Friday, April 17, 2009

Istanbul, Once Constantinople

Yeah, I had that song stuck in my head the ENTIRE time I was in Turkey. Despite the song, we had a great time. The city is beautiful and has amazing architecture. We spent most of our days in the touristy part of town, looking at and learning about the Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar and the Basilica Cistern. When not touring the city, we were sitting in cafes around the city, sampling various böreks, flaky pastries, stuffed eggplants, kabobs, döner, tea, coffee, turkish delight...all of it! To make it even better, we walked it off. Our hotel was in a newer part of the city, about 3 miles away from the centre of the city.
The food was hit or miss, though I certainly enjoyed tasting it for myself. The best thing we had, hands down, was a meat börek we had on our first day. A börek is a filled pastry made out of layers of dough, filled with meat, potato, or cheese and rolled into a very large coil. The outside of the pastry is tender and flaky and the center part is slightly chewy. This börek was the best out of all the others that we had during the trip. It was so good that boyfriend ate his börek, ate part of my börek and then went downstairs to order one cheese and one potato börek. He also came back with a "sweet" börek. The sweet börek is the same dough layered and then sprinkled generously with powdered sugar. We washed it down with instant coffee - long story. English was an issue. We had other types of börek, some filled with a tangy goat cheese, spicy potatoes, or meat sweetened with currents but this place was our favorite. We went back several times and each time, the guys at the counter remembered us even more than we remembered them. The first time we attempted a repeat, we ended up at the wrong bakery. It didn't occur to me that it was the wrong bakery until we went upstairs and the tables were round, unlike the square tables I remember. The good börek shop is the second one on that street...not the first.
The Best

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