I met Marina after a long while of no see. We have filled in each other on the happening of the past few months over a tall glass of lemonade at Fazıl Bey, a respectable coffee spot and simply a institution.
As we parted ways Marina, once local to the area but now a proud resident of Büğükada, the largest of the Princess Islands, asked me for a fresh idea, “Where can I grab something to eat? Not a big meal but rather little something?” I thought of all the usual suspects and could not come up with anything exciting for my low-card dieting friend. Until it occurred to me I have been ignoring the obvious, “Gözde! Why don’t you go to Gözde? They have great meze and a few tables outside!”
At the Kadıköy market you go with the locals. Because most of the crowd is local indeed: they live not far, have been shopping here for ages and have got good sense of the worthwhile. And their loyalty to the certain shops is obvious. Özcan for pickles, Cafer Ağa for sugary sweets, Bilgeoğlu for baklava, Arifoğlu for spices and herbs, Yalı Çifliği for cheese and yoghurt. And Gözde for a good range of delicacies.
Delicacy shops in Istanbul are bastions of real food which is sourced with big care and sold with great love. Having a good one nearby cancels any need to shop at the supermarket. And Gözde is a perfect illustration.
Selection of Turkish cheeses from the staple white cheese to the exotic tulum aged in the goat skin. Hanging chunks of pastırma, cured beef presiding over other carnivore delights. Olives of every size and color: even radical green – colored by spinach and bright red – colored by beetroot, Gözde’s specialty. Cooking condiments, fresh countryside eggs, chantelle mushrooms. And a invariably large section with meze, or starters usually preceding the meal but also substantial enough to become a meal in itself.
Gözde prides itself on theirs. They boast hundreds of titles which are altered with all time favorites always in stock. To keep regulars excited they would theme a month and feature little know meze of a particular Turkish region. Right now Antakya in on the menu – meaning big flavors and spicy-red colors. Such as tiny stale bread pieces combined with roasted red pepper and tomato pastes. “Like muhammara?” – I ask. “Little bit different,” - I get a polite and humble answer.
“Little bit different” can be referred to most of the Gözde’s flavors as they play a lot with classics. They spice up roasted eggplant puree with green curry paste, invent Spanish salad with unmistakably Turkish flavor and throw in some hazelnuts into haydari, thick yoghurt deep, or walnuts into the stewed leeks.
Locals would buy a few meze to save up time on the preparation and feast on at home. And the good news is Gözde has a few tables outside so you can savor right at the spot. Choose a few meze you would like to sample and the helpful staff used will be happy to make your plate.
Compose yours by color: splash of red to spice it up (aci ezmesi or spicy bulgur balls, halep koftesi), green to celebrate the season (samfire in olive oil, fresh beans stewed in olive oil), cream to indulge (eggplant pastes in assorted combos) and white to balance off (Spanish salad of zucchini, roasted eggplant, parsley, hazelnut with strained yoghurt). All that would be served to you with the freshest white bread from the nearby Petek Fırın, another establishment which has been around for decades – tried and trusted like everything else at the Kadıköy market.
Address: Güneşlibahçe Sokak No:8 Kadıköy Market