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Features - Category Archive

Dec 23
Monday

Best Bites of 2013

Filed under Features, Reviews (Eats)

Breakfast at Yalçın Kaya's cheese shop in Erzincan, photo by Yigal Schleifer

Breakfast in Erzincan
We were strangers in a strange land – eastern Turkey’s Erzincan, to be exact – and Yalçın Kaya welcomed us into his cheese shop with such gracious fervor that it didn’t surprise us to find out that this Anatolian cheesemonger moonlights as an imam.

“Have you had breakfast?” the mustachioed Kaya asked. Before we could answer, he zipped out, leaving us to quietly contemplate the shop’s glass-lined coolers and their shelves loaded with plastic containers filled with tulum, the salty, crumbly raw sheep’s milk cheese for which Erzincan is famous.

Kaya soon returned, holding just-bought packages of Styrofoam plates and paper napkins and a stack of freshly baked thin flatbread. He quickly arranged a tempting impromptu spread: chunks of tulum from a newly opened container on one plate, wildflower honey poured from an unlabeled jar on another, with the flatbreads and freshly poured glasses of tea on the side. Per Kaya’s instruction, we tore off pieces of the almost paper-thin bread, alternating between wrapping them around pieces of the pleasantly sharp cheese and using them to scoop up the fragrant honey.

Read about the rest of our favorites from this year on Culinary Backstreets.


All entries filed under Features


On the Road: In Eastern Turkey’s Yogurtlands
2 responses - Posted 12.13.13
Like many other Central Anatolian cities, Erzincan is one of those places with very little there there. The natural setting – on a high plateau and ringed by craggy peaks – is promising, but the town itself feels like it’s been scrubbed clean of all traces of history or local ...continue
Hamsi, Every Which Way
no responses - Posted 11.04.13
As a chill sets in and heavy clouds roll over Istanbul, turning the Bosphorus battleship gray, we say goodbye to the luscious strawberries and blood-red tomatoes in the market. Fall marks the start of hamsi season, a time when small anchovies fill the nets of fishing boats on the Black ...continue
In Istanbul, Making the Case for a Slow Fish Movement
1 response - Posted 10.11.13
Situated on a geographically blessed spot where the waters of the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara meet, Istanbul has long been associated with fishing and, especially, the eating of fish. In culinary terms, after all, is there anything more iconic in Istanbul than eating a freshly grilled fish ...continue
Perşembe Pazarı: The Nuts & Bolts of Eating in Istanbul’s Hardware District
no responses - Posted 08.20.13
More so than any other district in Istanbul, Perşembe Pazarı – the city’s hardware zone – brings together what we love most about this city: thriving street life, hard-to-grasp commercial enterprises, remnants of history and, of course, excellent hidden spots to eat. A chickpea and pilaf cart is pushed past ...continue
Yedikule: An Istanbul Neighborhood’s Bitter Harvest
1 response - Posted 08.05.13
Foreigners living in Istanbul often say they love the place for its history, while some say it’s the people who make it special. We find life here mystifying for the unpredictable dialogue between the two, the way 15 million or so people reconcile their daily lives with this city’s rich ...continue
Drinking Culture: Tapping the Ayran (Powder) Keg
no responses - Posted 06.14.13
Editor’s note: While the fate of the Gezi Park occupation is being hotly discussed, we’ve been spending our time sipping deeper into Turkey’s other great debate: what is the country’s national drink? In the spirit of national reconciliation, below is our report. The recent protests that raged across Turkey may have ...continue
Top Istanbul Street Foods
no responses - Posted 05.24.13
As rapidly as Istanbul marches toward its modern destiny, street food in this city is still served the old-fashioned way, by boisterous ustas with a good pitch and, sometimes, a really good product. When the bars close, hungry Istanbulites cruise the streets looking for the gas lamp of a rice ...continue
Spring (Food) Break 2013
2 responses - Posted 03.28.13
Editor’s note: We eagerly await the coming of spring each year, not just for the nicer weather but also because some of our favorite foods and dishes are at their best – or indeed, are only available – for a short period during this season. Here we take a look ...continue
Istanbul’s Top 3 Lahmacun Makers
no responses - Posted 03.12.13
Lahmacun is one of those mysterious foods where a lot is created with so little. It checks all of the boxes of a perfect savory snack: crispy, oven-fired crust, light and spicy meat spread, a fresh green garnish and a tangy spray from a lemon. It’s like an artisanal pizza ...continue
Gazoz: Turkish Fizzardry
no responses - Posted 03.08.13
In a 2003 TV commercial for Cola Turka, the actor Chevy Chase was seen speaking Turkish and then sporting a moustache, after taking just one sip of the intended challenger of Coke in this country. This sensational ad – which riffed on the old theme of American cultural imperialism through ...continue

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