A few months ago, we decided to go on a sibling trip to Istanbul that coincided with my birthday and what was sort of a long weekend. The initial plan was 4 days in a smaller place by the sea and then 4 days in Istanbul, but due to lack of planning and not being able to agree on anything, we ended up staying in Istanbul for almost 9 days.
The city is an incredible combination of old world charm and nouveau hipster. In fact, if I had to describe the Istanbul we saw succinctly, it's plain old modern hipster. The cafes, the coffee shops, the people - they're all just so incredibly cool. We wandered the streets as much as we could, battled contrary weather gods (the sun scorched us one day and then the rain soaked us the next), and ate as many lamb kebabs as we possibly could.
Spending time in another country is a wonderful way to have a birthday. It hadn't been a great year, and I couldn't think of anything better to do than eat my way through several tonnes of lovely luscious lamb in Istanbul. Eight days in Istanbul (affectionately dubbed Constanti-Turkey) was a lot, but I know that we could spend a year in the city and still not have had enough.
Here's my uber quick report on things to eat in Istanbul:
Kuzu Sis is lamb kebabs, skewered and grilled over an open flame. They are moist, juicy and absolutely incredible. We ate them every chance we got.
A Turkish Breakfast normally consists of white cheese (similar to feta), old cheese (kaşar peyniri), black and/or green olives (zeytin), butter, honey, jam, an omlette or boiled eggs (yumurta), sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and Turkish sausage - Sucuk. Accompanied by twists of bread, Turkish tea or coffee.
Street food is kind of interesting too. We found vendors up and down Taksim selling mussels stuffed with rice, which looked far more exciting than they actually were.
The fish sandwiches being sold by the ferries at Kabatas were incredible! Lightly fried thin pieces of fish were literally SQUASHED onto pieces of bread, doused with lemon and served up. Yummy.
Stop every chance you get for cups of Turkish tea, and spend your time watching locals and tourists walk by. Every corner has a tea shop or a coffee shop placed just-so. Do it justice.
Eat Haloumi. Always.
We found a restaurant called Kasabim in the Cihangir district of Istanbul, and went back there twice in the week we were around. Eat the lamb! They also have a butcher's shop down by Taksim, so you can get your meat cut fresh and take it back home to cook too. The staff was most amused to learn that we were taking lamb chops back to India with us!