Friday, 26 December 2014

Our Christmas Day - breaking with our tradition

This is our third Christmas since coming to live in Turkey, and although we feel we have integrated well into Turkish life, up to now we have hung on to our traditional Christmas day. For the first two years we put up Christmas decorations, and stayed at home on Christmas day (albeit joined by friends) to enjoy mulled wine, home cooked Turkey served with all the usual trimmings, Christmas pudding and followed it with cheese and biscuits accompanied with port.

I love Christmas and back in the UK I have always spent Christmas day at home with whichever family members could make it to join us for the day. However, after last year I finally felt ready to break my old habits and to try something different.

This year we did not put up any decorations in the house. This decision was mostly made on the basis that Red would more than likely eat them all. Especially as we would be going out on Christmas day and the dogs would be alone for a few hours.

That decision alone made Christmas so much easier. No dragging the boxes down from the loft, no spring cleaning the house before they were put up, and afterwards no having to pack them all away and putting them back up in the loft. No major shopping for all the food needed to prepare the traditional Christmas meal.  Wow this is making life easy!

So we enjoyed a very leisurely run up to Christmas. I do wonder how on earth I managed for so many years preparing all of this, having a full time job and always working up to and including Christmas Eve. Maybe it's just because I'm getting old, but I don't need all that hassle any more.

I did make some sausage rolls, mince pies and shortbread so we had a few nibbles around. Oh and a trifle, can't do Christmas without my trifle! But that was it! Brilliant!

After much thought we decided to go out for Christmas Day dinner - a kind of halfway house for me, traditional food without the work. A few weeks ago we saw one of the local village restaurants were advertising a three course Christmas dinner at a reasonable price. The friends who normally come over from Kemer to stay were up for joining us, so we booked our table and hoped it would be OK.

So on Christmas morning all I had to do was prepare the mulled wine, so we could enjoy a glass or two before heading off to the Cadianda Restaurant for our dinner. I am liking this - both the lack of work and the wine!

On arrival at the restaurant we were struck by the effort that they had gone to. The restaurant and bar were beautifully decorated and oh no - more mulled wine was ready on the bar top. Well of course I had to have one, whilst David and our friends moved on to Efes.

Cadianda Restaurant beautifully decorated for Christmas

But the star of the show were the tables which were stunning. With a centre piece of a log decorated with freshly cut foliage, large crackers and they even had little gift bags for each diner with sweeties and a small gift. Mine had a Turkish Eye, David's had a turtle fridge magnet. At the end of each table there was a bag full of ideas for games and all the bits and pieces we needed to play them. Under our plates was a piece of paper with a sentence on, which we had to read and then during the day slip the sentence into our conversation without our friends noticing. Mine was 'I love blancmange'! About two hours later I did manage to slide it unnoticed into a conversation about trifle. What a great idea.

Loved the table settings 

OK so far, so how about the food? Well all I can say is that it exceeded our expectations by far. We all opted for the chicken liver pate for starter (it's what we normally have at home on Christmas Day). It was beautifully presented, a generous portion and scrummy.

Liver pate starter was so tasty

The main course - which was a choice of Turkey or beef - was served as a carvery, and was fabulous. There were yorkshire puddings, as well as cauliflower cheese, peas, sprouts, carrots, puréed swede, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, broccoli, bread sauce, cranberry sauce and gravy. Of course as at any carvery my eyes were considerably larger than my stomach, but it was so good I did manage to eat it all although I was seriously struggling by the end.

Yes I know - greedy!

We almost groaned at the thought of eating the dessert which was a choice of fruit cocktail or Christmas pudding with brandy sauce but went for it anyway. We all chose Christmas pud and it was lovely and you could certainly taste the brandy, David was the only one who managed to eat all of it, the rest of us had to bale out about two thirds of the way through. Worthy of mention, although none of us chose it was the fruit cocktail which we saw other diners having. Individually prepared in tall glasses they looked divine.

Woops forgot to take a pic until I had finished! Could not manage all the pud but did have all the brandy sauce!

The restaurant had organised live entertainment for the evening - a magician. Knowing that by now we had hungry animals to feed at home we were unfortunately not able to stay for that, but we did take our bag of games ideas home and had a hilarious evening playing them. What fun!

So well done Cadianda restaurant. I understand it was the first year that they have offered a Christmas dinner and it could not have gone better. The staff were attentive, the food was great, the decorations were stunning, the tables beautiful and the amount of thought put into preparing the day was amazing. We all agreed it was awesome and thank the staff very much indeed for a lovely, lovely day.

But the best part for me was that for the first time ever I can remember I had time to enjoy the day and that was simply wonderful!