Turkish Food Experience in Istanbul

Kebabs, coffee, kunefe and baklava. I was ecstatic to hear that I would be going to a Turkish wedding, along with being able to tick-off my bucket list of Turkish food!
So what is Turkish food? Is it all that I expected…or more?
Day 1 – Kebabs and Pastries
We had our first Turkish taste at the hotel (breakfast) and everything was fresh, healthy and flavourful.  Turkish breakfast consisted of many items such as freshly cut tomatoes, cucumbers, cheeses, honey, plain yogurt, boiled eggs and bread. I have never considered eating raw vegetables for breakfast, but having cucumbers in the morning was very refreshing!  The yogurt was medium thick consistency and creamy; not bitter at all.  I loved adding a bit of the local honey to it (especially the crunchy part of it)- soooooo good. Boiled eggs – perfectly done; I ate a lot of these!
For lunch, we stopped at was Sultanahmet Koftecisi (because it had over 1300 reviews on Tripadvisor!).  Upon arriving that street, we saw 2 different restaurants with exactly the same name (2 buildings apart!) – very confusing indeed.  After checking our pics of the actual building on the phone, we confirmed we were going into the correct one!
Their menu was very simple…and so was the restaurant).  We ordered mixed kebabs, lentil soup and salad to share.  Yup, my first Turkish kebab 😃  It was tasty, but kinda lacking in salt.  Price? Pricey for Istanbul – but maybe that’s because it was located in a super touristy area.  Lentil soup tasted like Bangladeshi dall (but more bland).
Straight after that, we popped into Cigdem Pastanesi, a little cafe where they sold Turkish sweet/savoury pastries and tea/coffee.
Turkish tea was lightly fragrant (mine was with a hint of bergamot) served in a tiny glass cup.  Honestly, this seemed to taste like a regular cup of tea, so it didn’t fascinate me as much. However, I loved the fact that it was served in a tiny glass (too cute) and this made me wanna drink tea wherever I went; especially since it was so cold during our first few days in Istanbul!
Hubby ordered 2 types of baklava (as shown above). At the time, this bakery unfortunately ran out of chocolate baklava, so I decided to try the chocolate profiterole cake (after all, I love profiteroles!).  The cake was huge, but the chocolate wasn’t dark or strong. In fact, I could hardly taste the chocolate.  The cake reminded me a bit of Bangladeshi style choc cake: very light, fluffy and floury, less flavour in the cake itself, layered and covered with buttercream. To my dismay, the single profiterole (that was sitting on top of the cake) did not taste the same as those in France or the UK.  It was sweeter and heavier filled with buttercream rather than some light cream.  I thought to myself, “Okay, I shouldn’t expect a French food item to taste like real French food in Istanbul!”
Day 2 – Claypot Meat Dish, Turkish Coffee, Chocolate Kunefe, Chocolate Baklava, Intestine Sandwich
For lunch we decided to try a popular claypot dish at Kucukoglu BBQ.  We ordered mixed meat claypot dish, which took around 30 mins for them to prepare.  In the mean time, we were served with Turkish tea and some absolutely delicious flat bread (similar to pita), which was warm.  I couldn’t stop eating this with butter!
Claypot dish came.
Meat was very tender and saucy.  I personally felt that it lacked a bit of salt (either I got used to having more salt in Canada and the UK, or Turkish didn’t put enough salt in their food or probably every restaurant that I went to that didn’t put enough salt in their dishes :D)
After the main meal, they gave us Turkish tea and baklava (which was the best baklava ever – light, fresh, with a lot of pistachio nuts.
Within 10 mins of eating, we headed towards another popular place (dessert place) called Hafiz Mustafa.
Even though we were so stuffed from eating meat stew, bread and 2 baklava’s each, we still were brave to try more Turkish desserts…and uhhh… I was dying to try the coffee!
The menu was very extensive and I was delighted to see chocolate kunefe and chocolate baklava on the menu!
So i ordered them both along with Turkish coffee.  Hubby ordered regular baklava and cheese/walnut baklava (called Cevizli Kelebek).
