Istanbul Part IV: Kadikoy...a ferry ride away

Agh!!  Kadikoy...[not Karikoy]

I've been itching to get back to reminiscing about our Istanbul trip.  I wanted to sort and edit the photos from this final journey, Kadikoy...a ferry ride away,  in order to relive this enjoyable and relaxing day.

By the end of the week in Istanbul, we were definitely anticipating what lay beyond the Bosphorus Sea on the  Asian side of Istanbul.  We were eager to branch out from the Old City and the Beyoglu district and take the ferries across the Bosphorus Sea.

Thanks to the wonderful blog, Eating Asia, I had wonderful tidbits of advice about where to get on the ferries, how to pay, and how easy it is to use this mode of travel around Istanbul.  Thank you Robyn!!

In fact, Robyn, the American writer behind Eating Asia, has teamed up with her husband, David Hagerman, to help lead photography tours along the northern coast of Turkey.  They have fallen in love with this country and its people and are eager to show others the beauty that they have found.

So we made our way from the Old City of Istanbul from the Sultanhamet stop onto the tram, traveled the 10 minutes to the ferry docks, and hopped off at the stop called Eminonu.  Many of the ferry sites are located here directly across from the tram stop, right along the water just before the Galata Bridge crosses over to the Karakoy side of Istanbul.

Finding the correct ferry was easy, as each stop has a covered waiting area that is clearly marked with large signs for the location you would like to go.

We quickly located the ferry stop that said "Kadikoy".  One of the food tour options, by the food centric walking tour company, Istanbul Eats, offers a walking tour of this suburb, Kadikoy, located on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus Sea.  We took one of their other tours a few days earlier called "The Culinary Backstreets".  I collected my photos and thoughts about the experience in this article. 

Istanbul Eats was sold out of the Kadikoy food tour so we just had to "wing it" on our own.    

Kadikoy is a bustling and lively community and is the name of the neighborhood on this Asian side of the sea.  The ferry was commanding but comfortable,and handsome with its chocolate brown polished wooden benches.  We settled on the top deck where the wind was gusting over the sea and to readied to take in the sight of the Old City from the water.  

As the ferry lumbered out of the dock, the wind picked up and the air was cool, refreshing, and salty.  White and grey seagulls glided effortlessly right alongside the churning ferry boat  as if regally ushering us across the water in the correct direction.

People settled back, quite relaxed and dreamy-eyed, as the quick 20 minute trip carried us right up to the Kadikoy ferry stop.

Kadikoy:  [not Karikoy, typo...]

We really didn't put much research into exactly what to do after we disembarked the ferry.  We flowed along with the work a day crowd and meandered into the vibrant community.  It looked more appealing to turn to the left (south of the ferry dock) after we crossed the busy road that separated the dock from the city.  We kept ambling to the left (south) until the pace quieted and the streets narrowed and became quaint and pretty.

Only a few minutes of ambling and we ended up in the "market district" just southeast of the ferry docks along the street Güneli Bahçe Sokagi.  This area had a distinctly cozy atmosphere.  The narrow twisty streets were filled with small artisanal shops, and tiny tavernas that spilled out onto the streets with tables and chairs.

We had researched a restaurant, called Ciya Sofrasi that was on our wish list of places to try.  We plugged the address into Mapquest.  As we entered the "meyhane district", which is filled with dozens of Turkish tavernas, our iphone GPS walked us right to the restaurant.

We weren't hungry yet, so we "dropped a pin" at the restaurant on our  Mapquest App so we could make our way back there after shopping and meandering around this wonderful part of Kadikoy.  

Dropping pins (feature of Mapquest to pin a certain location) at places we wanted to return to was one of the highlights of this trip.  Our world is forever changed with this feature on Mapquest.  Getting lost is one of my delightful pasttimes.  However, for my logical-minded engineering oriented is a state of living horror, especially when we don't speak the language.  

Let's just say "pins" were dropped all over the city of Istanbul and one lone engineer was smiling the entire time while tethered to some technological device or other.

