Category Archives: Food

Spoiled By Fresh Brazilian Food

One of the things that we have enjoyed throughout our trip has been the availability of fresh produce, meats and fish. From India to Cape Town, the highest quality local ingredients went into almost everything we ate. Regardless of preparation, the food has been great because the ingredients have been fresh. We are somewhat nervous to go back to the mega grocers of The States, where bananas come from Central America and rice from Asia. Even though there is a movement towards local produce, the variety is thin and it usually costs more than the mass-produced fare at the mega marts.

We have been particularly spoiled in Brazil, where the abundance of produce, meats and fish is prepared in keeping with the country’s cultural kaleidoscope. African slaves, European settlers (mainly Portuguese, but also German, Italian, Spanish and Polish) as well as Japanese and Arab immigrants have all left their mark on Brazilian cuisine. This means that there is something for everyone in our family. At our neighborhood samba party, we each were able to choose our favorite skewers from a local grill vendor. I had cheese smothered in oregano, Ava chose German sausage and Kayan wanted meat rolled in maniac floor.

Much of Sandeep’s culinary escapades involve searching for good meat. We went to kebab places in Turkey and grill houses in Greece seeking  the best carnivorous fare. All were fabulous. However, there is nothing quite like the variety of meats at a Brazilian chuhascaria. Waiters parade dozens of different cuts from beef, pork, lamb and chicken around the dining hall. All of this is additive to an already enormous buffet spread that consisted of some of the best sushi we have eaten.

The entire family enjoys fresh fish. Even though we have braved the grimiest fish markets in the world, we have never been able to buy a selection of fish from a sprawling market and then have it cooked on the spot. That’s exactly what we did today at the Sao Pedro fish market in Niteroi, across the harbor from Rio. The split level market sells fish downstairs and houses casual restaurants upstairs.

Intrepid foodies can select from fish roe, shellfish, any variety of fresh and salt water fish and seafood and then take it upstairs to be cooked as desired. Less industrious visitors can just head upstairs and order from the menu. We decided to go with grilled shrimp and fried sardines. Our only regret was not coming with more people so that we could try more food.

All of this Brazilian food gets washed down with fresh drinks. Sucos bars, or juice bars, are as ubiquitous to Rio as nail salons are to New York City. One is never more than a five minute walk from a sucos bar, which sells every imaginable combination of fresh fruit and vegetable juice. One of our favorite discoveries is avocado smoothies, which have become part of our breakfast routine. On this particular mid-day sucos stop, we got one mango, one watermelon and one bull’s heart (custard apple).

No discussion about Brazilian drinks would be complete without paying homage to the caiparinha, a cocktail made with cachaca (sugar cane liquor) and fresh limes. Just as sucos bars dot the city, caiparinhas are never far away. Neighborhood stalls sell them in small plastic glasses and cachacarias (cashaca bars) offer hundreds of different varieties.

We have eaten our way through much of our around the world journey, but our time in Brazil has turned into an all out binge fest. Perhaps we know our time is coming to an end and we want to experience as much culinary culture as possible before we get home. We suspect that is only a small part of the story. The food and drinks here are mesmerizing enough to keep us on a constant adventure. Short of growing our own fruit and raising our own cows by a private lake brimming with fish, we don’t think our culinary experiences here will be recreated back home.


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Our Last Day in Cape Town

Today was our last full day in Cape Town. We started saying our goodbyes in various ways. The kids have formed bonds in their school and had to say goodbye to their friends. We had a little cookie party for them but Ava and Kayan left insisting that they would see their friends again. We are finding that the world is a small place, so perhaps they will.

The day was even more meaningful for the kids as they made their own lunches for the first time. We had our final lunch at the place where we had our first Cape Town meal seven weeks ago. The restaurants offers kids cooking projects and Ava and Kayan made pizza. They could have chosen cookies, but this would have been a caused a severe sugar high after their school cookie party. The pizza was not only edible, it was actually really good. Now we’ll have to figure out how to get Ava and Kayan more productive in the kitchen while we sit back and wait for our meals.

We tried to absorb Cape Town as much as we could today. We walked the kids back from school in the sunshine with Table Mountain as our backdrop. In true Cape Town fashion the weather changed and enjoyed our last rainy evening by the fireplace, which Sandeep has become a pro at lighting. Sandeep’s mom has been with us the past few weeks. She’s been almost a constant travel companion on our journey, seeing us in Thailand, Malaysia, India and South Africa. Scrabble has become somewhat of a ritual when we are together, so we played a final game over another bottle of South African wine and sweet chili biltong.

