Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Istanbul Delights, with notes

Artichoke hearts big as a big man's palm; strawberries for breakfast; apricots steeped overnight, swollen and stuffed with clotted cream, their split side pressed into stuffed pistachios; swordfish shish, moist fish pressed up against grilled lemons on a spit; onion shish: onions stuffed with grilled beef and marinated in pomegranite juice, then baked (my favorite); liver and onions in a trendy alley in the Galata neighborhood, a crevice of glamor tucked between stone walls. This is our secret, said Elif. 


1. Artichokes and strawberries are in season in May; they show up everywhere so you become aware of this very quickly. Peeled artichoke hearts are sold in markets, stored in lemon juice to prevent discoloring, ready for cooking. In the second photo in the middle, you can see the artichokes, with shelled fava beans (left) and shelled garbanzo beans (right) in bags on top of the jars.

2. Apricots and clotted cream; artichokes and fava beans: these were among dishes we prepared in a cooking class taught by Selin Rozanes, who opens her home in the Nasantasi neighborhood. Afterward, Selin led a tour of the spice market, where many of the ingredients were purchased. See the full range of classes and foodie tours on offer at Delicious Istanbul blog also has a useful guide to shopping in the Istanbul Spice Market.

3. Swordfish shish at the Seven Hills restaurant in the Sultan Ahmed neighborhood was one of the best meals I had in Istanbul. Their mezze platter also has the best smoked eggplant I had in the entire two weeks in Turkey (similar to babaghanoush, but called patlijaan in Turkey).  The restaurant is touristy and expensive, but the excellent food and the views of the Blue Mosque and the Sea of Marmara are worth it.

4. Onion shish at the Kiva restaurant that serves Anatolian food, right by Galata Tower. A special dish. We had to order a second plate.

5. The secret alley. I will keep the secret.

For my post on Cappadocia, click here
For my post on the Bodrum Peninsula, click here

Photo credits: Chris Svoboda

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