• Places

    First minute of dark, last hour of light

    Last light from a scorched day draws away. First the chips in the marble, the cracks in the blistered paint fill with it—as if it spills like the contents of a stone pitcher poured sideways across the surfaces. Green goes opaque and blue bleeds to black. In Istanbul night rises,

  • Places

    Kanlıca Diary

    A waterside village. A fish restaurant. A drinkable tea. Boats. A waterside mansion with mannequin sentinels. Waves lap the shore. A famous yoğurtçu — why not? 

  • Food & Drink

    Şişhane lunch

    Every time I visit Şişhane there seems to be something new and worth checking out. Yesterday it was Gram, a swanky little bakery/eatery that’s been around for about two months, just opposite Da Vittorio, my favorite Italian restaurant in Istanbul. The design and the atmosphere of Gram make it a really appealing space — hats off to the architect and owners for creating such a reaxed yet intimate environment, with common tables, and the natural feel of wood, stone and brick. In particular, I liked the ceiling and lighting display featuring old scale weights as decoration.

  • Food & Drink

    The boat yard sandwich

    I’ve noticed lately that Turkish men are frighteningly adept with knives. Fortunately they seem to put their dexterity with razor sharp implements to good use. The man above is filleting bonito, a type of mackerel used for my favorite sandwich in the whole world — balik ekmek. In Istanbul, you can find these fish sandwiches in just about any seaside spot, especially by high traffic ferry ports. However, my favorite balik ekmek spot just happens to be close to home in the tersane (boat yard).

  • Places

    The Antique Market – Kapalıçarsı

    After a few years of living in a place, you tend to avoid the touristy areas. My one exception is the antique market in the  Kapalıçarsı (Covered Bazaar). This place never fails to entertain me. My wife and I like to pay regular visits to the bazaar simply to soak up the feel. It’s truly a city within a city. There’s an incredible mixture of stuff, from the kitsch and cheap, to the truly antique and interesting — from pocket watches, naval instruments, old film cameras, illuminated pages, and semi precious stones.

  • Places

    Discovered in a han

    In my dreams I ascend buildings, while the stairs behind me crumble into a gaping abyss. Up and up I go while the way back down becomes impossible. There’s something of that feeling every time I discover a new, or rather, an old han. These old trade buildings provide endless inspiration for me, and I get lost in them in more ways than one. There are the sounds, the clink of hammer on metal, a distant voice penetrating a cracked door, a laugh. Silhouettes at the end of corridors, engulfed in blinding light. The feel, the mustiness of age and neglect. A wary look from a passerby. The whir of retrofit air conditioners. Then there are the other discoveries.

  • Art / Design / Craft,  People

    Turkey’s hardest working actor?

    Yigit Ozsener is a busy man. I’ve been wanting to talk to him about his trade for some time, but his schedule is tight. The day before we meet, he’s up at 5am to get to a Sapanca location shoot which doesn’t allow him home before midnight, in order to shoot an 8-page scene in the blazing heat, and looks significantly darker than two days before when we talked about doing an interview. He’s down to the final two episodes of his latest series, the acclaimed 25-episode  Son (Final), before a much-needed hiatus. “I’ve worked non-stop for three years. No vacations,” he says smiling, and without the faintest whiff of complaint on the ferry to Kadiköy. The actor loves what he does, but didn’t always know he wanted to be a thespian. Originally from Izmir, on Turkey’s mellow Aegean coast, he did his undergrad in communications and electrical engineering and progressed…

  • Food & Drink,  Places

    The organic market & gözleme

    This morning we returned to the Saturday Şişli Organik Pazarı in Bomonti for the first time in a while, and I was pleased to see that it was bustling with life. Turkey is fortunate to have such a great climate for produce, and the colors of the fruit and vegetables here were like something from a Cézanne painting. Perhaps it’s been a long while since I was last here, but it seems to me that there are more producers than before. The atmosphere was great, lots of people, families, and friends we hadn’t seen in a while. There’s wasn’t only food, either, there was everything from cosmetics, to children’s toys and textiles, all 100% certified organic. There was even some homegrown talent providing live music, though I’m not sure whether or not you can certify that organic or not. But let’s be honest, we were there for the food, which I’m…

  • Food & Drink

    Carving out hearts

    On street corners all across Turkey there are men like the one pictured above, brandishing razor sharp filleting knives, mercilessly carving out hearts and plunking them in a sloshing bucket at their feet. And do the authorities intervene? Absolutely not—because the innocent victims deserve it. They’re far too tasty, and far too healthy to go on living. Yes, that’s right, it’s artichoke season again. The artichoke is, in fact, a perennial form of thistle native to the southern Mediterranean and has been cultivated since ancient Greek times and was called Kaktos. They are packed with antioxidants and are especially potent in enhancing liver and gall bladder function—although perhaps not so much when turned into the Italian liqueur Cynar, produced by the Campari group. There are also artichoke teas which contain many of the beneficial effects of the vegetable. Personally, I prefer to eat them as an olive oil dish with a…

  • Places


    There was a time when I’d only read of the scent of Jasmine. Now I’m familiar with its deep, candy sweetness. There was a time I didn’t know its white, five-bladed blossom. I knew it twined about fences and gates, and overhung stone walls, dousing the air with a scent favored by Persian poets. But I never knew about the thick coils of razor wire it concealed beneath. Istanbul, you’re a mistress of many secrets, aren’t you?