Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Eating in Istanbul


A little over a week in Istanbul and I'm in love already. It is proud yet humble. Old yet live and full on energy. Like a wave you caught and can’t jump off. There is no way to get enough. My Istanbul is yet little, but each and every piece of it is precious as it lets you feel some more of this city in a very special way. Not many big names, but these you’ll find without me.


The market to tour and shop for ingredients: Kadiköy market

Kadykoy market is on the Asian side. Unlike the Spice bazaar (Egyptian bazaar) it is not frequented by tourists, but is favored by locals. It is great to tour around and see how clean and beautifully organized are all the shops from fish to meat to veggies to dry ingredients (spices, grains, dry fruits) to pastry to Turkish delight. How proud and hospitable the shop keepers are.

The market is the place for take home shopping. Definitely Turkish delight (it's worth getting it from artisan shop and tasting before you buy). Baklava (it's better in Istanbul than anything I tried in Moscow), but take into account that it shouldn't be stored longer than three days. For cooking at home I also got some of the local spices: sumac, isot pepper / urfa biber, zatar (wild oregano, not the spice blend) and nigella seeds, locally made tomato paste/domates salçası and similar sweet red pepper paste/biber salçası (both are of incredible quality in Istanbul, way better than anything I tried elsewhere) and pomegranate molasses/nar ekşisi (fascinating sweet and sour ingredient for many kinds of cold mezes). I also couldn't help getting six of these Turkish/Moroccan tea glasses, here they are available in every supermarket almost for free.

The baklava shop: Bilgeoğlu Baklava



The shop is inside Kadiköy market. It's not such a big name, but they make one of the best baklava in Istanbul. It's extremely fresh and unbelievably good. They have walnut baklava and pistachio baklava (both worth trying).

Like most baklava shops they also have kadayif (noodle like pastry layered with nuts and soaked in syrup) and tulumba (syrup soaked doughnuts). If not sure what to get, sit down for a taste inside. Once you are decided, they will pack what you point into lovely boxes, weight and tell you the price.

The place to have dream breakfast: Kaymakci Pando shop

Breakfast overall is a big thing in Istanbul and the cornerstone for it is kaymak (local dairy product tasting like clotted cream made in heaven). This tiny place in Beşiktaş is famous for their kaymak. The founder is now 85 and he is yet inside the shop, serving clients himself.


They pour light and flowery honey over kaymak and serve it with freshly baked bread and Turkish tea. This is already enough for perfect happiness, but do also try their fried eggs (farmer's eggs, cooked in butter). It is tricky to find, but the location is depicted quite accurately here.


The place to enjoy incredible creative mezes: Meze by Lemon Tree restaurant

Meze by Lemon Tree is one of those new places taking a modern view on traditional Turkish food. Our whole meal there was lovely, but the meze were just incredible. As far as I can say they were all with a modern twist. E.g. one was fried eggplants under some kind of cream cheese and sweet tomato topping.


Another was charred peppers with caramelized onions, walnuts and tahini dressing. I believe the menu changes often, but English speaking waiters are there ready to explain to you what's available in detail. Once you enjoyed the starters properly, if you still do have space, there are great mains (we tried monk fish and meat balls), and there are desserts which we didn't manage to try.

The place for Ottoman food: Hünkar Lokantası restaurant


For me that was the strongest meat impression of the whole trip. The speciality dish is Hünkar Beğendi - strongly tasting lamb is melting in your mouth over rich and smoky eggplant mash. Each is great on its own, but together they make a perfection.


Hünkar Beğendi is a must, but there is much more to try. From their cold meze I really liked eggplant salad (acili ezme) and vegetarian dolma (zeytinyagli dolma). Menti (tiny meat stuffed hot dumplings served under yogurt) are extremely good too. I'm not big on desserts after meat, but in Hünkar I'd definitely try their syrup soaked cake topped with kaymak (kaymakli ekmek kadayifi) and semolina halvah (irmik helvasi).


The place to have Iskender Kebap: Kebapçı İskender


The place is next to Kadiköy market and has been there for generations. The main and only dish they serve is Iskender Kebap. You can ask for yogurt on the side (please do!) and roasted eggplant salad to complement it. They set you piping hot kebap in front of you and pour melted butter over it. Lots of butter! So while you eat it you know why it tastes so damn amazing. You feel guilty but you can't stop eating and this makes it taste even better.


