A Stir The Pots Post

The world according to Garp, no not the book!

by | Sep 1, 2009 | Garp Turkey

On a hastily arranged trip to the coast in the province of Çanakkale, I finally met my host, Murat Koray. I stayed at his home – or Yali (a wooden mansion on  the Bosporus). Murat is a man of wealth but humble tastes. He's also a host of chefs, jet setters and those who want to escape modernity and find their inner being on the western most point of Asia minor, Garp (which means West in Turkish).


I traveled with my new found friend and fellow colleague, Kenji, a Japanese ex-pat chef living for eight years in Istanbul. Minded by our food guru, Dilara, we set about feeding a sun worshiping and varied group of visitors  to the Garp community. In between, we bounced ideas and juggled our skills, coercing magic to create simple dishes in this Garden-of-Eden setting on the ancient and rugged coastline.


After arriving, our hosts told us that we would be making wine. But first our dinner arrived, a huge swordfish that Kenji butchered. Meanwhile, I tried baking bread with no scale to measure, all hands and commercial yeast! Dinner was communal table style, with raki, wine, and the food we prepared next to the fire of the hearth, and the moonlit ocean.



The next morning, we went to Murat's farm to pick a abandoned field of grapes in his vineyard. As wine is not of the highest priority in this Muslim country, it seems the art of wine making left along with the departure of the Greeks in the early 1920s! But fortunately we had amongst our group, a Greek, Yannis Rappas. Yannis is a man who lived in a monastic community on Mount Athos in Greece,and is the workhorse and visionary behind this unique community. Along with other volunteers, he has cleared overgrown grass and stones to build a peaceful retreat where people share food, farming, and conversation, something most humans don't do that much these days, a sustainable existence.  



Yannis convinced Murat to pick the grapes and make his own wine from an abandoned field he purchased. According to some locals, the grapes are of the Pinot variety. My best guess is that the grapes are a varied mix, making for what I think could be a nice tasting wine. The colors and flavors were different in each bunch I picked and tasted making my way across the field. With communal spirit (followed by some back breaking work) our array of jet setters, soul searchers and a couple of city chefs were going on an adventure.


Murat gathered us for a breakfast of olives, home made cheese, fig and tahini jam, and the most delicious bread cooked from a wood burning oven.


Knifes were handed out and we attempted to organize our group of sixteen people into coherent rows. The sun was high. We were in good spirits! My first attempt at cutting the vine earned me a gash on my finger. No matter. Ali, the farmer, patched me up and we continued. The full fruit was red, purple, golden green, and we tasted the sweet sun drenched fruit as we picked, yeah it was going to be a nice wine. 

After picking what seemed to be a ton of grapes, we returned to Murat's farm for a Ramadan lunch of equally delicious but frugal food; lentil, çorba, braised patliçan, biber and tomatoes, bread and ayran a buttermilk drink. While waiting for lunch we cooled our selves in a pool of water from the well. Re-energized with food and drink we were off again to go crush the grapes.

We started by cleaning off any weeds and separated the immature green grapes and leaves. Then the grapes went into a hand cranked crushing machine. Finally they were covered in plastic barrels  to ferment for 14 days, according to instructions given to Yanis from the monks in Mount Athos. Afterwards, the grape skins and juice would be filtered into a press, left to continue fermenting in a cask and finally bottled, with the leftover grapes skins and stalks Yannis suggested making raki or grappa. 


My trip to Turkey has been a soul searching visit. Among other things, I harvested grapes and helped make wine. I slept in a tent that looked a little like a Mongolian yurt under the moon lit sky of the Aegean Sea. I passed the fabled city of Troy, and ate sea urchins while sipping wine on the stony shores.



I have learned new words, met new and interesting people, and now I am home and unpacked my bags; with all my memories to consider, so much that I have learned. It's my time to ponder the greater universe of life, food and friendships I have made. Turkey has a magical spell that is hard to digest or to explain in just one sentence or – for that matter – many paragraphs of sentences. It may take me a few days to get coherent and write something more profound. Garp can do that to you!!

Thank you Murat, Yannis, and the community of Garp!


  1. Shiao-Ping

    Oh Jeremy what a great story! Garp, my kind of place too! The Aegean Sea – magic.

  2. yannis Rappas

    Hi Jeremy my man thanks for being there with us and sharing the magic and silence of Garp together…just for your info we have moved the wine to the 1 ton stainless steel tank,hopefully it will be ready in a couple of months,hope to see you in Christmas for wine tasting:)
    take care and see you soon,Esra sends her regards,and says to you that the new kitchen is ready and waiting for you:)

  3. Jeremy

    Yannis! Glad you stopped by my blog, did Murat see the story on Garp? Had such a great time with all of you wonderful people,wish I could of stayed, great vibes, wonderful water, great raki, fine food and women!!!
    Say hello to all my friends,badem and Kenji, oh yes and Fatima!!


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