Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Foodie Walk through Istanbul - III. and last Part

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!


  1. Barbara, what an exciting visit to Turkey!! Thank you for sharing the foods and the streets and that Turkish coffee with us.

  2. One of these days I must try the sheep's head too....What a blast to meet up with you and Claudia again here in Istanbul! The internet is an amazing tool! Enjoy your winter in France and happy cooking with your new spices. Cheers!

  3. Great that you three met up. We follow Claudia and Joy, too. Almost met Joy recently but it wasn't to be, unfortunately. You must have been soooo full after all that. I recognised Petek's Pickles straight away - our favourite shop! :)

  4. Susan - and that coffee was real good, too!

    Joy: I so enjoyed meeting you, too! Can't wait to read new recipes on your blog.

    Julia: Isn't that pickles shop something else? Wish I'd been there with a car, I would have bought lots!

  5. Wow, I never knew anyone cooked sheep's head. I am certain I would have been with Robert and wondering whether to try all of these unusual dishes. The pickle shop looks amazing.

  6. We really had fun, didn't we?? And you did eat everything, more or less.You were great, all 3 of you. That coffee break in the Pera Palas was wonderful - must try it at night for a drink in that decadent bar! You took some great photos, Barbara! Come again and we'll discover more interesting places.

  7. Michel - it truly was a feast for all the senses and sheep's head sounds worse than it tastes - it is actually quite delicious.

    Claudia - we really did have fun! I will take you by your word, don't know yet when but I would love to go on another foodie-walk with you!

  8. Thought id say hello while passing your blog by, and i hope you folks have a very nice weekend. We are maybe a little past fall peek colors for taking pictures of our tree's here in central Pennsylvania, but ill try anyway to go out one last time to snap some images. Richard from the Amish community of Lebanon Pennsylvania.