My first days in Istanbul, I treated myself to many meals in my own company. I ordered some typical Turkish/ Middle Eastern fare: hummus, kofte (meatballs), doner kebab, and baba ganoush. All were freshly prepared and sold an inexpensive price.
Turkey: a surprising location for a cheese-lover’s destination. Feta and other soft cheeses were a constant in many of my favorite dishes that I enjoyed while visiting Turkey. My first day in Turkey, I nibbled on a Turkish Greek salad. Blocks of feta-like cheese (Beyaz peynir) were crumbled on top of the greens. Next, I ordered a freshly made pita with garlic butter covered in Kaşar cheese, a cheddar cheese that gets stringy when you melt it. Later, I ordered Sigara Bouregi, or Turkish cheese rolls filled with Beyaz peynir. This dish changed my life. I found a favorite dish and I started ordering it whenever I saw it on the menu.
I found a restaurant that made the best cheese rolls I could find. After leaving my hotel and traversing all of Istanbul in the morning, I stopped by my favorite restaurant and ordered cheese rolls. The staff started to get to know me. I enjoyed the company of a few waiters who asked me about my life in the US. They brought me Turkish bubble bread or Lavaş, specially made around the time of Ramadan. I also drank complementary Turkish apple tea which tasted like warm cinnamon apple cider.
As the days went on, I started ordering dishes I wasn’t too familiar with. Turkish pizza intrigued me, because I am a pizza lover. Stuffed Pide is a pizza with a creamy base piled with meat and covered in cheese.
Walking the streets of Istanbul, you will see shop windows filled with 20 different types of Baklava filled with pistachios. Instead of walnuts, Turkish baklava contains pistachios giving the pastry a green garnish. Another dessert that Turkey is known for is Turkish delight. Don’t try just any Turkish delight; make sure to try one that looks homemade in the marketplace or a mom and pop run store. There are many different variations, so make sure to try them all!
After traveling throughout the western coast of Turkey, our tour stopped at Şirince. We were told by our tour guide to order this one dish. It is a crepe-like dish filled with your choice of savory options. I picked the one filled with spinach and feta-like cheese. It was amazingly delicious.
Turkish coffee is a delicacy that was made for us by our tour guide. It was thick and strong, but I’m happy I had that experience.
After traveling the western coast, we arrived back in Istanbul. For our final Turkish meal we ate at Albura Kathisma. This restaurant has a clear floor where you can see ruins from 330 A.D. underneath the restaurant. When you have finished eating, you can visit the ruins yourself by climbing down a narrow stairwell.
After traveling to 9 different countries, my favorite country for food was definitely Turkey.