Entries Tagged as 'turkey'

September 1st 2012

Just put some of my Turkey pics up on the book, check it 

July 29th 2012

The Grand Bazaar (Istanbul, Turkey)

Foreign Foodie, Part I

July 27th 2012

Everyone with an Instagram account and an appetite is a “foodie” these days, which if we’re being honest is really just a euphemism for pig.

That being said, I’m the biggest foodie. And even if you’re not, you still kind of are because who in the world is like “oh, I’d rather just pick at an OK-tasting meal…” Yea, no one.

If you’re smelling what I’m cooking than you know why I booked a tour with Istanbul Eats, described as a culinary walk that “brings you into the best undiscovered local eateries…we’re talking about serious food for serious eaters, hold the frills.”

And hoooooomygod was it seriously good. I mean, in a city famous for the Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar and countless other UNESCO World Heritage sites, it’s testament enough that Istanbul Eats rates as a top activity on Trip Advisor.

The tour ended up being almost eight hours long with an incredible guide named Angelis who I was also eating up, in between all 14 food stops.

Disclaimer: I’m not a food writer, nor am I a food photographer. In fact, I fail so miserably at the latter that a recent Instagram post of fried chicken is still in the single digit “likes” with a sole comment that may or may not mention vomit. (It did.) (#Rude.)

So here’s a straightforward rundown of the day’s highlights, with pictures that really don’t do any of the meals justice.

We started with a homemade breakfast of menemen, which is a moist, perfectly runny vegetable fritata-type omelette thing (see, awful food writer, sorry) and served alongside fresh watermelon, tomatoes, crumbly cheese, pastries and fresh jam at the cutest little joint owned by the cutest little husband and wife who double as front of house and chef, respectively.

[Vegetable fritata-type omelette thing]

From there we meandered down cobblestone lanes to have tea in a charming courtyard with local tradesmen before hopping on a boat to the Asian side of Istanbul. (Yup, it happens to straddle two continents).

[Tea]

Waiting for us across the river was, in no particular order:

Tantuni biftek: Greasy (used as a totally positive adjective here), flavorful ground beef served in a wrap with lettuce and tomato.

Kofte: Dry meatballs (sans tomato sauce) served with warm, soft bread that’s been marinated in beef and bone stock then grilled.

[Mmmmmmeatballs]

Tulum peyniri: Goat cheese made by “tightly stuffing curd into a goatskin casing, which has been cleaned and salted. The curd filling is topped with salt, and the casing’s opening is fastened with a cord. The goatskin casing is stored in a cool place such as a cave or cellar at temperatures for about six months to ripen.” Needed wikepedia’s help with that one. And then there’s this picture:

[That is, I swear to you, a picture of the goat fur cheese casing with a sign on it that translates to something like “those that know, know”]

Pistachio paste: A rich, chalky delicacy sold at ridiculous high prices that I can’t remember but already emailed Angelis to find out. 

Midye dolma: Mussels stuffed with aromatic rice.

Cig kofte: A snack that used to be made of raw steak and spices, served in a lettuce leaf. Most places use the safer salmonella-proof alternative of crushed bulgar.

Dondurma: Traditional Turkish ice cream with ingredients (salep and mastic) that make the ice cream stretchy, chewy and the slightest bit crunchy

Katmer: Dough filled with clotted buffalo milk cream, crystallized sugar and pistachio.

[Impressed I had the self control to take a photo with this one]

Stay tuned for Foreign Foodie Part II, where I’ll share the rest of Turkey’s delights discovered on my own (week-long) culinary walking tour (marathon).

TO-DO (Istanbul, Turkey):

July 25th 2012

[Excerpts from an email to my best friend who happened to be visiting Istanbul a month after me. She had a limited amount of time so I broke it down for her by day.]

DAY 1: I highly recommend doing the Istanbul Eats tour, one of the highlights of my trip for sure. It was expensive (about $125) but almost 8 hours long and I got to explore tons of areas including the Asian side of Istanbul and its amazing markets, not to mention ate sooo much good food!!

DAY 2: Explore the Old City. Visit the blue mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace. They’re all within 2-7 minutes from each other, and expect to spend pretty much your entire day doing all three. Start with the mosque and Hagia Sophia then break for lunch at Kasap Osman, which serves the best Iskender kebab in the city (make sure you order the Iskendar dish which is, wait for it, chopped up pita bread soaked in the most amazing onion-y tomato sauce, baked then topped with juicy, buttery lamb meat and a dollop of yogurt) and it’s only a ten minute walk from the sights. From there head to Topkapi. I could have spent the entire day there alone, though the highlights are the harem and the treasury. End your day at Cagaloglu Hamami, about a 15 minute walk away. Plan to spend an hour or two just relaxing in there, trust me you will need this…sign up for a scrub but forego the massage. 

DAY 3: Grand Bazaar/Spice Market (they’re about 15 mins from each other). You can spend hours just getting lost and wandering around the bazaar…it’s expensive though, at least more expensive than you’d imagine. All the good jewelry pretty much starts at around 90 Lira ($50); some of it is awesome, some is just eh. The little evil eye bracelets and some of the beaded stuff can be less—and they make great gifts for anyone back home. Honestly, I would visit more for the experience than the actual shopping…ditto with the spice market, lots of colors and smells and they’re sweet about letting you try stuff. 

DAY 4: Taksim Square, Beyoglu, French street. This is all pretty much one area…Taksim is just a big square (sort of like the equivalent to NYC’s Times Square) but you’ll start from there and walk down on Beyoglu which is closed to traffic…if you get sick of walking, there’s the cutest little tram you can ride—it looks like a toy!! A few cute places to stop: Mandabatmaz is famous for having the best turkish coffee in the city, Inci is famous for its profiteroles—a huge pastry stuffed with cream, covered in chocolate. All the bars and clubs are also in this area…after a big night out go to Kizilkayalar Hamburger, it’s where all the locals go late night for their signature moist tomato-saucey, kebab burger—so freaking good. 

Other things: The Bosphorous ferry tour is a beautiful boat ride on the river—do it at sunset if you can. Try Turkish delight, everywhere will give you samples for free. Alsooo make sure you eat the baklava with clotted cream inside, I forget the exact name but say kaymek because that means cream (obvs I learn important words). There’s also an area by the sea, I forget the name but they have small jewelry markets and tons of baked potato street stands where you can put millions of toppings inside for sooo cheap. 

July 25th 2012

Hagia Sophia (Istanbul, Turkey)

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