Culinary tour of Istanbul: the next 24 hours of Turkish food culture

I wrote 24, but you may count 48, for our food journey can be so intense.
But stick to this itinerary carefully crafted to minimize waste of time and maximize culinary joys and a little walks in between and you will get the best of Istanbul.
Most hotels offer healthy and generous breakfasts, however my advice is to head to Karaköy, once known as Galata,
and head to Güllüoğlu for its sweet Kadayif.imageShould you not consider locals queueing a quality guarantee,imagetry their chocolate baklava and leave your doubts behind.
Such a challenging and sugary beginning deserves appropriate training, what is better than going uphill to Galata for one of the most stunning views in Istanbul?imageClimbing the Tower may have taken some time, if you feel like having lunch your place nearby is Karaköyümimagelocated on the terrace of a apparently residential building.image
The sight of decadent Karaköy’s roofs will pair the feeling of being home while your Turkish granny cooks for youimagea lentil soupimageand köfte of the house, meatballs served on tortilla, tomato sauce and rice.
Now we take a long walk across the Galata Bridge to Yeni Cami,image
the New Mosque, named once after theimageValide Sultan, the Mother of the Sultan, worth by itself a trip to Istanbul.
There I ran into a nice bunch of Turkish youngsters promoting a sort of tonic cream, Mesir Macunu, from the city of Manisa,imageapparently another help for Turkish Sultans to sustain the fatigue of a large harem.
The taste was good anyway.
After this refreshing cultural break, you may choose a healthy walk in the same Eminönü neighbourhood to visit Hafiz MustafaimageAnd I wonder if the words ‘Turkish Delight’ ring any bells here.imageDon’t they?
This part of Istanbul is buzzing with life like many others but particularly close to some of the city’s most famous landmarks.
One of my favourite is Kapalıçarşı, the Grand Bazaar.
The deals of a lifetime may be waiting for you,
but I can assure you are going to experience here what Turkish cuisine can be so rewarding at, street food: stop by Dönerci Şahin Usta for a
pita bread filled with delicious Döner kebab.
The place has been around for a very long time and these guys know what they are doing,
popular with locals and tourists alike.
A glass of the salty ayran on display, the yoghurt-like drink, is a perfect match.
If you are closer to Sultan Ahmet Square,
you may try meatballs,
köfte, at Sultanahmet Köftecisi, worthwhile stop before or after a visit to the nearby Blue Mosque,imageto the grandiose Hagia Sophia,imageor the mystical underground of Basilica Cistern.imageMake sure you wear some anti-slip shoes here, as the cistern is permanently wetimageso wet that you may spot fishes in the low waters underneath the walkway.

Istanbul’s tour must be crowned with a dinner at the best kebab maker’s in town, my local friend says this place is Hamdi. And I shall agree.
The view from its balcony, overlooking the Golden Horn to the left and the Marmara Sea to the right, isimagebreathtakingly beautiful and a perfect excuse for some fresh air between Hamdi’s generous courses.
The big hall on the second floor is best at dusk, we were delighted by fireworks glowing above the ancient roofs.
My dinner began with the classic Turkish Shepherd’s salad,
or a Çoban salatası, if you order in Turkish. Olives and chopped tomatoes are the rule here, and reminders to me of Southern Italian antipasti, just like
Lahmacun, horribly named Turkish pizza, I would rather prefer the name focaccia, if we have to find Italian-sounding names at all costs. Lahmacun is delicious with a salad or alone anyway.
Having had so many kebabs in my life, I loved this first time with pistachios, fıstıklı, perfect dry salty match to a juicy kebab.
If you ever tasted it, let me know what you think.
And why not a ‘fıstıklı’ kadaiyf to draw
our conclusions about Hamdi?

This is not necessary, nonetheless I wish you afiyet olsun!

Hamdi Restaurant

Kalçin Sokak 17
+90 2125280390

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