Even though our activities were triggered by this being our final day, in many ways our last day in Cape Town was like any other. We enjoyed the city, we spent time with family and new friends, and we had new experiences. It’s the best way we know how to say goodbye.

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Filed under Africa, Food, South Africa

Our Culinary Journeys Around Cape Town

One of the first things we sought when we arrived in Cape Town was local food. After weeks of eating and asking we have come to the conclusion that there is no “typical” Capetonian food. Rather, the cuisine of the area is as complex and lively as its history.

Indigenous local African cuisine tends to center around fluffy sorghum or maize porridge (pap), consumed with stews and roasted meats. We found it near to impossible to get our hands on authentic indigenous cuisine. It turns out that the new generation prefers the convenience and taste of  fast food, resulting in KFC and McDonald’s success among populations that a generation ago ate more local cuisine. Some restaurants in the Townships still serve indigenous fare, but we were advised not to explore them on our own. Those in the city that serve pap and stew tend to cater to the tourists (like us) who seek local food in a safe environment. These establishments come complete with staged music and curios (not our scene).

We turned our search to more recent history. Around the 17th century, European cuisine arrived with settlers from Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Britain. In our opinion, the greatest culinary contributions of this time were wine, brought by the French Hugenots, and koeksisters, Dutch honey-soaked fried dough.

Around this time came biltong (cured and sliced meats), a staple that weathered well and satisfied the tastes of both the indigenous and settler population. Biltong is most often made with beef, but any game from kudu to ostrich is fair game. One can’t walk too far in Cape Town without stumbling across Biltong. It’s available in every mini-mart and gas station, Biltong kiosks grace every mall, and there were several biltong stalls lining the path to the rugby game we attended yesterday. Capetonians consume biltong at rugby games with the same joy as Americans consume hot dogs during baseball.

The settlers brought slaves from South Asia and with them came the influence of spices and peppers. Fish was used in interesting new ways in pickles and stews and meat was turned into exciting dishes such as bobotie, sweet and spicy minced meat baked with an custard-like topping. The collective influence that slaves had on the cuisine of the area is now refered to as Cape Malay cuisine, and the best place to experience Cape Malay food is in Bo Kaap, previously known as the Malay Quarter.

Under apartheid certain racial groups were forced into demarcated areas. Ba Kaap was for Cape Muslims. Today Bo Kaap is a colorful maze of painted houses lining cobble stone streets.

The Muslim influence is strong in the area’s mosques and culture.

And the food is divine. We ate at Bismillah, one of the oldest restaurants in the area. The food here has a heavy Indian influence, albeit much more toned down on the spice level and sweeter. In Penang we learned that the Indonesian-influenced food is generally sweet and we tasted the same flavorings in the Cape Malay dishes.

With the oceans lapping around Cape Town, it’s hard to miss the fish. Our lunch today was at Die Strandloper, which offers a set ten course seafood feast on the shores of Langebaan, a small town an hour north of Cape Town. This course is crayfish braii – traditional South African BBQ.

Whether European, African or Asian, or a little bit of everything, the meals we have had in Cape Town have been great. Even the grocers seem to have higher quality wares than what we get at home. Given the climate and availability of land, vegetables and fruits tend to be fresher. Grass-fed cows and free-range chicken are ubiquitous in restaurants and stores.  When you have good ingredients and a rich cultural history from which to draw, it’s hard not to get great results.

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A Day of Penguins and Rainbows on Cape Town Southern Peninsula

Our trip down Cape Town’s Southern Peninsula ended up being an extended safari of sorts. Boulder’s Beach, just half an hour from Cape Town, got its name due to the 540 million year old boulders that are scattered on its shore. In 1982, the relatively calm bay along the beach attracted the attention of two penguins who set up camp here and have since grown their community to over 3,000 formally outfitted birds. Penguins mate for life after a three week courtship. We had a lot of respect for that, particular since Sandeep and my courtship lasted all of a few hours before we knew we’d be together forever. This pair walking along the shores of Boulder Beach reminded us of an old couple taking an evening walk. Perhaps they were discussing their anchovy dinner plans, what to do with their nest and who to frolic with that evening, not unlike humans that have grown into routines together.

South African National Parks has created a boardwalk that respectfully passes through the penguin habitat. It’s close enough for humans to see the birds, but far enough that the penguins go about their business of courting, mating, nesting, and regurgitating food. The proximity does, however, mean that extra care needs to be taken.

As we made our way around the peninsula, we saw this sign.

