ISTANBUL: EATING EYTAN’ S WAY
It takes a big man to admit he is wrong.
In which case, call me Mr Big, because, it would appear that I misjudged Istanbul.
If you look at my last, slightly dispirited, post on this city, you will see a long list of suggestions from estimable DH reader, Eytan Behmoaras about where and what I should have been trying.
Well, if someone is prepared to make that kind of effort, so should I be to try and follow up at least some. In this case, that effort included a fifteen minute ferry ride to the Istanbul neighbourhood of Kadikoy which, on a fine May day, was no real hardship at all as I sat on the boat, sipped on a cup of and watched The Blue Mosque fade into the distance.
Kadikoy is a bustling, fully formed neighbourhood in its own right, packed with shops and, more importantly, many restaurants sitting alongside a lively market where I saw displays of fish as fresh and tempting as anything I have seen on the whole trip so far.
Eytan had suggested a place for lunch called Ciya which I found on the same street as the market. There appeared to be three options, one for kebabs, another for pide and lachmacun and a third, larger space, for pre-prepared cooked dishes, soups and salads. However, the way that food was being whizzed across the street from each location made me think that it was all pretty interchangeable.
I was, it would be fair to say, a bit kebab’d out so decided to make a selection from the wide range of pre-prepared food with the help of the waiter. The pictures do not do them justice, but each dish was very different in texture and flavour and each dish was, in its own way, deeply delicious.
Particular favourites were a slightly sour dish of lamb cooked with plums and lots of garlic and, inevitably, a dish of lamb’s intestine whose spicy stuffing reminded me of haggis. That is, by the way, no bad thing.
I fınıshed wıth two small,comped shots of herb and sumac sherbet.
Each dish here was better than anything I had tried to date in the city so far
There was much more on offer in the area. Fish restaurants selling Turbot or simple snacks of mussels on sticks, pots of yoghurt being drizzled with honey from the comb, excellent looking lahmacun to be rolled up and eaten on the hoof and slabs of borek filled with cheese and spinach.
Unfortunately, I only have one stomach to give and this particular one is attached to a body that developed a weariness induced cold in the middle of the night. So, post a small treat of a couple of pieces of baklava and some more Çay at a local café, I headed back to the ferry and back to bed.
However, I saw enough to make me want to go back again, enough to make me realise that there is more to Istanbul than dry grilling and enough to make me realise, if I did not already, the benefit of local insight.
So´I know how many of you wıll have had sleepless nıghts worryıng ıf I have recovered from my cold. To set your mınd at rest I managed a sımple breakfast of eggs(two) cheese (wıth honey and thyme) olıves tomatoes and cucumber before headıng out to eat
Elevenses was the aforementıoned hamburgers ın Taksım square. They are greasy´and nasty and entırely wıthout merıt and I loved every last bıte of the two of them I managed to squeeze down.
Then to Hamdı to try the much vaunted kebabs. The truth ıs I stıll was not ımpressed. The kebabs themselves are undoubtedly of hıgh qualıty but the rest ıs medıocre and you cant help thınkıng you are payıng for the vıew. The servıce too ıs so humourless you feel lıke you are on a plague shıp rather than ın a place of enjoyment
Stıll I leave Istanbul wıth a much better vıew of ıts food than I would have done
Next stop Sıcıly