I had promised a post on Turkish food. It was a little while ago, but trying to remembrer it helps me remember my holiday. Which was fun. Wish it was longer.
In our hotel (Sub Karakoy - I recommend it as a great Mid-Price hotel), they had a phrase on the concrete wall "Hospitality is higher than pride". The Turks are wonderful hosts.
Our hotel room came with a fantastic complementary breakfast. The spread was wonderful, and I enjoyed it more than I had breakfast spreads in higher end resorts.
It was simple, amazingly tasty and nourishing.
A big part of breakfast in Cheese. During my research, I learned that cheese was "invented" in Mesopotamia so that is not a big jump from Turkey.
The cheese is mainly of the white, rather than cheddar variety, and made of Cow's, Ewe's and Goat's milk, or a combination.
There is a lot of the pungent feta variety.
My favourite was of the Dil Peyniri (string cheese) variety - mild tasting, and rubbery. It was wonderful with the plentiful tomato and cucumber that came with breakfast.
I also loved the cream cheese that they served, similar to Labne, but with no tartness. A bit lighter than philly cream cheese and more refined than ricotta. I loved it served thickly on their freshly baked rye bread, drizzled (heavily) with Cherry Jam.
Tomatoes! I have never eaten so many tomatoes! The tomatoes were so fresh and sweet and tasty! I had them at every meal. Cucumber was also plentiful.
Meat featured very heavily. From the tasty processed meats at Breakfasts (kind of like Mortadella but with Pistachios instead of Olive), Sucuk (Sausage) and others, to the Kofte and Doner Kebab at Dinner. Beef and Lamb are key, chicken is less emphasised. A meal without meat, in Turkey, is like a day without Sunshine. There is lots of fish, too - we saw many fishermen on the Galata Bridge every day, but we aren't fond.
Meat came very gently spiced. Spice is subtle in Turkey, as opposed to in India where it is the dominant flavour. It was quite strange to see piles of spice in the markets, as you kind of forget it is in the meat. But it is. Gently.
Fermented dairy is de rigeur also. Ayran is a thin slightly salted yoghurt, very refreshing and ubiquitous.
I was after from Cacik (similar to tzatziki) but I could not really find one I liked. Most of them are thin and soupy, which was very refreshing. But I like my yoghurty dips thick and with atomic levels of garlic.
Foods with stones in them - Olives, apricots, Cherries, Peaches - also ubiquitous. Olives went well with tomatoes, dil peyniri and meat at breakfast. Turkish Apricots are a bit watery compared with our strongly flavoured fruits here in Australia.
I must find myself some cherry jam....
Sweets are taken extremely seriously in Turkey. There are whole supermarkets dedicated to sweets. The pastry type things, like Baklava, and the jelly type things like Lokum. I am a Lokum purist, preferring plain lokum tasting strongly of rosewater. Pomegranate and pistachio lokum comes a distant (but very good) second. Also available are huge fresh dates stuffed with nuts.
There is a wine industry in Turkey; it is the fourth largest in the world. Who would have thought this would be the case, especially in a Muslim country. The best is the Syrah/Shiraz style. Shiraz is a city in Iran after all. Sidestep the Sauvignon Blanc styles.
Finally, we go for coffee and tea. Turkish coffee, closest to a short black, is strong and chocolatey, and not bitter at all. I loved the sugary apple tea. I bought the unsugared apple tea to take home and it is not nearly as good.
I nearly forgot the simit (bagel type things sold on the street)
If you ever wind up in Istanbul, here are my food related recommendations
- Naif, in Karakoy. Modern Turkish food and lovely service.
- Try and go where the locals go. ALWAYS get a menu, otherwise they will charge you tourist prices.
- Roadhouse food is AWESOME.
- Have the Turkish coffee. Try Turkish wine. Eat ALL THE CHEESES.
- Make room for sweeties.
In other news - busy times. I have started in private rooms, plus about to do some extra sessions. A plan for PhD completion is nearing....completion. We are about to move.
And thank you so so much for your very lovely comments on the last post.
The most rewarding and pleasurable things in my life have also been, at times, the hardest. This will not be any different. xx
Have a good weekend my lovelies.