Monday, September 16, 2013

Day Two in Istanbul: Food Alert!

Deniz Bezan takes us on the second day of touring Istanbul. We begin in the Ortaköy neighbourhood. 

All kinds of artists and artisans display their wares along the avenues beside the Ortaköy Mosque, directly on the Bosphorus. You can have breakfast, or brunch if you slept in, at any of the waterfront cafes. Afterwards, you can continue walking along the sea, or hop on a city bus, towards Arnavutköy.

Along the Bosphorus (Bezan)
The Bosphorus ferry leaves from here at scheduled times and stops at a number of neighbourhoods, including Kandilli (famous for its yogurt) and Anadolu Hisarı on the Anatolian side – counterpart to the Rumeli Hisarı on the European side. Both fortresses were built prior to Sultan Mehmet, the Conqueror’s siege of Constantinople in 1452.

You can keep going as far as Emirgan, to visit the Sakıp Sabancı Museum, or check a site like to find other exhibits or events you’d rather see. If your visit falls on a weekend, you could even schedule a full boat cruise of the Bosphorus, either in the morning, the afternoon, or throughout the day, meals included.

Or stop along the way for lunch. If you are not joining a boat tour, then an ideal place for a late lunch is Köfteci Ramiz, in the Levent Carşı neighbourhood. Levent – a once entirely residential district, now featuring bakeries and boutiques circling a public park – is accessible by metro or, if you still have the energy, is about an hour’s walk uphill from Arnavutköy. The view from the top, overlooking the Bosphorus and across to the turreted Military High School on the Anatolian side, is well worth the climb, even on a cloudy day.

Cat keeping an eye on the neighbourhood
Istanbul (Bezan)
The ubiquitous cats and dogs of Istanbul are especially plentiful in this neighbourhood, and gather in groups round the doorways of the houses – and sometimes even appear on the windowsills!

Köfteci Ramiz in Levent is a restaurant devoted entirely to the Turkish köfte, or seasoned meatball, and next door is an ideal place for dessert: Özsüt, featuring rice puddings, chocolate puddings, and various Turkish specialities such as aşure, or Noah’s Pudding. This is one of the oldest desserts of Turkish cuisine and the legend behind it tells when Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Ararat, Noah and his family wanted to hold a celebration to express their gratitude toward God. Their food stores had dwindled, however, so they made a dessert using any and all the remaining ingredients, including chick peas, apricots, figs, raisins, and other fruits and legumes. They’re all mixed up in the pudding, but it tastes great!

Another speciality dessert is tavuk göğsü kazandibi, a type of scalded-milk pudding whose main ingredient is extra thin slivers of cooked chicken breast – much tastier than it sounds!

After all this walking and eating and sightseeing, it is high time for a rest.From Levent, the metro takes you back to Taksim in less than ten minutes.

I don’t mind which cafe I’m in on this street as long as it’s one with rooftop access. I love gazing out over the rooftops of Istanbul toward the Golden Horn, as far as my favourite tower – Leander’s Tower – remembering all those who’ve looked out over this panorama for so many hundreds of years before me.

View of the Golden Horn (Bezan)
Thank you, Deniz, for your guest blog that brings back so many memories of Istanbul and those fabulous palaces along the Bosphorous. Luckily, we have a Greek/Turkish restaurant called The White House Grill, right near Spokane that features those rich rice puddings, köfte and lots of garlic.

Deniz Bevan recently returned to writing romance after a foray into Young Adult and Middle Grade novels. She's currently querying her latest romance, Out of the Water, set in Spain and Turkey in 1492 and editing a second romance set in the same time frame, Rome, Rhymes and Risk. She also has a paranormal romance in the works! 

Deniz writes travel articles and book reviews for the trilingual newspaper Bizim Anadolu and the 100 Romances Blog. Visit her at


Sandy Brown Jensen said...

Excellent walk through the foodscape of Istanbul--thank you!

Beth Camp said...

I still remember breakfasts in Turkey, a slab of fresh cheese, fresh bread, hot, strong tea, one boiled egg, and an unforgettable view of the Haga Sofia. Let's go, Sandy!

Deniz Bevan said...

Thanks Sandy!

Thanks so much for featuring me, Beth! I wish I was having one of those breakfasts right now...