Just back from a scrumptious weekend in Istanbul, where the six of us from Ottolenghi – or, otherwise very closely associated – ate our way through heaps of burek, baklava and beyaz peynir (the famous salty white cheese).
The best food we had was in simple, unassuming street stalls or basic restaurants, where the greatness of Ottoman food is evident in its simplicity yet strict adherence to tradition. The combination of flavours of Arab, central Asian and Balkan cuisines produces the most inspiring dishes.
Here’s a few of our favourites:
Kanaat Lokantesi in Üsküdar for simple home-style cooking and the best stuffed vegetables.
The Egyptian spice market that sells much more than spices, or actually, everything and anything you never knew you needed.
Balikci Sabahattin restaurant in Sultan-Ahmed for the freshest and, literally, the most delicious fish in the world, or as Itamar calls it, the Temple of Love.
The best burek we had at Asli Borek on Buyuk Postahane Caddesi, just off the spice market.
Namli, a shop full of Turkish magic selling and serving Ottolenghiesque style salads and much more. You must buy their tahini, halva and many cheeses!
At Hamdi Et Lokantasi we had the best lamb kebabs we have ever tasted, and that’s quite something.
We also visited Muzedechanga, where we sampled some amazing modern Turkish cuisine and got lots of tips from the lovely owners, Tarik and Savas.