Istanbul has enjoyed a run of new hotels in the past 12 months, including a new Soho House opening any day now. This drive for a more contemporary identity is being matched by a culinary shift towards greatness. Alancha (www.alancha.com; second picture) is the second restaurant from Kemal Demirasal, a champion windsurfer-turned-self-taught chef, who opened the first Alancha in the fashionable seaside town of Çesme on Turkey’s Aegean coast in May 2013. Now he’s bringing a new 20-course Anatolian tasting experience to the city. This is a man who puts as much time into the test kitchen as he does the commercial front; he forages like a Swede, while exploring the ancient origins of dishes like a Turkish Blumenthal. It’s a big year for Turkey, with next month’s anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign – one of the great disasters for the Allies in the first world war, intended by Churchill to capture Constantinople and knock Turkey out of the war. New books are coming out (Gallipoli by Peter FitzSimmons), and films (The Water Diviner, both directed by and starring Russell Crowe). For trips in the region (from £1,995), including walking just as the flowers start to pop, Peter Sommer (www.petersommer.com; gullets moored at Loryma first picture) – a true regional specialist with an intellectual bent – is the man to contact.