It's Tulip Time in Istanbul.
The whole city is bursting with tulips - 4,000,000 of them.
These are in the courtyard of the Four Seasons Hotel Sultanahmet.
My friend, Yasemin, had gathered a group for
wine tasting and divine cheeses -
a regular Friday night event
at the Four Seasons.
Quince marmalade, olives, and fresh melon
with assorted breads and cheeses
displayed and assembled
to create our light repasts.
It was a treat to see friends -
in a momentary break from
weeks of intensive Turkish lessons.
Last night's tasting featured Italian wines:
Pinot Grigio Venezie IGT Blush, Ardesia 2011
Nero D'Avola IGT Sicily, Cataldo 2011
Cavalcante Sangiovese Di Toscana IGT, Baroncini 2011
Chianti "Messere" D.O.C.G. Baroncini 2011
I enjoyed the full-bodied Sangiovese and Chianti best.
Danish blue and a smoky
Cergiz cheese were the most fabulous -
because they were the boldest.
Afterwards, we went to the roof
to enjoy the view of the Hagia Sophia on one side.
And the view of the Bosphorus
and the Four Seasons courtyard
on the other.
This Four Seasons Hotel used to be a coed prison.
It housed political prisoners
who were imprisoned after
the military coups in the 1980s.
now, not then,
during these days of tulips and wine and roses.
Photos courtesy of Yasemin Erdem and Ibrahim Turco.