 Taste wasn’t much different to the ones I had in Canada (Lebonese ones), but there was certainly more choice here! Hubby totally fell in love with the cheese and walnut ones. The chocolate kunefe tasted like a regular kunefe, but had a very little hint of chocolate taste.  In all honest case, it wasn’t a big difference than a regular kunefe, but still I loved that hint of chocolate and the idea of it!
As for the chocolate baklava: I could only eat a little bite of it.  This was too buttery and heavy, drenched with syrup.  I decided not to conclude on chocolate baklavas solely on this bakery – I would have to try it from somewhere else.
Turkish coffee – OMG, this had to be the highlight of my trip so far!  Served in a tiny cup (with a separate glass of water in case you choke on the coffee), it was thick, strong, roasty and dark flavour.  I could feel some of the granules at the bottom of the cup.  In fact, I couldn’t drink right to the end because the coffee granules sank to the bottom. It was so aromatic and really gave me a kick! In fact, I felt so happy for the rest of the day 😀
We then stopped at Cigdem Pastanesi again because I wanted to try their version of chocolate baklava, but unfortunately it ran out!
At the end of the day, we stopped for some street food for kokoretsi kokoreç (stores located across many areas of Istanbul).  Basically it consists of lamb intestines wrapped around seasoned offal, including hearts, lungs and kidneys typically grilled.  Yup, I don’t really eat organs :/ just meat…. but I ended up having it! Ahh…
It was weird…I prefer not to mention it, let alone think about it.  It is a popular dish so if you’re not afraid, just go ahead!
Day 3 – Turkish Breakfast, Clotted Cream, Salep, Ice-Cream
We headed towards a place, far far away… actually it was around 40 mins train/walk ride from where we were staying in Sultanahmet.  I heard about menemen – a Turkish style scrambled eggs, and you know….I love eggs!
At Cakmak Kahvalti, I ordered menemen with pastrami (beef that was dried, seasoned with herbs and spices, smoked and steamed) as well as a fried bagel.  The scrambled eggs were semi cooked – very wobbly, soft and light.  This was cooked with tomatoes, red peppers and oregano; and I loved the smoky chunks of meat in the dish.
The texture was similar to Shahi Paneer (an Indian wobbly dish).  I ate this with fried bagel, which in fact tasted like a bhatora (Indian fried bread)!  To elaborate, this bread didn’t taste or look like a bagel at all! It was a little thick bread made with yeast and fried, but not oily (as shown below). Hubby ordered a dish of poached eggs with roasted beef. I was enjoying my dish too much, so this was the first time that I didn’t eat half of his plate!
For finishing touch, I had clotted cream with honey.
The clotted cream had a more smooth, buttery texture than the British Cornish version and had fewer clots – it felt in between a cheese and a cream texture.  It was too rich to eat it by itself.  By having honey with it, this made the cream a little sticky and was the perfect creamy sweet ending.
This breakfast was the highlight of the trip, and so far the best meal.
We later headed towards Taskim square area and Istaklal avenue (pedestrian shopping street) and stopped by at Taksim Suitis for some Salep and a light snack!
Salep was a smooth, frothy drink made with whole milk that’s thickened with starch and sweetened with sugar and flavoured with cinnamon.  It was like pudding in a cup. Hubby absolutely loved it.
I tried fig rice pudding (since dried fruits are big in Istanbul).  I loved that little gritty fig texture (and the sweetness of figs) in the rice pudding.
Apparently, Mandabatmaz was THE place to have the best Turkish Coffee.  After finding the place in a  small alley just off the avenue, I was so gutted that it was shut due to construction!  So later, we ended up going to Mado (a big franchise of pastries/food and coffee around Istanbul).
I ordered Turkish coffee (of course) and hubby had pistachio ice cream.
 Pistachio ice cream was top of the notch – loved the fact that so many pistachios were in the ice cream (crunchy texture), but a very smooth light ice cream.
Day 4 – Doner Kebab, Fish Sandwich, Turkish Tiramisu and Seafood
So…since I couldn’t try the chocolate baklava from Cigdem Pastanesi yet, I decided to go there first thing in the morning at 10am. And guess what? They didn’t have any.
Just outside the Grand Bazaar was a popular donair place called Donerci Sahin Usta.
