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Multicolors of Istanbul; Spice Market, Grand Bazaar, Street Food & Time Out at the Princes' Islands

Overlooking Eminonu. Golden Horn, Spice Market, Istanbul

Overlooking Eminonu. Golden Horn, Spice Market and Yeni Cami, Istanbul

Istanbul’dan Merhabalar – Greetings from Istanbul!– I am embracing the many, vibrant colors of Istanbul; the Golden Horn, Spice Market, Grand Bazaar and the always vibrant Eminonu. This is the hub of life for many locals along with visitors in Istanbul.

The Eminonu district is the heart of Old Istanbul housing the Spice Market, Grand Bazaar, lot of local small businesses. Yeni Cami – New Mosque is at the center of Eminonu, and the place is always vibrant, buzzing with locals as well as tourists doing their shopping, hopping on and off to the ferry, Vapur, to travel to the Asian side of the city, as well as to the Princes’ Islands. I can just sit and watch the world go by here anytime of the day..

Gaziantep's Keme Kebab with Keme truffles and meat

Gaziantep’s Keme Kebab with Keme truffles and meat

Have you ever had Gaziantep’s Keme Kebab? Keme is a type of a special truffle that’s grown in Gaziantep region between March to June; it is meaty and very delicious. Keme kebab features Gaziantep’s famous truffles with chunks of lamb. Look out for Keme if you are visiting at  this period, you can enjoy this delicious kebab in Istanbul too.  Gaziantep Cuisine is a culinary delight; here is some more information on the fabulous Gaziantep Cuisine and history.

Evie perfected the art of holding Turkish tea glass, cay

Evie perfected the art of holding Turkish tea glass, cay

After a good meal – or to be honest, any time! – a glass of cay – Turkish tea, is in order. Dear Evie from our Culinary tour, soon perfected the art of holding the Turkish tea glass : )

Pul biber - red pepper flakes-, cumin, dried mint, sumac and many more - Spice Market is a foodie's heaven

Pul biber – red pepper flakes-, cumin, dried mint, sumac and many more – Spice Market is a foodie’s heaven

 If you like spices, then you are in heaven in the Spice Market, Istanbul. In this ancient food market, you can find a great variety of spices used in Turkish cuisine. Spices feature an important role in Turkish cuisine, as we add  a lot of flavor to our dishes through the artful use of spices. I use the pul biber, the Turkish red pepper flakes with almost every savory dish ( and even sometimes in desserts like this Choc0late cake with a touch of red pepper flakes). Cumin is another commonly used fragrant spice, and it is cumin, what makes hummus, taste like hummus. How about the tangy sumac? This fragrant spice adds a delicious, zesty flavor to salads like to  this piyaz salad with onions, tomatoes and parsley with sumac.

Dried fruit like dried apricots, dried figs, dried peppers and nuts are also great buys at the Spice Market.

Dried fruit like dried apricots, dried figs, dried peppers and nuts are also great buys at the Spice Market.

Spice Market is also the right address to get delicious dried fruit like apricots, figs and many more. Shops even sell dried water melon, lemon and oranges, such wonderful colours and packed with flavor. Turkish dried apricots are one of the world’s best; they are very healthy and makes great snacks. This simple but delicious dessert, baked apricots with walnuts, is very easy to make and tastes wonderful. How about the dried peppers, okra, eggplant and corn? We dry vegetables when they are in season, then use them in stews, as well as stuffing them with aromatic rice in dolmas. They have a rich, delicious taste.

Grand Bazaar - Kapali Carsi, Istanbul
Grand Bazaar – Kapali Carsi, Istanbul
Ancient Grand Bazaar - the building itself and colours are mesmerising

Ancient Grand Bazaar – the building itself and colours are mesmerising

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over 500 years old Grand Bazaar, Kapali Carsi in Istanbul is most probably the ancient shopping mall in the world. It is a popular place to shop for the locals as well as visitors, though you would expect high prices. I like to go to the Grand Bazaar just to admire this magnificent building, the colors, ornate columns, a living history. It is also a good place to get small souvenirs.

 

Time Out at the Princes’ Islands, Istanbul

On the ferry to the Princes' Islands - over looking the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

On the ferry to the Princes’ Islands – over looking the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

As much as I love the city of Istanbul, it is always refreshing to take a little time off and visit the charming, quiter Princes’ Islands. You can take the ferry from many ports in Istanbul (Kadikoy, Besiktas, Karakoy) and within an hour time, you are in the charming Princes’ Islands.

