We are still in Istanbul. A city on two continents. Full of mosques, vendors and bazaars.
We walked the halls of Big Bazaar. Carpets, nargile, spices… And lamps.
When it came to food we’ll eat while on the road, the idea was to skip the restaurants serving continental food for the less courageous tourists and try as much local, authentic food as possible. Therefore, we asked our host to recommended a place he likes to eat at and where the food is good. He was happy to recommend Ziya Baba slow food. There, he said, he eats almost every day.
We wanted a kebab, but it’s only 11 am and they serve only breakfast till 12 :| OK, we take menemen – tomatoes, peppers, olive oil and eggs. We’ll finish it till 12 and then we can continue with the kebab. To go with it, we get ayran, a cultured milk product, very nice and mild.
We finish our breakfast just a few minutes before 12, but on that day, October 31st 2010 was the daylight saving time and at that moment it was not 12, but 11. Damn!
We decide to take a walk through the neighborhood to kill the spare hour, but Mateja really wanted to go to the Taksim square and after about 15 minutes we decide to skip the kebab and go to the square.
By the time we got there, it was almost unaccessible. So many army and police. It was The Day of the Republic and the president was supposed to be there, so we thought that’s why there is so many security. What happened is that a suicide bomber blew himself on the center of Taksim and hurt many people. For a long time there were no terrorist attacks in Turkey due to the truce made by the government and the terrorists. That day was the day that the truce ended Good thing we went to Ziya Baba.
Istanbul Restaurant & Café
Istanbul Restaurant & Café exists since 1912 and serves traditional Turkish food in one of the streets near Big Bazaar. One of the waiters speaks Serbian and shows us inside to meet the cook, also from this part of Europe.
So many dishes. And they all look great.
We had eggplant mousaka…
…sarma (minced meat wrapped inside cabbage leaf) and lamb.
For the desert, we decide to skip the baklava (why, you’ll see soon) and we take kadaif…
… and kemal pasha – one of the best deserts I’ve ever had. Later, when we got back home, I tried to find a recipe, but, it is made with pre-made store-bought dough soaked in syrup. The dessert comes from the town Mustafakemalpaşa and the dough is made with the local fresh cheese and it’s served with kaymak (although our came without it).
If you read the post about the Cannoli & Friends festival, you know that there I met the Turkish baklava champion. His baklava shop Karaköy Güllüoğlu was one of the must see places while in Istanbul. I had his business card that had a drawing of the Galata tower and don’t know why, but I thought it was just inside it’s dome.
When we got in front of Galata we found a mile long queue. Maybe the queue is for baklava? :P Yeah, right. No baklava shop inside the tower. I kept showing the card to the people around but nobody knew where it was. We kept circling around the tower until we found a local guy who showed us the direction. After about half an hour walk we finally got to the shop, but it was closed! Could not believe it. I wanted to cry.
When we decided to go back we saw a guy coming towards us holding a bag with the shop logo! Somehow he managed to explain to us that the shop has moved to another location. Oh, the happiness! it is on the other side of the city, never mind, we will see it
It’s a kind of self service. You go around, point with your finger and they put it on your plate.
Here we got kaymak with one of the baklavas. Something between milk skin and heavy cream. Very heavy and not my kind of treat.
They make a damn good baklava. Especially the chocolate one
Unbelievably, the owner, my buddy from Sicily was there. We recognized each other and I wanted to have a photo of us together. As Mateja was about to press the button, the owner started to shout and wave his hand as if he wanted us to wait for something. He called for a waiter and the guy went inside the store and came back with a picture of Obama! Made out of baklavas! )))) Epic!
Gozleme, Manti & Salgam
One of the things you can’t but notice as you stroll the streets of Istanbul are gozleme. They call them Turkish stuffed pancakes and are made by women that sit by the window of the shops.
Thay can be stuffed with almost anything. We tried the one with carrots, potatoes, spinach and fresh cheese.
It’s amazing, but it’s not a pancake
We also had manti. There is something called mantije in Serbia, and it came here with the Ottomans, so we thought it will be similar, but it’s actually a cooked pasta, like Italian ravioli, stuffed with meat, with yogurt and garlic sauce, a bit hot. Perfect.
In the previous post I told you how there were pickles to buy on the streets. Seemed gross and we didn’t try it. This must be even worse and I had it :P Salgam is made out of pickled black carrots, salt and juices from pickled radish. Absolutely impossible to describe how terrible it tastes. Just the taste of it will shrivel every single muscle on your face and you won’t be able to wash that terrible taste for a long time
… to be continued …