This Turkish doner was certainly something that I’ve not experienced elsewhere.  The meat was a little smoky, grilled until the outside was a bit crunchy (with a soft and very meaty texture in the middle).  This was served with salad, onions and dried red chilli inside a warm freshly baked thin bread.
We headed towards the Galata bridge where there were around hundreds of fishermen 😃
It was fascinating seeing a line of fishermen and how many fishes they were catching!
This area was known of selling fresh mackerel fish in a bun (called Balik Ekmek)!  We headed towards the food area, but they only took cash.  After getting some cash at a nearby ATM machine, we realised that there was actually a line full of fish sandwich places – all offering the same thing! We just headed towards the first boat!
The mackerel was very fresh and tasty (lacking salt again), drizzled with lemon juice sandwiched in a  very thick bun.  Overall, I found the sandwich dry – I’d prefer it with some garlic mayo or something 😀 or hot sauce?
I couldn’t continue my day without a cuppa Turkish Coffee, so I stopped at Coffeetopia.  I ordered a cup of coffee and a pot of tiramisu! After all, their tiramisu was alcohol-free! (and I really miss the tiramisu that I had in Italy)… but uhhh… I should’ve listened to my earlier decision – “Don’t expect a French food item to taste like real French food in Istanbul!”, which also applied to Italian food.  Tiramisu wasn’t bad actually, but it tasted in between an egg pudding and rice pudding! The coffee taste? – I could hardly feel it (especially after drinking Turkish coffee every day).
For dinner, we went to Sultanahmet Fish House.  Hubby (not a fan of fish) told me that he would just watch me eat.  I ordered anchovies for starters which were grilled and served with salad – absolutely delicious as these tiny fishes were crunchy and so fresh.  Hubby actually couldn’t resist himself eating them too!
For main, I ordered my favourite fish (seabass), grilled.  This wasn’t anything special, but I had to have it since I don’t get it in Canada!
Hubby ordered a baked calamari dish.  It was basically a whole chunk of calamari (not breaded), baked with tomato, spices and saffron.  This was devine and he loved it too!
For desserts, I wanted to try something different so I ordered a sesame halwa! It was basically, sesame seeds, baked in a small cast iron dish.  Had a slight gritty texture cuz of the seeds and was perfectly sweetened.  Served with ice cream.  It was something very unusual, but satisfying.
Day 5 – Pide (Turkish pizza)
Last day and I really wanted to experience that Turkish breakfast of menemen again, but we couldn’t find a place near our hotel in Sultanahmet that served it :/
For lunch, we decided to head towards Hoca Pasa Pidecisi for Turkish pizza (pide)! Yum!
Their menu consisted of a large range of pide!  I chose the “special pide”, which consisted of different meats such as sausages and beef kebab, cheese and egg.  This was probably the second best item of the trip! The base of the pizza was so soft and a little eggy (more like brioche but not as sweet).  The whole pizza was just mindblowing,  Just take a look at the following pic and dream about it…
Other Items:
Turkish Delights were given with almost every cup of tea/ coffee that I had.  I never liked Turkish delights until I had them in Turkey!  At first, it felt weird having them (jelly sweet, but not that sweet; usually with pisatchios in it), but it grew on me over the week of the trip!
Simit – a street food and very convenient bread to grab wherever you are.  It’s similar to a sesame bagel, but bigger and thinner.
Fresh juice – There were juice stalls throughout the streets of Istanbul.  I had pomegranate juice numerous times – so sweet and delicious!
Spices – I picked up some Ottoman meat spice and salad spice from the Spice Bazaar! Haven’t tried them yet, so no comments yet.
Dondurma Turkish ice cream – Have you ever watched YouTube videos of Istanbul’s sticky ice cream?  Well, I ended up taking a video myself!
This ice cream is made with cream, salep, gum and sugar.  It tasted very weird –  very creamy, sticky and not sweet.
Oh and our hotel?
Osmanhan Hotel – It was near the Blue Mosque, transport to and from the airport were included, budget friendly, breakfast included, warm hosts and the most comfortable (firm) bed ever.  For the price, I couldn’t ask for any better.

