I suddenly had to go to Istanbul for a few days (long story). So, of course, I have to fit in some eating:
People were drinking Turkish tea in small clear glasses with a lump of sugar everywhere I went. In the Grand Bazaar, I’d see delivery people running around with trays of 5 or 6 glasses of it. I finally happened on a tiny tea stand in the market where the runners were picking it up:
I had a few glasses over the course of the day– it was the default drink to get with any food, and as a slightly bitter and acidic drink was a nice break from all of the intense sweets and fatty meat:
My favorite food so far was at Kara Mehmet, which I’d read about on Chowhound and some random blogs. It’s an informal little cafe in one of the quiet courtyards (Cebeci Han) nestled within the Grand Bazaar. It took some time to find, but I finally noticed a sign with an arrow pointing towards Cebeci Han.
Their Adana Kebab is a mix of minced lamb and some “tail fat”, giving it a rich flavor and cohesive texture (reminding me of meatballs I’ve had wrapped in caul fat). And the onions covered with slightly-acidic sumac were a great complement, along with a charred pepper. I highly recommend this place. And it was only about $7.
I also had a Turkish Coffee, which came in this presentation:
One piece of Turkish Delight (gel, sugar, mastic, some date puree perhaps?), and the thick, silty, sweet Turkish Coffee, which may have now edged out Vietnamese Coffee as my favorite strong-small-sweet form for coffee.
Lamb shawerma / gyro, cooked on a spit in front of a stack of coals, with a nonchalantly elaborate tile wall, also inside the sprawling Bazaar:
Served with bread, pickled hot peppers, and a shaker full of sumac powder. Tasty, and cheap, but not change-my-life amazing (perhaps slightly better than Truly Med in San Francisco):
Many street stalls selling fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice for $1:
I’m a sucker for roasted chestnuts when it’s cold out. And for old mechanical balances for weighing them out:
Even a normally-boring hotel breakfast isn’t too bad– olives, fish, a sesame sweet similar to halva, dates, and so on (Turks are comfortable eating sweets any time of the day):
And, a street bread vendor in the Book Bazaar:
Off to a good start…