Wanderings: Eating in Istanbul

Baklava

Baklava heaven

Nothing beats traveling to a city where you have close friends who can show you around town and take you to all the best restaurants that only the locals know about.  A guided food tour is the next best thing.

On the recommendation of a colleague who had recently traveled to Turkey, we signed up for a culinary walk with Istanbul Eats.  Our guide, the amazing Angelis, led us on a five and half hour eating tour through markets and small restaurants in the Karaköy neighborhood on the European side of the city, and Kadıköy, on the Asian side.

Dried peppers and eggplant

Dried peppers and eggplant

The most amazing kebabs

The most amazing kebabs

Simit

Simit

Personally, I think it can be very intimidating to walk into a restaurant in a new place when you aren’t familiar with the cuisine and don’t speak the language well.  A culinary tour is a great ice breaker for diving into the food scene.  In addition to introducing us to dozens of kind of food, drink and desserts, Angelis from Istanbul Eats showed us how to order in different kinds of situations, how to garnish our food, what to look for in street food, and talked to us about the way various cultures intersecting over time led to the food we were eating now.

Spices

Spices

Yogurt soup

Yogurt soup

Grilling tantuni, beef served in a flatbread wrap with veggies

Grilling tantuni, beef served in a flatbread wrap with veggies

Wet burger!

Wet burger!

Apart from the amazing food we had that day, Istanbul Eats gave us a printed guide to all their favorite places to eat in the city, organized by neighborhood.  Afterwards we consulted that book constantly and often organized our city exploration around a place we wanted to eat from the book.  They were some of the best meals of my life and many of them were back street or upstairs places so far from the beaten tourist path, I’d never have found them otherwise.

Another great result of the tour was that we were able to make friends with a few of the other travelers who we spent the day eating and walking with.  We met up with one couple a few times for dinner, drinks and sightseeing and it was wonderful to have new friends with whom to experience city life.

Making pide and lahmacun

Making pide and lahmacun

Stuffed mussels

Stuffed mussels

Tulum seller.  Tulum is cheese ripened in a goat skin. I believe the sign says, "Those who know, know."

Tulum seller. Tulum is cheese ripened in a goat skin. I believe the sign says, “Those who know, know.”

Raki, an anise flavored drink

Raki, an anise flavored drink

Amazing dinner at Antiochia

Amazing dinner at Antiochia

Pickle and olive shop

Pickle and olive shop

Turkish delight

Turkish delight

Fresh squeezed orange and pomegranate juice

Fresh squeezed orange and pomegranate juice

Pomegranate reduction

Pomegranate reduction

Turkish breakfast

Turkish breakfast

Lahmacun and pide

Lahmacun and pide

Shrimp, squid and clams

Shrimp, squid and clams

Fish market

Fish market

Cheeses

Cheeses

Yogurt with sugar on the ferry

Yogurt with sugar on the ferry

Olives

Olives

Olives

Olives

Turkish meatballs and marrow bread

Turkish meatballs and marrow bread

Honey combs

Honey combs

Bakery

Bakery

Pickled vegetables

Pickled vegetables

Grape leaves

Grape leaves

Sütlaç, rice pudding topped with bananas, figs and Turkish delight.

Sütlaç, rice pudding with bananas, figs and Turkish delight.

Pide

Pide

Fresh aryan, a salty yogurt drink

Fresh aryan, a salty yogurt drink

Halka tatlisi, street food that tastes like churros if they were made of fried honey

Halka tatlisi, (as if churros were made out of fried honey)

Jams to eat with breakfast and clotted cream

Jams to eat with breakfast and clotted cream

Roasted chestnuts

Roasted chestnuts

Pastries

Pastries

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