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Breakfast in Turkey

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During our first Turkish breakfast, I surveyed the table with fear and doubt. Every conceivable inch was occupied by a plate, bowl or cup. It was a ridiculous amount of food! Had the waitress misheard our order? When I said “breakfast for two”, had she understood “A merry feast for my hungry horde of Vikings”? Because this… this couldn’t possibly be right.

Turkish Breakfast

But no, it was a normal Turkish breakfast. Bread, olives, honey, jams, eggs, cheeses (old and new, cow and goat). Fluffy, filled pastries called börek. Omelets, sausage, tea. Everything you could possibly want. Turks really enjoy their kahvalti (literally, “before coffee”), and can sit around the table for hours. Newspapers are read, friends pass by and sit down, politics are discussed, more is ordered, and a lot is eaten.

We had a few wonderful breakfasts during our time in Istanbul. Aşşk Cafe in Nişantaşı, for example, served us a meal we’ll be fondly remembering for years. It was the first time I’d eaten chunks of sweet, chewy honeycomb. And did you know you can mix tahini and grape molasses? Well you can, and it’s delicious.

Another great experience was at Cafe Privato, where a view of the Galata Tower competes with an overflowing table of deliciousness for attention. As opposed to Aşşk Cafe, where we selected a variety from the menu, here were ordered a set breakfast, adding cigar-shaped börek filled with cheese. The jams were homemade, as were the breads and lemonade, and everything was delicious.

We had scored an excellent table near the window, and stayed for at least an hour after we’d finished, ordering cup after cup of tea. I felt a little bad about hogging one of the restaurant’s best views, but lingering seems to be the norm. Above all, Turkish breakfast is about slow, relaxed enjoyment. It’s hard to put a better start on the day.

Locations on our Istanbul Map: Aşşk Cafe | Cafe Privato

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June 29, 2013 at 11:54 am Comments (4)

Ortaköy: The Middle Village

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Midway up the European side of the Bosphorus, Ortaköy literally translates into “Middle Village”. Not the most enthralling of names, but this neighborhood does boast one of Istanbul’s most eclectic populations. Turk, Greek, Jew… hipster, playboy, fisherman. Everybody has a place in Ortaköy.

Ortaköy Istanbul

The weather was foul on the afternoon of our visit; grey, rainy and cold. Disembarking the bus (#25E from Kabataş), we popped open our umbrellas and trudged into the jumble of cafes and shops which make up the neighborhood’s heart. Here, we were met with another disappointment: the gorgeous Ortaköy Mosque was completely covered up for renovation. Just underneath the Bosphorus Bridge, this is normally one of the city’s most picturesque mosques. Hmph… the weather was too poor for pictures, anyhow, but this was not a good omen for our day in Ortaköy.

The bad luck continued at the neighborhood’s popular Sunday market. We’d heard a lot about this market, with its original art works, unique gifts, and cool bohemian vibe… so, when it turned out to be chiefly chincy trinkets, cheap sunglasses and bead jewelry of the sort you can find anywhere, we were severely disappointed. There was a row of second-hand book dealers, and a couple stands with some interesting artistic creations, but overall this market wasn’t anything special.

Despite the rain, the construction on the mosque and the boring market, Ortaköy managed to charm us. Since Ottoman times, this has been one of Istanbul’s most cosmopolitan areas, with a healthy mixture of religions and ethnicities living in harmony. That diversity is still in evidence today, with a couple Armenian churches, a synagogue and a Greek Orthodox church joining the neighborhood mosques. And there’s a nice mixture of bars and cafes, catering to everyone from hungry locals on a budget to more upscale joints with views over the Bosphorus.

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May 25, 2013 at 3:19 pm Comment (1)
Breakfast in Turkey During our first Turkish breakfast, I surveyed the table with fear and doubt. Every conceivable inch was occupied by a plate, bowl or cup. It was a ridiculous amount of food! Had the waitress misheard our order? When I said "breakfast for two", had she understood "A merry feast for my hungry horde of Vikings"? Because this... this couldn't possibly be right.
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