We passed our first ostrich farm, although we have yet to actually eat the bird (despite Ava’s plea).

What we did feast on was a fish and chips lunch at Kalky’s, a Cape Town institution set on the docks of the fishing town of Kalk Bay. South Africa has been home to many different cultures over its tumultuous history and this is one of the few places where we know we’ll get crisp fresh fish and chips along with perfectly made samosas.

We have yet to fully understand the fishing culture in Cape Town, but we have seen people fishing from many points along the water. Some vineyards we passed also promoted fishing on their grounds. I suppose when you have a view so beautiful, fishing is an ideal way to be alone with nature.

We drove back home along Chapman’s Peak, a route dug high into the mountainside above the ocean. Cape Town’s quintessential winter fog and rain descended just as we were prepared to enjoy this drive. Many people warned us that Cape Town’s winters are a dreary affair. We haven’t been to bothered with it yet. On our drive back a rainbow appeared over the water. Ava was the first to notice it. She seemed shocked. “Is that a real rainbow?” It’s the first one she’s seen in real life. We had thought that the animals in Etosha or perhaps the penguins we saw earlier in the day had the biggest impact on the kids thus far on our Africa travels. However, for Ava, a simple rainbow was her most magical moment yet.

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Filed under Africa, Animals, Food, South Africa

Our Kids Take Us Wine Tasting in Cape Town’s Winelands

For as long as I can remember, my grandmother treated all my ailments with a shot of brandy. I am a strong believer that a good glass of wine cures most pains. We are not the only ones who believe alcohol is medicinal. Jan Van Reibeck, a surgeon of the Dutch East India Company, was charged with managing the supply station in the Cape of Good Hope. The Dutch maintained the area as restocking a midpoint between home and India. One of the leading causes of death for the sailors was scurvy and the Dutch believed that grapes and wine would ward off the decease. The exact date of South Africa’s wine birth can be traced to Jan Van Reibeck’s February 2, 1659 journal entry, “Today, praise be to God, wine was pressed for the first time from Cape Grapes.” Since then, South Africa has grown to be the world’s eighth largest producer of wine by volume.

We’ve visited vineyards in all corners of the earth but had yet to see a wine country as beautiful as the Cape Town winelands. Even during winter, which the locals say is dreary, the mountains glisten green and the vineyards form blankets along the hills and lakes east of Cape Town. Many vineyards have horse stables, lakes for fishing, and small game reserves or orchards, all of which add to the allure. Wine tasting in South Africa is a leisurely affair. Many tasting rooms are set up as living rooms, with expansive views and inviting fireplaces. Some even have pre-packed picnics so you can enjoy a meal among the grapes. Tastings last over an hour as visitors are there for the atmosphere as much as for the wine.

We are on a mission to expose our kids to anything and everything and see no reason why wine tasting should be any different. By that we mean Ava and Kayan do the wine sniffing and Sandeep and I do the swallowing. We chose to park ourselves at Vrede en Lust, a winery whose history spans over 300 years. We felt very welcome upon entry when this sign greeted us.

As tempting as it was, we decided to forgo the nanny and have Ava and Kayan help with the tasting. As we admired the view over the mountains, the sommelier chatted away about pencil shavings and coffee on the nose. We asked the kids for their olfactory opinions.

For the Rose, Kayan said, “Strawberries and chocolate.”

For the Merlot, Ava said, “roses and rainbows.”

For the Chardonnay, they both agreed, “Gummy bears!”

Just to be clear, they only drank water.

As much as we know what wines we like and don’t we’ve never been able to describe the smells with such flair. It just goes to prove that kids to have stronger and less inhibited senses than adults.

One of the many things we already love about Cape Town is how child friendly it is. The winery offered the kids a set of crayons, a sticker book and paper to busy themselves while we enjoyed our wine. When we asked for a recommendation for another “child friendly” vineyard, our hosts casually assured us that anyone would welcome the kids. I guess there is plenty of love for everyone in the winelands.


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Turkish or Greek Coffee?

We went into Turkey expecting to love Turkish coffee. What we learned is that it’s easy to go wrong with its preparation. Some establishments burn the brew and others are too hasty in its preparation, churning out a watery drink over a grimy base. Good Turkish coffee is robust and smooth, never bitter, have a frothy head and an ever so faint grainy texture. As we spend more time in Istanbul, we understood Turkish coffee and where to score a perfect cup.

