The food in Istanbul is simply incredible. I have heard it described as bland, spicy and Asian…in short, it can be anything you fancy, but I would really recommend trying some of the local dishes. We really enjoyed:
a) Pide: imagine a pizza covered in a choice of fresh toppings, freshly made to order…tuna, ham, beef, cheese or vegetables. (This description does not do it justice!) I found it most delicious with an afternoon glass of chilled wine, sheltered in the shade of the various restaurants to the right of Divan Yolu opposite the Blue Mosque.
b) Mezze; you have never tasted humus until you have had true Turkish humus and Pitta Bread. It bears little resemblance to the stuff we buy from Tesco – its texture, taste and density is truly unique and very well balanced – I defy you not to order seconds! When it comes accompanied by Cacik (tatsiki), stuffed vine leaves and Turkish Feta, all the better!
c) Kebabs – Shish or mixed, you simply have to try them. Put aside all preconceptions of the rotating, processed meat slabs you see on British High Streets and be prepared for succulent and wholesome cuts of steak and roasted meats. The smoked, BBQ flavours are mouth watering and represent great value when served with pittas. We enjoyed several kebabs at the various restaurants of Akbiyik Cd.
d) Vegetarian meals such as Dolma and Moussaka are definitely worth sampling. Rich in spices and bathed in warming sauces, these are a yummy meal in themselves.
e) Whilst we were in Istanbul we witnessed, but never tried, the stews served in the clay pots. Often for two people, the clay pots were brought out on a bed of flames and the clay pot was ceremoniously sliced in front of your very eyes by a long, sharp sword. It’s not one for shrinking violets, as there is often a lot of pomp and ceremony associated with the slicing of the pot, but the smells that radiated from the stew within were incredible. I wish we’d had the opportunity to sample one.