After spending a week on the Gullet in Turkish waters we headed to Istanbul for 4 days of eating and exploring. After a very crazy ride into the city in the worst traffic you could imagine we arrived at the Ciragan Palace Kempinski Hotel on the Bosphorus. The location on the water is beautiful the traffic in this area is terrible.
Dinner the first night was at Sunset Bar and Grill a view of both bridges and the entire city across the Bosphorus. The food was a B but the service and view were an A+. They eat later in Turkey so if you arrive before 8 most places are very quiet.
The next morning we met our guide Anka Benli and headed out to see the Blue Mosque and The Basilica Cistern before we had lunch and of course the Grand Bazaar was waiting for us. Anka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.ankabenli.com , Anka has been the guide for many well know American chefs and personalities, including Martha Stewart, and Anothony while he was filming No Reservations. After a lunch at Hotel Yesii EV in the garden restuarant called Sera we headed to the rug shop. The owner Recep Sefer is well respected and we were shown amazing rugs of every kind. Go to www.orienthandmadecarpets.com, location is Nuruosmaniye Caddesi #68 in the main bazaar. Of course I bought a beautiful carpet for a new bedroom in our Sun Valley house. After more shopping we headed back to the hotel to rest and get ready for dinner.
Dinner was at a fish reataurant called Eftalya, www.eftalya.net . We shared plates of tomatoes and onions, fish balls, large local prawns grilled to perfection and then the waiter presented a huge fresh local white fish that they grilled and served at the table. the fish has a simple olive oil and lemon squeezed over. We were the only tourists since it seems to be a true local place. Be sure to go after 9pm for a fun active meal.
The next morning we met Guzin Yalin, Guzine is very involved it everything to do with food, food products and cusine in Turkey.
After coffee and a quick conversation sitting on the Bosphorus in an area called Bebek. We had lunch next to the spice market at a Kabob place called “Hamdi”. Guzin explained about the flat bread called Lahmacun with meat or herbs and Simit, a bread covered in sesame seeds and baked. I learned so much in just one morning I look forward to our next meeting. Thank you to all the people tha made our short visit in Istanbul a perfect beginning to a long friendship with the city and new friends.