicious variation of mantı (Turkish meat ravioli), or cevizli keşli yayım, an extraordinary type of erişte (noodles).
From Karabük, we move east and to the Black Sea coast in Kastamonu.
We start our visit with a walk at Darüşşifa and the 16th-century Nasrullah Mosque. Here we encounter a Kastamonu delicacy: kel simit (lit. bald simit), loosely translated as a bagel-style bread without sesame seeds. You can enjoy a glass of hot tea and kel simit for breakfast, and visit local shops to taste Kastamonu’s delicacies. Let’s start with pastırma. This is a traditional cured meat usually identified with Kayseri, but Kastamonu is another city known for its delicious pastırma. We recommend you try both and decide which you prefer for yourself! Plus, sumptuous jams made from local apple, cranberry, wild pear, rose hip, and üryani eriği (üryani plum), cultivated only in Kastamonu, will please your taste buds!
Let's move to Taşköprü. Taşköprü, known with its geographically indicated Taşköprü sarımsağı (Taşköprü garlic), is Türkiye's garlic factory. You can buy garlic here to add to your food, making it more delicious and healthier. Also, make sure to taste Taşköprü’s famous kuyu kebabı – the taste of this slow-cooked beef is unforgettable!
We recommend having dinner in Kastamonu. You can start with local specialties such as kara çorba made with local cranberries. There is so much to choose from that it is not easy to make recommendations - but the least we can do is narrow down the options for you! We have a very special suggestion as a hot starter: traditional ekşili pilav made with famous ancient siyez bulguru, yoğurt, and herbs. Known for its health benefits, siyez (einkorn wheat) is an ancient wheat variety which has not changed genetically for more than 10,000 years. Siyez is a symbolic product representing local Kastamonu cuisine and Anatolia, the homeland of wheat. There are several mouthwatering options for the main course: tirit (stale pieces of bread soaked in bone stock and served with minced meat, butter, and yoğurt with garlic); banduma (made with shredded turkey meat and yufka); or Kastamonu döneri (meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie over charcoal). The decision is yours! There’re also numerous options for dessert: çekme helva, cırık tatlısı (fried dumplings in syrup), safranlı zerde (rice pudding with saffron)... It is a hard choice to make!
You’ll definitely consume some extra calories in Kastamonu, but don’t be alarmed – it’s also easy to burn these calories! You can trek in Valla Canyon which is one of the most beautiful natural formations in Türkiye. If it is summer, you can swim in the Black Sea. Or you can climb to the castle from where you take in the bird’s-eye view of the city!
- Yedigöller National Park
- Abant Lake
- The historical houses of Safranbolu
- Yenice Forest
- Valla Canyon
- The local gözlemes of Bolu (ekmek atımı, kabaklı gözleme, etc.)
- Cevizli börek
- Cevizli keşli erişte
- İmaret soup
- Kedi batmaz dessert
- Safranbolu lokumu
- Safranbolu bükmesi
- Kastamonu pastırması
- Taşköprü sarımsağı (garlic)
- Taşköprü kuyu kebabı
- Siyez bulguru
- Safranlı zerde
- Üryani eripi (plum)
- Colorful flowers at Yedigöller National Park
- Never-ending oxygen of Yenice Forest
- Snow at Kartalkaya
- Clean and cool water at Valla Canyon
- The stories of the chefs from Bolu
- Silence in the Cittaslow towns of Bolu
Giresun - Trabzon - Rize
We are on the eastern Black Sea coast between the Kaçkar Mountains and the Black Sea. We start our gastronomic tour at Giresun, one of the most famous hazelnut-growing cities in Türkiye.
The cuisine of the various cities along Türkiye’s Black Sea coast varies greatly. The foundations, however, of the region’s cuisine are the farm products grown in this fertile soil and anchovies, the most famous fish in the Black Sea.
Piraziz apples and the juicy cherries of Giresun are the perfect choices for those who prefer to snack on fruit. Kel simit, a bagel-like bread without sesame seeds, and freshly brewed tea are the perfect duo for breakfast.
Giresun, like the other cities on the Black Sea, has considerably rich dishes since the hardworking people in the region need calorie-rich food. You should try local herbs and pickled vegetables sautéed in tallow for lunch and dinner: ısırgan kavurması, turşu kavurması, taflan kavurması... All these tasty dishes are served with delicious corn bread made using corn grown in the region.