Interestingly enough this one dish place does offer a vegetarian version of their Iskender kebap. You have to ask for it as it is mentioned neither in the menu nor on the website. And it is so incredible, made of eggplant mostly, with charred peppers, over soft warm bread. Can be tricky to find, but the location is depicted accurately here.

The fish & seafood place: Baliksi Locantasi


The place is 5 minutes away from Kadiköy market (Rıhtım Cad. Teyareci Sami Sk. no. 20/1 Kadıköy - Lane behind Murat Muhallebicisi). They shop for fresh fish in the market daily and cook it (very simply, but with great skill). You look and the fish counter, pick the fish you'd like to have (if you are looking to try some specific fish, it makes sense to google and write down its Turkish name beforehand), sit down and relax. First you get some bread and a complement - two meze dips (one spicy tomato and the other mild eggplant) which go perfectly together. In something like 10 minutes your fish will be ready and served to you with lemon and leafy salad. We went for fresh anchovy/hamsi (they were in season at the time of our visit). They tasted great (dusted with semolina or fine cornflour and gently fried).


After the fish it makes sense to try sicak helva - special dessert preferred after the fish in Istanbul, made of ground halvah mixed with cream and baked. When I asked for it at Baliksi Locantasi it looked like it wasn't on their regular offer, but they still made it for us. Some special heavenly version of it baked over grated apple and mixed with chocolate buttons and pistachios. The whole lunch for two cost us 35 TL = below 20 euros.

Besides that, I’d definitely have kunefe dessert (is really good e.g. at Akdeniz Hatay Sofrasi), Turkish coffee (great guide to it here) and ayran (is great on its own and goes well with meat and vegetable dishes).

The food blog to read about Istanbul, the cooking class and food tour to take: Delicious Istanbul

I did a lot of reading before my trip and it helped a lot to pick places I wanted to visit. Then I went for the cooking class.

Olga is great and passionate about what she is doing. We started from a trip to Kadiköy market on the Asian side. Visited Olga's fishmonger, artisan Turkish delight shop, baklava shop, pickles, dry ingredients and spices shops, sat down for a cup of Turkish coffee and then headed to Olga's home for the cooking class. We prepared three lovely starters (chard fritters, sundried tomato salad and rocket salad), fish main course and incredibly tasting dessert of dry apricots, walnuts and kaymak.

I really liked visiting hamam. It is worth it if you are at all into bathing. I went to Ağa Hamamı – it is a humble one, next to Taxim square. Comfortable and affordable (bath plus scrub and soap massage cost 40TL = around 20 euros). The city has many more baths though and here is a useful guide to pick the one suitable to you.

I couldn’t miss nargile smoking too. Good guide for places to smoke and etiquette is here.


More gourmet travel guides (Almaty, London, Singapore, Barcelona etc.)
Moscow food guide

Making baklava at home 

54 comments:

  1. As of yet this is my favourite post of yours!
    It's been a long time since I was last in Istanbul, visitng family on my mother's side, & I really enjoyed seeing old places that were new to you & how they have changed in the years.

    :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Really amazing author you have done a great work. You have post a great blog about baklava. And i appreciate it Thank you author and you deserve it. However there is one more delicious item for this dessert and that is baklava with pistachio believe when you'll taste this one you'll become amazed.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I got what you mean , thanks for posting .Woh I am happy to find this website through google. Office Buffet food Delivery Nottingham

    ReplyDelete
  4. This could cause an issue when there is no appropriate preparing given and Kitchen Control. chicken paprikash recipe

    ReplyDelete
  5. I admire this article for the well-researched content and excellent wording. I got so involved in this material that I couldn’t stop reading. I am impressed with your work and skill. Thank you so much. rose petal turkish delight

    ReplyDelete
  6. Houses of Parliament and other historic monuments. It is not only a top tourist destination, but is also a place which attracts thousands of students each year to study various subjects.
    Westminster Finance
    Westminster Finance
    Westminster Finance
    Westminster Finance
    Westminster Finance
    Westminster Finance
    Westminster Finance

