I just got back from a quick four-day trip to Istanbul and all I can say is: I'm still full.
You know the feeling. You're in a new city and the strange laws of eating only during meals don't apply anymore. Food is everywhere and given the choice between a yogurt and baklava, I'm sure you can guess which one I would choose. Actually, both, in the case of this wonderful city: yogurt is the drink of choice for those spicy Adana Kebabs or when you're tired of drinking raki, sort of like pastis except it felt more like drinking liquid licorice candy.
Bad weather aside, Istanbul is a really interesting city. Oh yeah, you thought Istanbul was always sunny and nice? So did I. Until I walked around in the rain all day long by 8° celsius and I came to the realization that cool weather + light leather jacket does not equal "happy Lucie", even with the warmest scarf the world has ever known. Side note: am I the only one who never packs enough warm clothing? I'm always cold yet I always have this lingering hope of feeling really warm and nice and perfect whenever I go on a trip. I imagine myself wearing a nice billowy top, basking in the sun drinking tea by the water. Reality check:
1- I always end up having to add a sweater over that nice top, and it bunches up everywhere and looks awkward and not how I want it to.
2- "basking in the sun" doesn't apply to me: I don't bask, I burn.
Finally, an hour of sunlight!
Oh well. All rolled up in my not-so-warm clothes, I ate my way around Istanbul, and it was really nice. The sights, obviously, were pretty amazing too. But I always feel like getting to those off-the-beaten-path places and seeing what real people (by that I mean non-tourists, not non-robots) eat and how they eat is the best way to discover a new culture.
Highlights from the trip below!
Dinner on the first night at Antiochia: if you're planning on going to Istanbul, please please go here. The food is amazing and the staff is really nice. They serve specialties from the Hatay region of Turkey and we were really blown away. We had sis et (picture little squiggles underneath the s) and meat wraps (both pictured), as well as amazing mezze and the most delicious candied green walnut dessert. Yum.
Lunch the next day was at Dürümzade, a tiny dürüm spot serving minced meat wraps. It was apparently featured in Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations on Istanbul, and I can understand why. Really tasty and filling--just make sure you don't mind a good dose of raw onion. That's the part where the yogurt drink (in the background) becomes really nice.
I didn't take any pictures of dinner, but we went to famed spot Ciya Sofrasi. I had read a lot about it and how it's probably the best culinary experience in the whole city. To be completely honest, I preferred Antiochia.
Above is a simple lokum and baklava place near the hotel: nothing fancy and it was actually a chain, but everything sure was good in my opinion. Notice I don't have any pictures of the actual food, although we went there twice. Between getting my camera and eating the sweets right away, my hands made an obvious choice. Two words: chocolate baklava.
Finally, on Monday we had lunch in a small courtyard off to the side of the Grand Bazaar. We were surrounded by Turkish men having a quick lunch so this really wasn't a touristy destination. Too bad for all those tourists, who missed the most moist and spiced meat ever at Kara Mehmet.
Alright: I thought I was still full, but writing all this just got my appetite going again. Apple tea and baklava, anyone?