• Food & Drink

    the ultimate grain

    Perhaps I’m biased, being descended from Scottish stock, but I think the humble wee oat is a champion among grains. I wonder if Robbie Burns ever made an ode to an oat? He certainly did an Address To A Haggis, and would haggis be the same beast without oats? Oats seem to have a special affinity for fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves and thus make nice chewy cookies, or if you’re feeling like ramping up the fruit factor further, contribute magnificently to a spot of crumble. Perhaps even more intriguingly (for some of us, at least) they also wash down nicely when brewed into a fantastic kind of stout that finishes with an even more chocolatey silk finish than that possessed by a Guinness. God, I’d really love a pint now. I hope Brewmaster Hall at the Bosphorus Brewing Company is reading this. If you prefer to keep your oat…

  • Food & Drink

    new year, new breakfast

    The morning paper said that coffee helped ward off the most common form of liver cancer, and so he poured himself a fresh cup, confident in this latest research. One item on the breakfast menu, at least, was safe. No milk, no sugar, though. No, thank you. They said dairy was bad. They said sugar was more addictive to the system than heroin. It was a new year. He was going to eat only healthy choices from now on. Excise the bread from his meals. He ate three crunchy cucumbers. A mouthful of freshly washed, organic (he hoped) spinach. He could almost imagine all the toxins being chased from within. He felt relieved. He felt enlivened. He felt a little hungry still. Stone oven baked simit didn’t really count as bread, did it? And if it did, well he’d make sure none appeared on the table tomorrow. It had sesame seeds,…

  • Food & Drink

    winter feast

    Sometimes I find it hard to think of a more satisfying adventure than the sharing of food. The sight of the table ready, the expectation of guests, the stories that will be shared, the glances hovering over the cheese and charcuterie, the beginning, the rich wine and garlic aroma wafting from the oven, the clink of the glasses, and the slow, steady devastation of the table that follows are all as important as the food itself. May the New Year bring us many such a feast.

  • Food & Drink

    cochine

    Just wanted to share with you a sample of some photography I recently did for Cochine in Beyoglu. It’s a cozy spot halfway down Kumbaracı Yokuşu I first mentioned in a separate post last year that serves French-influenced Vietnamese cuisine and is run by a super great couple, Melis and Chris Maxwell (immediately above). This year there’s a new menu and some fantastic new talent in the kitchen, which is why they called me in to take some shots. I really love the place as it’s one of the few venues in town I will continue to hang around in after a great dinner. At most places, you might eat a good meal but won’t feel an inclination to linger once the plates have been cleared. That’s not the case here. With live music on many an evening and some quite nice cocktails being whipped up behind the bar, it’s…

  • Food & Drink

    chef sof and the gingerbread men

    At three-years-old there’s a certain someone who has begun to take the arrival of December very seriously. As parents, therefore, it seems we must as well. Yet since only one of us comes from a land that fully embraced Christmas — at least once upon a time — it has become incumbent upon him to creative direct the proceedings. Fortunately, the other parent is an enthusiastic convert to the festive season. Especially now that she’s seen just how magic certain traditions can become when you have a small but significant believer in your life. So this year, we are trying to make it more of an event than ever before. And after a certain someone arrived home disappointed to miss out on the cookery class the other day it seemed like a good idea to kick the season off with a new tradition, the tradition of baking Gingerbread men ……

  • Food & Drink

    super spices, heroic herbs

    Today I decided to celebrate some of my favourite über herbs and spices while setting up some lights in the studio. These guys not only pack a punch in terms of flavour but also add — if you believe their press — a host of health benefits. That’s why I decided to give sage, turmeric and ginger the spotlight for today. Call me crazy but I like to think of these guys as comic book heroes, surging through our bodies and making a meal of such malicious villains as free radicals, mutant cells, and toxic contaminants. Ka-pow!

  • Food & Drink

    duke istanbul

    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…

  • Food & Drink

    the poetry of pomegranates

    If I were a pomegranate, I think I’d find it difficult to be humble. I don’t know why they fascinate me so much, but there’s something more to these fruit than their rivals.  I’m still looking for a way to truly reveal their beauty. For now this will have to do. Here’s to the return of pomegranate season.  One of the truly great things about being in this part of the world.

  • Food & Drink,  Places

    five years fresh … den

    Years ago (almost five to be exact) I had a favourite morning hangout. I used to huddle over my laptop on cold winter mornings by the misted window, deeply embroiled in a novel I was working on at the time. After a while I finished the novel and moved to Yeniköy in anticipation of the beautiful daughter that came into our lives. At first Yenikoy was missing something, though I couldn’t quite say what. I established my mobile writer’s outpost at Caffé Nero which had all the mod-cons I needed. Personality, I guess you’d call it, was lacking. The staff were nice, but they came and went regularly. It wasn’t the same experience as saying hello to the owners at Den. In the last year, perhaps a little more, I started meeting my friend — and all around man of good taste — Maxime, for lunches at my haunt of old, Den.…

  • Food & Drink

    cup of joy

    Do you understand the difference between a flat white and a latté? Do you know what an aeropress is? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you owe it to yourself to find a narrow little pasaj in Bebek and visit Cup Of Joy. Despite a serious coffee addiction, I have to say I began to wonder about the value proposition of spending 8TL for someone to ruin an espresso drink. A local chain recently delivered me an americano with a taste that more closely resembled burnt popcorn than coffee. However, there’s no danger of that happening at Cup Of Joy, where coffee is taken rather seriously. They don’t believe in Americanos here and will more likely suggest an alternative, which might make you look at filter coffees in a whole new way. They also don’t scald the daily milk they use for the lattés and flat whites…