With only 6 hours in Istanbul, we knew immediately how we wanted to spend it...eating.
We inpatiently waited to get our visas and passport stamps, exchanged our money, met a friend and caught a cab leading us away from Ataturk Airport and into my first experiences in a place that would be nothing short of foreign to me...
Everyone drives fast.
Today the cabby couldn't drive fast enough...we were starving. Hungry for more than something edible but something unforgettable. We met up with another friend and he led us to an Istanbulian gem...Durumcu Baba. Upon walking into the restaurant, we were greeted by a man who seated us quickly. Everything in Istanbul was so fast; it was like New York, well maybe after New York did a rail while sipping on a cup of Turkish coffee. The inside of the restaurant was beautiful. Hardwood floor, wooden table; in fact I think the entire infrastructure was wooden. I felt like I was in a German eatery but it smelled of spices: mint, thyme and cumin. Framed photographs covered the walls much like popular American restuarants did when celebrities came to dine there...I think Hooter's does the same?
Our Turkish friend recommended things to us and ordered for us as well. We started out with an appetizer similiar to nothing like I've ever had in the States...Merciemk kofte. This was five or six spicy balls or patties of lentil, onion and other spices we squeezed lemon on and wrapped in lettuce leaves. These wraps were nothing short of amazing!
Next we had some kind of soup and I can't remember what it is called...and so because of this soup I must get a notebook. We also squeezed lemon onto the soup and ate it with pide, a kind of bread. Finally our main dish came, I say finally but the truth is it was actually very prompt. I had the Iskander which is lamb and cow mixed and slow roasted on a metal rod then shaved pieces of it sit a top bread cubes in a tomato based sauce. This is served with spicy green peppers. My tongue danced with each bite and I know it was wondering why I had never tried Turkish food before. I have tasted things from all over the world without leaving my country and perhaps was to my detriment. I have been missing out. I thought I was cultured but in fact was not...it was not until this moment at dinner in Istanbul after a 10 hr long flight that I realized this. All the food I have tasted before did not exist.
We concluded our meal with Cay, or turkish tea, but bears a close resemblance to English Breakfast. As a teaophile, I know I will be at peace in this foreign place.
We paid for our meal, and when I say WE paid I mean we fought over the check until our Turkish friend won. Left the restaurant and caught a cab to our next culinary adventure...Mado