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Istanbul Favorite Foods?

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Am going back to Istanbul after a 5 year hiatus. What foods should I absolutely try and where. Any recommendations on food stuff or equipment to bring back. Last time I was wandering thru the market and saw this guy demoing a cheapo dolmati machine (kind of like the demos we see at fairs for the cheapo version of a mandoline). Of course I bought it, but have never used it - but hey I am a sucker for kitchen equipment.

Someone on another board posted that hazelnuts are fabulous and cheap there. I cann't wait to eat lakmajun and rice and beans ala the shoe shine boys.

Looking for a range from street food to high end and not neccessarily limited to just Turkish since there are some very good international restaurants there and the prices are so reasonable compared to NY.

Stop Tofu Abuse...Eat Foie Gras...




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Bring back a Turkish coffee pot, with the brass serving tray and demitasse glasses. Also turkish tea glasses and tea, its great stuff. And coffee.

And anything in tins.

Jason Perlow, Co-Founder eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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When visiting in June we enjoyed some great street food, the best of which was sliced, salted cucumbers near the Gala Tower. Also good were the pretzel-style breads sold on many street corners and the pancakes filled with potato, spring onion and white (ewe's milk?) cheese (sorry I cannot remember the name of these snacks, but you will recognise the places serving them by the fact that they will have a little old lady making them by an open oven).

The one 'good' restaurant we visited was 'Vogue' which has sensational views and provides interesting people-spotting, though the food is standard international cafe-bistro fare. It is the kind of place whose emptiness does not preclude you being asked if you have a reservation, followed by a five-minute search for an available table (and they had some choice...). The frozen berries with white chocolate sauce (from the Ivy?) are very good and they have some excellent Turkish wines.

Have fun!

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There's another thread in this forum with some reccomendations on eating in Istanbul (including mine :wink: ).

Link: Istanbul thread

As far as what to bring home, spices are incredibly cheap and of good quality. I bought a good-sized bag of saffron for about $20. Granted, the quality probably isn't as good as Spanish saffron, but at about 1/10th the price, who's complaining?

I also brought home a couple bottles of raki, but that can also be an acquired taste.

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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Am going back to Istanbul after a 5 year hiatus.  What foods should I absolutely try and where.  ...

Where will you be staying ? I was there in Summer and stayed @ Taksim Sq. there were many small eateries near the square - The hotel had a very good restaurant on the top floor (Panorama) and ofcourse stroll down Istiklal Caddesi - where there are lots of meze places.

Wander down Spice bazzar and select whatever speices you want. I will be visiting IST end of this month.


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Asitane Restaurant next to the Church of St. Savior serves food based on old recipes from Topkapi Palace. It is the only luxury food of interest we had. It's worth a stop. Hagi Babah is a good address. There is a fish restaurant near the Four Seasons that was delicious, but the name escapes me. I guess you could stop by and ask the concierge or front desk. If you can bargain on the price, the Four Seasons is THE place to stay.

In the Spice Bazaar we bought some amazing vanilla. Iranian caviar is about 1/3rd the price as here or in France, but you have to be careful. Make sure you taste from the large tins your purchase would be taken from and that the caviar isn't mushy. I bought about four varieties in smallish quantities. It is best stored at 26 degrees F, so you should probably eat it while still in Istanbul. Not all dealers have ice packs. The guy I bought most of mine from does, and he also told me if I called him a couple of days ahead, he would get me his best stuff. Interpret that however you want. Anyway, I have his info. (name, phone and stall number if you would like it). Avoid the restaurant on the Topkapi Palace grounds, although the view is nice.

Check the website of Nehzen Tours in Bodrum owned by a nice American woman. She knows Turkey extraordinarily well and it is worth using her just to recommend and book a hotel, after which you can elicit good names and addresses from her.

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