High up in the mountains that make the stunning backdrop to Fethiye is Tangala Goat Farm.
Here lives a resourceful and intrepid woman, who swapped the busy city life to become an artisan cheese maker.
These days, as well as selling her cheeses, she runs courses, so you can learn the art of making cheese too.
Tangala Goat Farm
Tangala Goat Farm is perched on a mountainside about the historic site of Tlos and is run by a remarkable woman called Buket Ulukut.
The story goes that when Buket came to live in this part of Turkey, she became so impressed by goats and inspired by the cheese making process, she decided to make this her mission in life.
Buy it, eat it, love it…
Nowadays, she is encouraging cheese lovers it to buy it, eat it, and even learn how to make it.
Buket’s rural lifestyle in the Seydikemer hamlet of Yaka from her privileged Istanbul upbringing .
“My family are Istanbul people with no experience of villages so was quite a shock for my family … what we have now is quite luxurious – I didn’t start from this of course – and it has been a challenge.”
After deciding to give up her agency, in which she worked on deals between Europe and the Turkish fabric industry, she took time out to learn the craft of cheese making.
“I started making cheese in Israel. My cheese master is famous all around Europe. He is doing cheese tasting in France and Italy… now his family are also working with dairy products and permaculture.”
She followed in his footsteps to Europe, where she studied cheese making according to the seasons.
Buket’s range of cheeses (which includes cow’s milk varieties too) include tangatin (Tangala crottin) to Tangalazola (yes, you guessed, a delicious Gorgonzola).
The Major Ingredient
“I started with just one goat nine years ago, I didn’t have a plan; it was just the goats that touched me – when I saw the baby goats in the village.”
Tangala Goat Farm is 750 metres above sea level, an hour away from the Mediterranean coast and, in terms of the environment, a whole world away.
Buket started the Tangla herd with a nanny goat called Sultan (see headline photo).
“I got one and over time they became more and more… It’s a mixed herd. . I have goats from the Taurus Mountains… Also I have Haleb goats from east Turkey and the middle east with their long ears and white Swiss goats… I just lived with the goats as my herd grew.”
For the love of cheese
As the herd grew there was enough milk to make cheese and to use those cheese making skills she had learned.
But cheese making is a science as well as a craft, as can be seen from the massive basement under the house.
To be allowed in here, boots, masks and caps are required.
The mysterious world of cheese making
It’s dark; there’s humming and the feeling of being in a cave.
But the lights, when they come on, reveal a white tiled world of temperature- and humidity-controlled science and a level of cleanliness to match any laboratory.
Each type of cheese has its own room, to prevent cross-contamination.
They are like shrines; these cheeses are almost worshipped.
No matter how divine the process may seem, cheese making is a science.
Their development is monitored with gloved hands.
Some have special non-iodized salt rubbed into them; others are checked for thread-like blue streaks that transform them into pungent wheels akin to Gorgonzola.
Yet more are turned.
This marvel is a time consuming process but Buket records each minute detail, precisely, in a hi-tech cheese diary.
You Can Learn How to Make Cheese
Buket is transforming her hillside above the ancient Lycian citadel of Tlos into a dynamic artisanal business and home, into which she warmly welcomes her guests, inviting them to share the beautiful surroundings and, should they wish, learn how to make some very delicious cheese.
Good news about cheese travels fast
Buket’s endeavours are already attracting interest from people like top Istanbul restaurateur, Tarık Bayazıt, from Müzedechanga.
She also has a busy monthly calendar, running three-day cheese making courses and other workshops that clearly demonstrate her ecological credentials.
How to Contact
How To Get There
The nearest town to Tangala is Seydikemer, a quiet hardworking agricultural town on the fertile plains at the foot of the mountains.