I spent my final day in Istanbul exploring the city as everyone should, on a culinary backstreet tour. Thus far I had spent my days adventuring through the city’s landmarks on the solo by day while dining by night at top restaurants in The Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul and Ciragan Palace Kempinski. I had enjoyed the creme de la creme in culinary whimsy and excessive extravagance and wanted to make a point to indulge in the cities infamous street food before zooming off into the Turkish countryside.
My guide for the day was an always smiling and knowledgeable American who had been living in Turkey for many years. Megan is finishing up her PhD in Linguistics and leading culinary tours of the city via Istanbul Eats in her spare time. I opted to book myself on the Two Markets, Two Continents tour which takes hungry tourists on an atypical culinary adventure off Istanbul’s tourist trail.
The historic Persembe Pazarı of Karaköy, where the walk begins, looks like a place to buy springs, ship anchors, hardware and paint supplies. I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at a fantastic restaurant, a favourite for locals who work in the area where we sat for breakfast which featured an unforgettable slab of buffalo clotted cream. Our first feast was followed by a stroll through the atmospheric mariner market streets, where we stopped into an Ottoman-era caravanserai for tea. In the late morning we hopped on a boat to Kadıköy on the Asian side and ate our way through that neighborhood’s market, sampling regional specialties such as Mersin’s tantuni, Gaziantep’s lahmacun and the ıslama köfte of Adapazarı. We continued on toward the lesser-explored culinary hotspot of Moda, where we taste finger-licking-good traditional sweets from Turkey’s Southeast and Black Sea regions.
Sip and Nibble Highlights from my Istanbul Eats Two Markets, Two Continents Culinary Tour:
At the Rustem Pasha Han
simit (sesame-encrusted “bagel” which is distinctively Turkish in tradition)
kaymak (clotted buffalo milk cream) with assorted jams
menemen (eggs with sautéed onion pepper and tomato)
beyaz peynir (white cheese) tomatoes and cucumbers
pickled plums and cucumbers
stuffed zucchini blossoms
Croat Salad (artichoke, asparagus, yogurt, pistachio)
Spanish salad (zucchini, walnut, dill, yogurt)
Crete-style paste (white cheese, fresh mint and basil, yogurt)
Eggplant and carrot puree
Fazil Bey’in Kahvesi
Cafer Erol Sekerleme
lokum (pistachio Turkish delight)
domates tatlisi (candied tomato)
tahinli helva (tahini/pistachio helva)
tantuni (sautéed beef in lavash)
ayran (yogurt drink)
shobiyet (baklava with pistachio and kaymak)
fistik ezmesi (pistachio paste)
Antep-style katmer (kaymak and pistachio envelope)
Ali Usta Dondurmaci
Turkish ice cream made with sahlep (wild orchid root)
Yum yum yum yum yum! Next time I visit Istanbul will have to fit in a culinary tour. I love walking around the markets in Istanbul. This is such a fantastic city. I pity the poor visitors who race around the city to visit the key sights, but don’t take the time to just wander the streets and drink in the atmosphere of this vibrant, amazing city. Fabulous photo’s … nothing better than food-porn. Jay
Thanks so much for your lovely comments! My food tour was one of the highlights of my trip! Cheers!