Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Shifting the backblog

The backblog has reached Himalayan heights now. I need to get things moving a little, which sadly involves cutting the rest of the Istanbul trip into bite sized chunks, to be consumed at one sitting. Rather like tapas.

So, without further ado, here are some tasty street scenes:

Baklava? My favourites are the ones that filled with milk and honey that burst open when you pop them (whole) into your mouth.

Or perhaps some Turkish Delight? None of that dodgy Fry's stuff either, this is a serious business. Those nutty rolls along the bottom shelf are specifically designed for the removal of fillings.

Check out these jars of preserved vegetables. How cool would a bunch of those look on your kitchen shelves?

One of the friendlier stalls in Beyoglu (Sahne Sk, Balik Pazari No:3/A). I stocked up on apple tea here and the owner, Murat, gave me a little bag of mixed nuts to munch on as I tramped around the wet city.

It's far too easy to get lured into the tourist traps in Istanbul, but there are some great little places out there. Little cafes where you can buy strong tea and munch heavy slabs of borek (preferably for breakfast) are everywhere.

My top pick for Istanbul is the Sultanahmet Fishhouse (http://www.sultanahmetfishhouse.com/ , Te: +90 212 527 44 41) in the old part of town. The welcome here is super-friendly, the wine list is good (check out the Corvus Estate Okuzgozu Bogazkere 2005, pictured below) and it's the kind of place you can stop for a few tasty nibbles or a full on seafood extravaganza that smells like a good day at the beach.

Another oddity I came across, and thoroughly enjoyed, was a small place with a name I couldn't comprehend in Beyoglu. Wandering the streets alone one Sunday night I pressed my nose up against the window of a place filled with laughing Turkish families under strip lighting tucking into massive salads and skewered meat.

After finding myself a seat it quickly became clear that none of the staff spoke a word of English (unusual in an Istanbul restaurant) and the familiar game of smiles and hand gestures ensued. A can of Diet Coke in hand I observed my fellow diners - the place was packed with families and groups of young students, who all seemed to be eating the same thing and chatting away noisily. As the only none Turkish person there I realised I'd finally, and happily, escaped the tourist traps.

Plates of flatbread arrived, along with yoghurt, lemon slices, fresh parsley, mint, and coriander, spring onions, tomatoes and lettuce, and a chap brandishing thin skewers of lamb and beef. Self-assembly kebabs then? I haven't been able to find another word to describe this style of eating, but the food was zinging fresh, and it was very informal, and lots of fun. The whole lot, with a cup of tea at the end, came to about 5 euro. Happy days.

That concludes Istanbul Jifflings, rather too briskly I'm sorry to say. I think some reformatting of Jifflings is in order, so watch out soon for a new look blog, with some more reports from Senegal, the UK, Lisbon, and Kyrgyzstan.

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