Planning a week in Turkey
I just found out that I am going to join a friend at the end of her business trip and spend the last week of November (25th-Dec. 1st) in Turkey. I have yet to do any planning/research into my travels, but am hoping to structure it all around food. Arriving and departing from Istanbul, but am expecting to only spend a day or two there. I'd really like to get out and see at least some part of the rest of the country. Does anyone have any suggestions of the must-have/must-sees for a couple of folks on a more moderate budget?
only a week! and all of anatolia!
my first impulse would be to go southeast, but since the shit is hitting the fan these days, maybe its best not to. my next suggestion would be to follow the black sea coast eastwards at least to safronboglu for some of that unique hazelnut-based black sea cuisine. but the black sea is in a bad way these days too... so my third suggestion is to stay in istanbul and really explore, cause its a magical city and in a week you hardly scratch the surface.
food in istanbul: great everywhere, and the farther you get from touristy sultanahmet the better. try the little family fish joints up the bosphorus in arnavutkoy, for example. or, for more refined fare, try the restaurant (i wish i could remember its name!) right next to the kariye church museum, way out in edirnekapi near the city walls. they do a pretty fabulous reproduction of old ottoman cuisine...
I'm sorry to respond to your suggestions so much later than the time it took you both to answer my original request. I've just been trying to do some reading and talk to more people so I'm a little more knowledgeable about where I'm hoping to go and the food, such that your suggestions don't fall on deaf (dumb) ears. I also am going to take your suggestions very true to heart as you've essentially recommended that exact same places (and same deterrent reasons as a friend). I'm currently debating how much my quest for food weighs against my desire for personal safety...
That being said I unfortunately only have about a week for my trip. I will arrive on Monday morning, November 26th, and leave on Sunday, December 1st. I think the current plan is to spend a couple of days in Istanbul exploring, and then go to Cappadocia. Outside of looking for this restaurant whose name escapes you, do you have any other specific spots I should seek out, or anyway in or along the way to Cappadocia?
Thanks again for your suggestions, and if I can find the place you speak of, I'll certainly get back to you upon my return with a full report, and a name...
I haven't been to Cappadocia in years so unfortunately I cannot comment on the food situation there, however, if you are going that far it may not be out of the equation for you to go to Kayseri and try some manti. They are small dumplings, hand made with meat in them served watery with garlic yogurt, an oily tomato paste, sumac and some other herbs (oregano, mint). Kayseri is famous for the dish and it is within driving distance from Cappadocia.
In Istanbul I would side with eulaliax in saying the further away you are from touristy areas the better your options are. In Kadikoy, on the Asian side, there is the Ciya Sofra which specialize in "lost" village dishes. They have their kebap house and their regular food joint. They are across the street from each other.
I'm a recent member on this site and so I do not know how to lazy link sites but the website for Ciya is: http://www.ciya.com.tr/
I would try to get as many things as possible at Ciya and share them. They have extraordinary dishes. Don't miss out on things like oregano tea and their sweets that include unconventional items such as tomato and eggplant candies of sorts.
Some of the finer Kebap houses I would recommend are Hamdi(amazing view of Istanbul) which is located in Eminonu (European side near the Galata Bridge). Their website is: http://www.hamdirestorant.com.tr/hamdien.htm
I would also recommend Mabeyin in Kisikli (Asian side) as a great kebap house. They are a bit more difficult to find, however, their website is: http://www.mabeyin.com (Under iletisim there is a map and address)
I am not a fan of kebap houses like Venge and Kosebasi which my relatives adore. I find them very sterile and not homely at all, however the food is good.
At the kebap houses be sure to try some cig kofte which is a raw kofte made with bulgur, spices, etc.. kneaded for hours and hence "cooked." Hamdi has specialties which are nice and can be seen on their website such as kebabs with prunes and pistachios. My favourite has always been Ali Nazik which is a meat kebab served with a yogurt/eggplant puree, different than an eggplant salad though. Be sure to top off your dinner with some kunefe as a desert.
Also on the Asian side at the far end of Bagdat Caddesi in Suadiye(Baghdad Street - the Asian shopping alternative to Istiklal Caddesi in Beyoglu/Taksim) there is a place that I thoroughly enjoy called Mesur Tavaci Recep Usta. Upon checking the website I'm please to see that they have an European side franchise now, however, I have not been and cannot comment on the ambiance or food there. It is very rustic, you eat older more traditional foods and get served the village ayran which is more frothy and drank almost like a soup with a ladle.
Their website is: http://www.tavacirecepusta.com/
I would highly recommend trying their Tandir and for desert, if they still make it like they used to, the irmik helva with kaymak (similar to vanilla) ice cream on the inside.
Also in Kadikoy, there is the original Iskender shop which is just across the street from ferry docks that you would take to get to Kadikoy from the European(specifically, if memory serves correctly its across from the dock whose boats are arriving from Besiktas) side. The place is called Kebapci Iskender. I couldn't find the website, but this is the closest thing to an address I could find
Kebapçı İskender Kadıköy Şubesi:
Rıhtım Cad. PTT yanı-Kadıköy
Tel: (0216) 336 07 77.
If you get to Kadikoy and ask for Kebapci Iskender you should be pointed in the right direction. Have some sira with your iskender, a mildly fermented grape juice.
I assume you'll be doing some sightseeing as well during your stay which will most likely include a stop near the Grand Bazaar. Get yourself some kokorec from one of the stands there. Its street food, a sandwich made of minced lamb intestines, tomatoes and oregano.
Have a good trip.