    ReplyDelete
  7. Kamagra or Sildenafil Citrate (its generic name) is one of its kind, being the first significant oral medication for ED, which is widely popular now. It is same as the 100mg Viagra. Only the color is different. It is found in two formt tablet and jelly.
    Kamagra
    Kamagra
    Kamagra
    Kamagra
    Kamagra
    Kamagra

    ReplyDelete
  8. Health – great blog, just looking around some blogs, seems a really nice platform you are using. I’m currently using WordPress for a few of my blogs but looking to change one of them over to a platform similar to yours as a trial run. Anything in particular you would recommend about it carolina reaper powder

    ReplyDelete
  9. Recorded message with Customers voice can a while later become a proof of requesting a decent/administration by someone in particular. 먹튀토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  10. The Westmoreland Curry Festival is actually another of the leading events in when it comes to the Jamaica food festivals. Here, you will find many dishes cooked with this Asian spice and people travel from all over to sample some of these dishes as well. sea moss drink recipe

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am very much pleased with the contents you have mentioned. I wanted to thank you for this great article. cultured ghee benefits

    ReplyDelete
  12. There are a number of different formats that easy chicken recipes you can use to store your recipes online. The benefit is many of these programs also can help generate meal ideas and grocery lists.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Italian supermarket You may recognize Vitacost for it's extensive line of vitamins and supplements, but they also carry an incredible selection of specialty foods - Gluten Free, Kosher, Raw Foods, Vegan, and a wonderful assortment of Organic Foods.

    ReplyDelete
  14. When you use a genuine service, you will be able to provide instructions, share materials and choose the formatting style. what is cultured ghee

    ReplyDelete
  15. Italian products online You may recognize Vitacost for it's extensive line of vitamins and supplements, but they also carry an incredible selection of specialty foods - Gluten Free, Kosher, Raw Foods, Vegan, and a wonderful assortment of Organic Foods.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Parmigiano Reggiano You may recognize Vitacost for it's extensive line of vitamins and supplements, but they also carry an incredible selection of specialty foods - Gluten Free, Kosher, Raw Foods, Vegan, and a wonderful assortment of Organic Foods.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Parmigiano Reggiano About: It is produced using cow mil delivered between April-Nov. It is a matured cheddar that typically presents or finishes a feast. By law, Parmigiano Reggiano cheddar is matured at any rate one year. The cheddar ought to have yellow tone with a brittle however sodden surface. Use: It should be kept up enveloped by plastic and mesh varying. The kind of this cheddar supplements pastas, soups, and is likewise utilized in servings of mixed greens. It is pungent and sharp, so it can likewise be use as a flavoring.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Parmigiano Reggiano One conventional utilization of an entire Parmigiano Reggiano head is to utilize it as a serving pot. On uncommon events, when one has many visitors to serve (culinary fairs, feasts, huge parties) the entire head is spent and altogether burrowed out so the exposed outside layer stays, steaming pasta would then be able to be poured in it and served from in that.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Parmigiano Reggiano One conventional utilization of an entire Parmigiano Reggiano head is to utilize it as a serving pot. On uncommon events, when one has many visitors to serve (culinary fairs, feasts, huge parties) the entire head is spent and altogether burrowed out so the exposed outside layer stays, steaming pasta would then be able to be poured in it and served from in that.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Grana Padano The watchword is "value", and Americans are quite conscious of the relationship between quality and price. The price difference between organic and non-organic food has been reduced considerably, and now it is around 15%. According to the Organic Trade Association, the sales of organic foods in the United States have long passed those in Europe. The US is now the world's largest consumer of natural and organic food.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Grana Padano The watchword is "value", and Americans are quite conscious of the relationship between quality and price. The price difference between organic and non-organic food has been reduced considerably, and now it is around 15%. According to the Organic Trade Association, the sales of organic foods in the United States have long passed those in Europe. The US is now the world's largest consumer of natural and organic food.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have read your blog it is very helpful for me. I want to say thanks to you. I have bookmark your site for future updates.viagra

    ReplyDelete
  23. I read a lot of stuff and i found that the way of writing to clearifing that exactly want to say was very good so i am impressed and ilike to come again in future.. wonka oil carts

    ReplyDelete
  24. As I am looking at your writing, 온라인바둑이 I regret being unable to do outdoor activities due to Corona 19, and I miss my old daily life. If you also miss the daily life of those days, would you please visit my site once? My site is a site where I post about photos and daily life when I was free.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Attractive section of content. I simply stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to assert that I acquire in fact enjoyed
    account your blog posts. Anyway I’ll be subscribing
    on your augment or even I success you access constantly quickly.오피오피

    ReplyDelete
  26. Incredible! This blog lo?ks exactly ?ike my o?d one!
    It’s on a totally d?fferent subject b?t it ?as pretty muc?
    t?e ?ame layout ?nd design. Outstanding choice ?f colors!
    オンラインカジノ

    ReplyDelete

  27. Hi there mates, how is all, and what you would like to say concerning this
    article, in my view its truly awesome in favor of me.

