Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Turquoise Turkey

We have long since returned from beautiful Istanbul but it's still brightly in our thoughts. We have been mesmerized by it, everything from the food to the stunning mosques and the colorful tropical-esque plants and its haunting history.

I miss fika hour when we had a Turkish coffee and baklava every day, and of course other pastries that we had never eaten before. I prefer my Turkish coffee "saada" or without sugar because I always sipped it after a bite of the lusciously goey syrupy baklava. Trust me when I say that the sugar in the baklava made up for the bitterness of the coffee!

A woman making gozleme outside a cafe

We discovered so many different dishes to expand our repertoire. We ate spinach borek (yufka pastry, which is a slightly thicker pastry than filo pastry and is generally used for borek and gozleme, wrapped in a cigar shape with spinach), gozleme (yufka pastry stuffed with spinach and cheese, or potato and cheese), bulgur balls (bulgur shaped into balls in a dense tomato sauce), sun-dried eggplant stuffed with rice (amazing and found it at a small yellow-walled restaurant on Kavalli Street, right off the main shopping center area), Turkish ravoli with yogurt sauce, all sorts of sauteed eggplants - they really know how to create new tastes with eggplant there. Also menemen (sauteed tomatoes and peppers with scrambled eggs) - delicious and something we'll definitely be entertaining with! Lots of delicious olives, green and black, delicious flatbreads, and Efes beer is perfectly light for those hot Turkish days when one needs cooling down. Did I mention the halloumi? It was so fresh tasting, so creamy, slightly chewy and so delicious.

Despite my preoccupation with food, the history of Istanbul demands attention. We saw such lovely places, the scenery was picturesque by the clear turquoise water always, and the haunting songs from the mosques simply made us listen, and so strange, to see such lovely buildings juxtaposed with modern ones. The Basilica Cistern, which is an underground water reservoir built in the 6th century, is an amazing sight, damp, dripping with water on a slippery bridge we went to see Medusa's head while the fish swam beneath us. Topkapi Palace boasts exotic relics from old times like porcelain and shiny jewels. Our favorite was Hagia Sophia, which is an extremely large, high-ceiling dome church that turned into a mosque through time and is now a museum. I haven't seen such a high ceiling like that before, it was awe-inspiring, colorful, and a home for pigeons.

The high medieval Galata Tower looks beautiful on the city's horizon. We climbed it - well, not literally -- the stairs are always closed so one must pay for a rikety elevator ride 9 floors up to see the stunning view of the city and the blue water beside it. But since I have a fear of heights and was nervous by the measly thin fence around the tower's balcony, we were happy enough to descend promptly. Just beside the tower is a restaurant called Galata Kiva, which was one of the best dinners we had and highly recommend.

And the Spice Market, oh my! We were awe-struck by everything there, from spices to fruit and herb teas to sun-dried eggplant! It was lovely! A dream! We found chamomile tea, sumac, dried mint, zatar and sun-dried eggplants. I bargained quite a bit but some would just not budge on price.

Cats everywhere! I'm not sure what the deal is with all the cats in Istanbul, but they are literally everywhere! Adorable little kittens playing with each other, fuzzy fuzzy things that made me miss my own cat so much. Best was to see them sprawled on books and things napping lazily through the heavy summer heat... We did that too. We can't wait to go back!

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...