Eating our way through Istanbul


                   Istanbul Eats  & Cooking Alturka

     We started out the day with Angelides from Istanbul Eats walking tours at the Spice Market.  Angelides promised to show our small group a whole new side of Old Istanbul through our stomachs. He bought food from stands along the way, and we found out about the food, history, and people that ran the stalls and eateries. It is the most fun thing you can do in Istanbul, and takes about six hours. Make your reservations early, because tours fill up fast. There is a tour for the new side of Istanbul, too. Directly below are pictures of some of the places we stopped and ate along our journeys along the back alleys of Istanbul on Istanbul Eats Walking Tour. 

                                         Cooking Alturka

     After eating our way through the old part of Istanbul, and trying each delicacy Turkey had to offer, we caught a cab for our cooking class. DO NOT BOOK BOTH OF THESE ON THE SAME DAY. It will put you in a food coma for a month.  But, do make sure you do both activities.  The school is in a lovely neighborhood, but Cooking Alturka is small, so our taxi driver took us for a little sightseeing before we found it. Owner Eveline and Chef Feyki turn you into Turkish chefs, no matter what your starting skill level.  The maximum class size is 10, and you make dinner for the few lucky guests that got reservations to come eat dinner there without making it.  Our menu consisted of:

  1. 1Ezogelin çorbası – Red lentil and bulgur soup with dried mint and chili

  2. 2İmam bayıldı – Eggplant cooked in olive oil with onion, garlic and tomato

  3. 3Kabak mücveri – Zucchini pancakes with white cheese and herbs

  4. 4Etli yaprak sarması – Vine leaves stuffed with meat, served with yogurt

  5. 5Incir tatlisi- Walnut-stuffed figs cooked in clove syrup.

    We left with a full tummy and a clear view of how the food should taste, along with step-by- step instructions.  The next morning, we headed back to the spice market to get some of the ingredients I wasn’t sure I would find in the USA. We have since made a Turkish dinner and we found a turkish grocery store.  I can’t thank Eveline and her team enough for providing me so much fun and so much insight about how to make the amazing food we ate in Istanbul.

Start the soup

     Chop lots of onions

Prepare and stuff the eggplants.

The figs got stuffed with walnuts, and then bathed in syrup.

Our grape leaves weren’t as tight as Chef’s.

Prepare the pot before you put the grape leaves in for cooking.

The soup is so delicious, you will want to eat it all.  Don’t do so, as the rest is yet to come.

Zucchini pancakes are light, fluffy and full of herbs.

Bet you can’t eat just one grape leaf.

Figs get dusted with coconut and pistachios.               Added points for presentation.

Final lesson: how to make turkish coffee.

The students (turned chefs) enjoyed their chance to sit down, drink wine, and eat their handiwork.

       Olives, nuts, grains, pickles, sausages, breads.  Then, we went to the back of a warehouse and had breakfast.

Meat sandwich we ate on tiny stools in the alley.  Very yummy.

Turkish pizza, all sorts of layered pastry and nut treats, pots and pans.

Soup and bread made to serve to those in the fabric guild. 

Turkish delights and other candy confections.

This is where the caravans of horses and camels stopped in Istanbul to sell their wares procured on the Spice Roads centuries ago.

Fresh sardines coated in corn meal and then eaten whole.

Sandwiches and pomegranate juice.

Boza is fermented bulgur drink.

Lamb heads and lamb in every form you can think of.

Dessert and turkish coffee finished off our Istanbul Eats tour and food fest.