    Click here to chceck my blog :: 대구오피
    (jk)

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hello ! I am the one who writes posts on these topicssex I would like to write an article based on your article. When can I ask for a review?

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thanks for such a fantastic blog. Where else could anyone get that kind of info written in such a perfect way? I have a presentation that I am presently writhing on, and I have been on the look out for such great information. 메이저토토

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thanks for your marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it, you could be
    a great author.I will remember to bookmark your blog and will
    eventually come back from now on. I want to encourage you to continue your great
    writing, have a nice weekend!

    Website:카지노사이트

    ReplyDelete
  31. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing blog that understand the value. Im glad to have found this post as its such an interesting one! I am always on the lookout for quality posts and articles so i suppose im lucky to have found this! I hope you will be adding more in the future. 토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hello, i think that i saw you visited my website thus i came to “return the favor”.I’m trying to find things to improve my website!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

    Have a look at my homepage; 오피사이트

    ReplyDelete
  33. We are really grateful for 바카라사이트your blog post for giving a lot of information

    ReplyDelete
  34. Thank you for sharing this information. I read your blog and I can't stop my self to 카지노사이트read your full blog. Again Thanks and Best of luck to your next Blog in future.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I really enjoy your web’s topic. Very creative and friendly for users. Definitely 토토bookmark this and follow it everyday.

    ReplyDelete
  36. It’s so good and so awesome. I am just amazed. I hope that you continue to do your work like 바카라사이트this in the future also.

    ReplyDelete
  37. When I read your article on this topic, the first thought seems profound and difficult. There is also a bulletin board for discussion of articles and photos similar to this topic on my site, but I would like to visit once when I have time to discuss this topic. 메이저사이트

    ReplyDelete
  38. It's Looks deeply awesome article!! which you have posted is useful. 파워볼 하는법

    ReplyDelete
  39. These are really fantastic ideas in about blogging. You have touched some fastidious factors here. 온라인경마

    ReplyDelete
  40. I really like it when people come together and share ideas.
    Great website, keep it up! 파친코사이트

    ReplyDelete
  41. Great content material and great layout. Your website deserves all of the positive feedback it’s been getting. 스포츠토토

    ReplyDelete
  42. It has fully emerged to crown Singapore's southern shores and undoubtedly placed her on the global map of residential landmarks. I still scored the more points than I ever have in a season for GS. I think you would be hard pressed to find somebody with the same consistency I have had over the years so I am happy with that. 메이저토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  43. I've been searching for hours on this topic and finally found your post. , I have read your post and I am very impressed. We prefer your opinion and will visit this site frequently to refer to your opinion. When would you like to visit my site? soi kèo

    ReplyDelete
  44. I don't know how many hours I've been searching for a simple article like this. Thanks to your writing, I am very happy to complete the process now. 안전놀이터

    ReplyDelete
  45. how you managed this blog so well. It’s so 메이저사이트remarkable thato through this valuable information whenever

    ReplyDelete
  46. work and wondering how you managed this blog so well. It’s so remarkable thato through this valuable information whenever 메이저사이트

    ReplyDelete
  47. very much for all your proposals on 메이저사이트 this site. Your shares are very interesting and very enriching

    ReplyDelete
  48. Your post has really helped me a lot wonderful points altogether,Perfect 먹튀검증업체

    ReplyDelete
  49. Wow, great blog article I look forward to working with you. 먹튀사이트

    ReplyDelete
  50. It's truly fantastic. I marvel you composed such a great post. I'm still thrilled. Consider the response of these individuals currently. Everybody agrees with me. As an individual that can actually associate, I do not wish to conserve praises. You need to constantly be an author. 바카라사이트

    ReplyDelete