My First Ever Visit to  Waitrose Supermarket 

I couldn’t help but write a post about Waitrose; especially since this was the first time I ever went!
Friends and colleagues, back in the days, used to tell me about this “fancy” grocery chain. However, throughout my 20+years of living in the UK, I never actually came across one. If I had to go to one, I’d have to actually make the trip!
As a bigger foodie than before, I decided to go to Waitrose in Westfield, Stratford, London as I was visiting there.

I spent a couple of hours looking at products that I’ve never seen in other grocery chains!
Some things that caught my attention and that I tried:

*Waitrose Greek Yogurt – this was actually made in Greece! So I needed to try the real thing. And I gotta say, it was the best Greek yogurt I’ve ever have (in the UK and North America). Although, a Greek friend long ago, did mention that Greek yogurt from Greece is nothing like what we have in our supermarkets. This one though felt like a dessert: so creamy, naturally sweet, thick..I couldn’t stop moaning to tell you the truth.

* Cartel Sticky Toffee Pudding – Most puddings that I’ve tried were very light, floury and soaked with the syrup. This one was heavy, sticky (had more dates) and very rich. Just few spoonfuls satisfied my craving! I had my pudding with a spoon of clotted cream.

* Rhokett Belgian chocolate cheesecake – this was probably one of the best cheesecakes I’ve had in my life. It was thick but light enough to eat after a heavy meal. There were solid chunks of milk chocolate (slightly crunch and soooo good) and a thin layer of biscuit base

* Green & Black ice cream
– If you’ve heard of Green & Black organic chocolate, Waitrose actually sells their range of ice cream!! I tried the dark chocolate flavour; which was bittersweet, very rich and thick. Although it didn’t feel that milky/creamy; it was more rich in dark chocolate. One little pot of this would got my chocolate and ice cream cravings away!

* Chocolate Torsade
– this had to be the best pastry ever. This is similar to a croissant, but it was a twist of a buttery pastry base with a vanilla paste and semi-sweet chocolate chips. This one in particular was buttery, so moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside. The choc was bittersweet and extremely rich (compared to M&S which uses a “milkier” chocolate). This was so good that I immediately had to buy another one straight after eating one!

* Yeo Valley Ice cream-
this range was also exclusively sold by Waitrose! I love their yogurt, so I supposed this ice cream would be good! I didn’t get the chance this time; but surely next time I will!

I’d love to try more items next time I make a trip to England and specifically to Waitrose
For anyone who wants a decent dessert, I’m sure you would find something delicious here; better than most other restaurants!

Duck and Waffle, London

This restaurant that’s located in a high story building just off Liverpool street station is not only known for its all day duck and waffle dish, but for its amazing views of London! 

Duck and waffles anyone?

I’ve tried chicken and waffles before (elsewhere)and quite liked the combination! So I thought why not duck and waffles? After all I love each item.. however, I just didn’t know how the maple syrup (that was served with it) would work with those items? I wondered whether this dish was considered a savory item or sweet?


Most of the seats were located near the window; especially where there were table for 2’s and table for 4’s. Therefore, you get a good view of London.  I think that if you’d go in a larger group, you would have to sit in the middle of the restaurant; therefore not having the fantastic views of London.


The menu was basic and reasonably priced. I just went ahead with the most rated dish “duck and waffles”, which was served within 20 mins of ordering!

Duck and waffle – yey or no?

I gotta say that it was the most amazing waffle (non-liège) that I’ve ever had. It was soft (light but moist cake like texture on the inside) and a slight crisp on the outside (well-cooked I must say).

The duck was cooked similar to a porteguese chicken method. Cooked slowly until the meat was superbly tender. The maple syrup was just pure.

Let me tell you how I enjoyed this dish.  I first had the duck with half of the waffle (as a savory item to start with).  Then as a sweet ending, I had the remaining half of the waffle with some maple syrup. Personally I didn’t like the syrup over the duck as I wanted to taste the duck more.

And the views?

Wow, I couldn’t expect anything more!

Would I come here again?

Definitely, yes!!! I’d do it all over again! After all, it’s around £15 for the best waffle dish and an amazing view (as well as the service).

