This was our third trip to Istanbul, and we had already covered all the major “must do” tourist locations and several of the minor ones. Yes, Istanbul has some great restaurants, but it’s time to relax and pay some attention to street food. I had been told how extensive the Kadikoy Tuesday market (Kadikoy Sali Pazari) was, and there was finally time available to check it out.
The Kadikoy ferry (3 TL) from Sultanahmet (the 'old town') crossing the Bosphorus to the Asian side of town was a pleasant 20-minute ride with good views of the Topkapi Palace, Aya Sophia and the Blue Mosque, followed by a short bus ride. As a foreigner with a camera, locals assumed I was heading for the market and identified the bus stop. Now we only had to follow the stream of people to the market entrance.
he market was perhaps 20% food and then a mix of everything else from bras to burkas to hijibs, to bedspreads and a corner selling fabric remnants.
Artichokes--note that only the hearts are eaten; the vendors shuck them and the leaves are thrown away.
The cherries were fresh and at this price, a kilo of them went into my backpack. (I had seen over-ripe ones at more than double this price on the pushcarts in town)
Yes, a kilo of green peas from the next aisle over, and then a kilo of tree ripened apricots. I am about to OD snacking on produce.
There were three stands with barrels of olives, all offering samples. Apparently olives are a breakfast staple and are seldom consumed later in the day.
Was surprised at the pickled apple and pears and was told that they were used for flavoring in mixed drinks. Accepted the samples that they cut for me, not certain of what to expect. A mild pickle that allowed the flavor of the fruit to come through.
There are multiple flavors of Turkish Delight. Most are made with sugar, but some with honey. My taste preference is for the ones sweetened with honey, but it does add cost and they have a shorter shelf life. Many stands with similar items—need to price and taste test and then try to remember what stand the best tasting ones were from!
There are food shops lining the street outside of the western wall of the spice market. Several of them offer strings of dried eggplant and peppers.
I had been eating well sampling a number of small cafes along my random path, but opted for a food tour. Only 7 people nibbling our way around the old city from 9:00 to 15:00. We would be seeing locations that would be different from those I stumbled on.
Doner kebabs made of pressed scraps of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie are a popular street food. This shop occupying 12 feet along a side alley was layering fresh chicken, tomato and peppers. The finished product, below. The crescent moon with a star are national symbols.
Well, he did have space to cook another spindle - this one consisted of layers of organ meats with other scraps wound with intestines. We purchased the smaller sandwich and had it cut into 8 slices - small samples. Only the more adventuress were willing to try a sample. We had leftovers. It is amazing what flavors a mixture of spices can cover up.
Redemption. after that Turkish version of Pennsylvania's scrapple (or was it Scotland's Haggis?) Our next stop on this local food tour was a baklava shop. Their chalk board offered 12 items of which we only sampled 3 - there are some limits.
Still looking good!
On the street, freshly squeezed orange juice was popular—and thrust quenching. At only 1 Turkish Lira, it's about $0.45 US per glass, making it less expensive than stopping in a cafe for a cup of tea.
Several nibbles later, we sampled one of the better doners. This cafe outside of the high pedestrian traffic area uses thick slabs of real meat, fresh tomatoes and spices. No leftovers here.
Additional walking and sampling followed by very late lunch of roast lamb. Several full carcasses are lowered into a deep pit with wood coals at the bottom and then the pit is covered. Our guide called called ahead and ordered several platters of lamb chops. Their website: www.serefburyan.com
The restaurant also has a butcher shop therefore: 'smiling' sheep heads...and the tripe.
For an evening when you are not overstuffed by a full afternoon of nibbling, Kumkap is a fancy seafood dinner area just inland from the fish bazaar. Several blocks of restaurants, many open to the street. Some have their own musicians, others depend on the 'wandering minstrels' walking the streets. The music and the more serious drinking both start after dusk.