Görele pidesi (flatbread with minced meat), a specialty of Giresun, is a very good alternative for dinner. And, of course, you should always save some space for dessert! We recommend syrupy tel kadayıf or burma tatlısı, a dessert that features local hazelnuts!
It’s time to move a bit further east. We are in Trabzon, one of the most developed and crowded cities in the eastern Black Sea. First, we should have breakfast. Kuymak is prepared with cornmeal, butter, and local cheese, and is the main dish of a typical Trabzon breakfast. Be careful not to get cheese on your clothes - the cheese is very stringy!
After this hearty, filling breakfast, you need to spend some energy. Let's visit the Sümela Monastery, a Greek Orthodox monastery built on a mountain slope in the 4th century in Maçka. It is a truly magnificent structure. Its renovation, which took a long time, was completed in 2020 and the monastery is now open to visitors.
It's time for lunch! As a starter, we can have a slice of warm Vakfıkebir bread with a generous dollop of Vakfıkebir butter on it. Since this region is well-known for its hamsi (Black Sea anchovy), having hamsili pilav (rice pilav with anchovies) for the main course is a must. This is one of the locals’ favorite dishes - fresh anchovies and rice cooked in oven with lots of black pepper. We can finish our feast with the heavenly Hamsiköy sütlacı, a traditional rice pudding made with fresh milk and lots of hazelnuts sprinkled on top!
After lunch, we head to Uzungöl. Uzungöl is a wonder of nature surrounded by walking trails between green majestic mountains. You will be amazed by the magical view and the fresh, oxygen-rich air which will definitely make you dizzy!
For dinner, we are going to the district of Akçaabat. This district is the hometown of a meatball that is famous across the country: Akçaabat köftesi. The meat is served with fresh salad. End your meal with pepeçura, a delicious pudding made of cornmeal and local black grapes.
Our last stop on this gastronomic journey is about 60-70 km east of Trabzon: Rize. We are in the motherland of Turkish çay (tea). All of Rize is covered in green tea fields. Many people in Rize make their living from tea cultivation. Tea is not only grown in this city - it is also consumed in bulk! It is possible to drink “bright red” freshly brewed tea in every corner of Rize.
Muhlama is the king of a typical breakfast served with tea. The perfect combination of butter, cornmeal, and local cheese named kolot will keep you full for a long time. Rize simidi (local ring-shaped bagel-style bread without sesame seeds) can also accompany your delicious breakfast.
Karalahana (kale) is among the most important flavors of Rize cuisine. It is either stuffed with rice and diced beef or roasted to eat accompanied by corn bread.
And of course, hamsi (anchovies)... Hamsikoli is among the favorite dishes of people in Rize. This unique dish is an anchovy bread made with cornmeal. Hamsili pilav (rice with anchovies) is also very popular in Rize, just as it is in Trabzon. You can also try anchovies cooked in a shallow clay dish.
Anchovy is not the only fish consumed in Rize. Kırmızı benekli alabalık (red-spotted trout) lives in high volume rivers and is a very delicious fish which is difficult to catch. If you find it on the menu, you should definitely try it!
Rize has many highlands thanks to the Kaçkar Mountains. These highlands have fresh air, camping areas, walking trails, and boutique hotels. Ayder, Ovit, Anzer, Elevit, Palovit, Samistal are the most famous highlands but there are lesser-known ones to explore as well. A final piece of advice: do not forget to buy some therapeutic Anzer honey, known as one of the most valuable honeys in the world. It is a gastronomic reflection of the endemic flora of this heavenly nature!
- Sümela Monastery
- Highlands of Rize: Ayder, Ovit, Anzer, Elevit, and Palovit
- Kaçkar Mountains
- Fırtına Creek and Valley
- Hamsi (anchovy)
- Hamsili pilav
- Akçaabat köftesi
- Sautéed local herbs
- Muhlama and kuymak
- Karadeniz pidesi (Black sea pide)
- Local cheeses
- Vakfıkebir bread and butter
- Hamsiköy sütlacı
- Rize tea
- Mısır ekmeği
- Anzer honey
- Locally grown kiwi
- The oxygen at the high-altitude plateaus
- Fresh tea leaves
- The fresh bread from the local bakeries
- Handcrafted fabrics of Rize
- Cool air at the high plateaus (even in the summer months!)
- Icy water of the streams coming from the mountains
- Fast tempo of the local music
- Black Sea accent of the locals