For a long time, I have been looking for the perfect breakfast in Istanbul. I always feel something is lacking. A good delicacy shop will have amazing cheese, pastırma and olives but will never impress with the bread and pastry. A good bakery will offer great pastry, but the rest will be sub-par. An array of places along the Bosphorus takes ages to get to in the weekend traffic and tends to be so crowded that even the best view in the world does not save the affair. So I grew to believe that the best breakfast is always at home.
Our Antakya trip started here in Istanbul with my first attempts to make künefe, a syrupy dessert of dough strands (kadaif) arranged in two layers and cheese sandwiched in between. I could not find a definitive recipe: here they used more cheese, there kadaif dominated, here they cooked the sweet on the stovetop, there – in the oven. It became apparent that the only way to find out was to travel to the source, the area of Turkey where künefe is coming from – Antakya.
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Have not you missed updates from our farmhouse so outrageously absent from this blog? I kept silent about it for a while to come back with exciting news: together with talented photographer and Turkey enthusiast David Hagerman we are doing a cooking and photography workshop at our Sapanca farmhouse in September. I can’t wait to give you heads up on the what will be going on and how you can join our small class.
It has been exactly two years since I came to Turkey to settle and start my Istanbul food tours and cooking classes. Of my 5 stays abroad this has already been the longest one with the deepest immersion into the local life. I have become a part of a Turkish family which gives me a whole different perspective on living in Turkey. Probably that is why – first time in 10 years of my life abroad – I find it difficult to relate to many foreigners living in Istanbul: I have come here by choice and have organized my life how I wanted it to be. Which gives me very little room for ranting about living in Turkey (besides the occasional attacks which some thought to be a joke anyway).
This weekend all the rooms reservations were cancelled at our countryside hotel. From fully booked with a waiting list we went to a quiet weekend mode. Besides the big Sunday breakfast that is always crowded it was – probably the first time this year – a weekend leisurely spend with the family. And very special guests. My friend and Le Cordon Bleu graduate Elena brought her teacher chef Gilles who is launching Le Cordon Bleu program in Istanbul. It was the weekend of conversations – about food, over food and while making it. Mom was turning one Turkish specialty after another, Elena was baking French pastry, chef Gilles was getting intensive introduction to Turkish food and culture and I.. I was a like phone whose lamentably squeaking dying battery started cheerful blinking once put to charge.
We started getting busy at Zelis Ciftligi in Sapanca on Friday. Shopping at the Friday market, serving dinner, doing prep for the Saturday morning baking and prep for the meze we would be serving on the weekend. Then the weekend when my day kicked off with 7 am baking, orchestrating the buffet preparation, then making staff lunch, then mid-term cleaning, skyping with my sister and parents, prep for dinner, serving dinner, cleaning up and closing down around 11 pm. On Sunday when I brought to anne – still in quarantine after her cancer treatment – a piece of wonderfully moist chocolate cake I baked that morning she said, “This is the first time I left the kitchen for so long and I am so relaxed”. And I have never been more exhausted.
Now when I am supposed to spread love for Turkish food disguised as recipes and excitement about eating it in the form of Istanbul restaurant recommendations I am here admitting the fact that may as well be suicidal for this blog. I AM FED UP WITH TURKISH FOOD. If this is the last post you going to read here before you flee hungry and disappointed – so be it, my Turkish food rant.
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