Top L: Candy Shop Top R: Marzipan fruit creations
Bottom L: Tulumba fried dough Bottom R: Coffee Wagon 

We couldn't help but be mesmerized by this sweet shop that lured us right up to its colorful and attractive windows.  If shops could smile and beguile passersby into their doors, then this shop was gushing with sugary sweet cheeky grins and suggestive playful winks.

Sekerci Cafer Erol
Osmanağa Mh.  Yasa Cd No:19, 34714 
İstanbul, Turkey
+90 216 337 1103

Look at that stack of "Tulumba Tatlisi".  These are churros-like fried dough sticks that are soaked in a honey-like syrup.  Way too sweet for my palate, we nevertheless bought a few and each took nibbles so we could sample this popular sweet.  I have the biggest sweet tooth in my family but I could barely handle a tidbit.  Patrick and the kids liked it the most and this became one of their favorite sweets on the trip!

Beautiful Pomegranate shaped Marzipan

The Marzipan fruit creations were like little works of art.  The colors were vibrant and the shapes so real they were just simply delightful to admire.  And admire we did!

Once we literally had our fill of eye-candy, tucked our sweet filled parcels in our bags, we continued on with no particular direction or destination in mind.  The shops really pull you from one to the next and meandering without stopping to look at a map every 5 minutes was such a welcome relief.

We came across a wonderful murky, dusky, old antique book shop.  Without hesitation, we all slipped right into this little jewel of a shop to poke around the beautifully dusty books and old prints.

Imge Sahaf
Istanbul, Turkey
Tel: 0(216) 449 39 64

We picked out a trio of loose sheets of wonderful calligraphy in swirling designs with soft pastel colors surrounding the writing.  I think I will frame them for our guest bedroom which is decorated in soft feminine hues.

Finally working up an appetite, we made our way back to the restaurant Çiya that we had read so much about from various sources on Kadikoy.

Güneglibahçe Splal 43
216 330 3190

Çiya has glowing reviews and is often pronounced by some critics as being "the best restaurant in Istanbul".  It used to be an off-the-beaten path secret but is now quite sought after.  

While I don't know if we can conclude that it deserves the glowing reviews that surround it, we had a great meal here and were able to sample all sorts of dishes that were quite new to us.

Top L: Kisir Salad, Top R: The chef,
Bottom L: Boudin-like sausage stuffed in pigs intestines,
 Bottom R: wonderful shaved lamb for our doner kababs 

Çiya is run by owner-chef Musa Dagdeviren, who is from the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep.  He enjoys collecting recipes from around Turkey and his menu features unique regional dishes that may not be found elsewhere.

The logistics of how the restaurant was set up was confusing (to us...not to the locals) but for foreigners like was difficult to understand.  The ordering, delivering, and pricing of dishes was quite the mystery.  We didn't mind that part, it's part of the diversity of traveling, it is just that no one even seemed interested in guiding us along.

Large pots of hot steaming dishes are laid out to the left as soon as you walk into the restaurant.  There is no menu. REPEAT:  There is no menu, thus no pricing.  The pace is frenetic and because the restaurant is small and we arrived smack in the middle of the lunch rush so one is meant to make quick choices and move out of the way. 

There were the large cauldrons of hot dishes on the left and a series of cold dishes/salads on the right.  The chef seemed grumpy and cranky with us as we fumbled around and tried desperately to identify ingredients in the pots and then how to place an order and what was the price of the dishes.  To be honest we felt awkward.  Very awkward.  We clearly weren't "locals" and no matter how discreetly we tried to order and be done with it, we did not feel very welcome.

Finally, the inner Taurus in me kicked in and I just started pointing to dishes and saying "Istiyorum... Buyurun" which I hoped meant "I want.[insert number]..please".  

Nothing was written down, we were waved crankily away to an outdoor table and we sat, like scolded children, waiting to see what would happen.  In a few minutes, plate after plate of delicious looking dishes slid onto our table.

(L): Stuffed Eggplants , and (R): Dolma, stuffed grape leaves with spiced rice and lamb 

I think we briefly worried about what sort of monstrous bill we had just accrued, but as we gazed at dish after mouthwatering dish, we decided to just tuck in and enjoy the experience now that the chaos of ordering was over.

