Archive for February, 2013

  • a new tradition: carluccio’s in istanbul

    February 28th, 2013






    Although I’m a bit leery of most brands, there are, nonetheless, a few that I can’t help but favour. For instance, every time I’m in London, I seem to end up having lunch with my mother at least once at Carluccio’s. Why don’t we do something different? Probably because with family, you like to recreate history, and you have a few favourite spots to do so. And more than that, once you find something good, something you know you can count on, you can enjoy the other good things that come with a meal, such as the talk around the table — and in my family there are big sprawling conversations that require an equally robust meal. That’s why I was a bit reluctant at first to experience Carluccio’s in Istanbul which has been open a few months now. Would it be the same? I wondered. Well thanks to my new gig writing and shooting for Marie Claire Turkey I was lucky enough to sample Carluccio’s at Kanyon in Istanbul the other week — and I have to compliment the executive chef. Not only has he and his team faithfully recreated many of Carluccio’s favourites, they’ve brought some great new additions to the menu. It was so good, in fact, that I decided to take my mother the following week. And Mama’s verdict? “Better than London!”  A new Istanbul tradition? Seems so.



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  • şişhane sweetspot: the kamondo mansion

    February 27th, 2013




    If I were to plan an indulgent escape for adults, without leaving the city limits, I would stay in the slightly spooky, somewhat spare restoration of the Kamondo family’s 19th Century mansion. Home to the Adahan Hotel, Comedus, Baylo and Gram, there’s something particularly louche about this street corner, especially in the evening hours.

    18:00 – 18:15 …
    check into the Adahan Hotel.

    18:15 – 19:45  …
    for your discretion. adult only content.

    19:45 – 20:05 …
    compose yourself, make yourself respectable — at least briefly.

    20:15 – 20:30 …
    go down to Comedus and stock up your room with some essentials (for later).

    20:35 – 21:00 …
    take in the view at the Adahan restaurant upstairs with an aperitif

    21:00 – 23:00 …
    enjoy some more Mediterranean delights. restrict yourself to those on the menu, for a while, anyway.

    23:00 – 02:00 …
    indulge at Baylo, a New Yorkistan style bar that knows how to make a drink.

    02:00 – 02:05 …
    stumble back upstairs to your Adahan suite room

    02:05 – 04:00 …
    this is when your supplies from Comedus will come in handy. once again, adults only.

    04:00 – 10:30 …
    get a little bit of sleep. especially before the sun rises.

    10:30 – 11:30 …
    coffee and late breakfast at Gram.

    11:30 – … ?
    get some fresh air already! some sunlight! resume the healthy living. for a while.








  • dear istanbul/mistanbul

    February 26th, 2013







    An eerie feeling swept in the last couple of days. On the weekend the sun soaked the city and it felt that the vibrant colours were seeping back up through the cracks. Then, as if to challenge my optimism, a clinging mist hugs the seaside, giving the shore an emptiness over the last two days. It’s almost as if you’ve gone all modest and now want to veil your favours. There’s no doubt you’re one capricious mistress, Istanbul — splashy bright one day hanging out your windows like a painted harlot in a loose-fitting dress, then the next, shuttered up dark and snooty and joyless as the wife of a protestant priest. Boats bob on a chill grey sea that bleeds into an equally colourless sky. The gulls overhead seem reluctant to laugh. You want to be all mysterious, all moody? Go ahead, torment me. I know your tricks.

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  • street colour, street art

    February 24th, 2013









  • portrait of the kumbaracı artist: monika bulanda

    February 21st, 2013


    There’s nothing quite like a glimpse into the mind of a working artist, and today I was afforded one on the street that seems to draw all sorts of talent theses days — Kumbaracı. Though it’s a humbling experience to see someone with so much talent at work, it’s also incredibly satisfying as well as inspiring. And Ms Bulanda is certainly not short on talent. In addition to being an accomplished visual artist, she is also a professional drummer, vocalist and musician with over 15 years experience recording work. On top of that she speaks five languages — one of them being Mandarin. However, let’s talk about her visual work, which she turned to not out of a need to sell something, but as a source of creative expression. It was only a little while ago, in fact, that she started to give her visual work the full time attention it deserved,  Ms Bulanda builds incredible cityscapes out of various media — hologram paper, printouts, scans of old Ottoman script, you name it — and then fashions elaborate three-dimensional works from them. Some are skylines, others bird’s-eye views, but all are laboured over with dedication and feeling. The floor of the studio is carpeted with cut out paper scraps. The photos I’ve taken don’t really do justice to the play of light over her media, which demand god-given lenses in order to appreciate the breathtaking texture and painstakingly constructed detail. Only then will you feel the rhythm of the recording artist at work here, the changes in tone and colour. I look forward to seeing her full array of works, including video displays, on April 11 at ALAN Gallery, above Simdi Cafe on Asmalımescit Sokak in Beyoğlu.