Turkey, after Yemen, was one of the first countries to truly adopt a coffee culture. The Ottoman Governor of Yemen introduced the drink back home to Suleiman the Magnificent in 1543. Soon, coffee became integral to Turkish life. Throughout the day, Turkish coffee houses serve the concoction in colorful 3 ounce ceramic glasses. Turkish coffee preparation and consumption is a slow affair, so it naturally leads to a social element as well.

When we came to Greece, we saw what we thought was Turkish coffee. The only recognizable difference is that the Greeks serve it in white porcelain cups.

It turns out that is the only difference. For a long time, Turkish coffee was referred to as Turkish coffee even in Greece. However, when Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, the irate Greek government was against the use of  Turkish terms. Greek coffee was born. Coffee becomes Turkish, or Greek, coffee due to its preparation, not bean variety. Most coffee is made by running hot water or steam through ground beans. Turkish coffee uses superfine grounds to avoid the filtering process. Grounds are essentially boiled and dissolved into the brew. Beware, though, not all the grounds disappear, leaving a thick base. The solution for the inedible leftovers? Fortune telling.

If you want to try your hand at Turkish, I mean Greek, coffee, you can follow the step by step instructions here.

While Greek coffee may be Turkish coffee, the Greeks do have their own unique coffee culture. It is one that revolves around frappe. In the late 1950s, a Greek representative of Nestle improvised a cold brew of coffee, water and ice. After vigorous shaking, it resulted in a super frothy foam. Today, in most parts of Greece, it is more common to see people gathered over frappes than Greek coffee.

The relaxation with which Turkish coffee is enjoyed is not lost on Greek frappes. Unlike a Starbucks pick-up, frappe consumption in Greece is a leisurely affair. The rule of thumb is one sip every ten minutes. Any faster and the barista will be offended. With Greek waters as the setting, why would you hurry anyway?

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Homemade Food Makes Us Say More Moussaka

We’ve been cooking in a lot in Greece. We don’t have much reason to eat out. Our apartment has a gorgeous terrace with views that beat anything available in town. We like variety and there are only a handful of restaurants within walking distance. Moreover, I like to cook (and the family swears they like my cooking) and our kitchen gives us the flexibility to churn out anything from Thai to Middle Eastern.

Despite our active kitchen, we haven’t cooked any Greek food. The souvlaki at Zaxos, the local spot in town, is tender and perfectly salty. The fish and seafood at the seaside restaurant where we celebrated Ava’s birthday yesterday is always fresh. However, the one thing that we haven’t been satisfied with is restaurant moussaka. Moussaka is supposed to be a quintessential Greek dish of layered meat, eggplant and béchamel sauce. We figured that any restaurant worth their name would know how to make a mean moussaka. It turns out that Greeks know this is not true. Moussaka recipes are family heirlooms and each house prides itself on doing it the right way. Therefore, most Greeks wouldn’t even think of ordering Moussaka when they go out. I suppose it’s like chicken curry for Indians.

Just when I thought our choices were to either master our own Moussaka or go without, we scored Moussaka from a Greek grandmother. The owner of our rental apartment is a free-spirited and generous host. She wanted us so have a real Greek meal and arranged for her mother to make us the dish. What homemade moussaka lacks in looks is more than made up for in smell and taste.

Grandma’s moussaka tasted nothing like the luke warm and dense dish we got at the local taverna. Our dinner tonight was a combination of perfectly seasoned meat, silky eggplant and a creamy sauce, with the flavors of each layer evident in the next.

We really don’t get many opportunities on our journey to have homemade local food. There is something special about food made in small batches, especially with a family recipe. You can almost taste the care. Now we know not to order moussaka in Greece. We also have a new mission to find loving grandmothers wherever we go.

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Good Meat and Cheap Wine in a Vari Grill House

We finally trekked out of Vouliagmeni (or what we now refer to as Poshland, Greece) to neighboring Vari. Pictures of Vari’s psistarias, or grill houses, so tempted carnivorous Sandeep that we made it a priority to head there early into our stay. Before our journey, I was vegetarian and I avoided wine unless I knew it was good. Our evening in Vari shows how much things have changed since we hit the road.

Vari is affectionately referred to as “cholesterol valley” due to its devotion to meat. The main road is lined with psistarias each spinning whole lambs in the windows. The smell of meat permeates the air in a way that has you wondering whether the smell will wash off. We settled on a casual looking spot that had a few TVs blaring the Euroleague Final Four. At the sight of the empty dining hall, I lamented about the state of the debt crisis. Sandeep reminded me that it was only 7 P.M.  and the Greeks dine late. I took the quiet as an opportunity to befriend the chef and take pictures of the kitchen. The kids took it as a signal to run around an pull the salt shakers off all the tables.