Locals in the ferry reading their papers

Locals in the ferry reading their papers

Many locals use the tradional ferry to travel between both sides of Istanbul and going to the islands. I love watching the locals doing their rituals; reading the paper, chatting with friends, doing the puzzle.

A glass of cay at the ferry, is a part of the ferry ritual

A glass of cay at the ferry, is a part of the ferry ritual

You can have a glass or cay, Turkish coffee or other drinks and snacks at the ferry. Sipping a glass of cay is a precious memory and a ritual for many, including me.

Anyone for simit? You can have it at the ferry too.

Anyone for simit? You can have it at the ferry too.

Reflections and taking it all in at the ferry

Reflections and taking it all in at the ferry

You can also sit outside, at the terrace or at the side benches at the ferry; the view is amazing and the reflection is inevitable.

Horse Carriages, Fayton, at the Heybeli Island

Horse Carriages, Fayton, at the Heybeli Island

What makes the islands so special is the serenity, relaxation it provides. No cars are allowed at the islands; you can ride on the horse carriages to explore around the islands, you can also rent a bicycle. It is lusciously green, and you appreciate the slower pace of life after the exciting but (can be) tiring Istanbul.

 

The grounds of the Halki Seminary is beautifully kept and offers wonderful views.
The grounds of the Halki Seminary is beautifully kept and offers wonderful views.

Heybeli Island is one my favorite islands and The Halki Seminary is located at top offers magnificent views. You can take the horse carriage to reach here.

Traveling in good company at Heybeli Island

Traveling in good company at the Heybeli Island

It has been a real pleasure to explore the islands during our culinary & cultural tour with our enthusiastic travelers like Evie, Mary and Natalie. Natalie and Mary are over 80 years old; we all admired their enthusiasm, thirst for Istanbul and zest for life.

 

Mussels stuffed with aromatic rice; delicious street food.
Mussels stuffed with aromatic rice, Midye Dolma; delicious street food.

 I like to eat sea food, especially the street food while in the islands. You can enjoy midye dolma – mussels stuffed with aromatic rice, the fried calamari or freshly fried mussles in most of the cafes. They are fresh, delicious and good value.

Mussels fried in a light batter; fresh and delicious

Mussels fried in a light batter; fresh and delicious

 

Fried calamari; crispy and delicious

Fried calamari; crispy and delicious

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A delicacy; kokorec - have you ever tried some?

A delicacy; kokorec – have you ever tried some?

Have you ever tried kokoreç ? It is a dish of the Balkans and Anatolia, consisting mainly of  lamb and goat intestines, as well as including  sweetbread, hearts, lungs or kidneys. Kokorec is usually roasted on a horizontal skewer over a charcoal, gas, or electrical burner and it is seasoned with red pepper flakes, salt and oregano. It is certainly an acquired taste but once done properly, it is delicious.  Kokorec is enjoyed widely in Turkey, you can have kokorec in the Princes’ Islands too.

Kokorec, flavored with oregano and red pepper flakes; delicious when it is properly made

Kokorec, flavored with oregano and red pepper flakes; delicious when it is properly made

On the ferry again; time to go back to Istanbul

On the ferry again; time to go back to Istanbul

After a wonderful relaxing day at the Princes’ Islands, we got on the ferry again and departed for Istanbul. Seagulls racing with the ferry, the wind behind and the afternoon sun on us, we recharged our batteries  for more adventures in Turkey.

The Maiden Tower, Kiz Kulesi by the Bosphorus, Istanbul

The Maiden Tower, Kiz Kulesi by the Bosphorus, Istanbul

Our ferry came nearby to the Maiden Tower, Kiz Kulesi, what a sight I thought, what a beautiful country.. One of those moments that you seal in your memory and have felt very grateful to be here, for this very moment.

Now full of new excitement again to hit the road; Ephesus, Didyma, Dardanelles, Gallipoli, all await to be explored, and shared. I hope you enjoyed what you have seen & read, and I hope you can make it to this wonderful land sometime.

Istanbul’dan Selamlar – Greetings from Istanbul,

Ozlem

 

 

 

 

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24 Responses to Multicolors of Istanbul; Spice Market, Grand Bazaar, Street Food & Time Out at the Princes' Islands

  1. Claudia April 8, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

    [Marked as spam by Antispam Bee | Spam reason: Server IP]
    Are you really here, Özlem? It all looks marvellous! Even though I live here, I never get tired of these wonderful scenes!

    • Ozlem Warren April 8, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

      I am indeed here Claudia, taking it all in – I love it all too : )

  2. Alan April 8, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    Dear Özlem, what a delightful posting! J and I love Istanbul in small doses and usually visit once or twice each year. The Spice Bazaar is a particular joy and the surrounding area is fascinating.

