For want of a more appropriate word to describe this post, I have chosen "jam". An Istanbul jam.
A post positively packed with highlights of our visit - let's be honest, many of them are food related. Following on from the gorgeous gözleme, truly wonderful meal at Antiochia and Inebolu market rapture, I present you with my remaining highlights.
Istanbul really is a magical city. Although far more developed than I had anticipated, I found myself enamoured with the more cosmopolitan areas and sleek dining scene, which fits in so seamlessly alongside the heart of old Istanbul and it's relatively untouched traditions.
I still have one more Istanbul post to come, where I'll introduce you to my new favourite cafe. But for now, enjoy this jam, noting our few wondrous Summer days in Istanbul...
Turkish breakfast at Van Kahavaltı Evi. Somehow I do not believe the Nutella to be a true reflection of traditional Turkish cuisine...but the rest was just fabulous. I really loved this place. We arrived sweaty from a morning workout to a lovely refreshing plate of breakfast goodies, including tomato, cucumber, olives, boiled eggs and cheese and a serve of yummy menemen (scrambled eggs with onions and peppers). Plus tea and Turkish coffee, and an OJ for Ben. We also really loved the area this restaurant was located in, so I do suggest a visit.
Grab an ice-cream and wander down bust ling Istiklal Caddesi, a large avenue loaded with...well, people. Become slightly terrified by fluorescent, undoubtedly high dancing buskers. Save your pennies for the cute old man playing traditional Turkish tunes.
When visiting the Grand Bazaar or other sights in Sultanahmet, stop off for lunch at an Istanbul institution, Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi. Here you get simple plates of fatty, un-fussy köfte with peppers, salad, spiced pepper paste and a big soft roll. Smush it all together and you can't deny, it is rather delicious.
Fishing on the bridge... Everyone does it. All the time.
You're after some sweets now, right? Well I must say that neither Ben and I are mad for Turkish Delight, much to the dismay of my father-in-law. We are, however, mad for baklava. And when in Istanbul, you go to Karaköy Güllüoğlu, the spot for baklava.
This place means business, serious baklava business. I attempted a few times to order and became so completely overwhelmed with the process that I sent Ben into battle. Ben then went about ordering portions of whichever ones took our fancy - a tough job, they have a mighty spread of pastry pleasures. Little did we know that "one portion" referred to six pieces of baklava. Enter an entire tray filled with baklava. Yep. How embarrassment.
A take-home pack was necessary.
Honestly, I found this baklava all too buttery. I know, I know, you wouldn't believe that could be possible, but it is. I much preferred the baklava we delighted in whilst galavanting throughout Greece, as well as the recipe I've made at home, which is heavier on infused sugar-syrup and nut flavours.
I did, however, enjoy the chocolate baklava. Who would have thought? Cocoa goodness.
The most surprisingly scrumptious street vendor meal ever? I think possibly, yes. Chicken and chickpeas on rice, loaded with black pepper. I turned a blind eye to sanitation and just enjoyed the simple brilliance of this snack.
Catch a ferry or two - one of the most pleasant activities you can do while in Istanbul. We caught many ferries on our trip, just hopping over from Europe to Asia, as you do...
After catching the ferry to Kadıköy, we wandered over to Ciya. Here we were greeted with fresh, flavourful salads and dips, sour cherry and meatball soup (amaze), yoghurt and artichoke soup, and the most deliciously succulent kebab meat you've ever eaten.
A favourite afternoon was spent reading in Gülhane Park, with some people watching thrown in for good measure. Cokes and novels, summer fun.
Drinks at Amenon Hotel for a gorgeous view of the city. A slightly expensive gin & tonic, but it came with a fun straw, so it all evens out.
Dinner at Ece Aksoy. We were poised with a street view and delighted in stunning olives, a gorgeous seafood platter, yummy meatballs and the most delicious pork fillet with apple sauce and picked ginger cabbage. Oh man, that pork.
Istanbul Summer nights...
Wasn't that a pretty jam? Man, I'm jonesing for that sour cherry and meatball soup...
Length of stay: 3 days, then 1 more night at the end of our - a good amount of time.
Accommodation: we stayed at Med Cezir in Sultanahmet, and the staff were really wonderful. I wouldn't stay in Sultanahmet again, however, as there wasn't much that interested us in that area. Our last night we scored a deal at the Hilton, and this location was fabulously close to Kantin. Next time I'd look for accommodation somewhere near the Galata Tower.