Eating Istanbul, Round Three: Maybe going too far?

It's cold and rainy, but we have ground to cover.
istanbul cafe backgammon
Turkish coffee fuel to enable me to conquer John at backgammon in Cafe 44
It's our last day in Istanbul in the hip and European Beyoglu region, and our first stop is Cafe 44, aka Medi Sark Sofrasi (I can’t explain the two name thing, sorry). Although not on the original itinerary, the smell of Turkish coffee, a cozy ambiance, and the sound of dice hitting backgammon boards lured us in.

Regretfully, we only had a [perfect] coffee and black tea, but the amount of locals in the place allows me to confidently suggest that the food is probably worth going back for.

With our caffeine fix and a looming tiebreaker unsettled, we left the cafe to visit our next stop: Klemuri, known for its chic "homecooking" and reasonable prices. It was definitely one of the more retro places we visited--with its cool jazz and hip decorations, you could have found this restaurant on any corner in Manhattan.
cool restaurant istanbul
The decor at Klemuri

klemuri istanbul
Turkish cornbread and herbed ayran yogurt drink
We ordered anchovies fried with a light cornmeal dusting ($6) and “meatballs” wrapped in phyllo dough ($7), which was more like meat “coins” with a phyllo lining. The latter was smaller than what we had expected, but both were divine, especially with wonderful Turkish yogurt on the side for dipping. We left not quite fully satiated, but this was arguably ideal since we had to save space for the food to come...
klemuri istanbul
Cornmeal fried anchovies
klemuri istanbul
Our beef meatballs-that-weren't-meatballs
Approaching our next destination, the Dogancay museum, we happened upon a second-hand vintage clothing store(!!). John offered 17 lira for a sweater and a hat combo that should've cost 20 total, and the clerk made a 10 lira counteroffer.

...Deal! Thank you, salesperson of the century.
juice stand istanbul
Stopping for fresh juice on the way to Dogancay Museum
thrift store istanbul
Petra Vintage off Turnasi Basi street in Beyoglu
museum istanbul
A little Dogancay flavor
After the museum (which was free and modern and absolutely worth a visit when you come to Istanbul), we walked into a huge restaurant populated with a few tables of chatting old men who were clearly locals. Good sign, because we know how finicky old men can be. As is the case with many Turkish options, all the food at Merih Restaurantis pre-made and heated after you place your order. Normally I frown at this, but when in Rome...
yogurt soup
The hot soup of blended rice, mint, and yogurt soup tied everything together. Conclusion: America needs more yogurt
And Rome was a good place to be, as it turned out. This was simple and honest Turkish food and easily leapt pass all of my expectations. There was lamb stew with vegetables ($6), potato moussaka with ground beef ($5), sautéed eggplant with a red pepper tomato sauce ($5), and yayla corbasi, or yogurt soup with rice and mint ($3). Before leaving, they even gave us a free sample of their melt-in-the-mouth candied pumpkin. Baseless generosity, anyone?
what can you pickle
Just next to the pastry shop we found the ultimate pickled-things store...toward the top left you can even see pickled PINECONES!
At this point we were pretty full, as we had essentially consumed two lunches in as many hours (sound familiar?). But we were too close to a recommended dessert shop to give up just yet, so we ventured on to Sakara Tatlicisi.
quince dessert
Oogling quince dessert through the window. The red color comes through the candying process.
Of course we couldn't order just one thing, so we slathered our three desserts in full-fat cream and dutifully ate as much as possible. Turkey knows no bounds when it comes to sugar, and this was proven to us after our ingestion of seasonal Ayva Tatlisi (candied quince), a pancake-like version of Yassi Kadayif, and ekmek kadayifi (aka sugary syrupy layered bread smothered in cream).
istanbul pastry
Notcie the rolls of cream (literally) at the bottom left
istanbul pastry shop
Ekmek Kadayifi, Yassi Kadayif, and Ayva Tatlisi
istanbul fish market
Getting tea mixed up with fish...a glass of black tea rests on a scale at the Balik Pazar (fish market) that surrounds the pastry shop where we created six new cavities. Nothing like the smell of fresh fish lingering over your pastries
Satiated in a way that was slightly uncomfortable, we headed off to the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art where we saw a free exhibit next door from Ahmet Gunestekin and then paid about five bucks each to see the permanent collection at the museum.
istanbul art
istanbul art
istanbul art
Some of Gunestekin's works
Exhausted, we finally headed back in the rain to Ismael's (our Couchsurfing host) place, where I made guacamole (Ismael had never eaten avocado before!!) accompanied by a simple dinner of leftovers from the previous days’ gluttony.

Too much good.

...But all good things must come to an end, so tomorrow we're heading south to visit the ruins of the ancient Greek city Ephesus. Follow the move by signing up to receive posts in your inbox!

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures, fantastic colors. Like the food/art combo. Makes me want to head to Istanbul right now!




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...