The wine list was longer than the food menu which was all about salad, tzaziki and lamb. At 3 euros for a half liter of house wine, we didn’t debate the wine menu. Crises or not, Greece is expensive and we are taking bargains wherever we find them.

Our waiter gave us a hearty welcome with a complimentary sampler of organ meat wrapped in intestines. “This is what all the Greeks come here for. You must try it!”

Sandeep balked. I picked. Ava chose to demurely ignore the dish. Kayan wholeheartedly ate the entire plate – kidneys, liver and intestinal packaging. It just goes to show that parents should encourage kids to try everything. You never know what will be a hit.

Our main dishes were lamb chops and roast lamb. What arrived at our table as piles of meat left as a cleanly picked graveyard. Certain lamb in Greece graze on thyme fields, thereby marinating as they grow. Morbid in some ways, but delicious in others. Perhaps that is why our lamb tasted so good, even though the waiter assured us that it was cooked in nothing but salt and pepper. In any event, I am blaming the thyme on by all out binging.

There are only a handful of traditional psistarias left in Athens. The grills need space and smoke outlets, so they are not common in populated areas. Athenians therefore head to Vari on weekends for their cholesterol fix. It was 9 P.M. by the time we left, and I was happy to see that, while our heads were in our lamb, the restaurant picked up steam. The tables were full and the wine flowing.

Our excursion to Vari came to 58 euros ($75), including our round trip cab ride. The quality of the meat was on par with some of the best steak houses in New York and the house wine was a perfect complement to the earthy lamb. Personal growth comes in various ways. Tonight, I celebrated making a great meal of meat and cheap wine. We also celebrated Kayan’s new found love for organ meat. Hermes, the Greek god of many trades, including an odd combination of animal husbandry and feasting, would have been proud.

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Starting our Days with Turkish Breakfast

I participate in a monthly writing project with other traveling families. Last month we wrote about how Anyone Can Travel. This month, we’re sharing stories about a major reason why many of us travel – food. After reading about our breakfasts in Turkey, you can go on a culinary journey around the world with other families by clicking on the links at the bottom of this post.

The first meal of the day in Turkey is an elaborate affair, one traditionally enjoyed over hours with family. Visitors can experience a Turkish breakfast at leisure in one of Istanbul’s cafes or restaurants, each competing for the best breakfast spread. Turkish cuisine reflects the country’s position at the cross roads of East and West. Of all Turkish meals, breakfast best showcases the effect these cultural exchanges have had on Turkish food.

The Turkish word for breakfast is Kahvalti, which translates to before coffee. No respectable Turkish person would consume coffee without first starting with a hearty breakfast and plenty of cay (tea). Equally as important as the food, numerous tulip shaped glasses of black tea accompany the traditional Turkish breakfast. I am a tea drinker but I’m not a big fan if Turkish cay. I find the brew bitter and would love to add just a little bit of milk to calm the flavor. I’ve been told that the locals would gasp in horror if I tried.

To truly understand the ingredients in Kahvalti, we went to the market to assemble our own Turkish breakfast. It’s hard to name the main dish in Kahvlati as the meal is more of an assortment of various nibbles. Most of the dishes do not require cooking, which means that even though the meal is broad in variety, it can be somewhat easy to prepare. Consuming it is another issue. It takes time to enjoy traditional Kahvalti and our Turkish friends tell us that in modern days, a full spread Kahvalti is a treat for weekends and holidays.

Cheese, peynir, is a key ingredient. The most ubiquitous cheese is white sheep’s milk, which is creamy and salty. This is usually paired with a couple of other cheeses, one fresh and mild and another aged and sharp. I put a cheese plate for breakfast up there on the list of genius culinary inventions.

For meat eaters, there is always a selection of cold meats. Being a predominantly Muslim country, this rarely includes any pork products. What’s missing from bacon is more than made up with cuts such as pistachio studded beef or garlicky Turkish pastrami. Various countries claim to have invented pastrami, and the Turkish say it originated with their bastirma, which means to depress and reflects the process of squeezing out the juices from air dried meat.

Green and black olives, zeytin, add additional saltiness to the spread.

To balance out the meal there are fresh seasonal vegetables, currently tomatoes and cucumbers.