Cranky chef aside, no menu anywhere to be found...aside, no pricing...aside...was the food good?  YES! The food was delicious and it was one of the meals that we enjoyed the most on the trip.  Sometimes acting like a local is a difficult journey and that is o.k...awkward moments are part of the adventure of it all. Being regarded as if we are a nuisance...well, doesn't feel too good.

Now we know next time we can sail into Çiya, check out the daily special dishes, point, sit down and enjoy plates that taste like they were made in grandma's kitchen.

The stuffed grape leaves, or dolma, were mild and not too vinegary.  The soft sheep intestines filled with spiced rice were wonderful and reminded us of Cajun boudin sausage.

The kebab shaved lamb was succulent, juicy, and spiced just right.  One of my favorites were the spiced rice stuffed eggplant.  I saw dried eggplants hanging all over the markets and it was fun to see how they are prepared for a hot dish.

As we sat at the comfortable outdoor table along the sidewalk, we saw scooters zooming this way and that.  They had containers attached to their bikes and were delivering lunch all over this attractive quaint area of Karikoy.  

We loved it.  We loved the atmosphere, the food, the people-watching...everything.  **But, what we did not love, was the cranky chef who never cracked a smile and seemed completely annoyed we couldn't immediately figure out the logistics of their restaurant.

One of the side salads that I enjoyed the most is one called "Kisir".  This is a salad made with bulgur, parsley, tomatoes, tomato paste, red pepper paste, olive oil, spices, and pomegranate molasses.

The range of flavors in the this kisir were fresh, tangy, sweet, and herbal.  The texture was chewy and moist.  To me, this range of ingredients embody the elements of the Turkish palate.  All of the makings of kisir can be seen all over Istanbul and how wonderfully they blend together here in this refreshing side dish.

I mentally filed away this dish as a potential "must do" at home.  After a bit of query on the web, I found a recipe for the dish, kisir.  

I loved the generous use of parsley and dill.  Finding the pomegranate syrup led me on a curiosity trip around Houston until I happy returned home with a bottle of ruby red sweetness.

Ingredients for Turkish "Kisir" Salad with Mint, Dill, and Pomegranate Molasses

The cucumber gives a refreshing crunch to the salad and the green onions and tomatoes just add layers of depth that all work well together.

A drizzle of the pomegranate syrup brings the salad all together and kisses it with just a touch of sweetness.  This would be a wonderful salad here in the south to bring to picnics and family gatherings.  It is a cool and refreshing blend of flavors that works well with meats or burgers.

Turkish "Kisir" Salad with Pomegranate Molasses in Boston Lettuce Leaves

Pomegranates are everywhere in Istanbul during the month of May.  On the street, they squeeze it fresh and blend it with orange juice to cool one off from the city heat.

Many dishes in Istanbul arrive at the table with ruby red pomegranate seeds sprinkled all over the top like little jewels.

Even the sweet shop had perfectly formed pomegranate candies made from almond paste (marzipan).

Turkish "Kisir" Salad with Pomegranate Molasses in Boston Lettuce Leaves

So I made this "kisir" Turkish salad the other day to accompany a poached salmon dish for dinner (recipe for the salmon dish coming was delicious)

I tucked spoonfuls of the kisir into Boston lettuce leaves to make little boats.  I thought the presentation was pretty and we ended up wrapping the lettuce leaves and eating them like little burritos.

Little tastes of Istanbul around the table back at home bring back the wonderful memories of all of the new discoveries from this trip.  Their love of spices mixed with herbs, lots of peppers and chewy grains seem to tell the stories of their multi-layered centuries of inhabitants throughout the history of this region.  

Each ingredient can be traced back to the culture that once inhabited these sought after lands.  As we have often heard before, said about many parts of this world, "Countries have borders, but food knows no bounds".

This last segment, Istanbul: Kadikoy...a ferry ride away, finishes my memories, photos, and tastes of this faraway land visited by our family.  We don't know if we'll ever have the opportunity to return, but as we meet families here in Houston from the Middle East, we will have more affinity and understanding for their history and culture.  Isn't that one of the reasons we better understand and then celebrate the differences that make all of us unique cultures in this world?

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