    • Ozlem Warren April 8, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

      Merhaba Alan, thank you for stopping by, it is a pleasure to share. I like your idea of having small doses of Istanbul in different times, a good way of appreciating the city – Spice Market & surroundings are a favorite for me too!

  3. Alida April 8, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    Another lovely post dear Ozlem! All those dry fruit you can get in Turkey are so yummy and they look beautiful too. I am contemplating a visit there… thanks for sharing this X

    • Ozlem Warren April 9, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

      pleasure to share Alida, I love the dried fruit here; great snacks and they make delicious, healthy desserts, look forward to having you in Turkey : )

  4. jaz April 8, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

    omg…you are killing me! i want to try some of all of this and shop in the markets! thank heavens i can get sumac here!

    • Ozlem Warren April 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

      Hope you make it here sometime Jaz, it is also good to know you can access many ingredients in the US – I love sumac too!

  5. Peri April 9, 2013 at 3:34 am #

    Wonderful post, Ozlem! What a beautiful country! Love all the sights, and the food looks so fresh and delicious, I can almost smell the aromas:) the grand bazaar, spice markets, ferry ride, all would be on my must-do list! So glad to get this update, looking forward to the next one:) xxPeri

    • Ozlem Warren April 9, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

      Thanks Peri, you will have a feeling of similarity with the wonderful colors of India at the markets in istanbul, look forward to having you here : ) xx ozlem

  6. BacktoBodrum April 9, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    [Marked as spam by Antispam Bee | Spam reason: Server IP]
    What a great tour – I’m jealous.

    • Ozlem Warren April 9, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

      Thank you, it has been wonderful to see these sights again – you are much nearer location wise, I am sure you can come and visit sometime, so many places to
      see: )

  7. Barbara April 9, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    I love those stuffed mussels and have tried kokoreç too, not bad at all!

    • Ozlem Warren April 9, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

      Must say, have a soft spot for kokorec too – when done properly, it is delicious!

  8. Phil in the Kitchen April 10, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

    I’m really enjoying your tour from afar (and trying not to be too jealous). I really wish I could wander around the spice market. I’ve never tried kokoreç but I’d definitely give it a go. After all, it doesn’t sound any more of an acquired taste than haggis and I happen to enjoy that a lot.

    • Ozlem Warren April 14, 2013 at 7:07 am #

      Merhaba Phil; I can see you spending hours in the Spice Market – the place is a feast to all senses! I am with you re the kokorec; the blend of spices make it really delicious. Hope you make it to Istanbul sometime – in the meantime, I am happy to share what we see : )

  9. zerrin April 14, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    What a wonderful post about Istanbul! I’m living so close to it, but I’m still hooked by all pictures here, especially the ones with food:)How I’ve missed fried calamari and mussels!

    • Ozlem Warren April 14, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

      Thank you Zerrin, I guess I appreciate home more now that I live abroad – glad you enjoyed the photos, do visit Istanbul at every opportunity ! : ) cok selamlar, Ozlem

  10. Sarah August 24, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    I”m SO excited. We are going back to visit Turkey in June next year!! Ozlem, I’m so happy to have found your site and I’ll be using it to help choose what places we will visit. Thank you :)

    • Ozlem Warren August 25, 2013 at 10:47 am #

      Hi Sarah, thank you for stopping by, I am so glad the blog will be useful for you for your visit to Turkey – have a lovely time!
      Ozlem

  11. Kym Ciftci September 19, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    [Marked as spam by Antispam Bee | Spam reason: Server IP]
    Ahhhhhh Istanbul – It definitely holds a bit of my heart :-) I managed Heybeli last year and had a wonderful day. Two weeks ago I tramped around the Grand Bazaar for two days and managed to walk from Beyazit Kapi all the way down to Eminonu for balik ekmek and tursu (YUM!).

    Is that right you will be visiting Didyma? Shall I take you to the village for a bit of Dursuns cooking? :-) x

    • Ozlem Warren September 19, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

      So glad you made it to Istanbul, I love walking in the old city and Adalar.. so look forward to coming back!
      I was in Didyma last April, so sad to miss Dursun and you!! I will be back next year though, so let’s plan on that!: ) x Ozlem

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  2. Turkish Flat Breads with potato and cheese; Patatesli Gozleme | Ozlem's Turkish Table - September 7, 2015

    […] They have been making these stuffed flat breads called Gozleme since then and they are a much loved Turkish street food and a special part of Turkish breakfast. These popular snacks are cooked quickly on a hot griddle […]

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