By. Justin Mays
With a history dating back to 4000 BCE, Gaziantep is a great destination for taking a weekend break from the city where you smartly have made your Istanbul real estate investment. Just an easy flight away in the southeastern region of Anatolia, Gaziantep is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world. Familiarly known as Antep, today it is a major regional economic center and among the top ten fastest growing cities in the world. Yet this fast economic pace has not eclipsed its traditional roots. You can take pleasant walks to many historical sites, including the world’s largest mosaic museum, Zeugma, or go shopping for traditional crafts including copper goods, silk textiles and Yemeni leather shoes. But the main draw for Turks visiting the city is to experience its local cuisine. In fact, Antep won the European Commission EDEN Award on Local Tourism and Gastronomy and is recognized by UNESCO as a Creative City in the field on gastronomy. Most widely known for its meat heavy cuisine and pistachio filled baklava, it even holds an annual international festival, the International Gaziantep Pistachio Culture and Art Festival, to celebrate one of its most famous crops. As you spend a weekend visiting the old city and taking road trips through the Anatolian steppe, you can find many must-try dishes to make your journey even more enjoyable.
Traditionally enjoyed at breakfast, Katmer is a decedent sweet pastry filled with clotted cream and crushed pistachios. You can find specialty katmer shops throughout the city. For something more savory, try the peppery chickpeas wrap in warm pita bread from specialty durum shops. Beyran corbasi is a hearty garlickly soup with lamb and rice originating from Gaziantep, where it's served for breakfast. For lunch, the kebab is king. Try the Ali Nazik, in which pieces of perfectly grilled minced lamb kebab rests on a bed of garlicky yogurt with a smoky eggplant base. For an afternoon break sip on menengiç, an alternative to tea or coffee at the historical Tahmis Kahvesi. Menengiç is a ‘coffee’ made from roasted wild pistachio berries, it has a velvety texture and nutty taste. Once you’ve worked up an appetite again head over to the turn-of-the-century Beyazhan courtyard for a lively dinner experience. The most famous Turkish Baklava hails from Antep and you’ll see Istanbul tourists jockeying for position in line at Kocak Baklava and Imam Cagdas to pick up kilos of the nutty treats to bring home, join the line to share your Antepian culinary experience with friends and family back home too.