January 18, 2020

When you’ve walked a town into your head, you’ve taken it in with all your senses. It does not matter where that town is– or was. Memory allows you to retrace your steps in ways that Trip Advisor and Google haven’t gotten down. Only because you’ve been there have you learned and catalogued those site-specific scents and sounds: salt, diesel fumes, burning palmetto, peanut oil, jasmine; the jangle of merengue, ambulance sirens, church bells, barking dogs, the tinkling of tea glasses…

Photo by Ozan Safak on Unsplash

In today’s New York Times, author Orhan Pamuk recounts his years of noting the change of nocturnal light in Istanbul. For me, the essay hits home.

star & crescent

October 10, 2017

Here’s a concise update from The New York Times on the current Turkish & American visa situation as it affects U.S. citizens travelling to Turkey.

July 29, 2016

There’s nothing Islamic about the recent terrorist attacks in the US, Turkey, Belgium, France, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and …

Few would support the notion that gang warfare in Central America and Mexico is “Christian” violence. So consider who the perpetrators of this so-called “Islamic” violence are: like their Latin American counterparts, they are largely poor, under-educated, socially challenged, and often under-employed. Feelings of inferiority and marginalization are what propel such youth to seek meaning within a group—any group—whether they aspire to join sports fans, rock groupies, or more exotic groups with historical, ethnic, or quasi-religious affiliations.

We do not point a finger at the churches of the Americas for failure to reach those behind human trafficking and the bloody crimes of the drug cartels. It serves no purpose to blame mainstream Islam for the attacks that have terrorized, maimed, and murdered far more Muslims than adherents to other creeds. It’s never easy for societies to self-examine and then apply resources to self-correction, such as mitigating the circumstances that give rise to the hopelessness propelling so many to become human sacrifices in lethal games. The teen-aged shooters of Columbine, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut, were deeply troubled young men who felt excluded and acted alone. But around the globe, many like them have been lured into groups, groups that have been manipulated by those with narrow extremist aims.

As citizens of the world, our work lies ahead of us. We stand a better chance of protecting ourselves and all we cherish if we begin at home to welcome, assist, and include rather than to reject and exclude.


Abduction opera

Given current tensions in the Mideast, today’s timing for the Metropolitan Opera broadcast of the frothy Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Abduction from the Seraglio) may seem ironic. Nonetheless, Turcophiles and music lovers cannot help but enjoy the respite of Mozart’s capriccio alla turca.

Among my own treasured Istanbul memories is one mid-Eighties outdoor evening production of this opera inside the actual Topkapi Palace courtyard. When a summer thunderstorm and downpour knocked out electricity, causing a longer-than-usual intermission before the final act, the orchestra conductor gave his audience the choice of returning the following evening or carrying on without stage lighting. We all agreed that the show must go on. So, with a stage illuminated by the headlights of two Istanbul municipal fire-engines and the audience-members’ hand-held flashlights trained upon the singers, all ended well with a standing ovations and a flock of live white doves released into the night sky.


If you ever wanted to avoid the long lines, belching buses, and cruise ship hordes—this is your chance. Good news-bad news from Istanbul during what is usually high season.

Istanbul Events Tulip Festival Topiary
Istanbul Tulip Festival Topiary

We don’t need to tell you that it’s impossible to sugar-coat the ongoing strife and tragedy in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, our corner of the world. Nonetheless, the individual lives of Turks, Iranians, Arabs, Israelis, and Greeks go on. Their societies survive and adapt, despite what dominates the current news. Whether or not you choose to join us for travel to Turkey this year, we encourage you to follow the vibrant artistic expression and resourcefulness that the Turks and their neighbors display every day.

Istanbul Tulip Festival
Istanbul Tulip Festival


Easter in Istanbul
We’re debating how best to title this typically elaborate display of Turkish Delight, lokum, snapped by the redoubtable M.L.Mace yesterday in a Beyoglu confectioner’s shop.

Turkish Delight Pyramid

It’s a toss-up between “Here’s what our Istanbul Easter Bunny brought us” and “Visit Turkey! See the Pyramids!”

Stay tuned for more visual posts from Istanbul as our guests, friends, and clients explore the back alleys and rooftops of that metropolis on the Bosphorus.


Iznik Tiled Lunette Panel

While many eyes are focused on the Florida presidential primary today, you can give yours a rest at the Ringling Museum of Art here in Sarasota.

Ink, Silk and Gold: Islamic Art from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Feb 5, 2016 – May 1, 2016

After you vote today, take time to explore artistic expressions of power and piety through textiles, painting, calligraphy, ceramics, stone & wood carving, jewelry and metalwork. Every item in this loan exhibition is, quite simply, the best of the best. Don’t miss it!