The savory side of kahvalti is married to sweet goodness. White bread, ekmek, baked twice daily serves as a vehicles for freshly churned butter, jams and honey (called bali). At least one syrupy jam, recel, is on every Kahvalti plate. Usually there is also some honey, preferably still in its comb. The recel and honey are meant to be mixed with the fresh butter and then applied to the bread.

Fancier Kahvalti include boiled eggs or mememen scrambled eggs and fresh juices. However, with all the food and cay these additions seem superfluous.

If breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, then the Turks have their priorities straight.

Finding My Way to Fabulous (and Freaky) Food by Walkingon Travels

Persian Pomegranate Chicken and other Fantastic Foods of Iran by Growing Grace Life

Food from Guatemala by Travel Experta

Magical Easy-To-Make Israeli by The Nomadic Family

Traditional Dishes of Peru by Raising Miro

Alloco (from West Africa) by Sparkling Adventures

My crêpes recipe (from France) by Avenue Reine Mathilde

Gallo Pinto, Costa Rica’s Signature Dish by Family Travel Bucket List

Taking the Kids to Yakitori Alley in Tokyo Japan by Vagabond Kids



Filed under Food, Traveling Family Writing Projects, Turkey

Crossing the Bosphorus for Dinner

Are we responsible parents? On one end we paid a premium to rent an apartment close to our jobs in New York so that we could reach the kids on a 10 minute cab ride should an emergency arise. On the other, we just left Ava and Kayan in one continent while we had dinner in another.

Istanbul straddles both Europe and Asia. It’s the only city in the world with this split identity, and it’s public transportation system is unique in being able to claim that it services two continents.

We have been living on the European side, which according to every guide book is all that exists of Istanbul. However, we have been intrigued to find out what lies in the Asian face of Istanbul. It’s been beckoning us from to cross the Bosphorus, whose waters we view see from our apartment.

Our New York City neighbors, whose two kids are Ava and Kayan’s very close friends, are also visiting Istanbul. We decided kids and adults would enjoy our own respective play dates, so we left the four kids in the care of a sitter and ventured across the Bosphorus in search of dinner.

Looking at Istanbul from the Bosphorus at dusk is one of the most spectacular sights. For 2 Turkish Lira each (about $1), we took the public ferry that pushed off from Karakoy just as the sunset call to prayer begun. From the dock, we could hear several mosques in unison, providing a haunting soundtrack to start our journey. Asia, our destination, twinkled on our left. Straight ahead, the smooth domes and sharp minarets of the multiple centuries old mosques on the Golden Horn looked alive in the evening light. The Galata Bridge was still holding on to its day time activity. It was one of those moments where I was struck by how lucky we are to be on this journey, soaking up centuries of history, being out on the water and crossing continents for the perfect meal.

We docked at Kadikoy and went to Ciya Sofrasi, a highly recommended laid back no-menu restaurant that showcases food from around the Turkey. After we gorged on a self service meze selection, our waiter brought little dishes of goodness. We tried everything on offer, from stuffed onions to stuffed lamb intestine. The most memorable part of our evening was dessert. Not ones to bypass a culinary experience, we asked for one of everything.

The plate had an assortment of preserved fruits and vegetables.

– Preserved green walnuts in a clove syrup. It tasted like Christmas.

– Slightly bitter but sweet orange rind, like marmalade without the goo.

– Cream that tasted more like butter, but it was a good way to cut out the sweetness of the various sugary preserves.

– Preserved olives. On first bite we couldn’t tell it was an olive, but the aftertaste revealed its identity.

– Preserved eggplant, cured in a vanilla syrup and stuffed with walnut. This wasn’t too big of a hit, but we were impressed that the curing process completely masked evidence of the vegetable.

– Preserved pumpkin with tahini sauce and walnuts. This was the most memorable dish of the evening. The salty tahini was a perfect complement to the crunchy pumpkin.

The entire meal cost four adults 125 Turkish Lira, one of our best values so far in Turkey. We were so engaged in our dining that we forget to consider the timing of the last ferry back to Europe. Luckily there was one at 11 PM. In contrast to the ride to Asia, the ride back home to Europe was much quieter. It seemed that most of Istanbul had fallen asleep. With the large ferry almost empty, and without the hurry of usual Bosphorus traffic, we felt that we had the city to ourselves. A steaming cup of cay (tea) is never far away in Turkey. The ferry canteen was still open and as we made our way back to the continent where our kids were, we enjoyed glasses of the Turkish staple.

When we got home the kids were engaged in their games and seemed oblivious to the fact that we ever left. We were responsible, even though we went to another continent for dinner. Yet another reason we love Istanbul.


Filed under Food, Turkey