Sunday, April 13, 2014

My best meals in Istanbul

Turkey, last July, seems so long ago!  Ethan and I were previously talking about taking a one-year anniversary trip to Kyrgyzstan.  But that's not going to happen this year.  So I'll have to rely on my memories of Turkey until that next big vacation.

Today I am thinking about my two favorite meals in one of my favorite cities, Istanbul.  The first was at Meze by Lemon Tree, which is an intimate restaurant, tucked away on a small cobblestone street in the trendy Beyoglu neighborhood.  Because it was Ramadan, and I was too hungry to wait until 8pm to eat, we had the entire restaurant to ourselves for most of our meal.  

But my best meal was Ciya Sofrasi, on the Asian side of Istanbul, via a ferry ride and a walk through a bustling market, where olives, antiques, olive soap, and fish are peddled.  The New Yorker wrote an article about the cafeteria-style restaurant, here. It's kind of a legend.  Dishes rotate every day and I've heard mixed reviews depending on what is on offer. But we must have been lucky, because I loved everything I ordered--and I ordered a lot: stews of lamb and okra, eggplant things, and mezes that made my mouth water.  I finished off the meal with rosemary tea and a plate of kunefe, a sweet cheese pastry.

And finally, the Uighur restaurant we visited (cannot remember the name) also deserves an honorable mention.  We searched for this restaurant and it took us two separate trips before we finally found it.  In honor of Ramadan, the fare was a prix fixe of lamb kabobs heavily spiced with cumin and lagman pulled noodles, among other things.  I felt like I was back in Kashgar, China. 

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