Here are some of the highlights.

They’re very much the sorts of treasures you’ll see in Istanbul on our tours this coming September and October.


Visiting Turkey during the colder months? You’ll want to try boza, an traditional winter beverage of slightly fermented millet that evokes as much nostalgia as Proust’s madeleines.

Listen to—or read—the Boza Recollections of Turkish Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk.

Serving Boza
Upscale Boza Parlor


We’ve heard you and are now offering SINGLE-CABIN charters on guaranteed departures during the 2014 cruising season. At a fraction of the cost for a whole-boat charter, enjoy the same luxurious gulets favored by our private charter clients.

Gulet Kayaguneri
A typical gulet for our scheduled archeological cruises.


double cabin on a typical gulet
Double cabin on one of our traditional gulets

Cruise the archeologically rich coastline of Lycia aboard one of our traditional Turkish motor-sailers. For more details, see http://hollychase.com/singlecabin-gulet-charter/


Istanbul Rocks on 30 April—International Jazz Day

UNESCO International Jazz Day, 30 April

A neon saxophone lights up Beyoglu,
the Jazz district of Istanbul, Turkey.

Live stream video performance at this link at 2 PM today http://live.jazzday.com/


Great piece on NBC News about Chobani Yogurt. It’s made in New York…by Turks! Find it here.


This Website, HollyChase.com, is testimony to our passions— travel, history, beautiful photography, books, and gastronomy.

Although our focus is on Turkey and the Middle East, we are eclectic, especially when we cook and share food.

Our recently published eBook, which grew from our popular blog, AlmostItalian.com, explores the cuisine developed by Italian-American immigrants. Illuminating immigrant identity through scholarly sleuthing, pop culture, language, music, and scores of straightforward recipes, Almost Italian: A Cookbook & History of Italian Food in America celebrates the Red Sauce Renaissance with gusto.

Here’s an excerpt from the book. As you’ll see, we like to place our recipes in a cultural context:



The idea of self-purification through deprivation, followed by celebratory consumption, is ancient. A variety of similar practices evolved under the influence of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; all “people of the Book” have traditionally observed periods of fasting followed by feasting.

Torta Pasqualina
Torta Pasqualina, or Pizza Rustica
Copyright © 2010, Skip Lombardi

Nowhere are the traditions associated with food more richly varied than in Italy. At the center of the Mediterranean, the peninsula was home to its own pagan rites and those of early Greek colonizers. Roman domination throughout Mare Nostrum meant that ideas, techniques, and ingredients—from the shores around the Empire and beyond—all came back to Rome. Italy in the medieval period saw much Muslim influence—the introduction of sugar cane, rice, citrus, and Asian spices; the widespread use of water-wheels for irrigation; the refinements of alcoholic distillation; and the rediscovery and translation of Greek botanical treatises. Nonetheless, the culture of Catholicism, especially the culinary expressions associated with the Church calendar, remained dominant throughout mainland Italy and coexisted with Islam in Sicily. Later Italian influence extended far beyond the peninsula, for the Age of Discovery sent Genoese merchants and fisherman to the heathen New World. Those mariners brought back the codfish that became the iconic food of Lent throughout Europe…

—from Almost Italian: A Cookbook & History of Italian Food in America

And we invite you to visit our culinary blog, where we continue to post recipes as we compile Volume II of Almost Italian.


The Kindle® Edition of TURKISH TAPESTRY is ready


Turkish Tapestry

I’m happy to announce the 1st digital edition of my book, Turkish Tapestry, A Traveller’s Portrait of Turkey. The paperback book has been out-of-print and available only from second-hand sources, but now anyone may download it in less than a minute and read it on the Amazon Kindle®.

It is also formatted for the Sony Reader and other digital devices.

La Cucina dei Poveri

This sort of reinvention is far outside my own disciplines, so I’ve been lucky to have the skills of a colleague with prodigious tech talents—Skip Lombardi. Skip had recently digitized one of his own books for Kindle:
La Cucina dei Poveri, Recipes from My Sicilian Grandparents (a delicious culinary memoir of growing up in a Sicilian-American kitchen).

After Skip had digitized Turkish Tapestry, he took time out to write about the geeky aspect of publishing with Kindle. If the nuts and bolts of electronic publishing interest you, please read Skip’s witty and informative account of publishing without paper. See his blog, Sarasota Soundings

As Skip clearly demonstrates, the dead-tree-to-Kindle conversion is definitely not a one-click process. So, if you are a publisher or author planning to upload your own titles, be forewarned that you’ll probably need several bowls of pasta with Skip’s grandmother’s marinara sauce to keep you going!