Dishoom, Kings Cross, London

Dishoom is a Bombay upscale cafe with vintage decor. They’ve a few locations in London, but the one I went to was the Kings Cross location.

My first visit was for dinner on a weekday! Well, I happened to get there at 6:30pm, but there was almost a 2 hour waiting time! My friend (whom I was meeting) brought a big bag of snacks to eat while waiting in the queue. However, the employee at Dishoom eventually recognized that my friend was pregnant and was very kind to let fit 3 of us in after 15 mins of waiting!

So people, if you’re going to Dishoom for dinner, bring snacks and be prepared to wait in line (unless one of you are pregnant; then maybe there’s a chance)! No, they don’t take any bookings for dinner.


We ordered:

  • Okra fries – very unique, lightly spiced and crispy okra!
  • Black dall – so creamy and filling; this is definitely a must! The ultimate comfort food.
  • Chicken tikka – succulent tandoori chicken breast peices
  • Nihari – roasted lamb dish with the option to add lamb brain. This was a big portion but really comforting. This one dish would be enough to fill you up
  • Keema Pau – minced lamb curry with home made bun
  • Chocolate chai – now this had to be the best tea ever!! There was melted dark choc mixed with their regular chai, topped up with frothy milk. Wasn’t too sweet for me, which was a bonus! And didn’t have that powdered or condensed milk smell (I suppose they just used fresh milk). I knew after this that I had to come back again! And I did! With breakfast!


I first ordered a regular chai (cuz I wanted the choc chai for dinner)..this chai was a bit peppery with cardamon taste.

For food, I ordered the Kejriwal (fried eggs on chilli cheese toast). This was a toasted slice of fresh bread topped up with a mixture of cheese, chilli (not spicy), coriander leaves. Broiled well. Then topped up with fried eggs. This was broiled again with some grated cheese on top! It was delicioooous!

Hubby ordered Keema Per Eedu (chicken keema with chicken liver) topped up with runny eggs and crispy thin fries. The keema was a bit spicy, but I personally didn’t find it different compared to standard Indian restaurants. The livers were cut into huge chunks rather than small pieces but it still absorbed the Indian spices.

We also ordered a nan roll (one of Dishoom’s popular breakfast items), but we ordered the egg version (fried eggs in nan).

Overall, Dishoom had a lovely ambiance with a relaxed atmosphere; service was excellent despite how busy they were; food was reasonably priced and quite unique from any other restaurants.  

This is really a great place to catch up with friends or anyone because they don’t kick you out!! Yes….friend and I were talking for about 4-5 hours (even after finishing our food) and yet we didn’t get kicked out! 😄

I’d definitely come here again; especially for the chai!

Sweat Treats of Italy


Gelato in Italy is not the same term as gelato in other parts of the world. In Italy, gelato actually means ice-cream.  In other parts of the country, we refer to gelato as ice cream but this is made with a higher proportion of milk (lower proportion of cream and eggs than “ice cream”).  My hubby generally does not like gelato at all, but in Italy, he loved it.  I especially loved the ricotta cheese, figs and walnut gelato from Marco Ottaviano in Florence.  Florence had the best gelato places.  In fact, I went to about 7 gelato places in the whole of Italy and I gotta say that Marco Ottaviano was the best!

The other highlight of my trip was the coffee (too bad I only had it once).  This was from Tazza D’Oro in Rome.  For around 1-2 euros, the coffee was top notch.  In Italy, usually there are usually no seating in coffee/pizza places.  We basically stand around a bar to drink coffee.  Caffe Shakerato on the other hand, was a cold type of coffee. This was freshly made with espresso, a bit of sugar, and lots of ice was shaken vigorously until a froth formed when poured.  It was refreshing given how hot it was outside (45 d.c)!


I found them extremely sweet (sweeter than French pastries in general). Most items were crunchy such as cannoli or even light in the form of choux. However, I fell for the Pane al Cioccolato (chocolate chip bread).

Cheap Eats in Italy

Cheap eats

We ate something “light” and cheap during the day as we toured the cities and enjoyed fine dining during the evenings.  For around 5-9 euros each, the food was high quality/fresh. My hubby and I enjoyed our days sitting by the canal in Venice and enjoying these fresh food…