Oh, internet peeps, this trip was just amazing. No other word for it.
When my co-worker randomly texted me in February saying she’d found a ticket to Istanbul for around $700, did I want to go, I immediately jumped at the chance to visit a city that’s always been on my bucket list. As a total history nerd, the Roman Empire and Constantinople has always fascinated me, and so off we went for a whirlwind Memorial Day weekend.
And Istanbul? You did not disappoint!
But while I’ve always looked forward to seeing Istanbul’s architecture and culture and history, I hadn’t given its food much thought. In my pre-trip research I read about a lot of things that sounded great, and we decided what better way to get our bearings in the city than with a food tour (or two)—and that was an excellent decision, if I do say so myself.
I totally fell in love with Turkey’s food…join me, if you will, on this gastro extravaganza (gastro-vaganza??).
Here’s more on Istanbul’s food and awesomeness
We arrived at our apartment in late afternoon, refreshed ourselves, and hit the streets right away. After accidentally getting on the tram going the wrong direction for a stop, we quickly got headed the right way and met up with our tour guide in Sultanahmet.
This was our guide, Burek. He brought us to a local family’s house, where the mom made a traditional meal including corba (a delicious lentil soup), chicken with vegetables and sauce and pilav and yogurt, and bread and watermelon. We also had the traditional black tea. We sat on the floor like they do regularly, in the same room they sleep in as well. Throughout the meal we conversed with the family, with Burek translating, and learned about their life in the eastern part of the country prior to coming to Istanbul about a decade ago (they are Kurdish) and what their life is like now. It was such a cool experience.
Burek took us to a local pub next. Pubs don’t serve alcohol, but instead the traditional shisha (also called hookah, nargile, etc.) and tea. The pub was really beautiful, with ornate light fixtures and beautiful inlaid tables. Frequented by locals, the building is over 300 years old, was once a religious school and dervish lodge, then bazaar. The waiter brought us glasses of “apple tea” (which is more like the powdered apple cider that comes in packets, and only drunk by tourists and children) and apple (elma) shisha. While the shisha is definitely not for me, it was a really interesting and authentic experience.READ THE POST
Sometimes it’s the simple answers that are the best.
I can be guilty of getting too fancy with pasta sometimes, trying crazy combinations of ingredients or always trying to think of something new. Pasta is the blank canvas, the starting place for a thousand meals. And sometimes I think I’ve tried them all. But when I saw this recipe, I was struck by its simplicity and also how all the flavors complemented each other so well.
It starts, as many things do, with a base of sauteed shallots and garlic. From there all you do is add balsamic vinegar for depth and bite, toasted nuts for protein and crunch, and some parmesan cheese to top it all off. It all comes together in about 15 minutes, and is a warm and comforting dish any time of the day or night.READ THE POST
Any time I’m home to visit my family, we’re always feeding a big crowd. Generally we stick with what we know—grilled burgers or chicken, taco salad or nachos, soup and chili, or something similar. But every so often my sisters and mom and I put our heads together and come up with something different.
When I was home in July, we had one night where we were only going to have like 15 people—a considerably smaller crowd than our usual 25 or more. My sister and I decided we were really craving Thai food, so quickly had Mom poke through her cabinets to see if we had the makings for a Thai peanut sauce pasta. Since my mom’s cabinets are better stocked than most small grocery stores, we had almost everything we needed.
Beyond the basics of the sauce recipe, we totally winged it (wung it??), adding all the delicious flash stir fried veggies we could find, chicken, and whole wheat noodles. This dish was meat, carbs, and veggies in one, so we knew we had to make enough to get the whole hungry horde through dinner.
And it was definitely a hit! There wasn’t even a spoonful left after supper, the pan was scraped clean. Combined with the moist strawberry shortcake I made for the big group, I think everyone was stuffed.READ THE POST