Ruby Red Swiss Chard
Local Ruby Swiss Chard © 2008, Skip Lombardi

We’re pleased, really PLEASED, to let you know that very soon, we’ll begin presenting a series of culinary talks coupled with cooking classes/demonstrations. We’ll be making these presentations—not in a supermarket, not in a cooking school—but in private homes, right here in Sarasota. We hope to have more specifics within a few days, but right now we can tell you that…

• As we did in our classes at Whole Foods, we’ll begin with offerings from the cuisines of Italy and the Middle East (Turkish, Arab, & Persian) …For sample recipes click here.

• Enrollments will be limited (probably no more than 8-12 participants per scheduled class, depending on the venue)…

• We will consider private presentations in your home, to suit YOUR schedule.

• We’ll focus on seasonal ingredients, simple techniques, and preparations that participants can reproduce at home.

Check back here for more details—or better yet—subscribe to our RSS feed and WE”LL KEEP YOU INFORMED OF THE WHERE & WHEN…

Buon appetito, afiyet olsun, sihhateyin, nush e jaan!

Skip Lombardi & Holly Chase

Contact us: skip@skiplombardi.org

Spring ’08
Watch the video

The Today Show in Turkey


We’re now designing some Turkish and Mediterranean culinary programs to be conducted in Turkey. At this stage, we are considering week-long packages that would include accommodations; market visits; informal lectures and discussions of food and culture; meals and cooking demonstrations in homes and unusual restaurants; as well as visits to growers, producers, and vendors of traditional foods. English-speaking members of our team would be on hand to translate and facilitate this intimate cultural exchange.

Fruit in Baskets

A program could be designed to focus on one particular city or province or be more general, with an overview of, say, Eastern Mediterranean ingredients and dishes common to both Greece and Turkey. These programs will have limited enrollments but would need to have at least 6 participants.

We’d like your input! What features would be most important to YOU? Do you prefer hands-on preparation or simply watching practiced cooks and chefs prepare the delicious dishes you will share? Do you favor a particular time of year? Would you enjoy putting together your own small group so demonstrations and discussions could take place on one of our chartered yachts ? (They all have spacious, topside galleys), or in a potter’s studio. Please write or call us to express your interest


Arthur Frommer has a recent blog post (June 29, 2007) about “Pure Travel Consultants” and the services my colleagues and I provide on a fee basis vs. the commission-based compensation of most travel agents. Please see what the patriarch of good value travel says on Frommer’s Travel Blog. (you’ll need to scroll down the page until you reach June 29th). Needless to say, we are flattered to have caught Mr. Frommer’s eye!


Turkish Cooking with Holly Chase, 11 am – 1:30 pm at Whole Foods, Sarasota.

Holly arranges gastronomic and cultural programs in Turkey and is an avid Turkish cook. Join Holly as she talks about the diverse cuisines of Turkey and prepares Yalanci Dolma (Rice-Stuffed Grape Leaves), Fried Zucchini with Garlic & Yogurt Sauce, Muhammara (Walnut & Red Pepper Dip) and Spicy Lentil & Bulgur Croquettes. Please pre-register for this class located in the Whole Lifestyle Center. For more on Turkish food and culture, please visit Holly’s Web Site.


We are pleased to be the American contact for our Turkish friends and colleagues: Equinox Travel and Asia Minor Tours.

Whether our customers have wanted hot-air balloons, luxury yachts, or outback Jeep itineraries, we’ve long depended upon Equinox Travel to provide customized services for clientele traveling independently in Turkey. Applying equal expertise, Equinox have conducted both Asia Minor Tours’ packages and our own academic and special affiliation tours visiting both well-known and more remote areas of the country.

The Asia Minor Tours website offers imaginative package tours that are of excellent value.

These are guaranteed to run on the dates posted with as few as two participants. Package itineraries and add-on excursions are described in detail.

We urge you to visit both the Equinox Travel and Asia Minor Tours websites as they provide much useful trip-planning information and valuable internet links to sites concerned with Turkish travel and culture.

We are here in the US to help you do virtually anything you’d like to do in Turkey. Chose a package tour or take advantage of us to design an independent itinerary. Whether you’d like to retrace the footsteps of St. Paul, sip wine on the deck of your chartered sailboat, or study the tiles of Istanbul’s fabled Blue Mosque, we’ll make sure that the Turkish welcome mat is unfurled for you. Please do not hesitate to email or call.

Please visit our Travel Services page for more information about our consulting fees.