Archive for October, 2013
This week the Marmaray Project opened. While I was away, I missed a chance to do a BBC radio interview and publish a photograph in the Globe and Mail. Must admit there’s a side of me which is inclined to curse. Another part of me, instead, looks back at the good people, good food and lengthy dose of extended summer I found in the Aegean region. Mercury is in retrograde.
As a parent, few things give me the same pleasure as to see my daughter delight in the company of animals. Anyone who follows this page already knows that animals make regular appearances on this blog as I somehow have greater hope for humanity when I see acts of kindness towards pets, strays or beasts of burden. Perhaps it’s that small recognition of just how much more they add to our lives, and how bereft some of us would feel without them.
Sorry I haven’t posted for a bit. It’s that time of year again, when one needs to get busy with paying projects to keep the fire alight through the long wet winter. Unfortunately, due to a lack of resources — not a lack of love or appreciation — I haven’t had the chance to post my favourite creative venture for a while. Here’s a glimpse of the forests in between Istanbul and Ankara on a short excursion we took to escape the city. The feel of autumn really strikes you here once you escape the confines of the city for valleys. The smell of coal smoke, once familiar in Istanbul is again thick in the air. Every time the wind picks up, the woods swirl with leaves. For someone who grew up in Eastern Canada the absence of some flashing red to stop you in your tracks before winter is noticeable. Funny the things you start to miss.
Last week I was invited to lunch by Duke, Istanbul as I have been producing the words and photography for Marie Claire Türkiye’s Deluxe Mekan section for several months now. I must admit I was a little unsure of what to suspect. Duke is in Trump Towers in Mecidiyeköy — a region of the city which does not rank high on my list of preferred destinations. As many people now know, we’ve had a few issues in Istanbul regarding urban space, retail spaces and which direction one of the world’s most historically significant cities is headed. Mecidiyeköy “functions” as a business, transport and shopping hub. To say it does so gracefully would be something of a stretch. So I wasn’t necessarily prepared to like what I saw. To reach Duke you must enter Trump Towers and pass through the usual security inspection. You’re immediately doused with the usual hubbub of mall noise. About 15 metres from security you take an elevator to a separate floor on which the massive new restaurant unfolds. This experience of separate spaces within larger malls reminds me somewhat of Tokyo and its high rises, where you might enter an office building in order to reach an upmarket hotel like the Conrad or Park Hyatt. However, once inside you’re in a different place altogether.
Duke is a co-venture between Borsa, Doğus and lastly, D&D London, the English capital’s largest restaurant management company. However, Duke Istanbul, despite an upmarket appearance and old school, professional-looking servers is actually designed to give the current players in the mid-market dining experience —The House Café, Kitchenette and Big Chefs a run for their money with their take on contemporary English cuisine and quality versus quantity. This is quite possibly Istanbul’s largest restaurant, with a huge kitchen and sprawling terrace where the planters are bursting with herbs and garnishes which are dressed into the food.
And the verdict on the food? High marks. As you can see in the photos, I focussed on the seafood side of the menu. The house-smoked salmon is excellent. The grilled octopus with lentil, fennel and potato salad, equally excellent. The fish (seabass) and chips, good, but not as strong as the appetizers. The desserts, in particular the sticky toffee pudding and home-made ice cream, I tried were exactly the kind of sweet you want at the end of an indulgent meal. If being sent to Mecidiyeköy means an opportunity to dine at Duke, I’ll be less reluctant.