  • old friends, new business: iznik works

    February 19th, 2013


    Whenever I’m in the Covered Bazaar there’s one place I choose to go to first — Dhoku. Not only do I find their modern take on the craft of kilim-making beautiful, I really like the family involved in creating and selling them. I can easily see a few hours disappear with no problem over a glass of tea. Today when I stopped by to see them, I saw that there was a new addition to the family. A brand new tile and ceramics store. One of the reasons I became friends with these guys is that I’ve always liked the way the Güreli family does business. They have a sense of humour and are plenty of fun and never pushy with sales. They’ve brought that same sensibility to life in their new venture, and are providing the full range of plates and tiles, from handcrafted and artisan to the more commercially made quartz-free porcelain. Essentially what this means is that you can find a range of styles and designs from something very affordable as a courtesy for your second cousin thrice removed to a hand-painted treasure that should stay in the family for generations. Their new store is tastefully chock-a-block with plates, tiles, vases and kaftans, and Mevlevi figures and is a throughly welcoming experience in both the manner in which the works are presented and in the approach of the gentlemen who work there. Hayirli olsun! I say.







    Kapalıçarşı, Takkeciler Sokak no: 41-43, Fatih, Istanbul
    +90 212 522 4242

  • Dilapidated doorways and detailing in decay

    February 18th, 2013


    How’s that for an alliterative title? I really wanted to call this piece: a diminutive demonstration of dilapidated doorways and decadent details in decay … but it wouldn’t fit in the headline space my template allots. Still, I probably managed to go purple enough with my prose style to describe the beauty of these passageways and halls which have lost none of their magic despite the neglect. Or has the neglect only enhanced it? The hallways and doors of Beyoglu, may go unnoticed in terms of restoration, but they still turn my head.









  • Granny Gillian’s Coriander Carrot Soup

    February 17th, 2013



    INGREDIENTS (for eight servings)

    1.8 kilos carrots /  4 red onions / 8 garlic cloves / thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled / 2 medium potatoes / 2 heaped tsps each of ground coriander and cumin / cayenne or chilli pepper to taste / sea salt and ground black pepper / 2 litres of chicken or vegetable stock / zest and juice from one large orange / olive oil


    Pre-heat oven to 180 C.  Peel and cut carrots into chunks.  Peel and cut one onion into similar sized chunks.  Toss lightly with olive oil.  Salt and pepper well.  Place in a single layer on baking sheet  and cook for 30-40 minutes until soft and slightly charred.

    Meanwhile, chop remaining onions, ginger and potatoes finely and fry gently in a large pot for 10-15 minutes then add minced garlic.  After  two minutes or so, add coriander, cumin and hot pepper to taste and cook, stirring constantly until the spices are well blended in.

    Add roasted carrot and onion to the pot as well as the two litres of stock then bring to a light boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or so.  Remove from heat then puree with a stick blender until smooth.  Add more stock or water for a thinner consistency if you like.

    Finally, add the orange juice and zest.  Garnish with chopped coriander and thin, fried red peppers, caramelized onions, etc. to taste



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  • Bittersweet Valentine

    February 14th, 2013







    If Istanbul was a person, she’d be a single woman. She’s looking for a bit more love but not always feeling it. Remember on Valentine’s Day, everything, not just everyone needs a little more love. Let’s hope we all find it. There’s beauty out there, it just needs some dusting off.

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  • Baked camembert

    February 11th, 2013


    Since returning from England I’ve been a little obsessed with one taste — baked camembert. I had it in a pub and it has infiltrated my consciousness. I’m even going to propose it as the flavour of the month to one of the magazines I’m working with … but because I like you, here’s a sneak preview. You don’t know you need it. But you do, you really do. You’re going to thank me. Or curse me. All depends on your level of addiction.



    1 wheel of camembert (at room temperature)

     1 clove of garlic / 1 tablespoon of white wine / several sprigs of rosemary / olive oil / 1 baguette


    1/ Pre-heat your oven to 200 Celsius.2/ Take your wheel of camembert. If it’s wrapped up in parchment paper, open up but leave inside. If it’s wrapped in plastic (like every other blasted soft cheese here in Turkey) remove it and put it in a little baking dish.

    3/ Slice one clove of garlic thinly, score the top of your camembert and insert the slices of garlic inside. Add sprigs of rosemary to the top.

    4/ Pour one tablespoon of white wine and let it infiltrate the garlic scores.

    5/ drizzle a little bit of olive oil on top.

    6/ Put the sucker in the oven and wait about 15 – 20 minutes essentially right up until it’s gone all gooey on the inside and crispy brown on the out. While you’re waiting … slice that baguette and toast or grill the slices. Or — if you want to play the whole healthy charade — toss the baguette and eat it with raw vegetable sticks.

    7/ Plunge your bread, vegetables or finger into that cheese until not even the slightest crispy remnant of it clings to the paper or pot.

    8/ Sigh with contentment.


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