Now have a look at this: Doesn't the dish on the cover of this magazine look just like a nice, juicy pork roast? I think it does and was more than surprised when I saw the headline "France's best loved dishes". But knowing that France is also the country where McDonalds has the highest turnover outside of the US I thought anything is possible and was intrigued. But no, pork it is not, it is duck breast and "Vie Pratique Gourmand", a very popular cooking mag you buy at supermarket checkouts had asked it's readers to name their top forty favorite dishes. Duck Breast was voted most popular dish, followed by Moules Frites and - Number Three: Couscous!
Classic dishes such as Lapin à la Moutarde - rabbit in mustard sauce (20), Cassoulet (32) or Bouillabaisse (37) were beat by BBQ'd salmon (11), Spaghetti Bolognaise (17) and Pizza (18). Interesting, isn't it?
And what is your favorite dish? Mine seems to be an alltime favorite: Steak Frites, the more saignant, the better! And I am not the only one - Steak Frites made it to number 6 on the "Vie Pratique Gourmand" ranking.
The one and only day is wasn't raining during our stay in Istanbul fellow blogger Claudia of A Seasonal Cook in Turkey very kindly took us on a foodie tour through Beyoglu, the heart of Istanbul. We had met just a few weeks before when Claudia whose blog features mouthwateringly delicious recipes came to visit Provence with her lovely husband TT. Well I can tell you one thing: this walk was not for the fainthearted, already at the first stop Claudia had some convincing to do:
Robert, my OH was more than sceptical: "What do you want me to eat? Kokoreç - Sheep intestines?"
But since Nazmi, the vendor, was such a delightful man who proudly told us that he put his two daughters through university with the earnings off his stall, we decided to be polite and have a taste. Surprise - it tasted great, politeness evaporated, sheer greed took over - yum!
What a beautiful still life! We generally found that Turkish stallholders have a knack for decoration!
Here no one had any qualms about tasting - freshly pressed pommegranate juice is so delicious.
And warm, melt in the mouth börek, I think I could easily live on this....
Some street art thrown in and then:
The Orient Bar of the famous Pera Palas Hotel, Istanbul's first luxury hotel where Mata Hari, Marlene Dietrich, Alfred Hitchcock, Jackie Kennedy and Agatha Christie used to stay. Our friend Volker invited us to
a fabulos Turkish Coffee, before we then went on to visit
The Master of the Pickles!
Along the way we learned how else to spell "Charcuterie " as that was what we tasted next:
This very friendly, in fact absolutely adorable man who has been running this stall on the exact same street corner for some thirty years he told us (hence his three devoted "regulars"), turns this - cooked sheep heads,
into this (photo below) - an absolute delicay. We not only admired his knife skills - it was quite a spectacle watching him deftly cutting up the heads, getting out the meat, then finely slicing onions and chopping lots of flat leaf parsley. Seasoned with pepper, salt and pulbiber, the Turkish chilli flakes you find on every restaurant table
Kelle, as this is called was seriously good!
But then we went to the famous Spice Bazaar and guess what? Yes, we did find a little space left in our by now well stuffed tummies to taste nut and pistachio filled dates, apricots and figs. And special chocolates and even Iranian caviar that is sold at very competitive prices.
Blogger meeting in the Spice Bazaar: Claudia, Barbara and Joy
There we were joined by Joy, a pastry chef whose baking demonstration at Istanbul's Culinary Institute I unfortunately missed by a few days and author of the delightful "My Turkish Joys" blog. Joy took us to her favorite spice shop in this amazing and fragrant labyrinth of spices where I stocked up on black pepper, pulbiber, dried thym (now that the winter starts I want to give my thym plants a rest), red pepper, tea, and lokum of course, also known as Turkish Delight. And that exactly sums up this wonderful day: it was truly a Turkish Delight - thank you Claudia for guiding us!