• Mind / Body

    the microcosm, the macrocosm: the rose

    Perhaps it’s an overused symbol. A cliché even … but the swirling pattern of the rose, its dualities, its softness, its sharpness, resonate with the patterns of life. It also serves to test the depth of field and clarity of manual focus with my 90mm tilt shift lens. Enjoy this transition from wet spring to dry summer here in Zürich. As above. So below. Wet and dry. Two extremes of the same thing. If you enjoyed this post please share it on your favourite platform with the orange social media buttons below. See you soon.

  • Food & Drink

    Istanbul’s Vietnamese Speakeasy

    In a recent post I described what I’d do with a leisurely day left to my own devices, and in it one of the places where I said I’d finish my day was Cochine. On Saturday night, however, I was able to put the place to the test with 15 friends for dinner and drinks. From now on, If I have my way, I will never veer from eating out  anywhere but owner-operated kitchens. It makes all the difference. Food preparation is a kind of alchemy. It’s not just the ingredients, or the measurements, it’s the spirit of the people putting it together that determines whether or not they create gold.  There’s a lot of gold at Cochine, located on Kumbaracı Yokuşu, thanks to the complementary talents of its owners Melis Onderoglu Maxwell (pictured immediately below) and Chris Maxwell. It would be all to easy to walk past Cochine’s discreetly…

  • Food & Drink

    Getting behind the bar

    It’s been busy, busy, busy  for me since my return to Istanbul. I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to devote to the blog. However, I’ve been having a lot of fun working to help the gang at the Bosphorus Brewing Co get things going with their website, writing, shooting and occasionally being used as a “beer test dummy!” — Phil the brewmaster’s words, not mine. Anyway, even though I haven’t had as much time to hit the streets, it’s been a pleasure to interact with everyone here because one thing this place doesn’t lack is personality. Whether it’s out on the floor, or in the kitchen this place is bursting with flavour. Here’s a taste of who and what I’ve been working with over the last week or so, as well as what you’re missing if you haven’t paid this place a visit yet. BTW: there’s some…

  • Food & Drink

    Alıç: the latest street eat

    Yesterday I discovered another distinct flavor this country has to offer that I didn’t know existed. This time it’s alıç, which after much searching—okay 5 minutes online—for a translation, seems to be the fruit of a species of hawthorn tree. The sometimes orange, sometimes yellow alıç certainly won’t win any beauty contests, but it has a sharp sour taste and is often made into a jam. It’s not a particularly juicy fruit and has more almost as much seed as it does flesh. Still, it’s worth a try. The gentlemen assured me that it’s hormone-free and straight from Malatya. According to The Healing Plants Bible by Helen Farmer-Knowles, the flowers and fresh or dried fruits of the hawthorn are “a cardiac sedative, blood-vessel dilator, and are blood-pressure-lowering.”  The little bag the man is filling only set me back 1TL, so I’m certainly no poorer for trying.

  • Books & Lit,  Food & Drink

    XOXO the Mag

    One of the reasons I’ve been posting somewhat less often these days is I’ve had some interesting work from the  print world. The latest is from the September issue of local Fashion-Music-Art-Design glossy bible XOXO the Mag. In this month’s issue I had the good fortune to work with Turkish wordsmith Lale Kayabey and her chef husband Selcuk Aruk on a food article about Turkey’s Greek community, food and the lifestyle of  Yeniköy living. After photographing the food — savory fish soup, cinnamon and rosemary mussels and rice, and güllaç (rose-flavored rice pudding) we all sat back and consumed it. And believe me, after staring at each dish for so long to find the right shot, you really work up an appetite. Directly above and below are a couple of examples of the food. I look forward to working with this talented team again, and hope to steal some more of their recipes.…

  • Food & Drink,  Mind / Body

    Summer Elixir

    For some of us, summer isn’t always the holiday we want. Or sometimes it’s too much of what we want—sun, drink, late nights. That’s why when I’m feeling like I’ve overdosed on any or all of these things, I resort to my favorite seasonal elixir, which helps me detoxify physically and mentally. The key ingredient here is fresh turmeric root, something which is not always easy to find in Istanbul. I’ve tried with the powder, but don’t seem to enjoy the same feeling afterwards. Fortunately, as I was watching cool little video the other day, shot by I noticed that the natural food and organic supplier in Besiktas, Kirkambar, had some on the counter.

  • 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…

  • Mind / Body,  Photography,  Places

    Seeing roses

    Everywhere I go lately I’m seeing roses — and I don’t mean this in the proverbial sense. In Yeniköy, Tarabya and all sorts of other places there seems to be an explosion of these flowers. Red ones firing off over fences.  Pink ones blasting through slatted rails. Yellow ones bursting through every imaginable crevice. It’s an assault of color like none I’ve ever seen before. Last year I didn’t notice nearly so many. What happened? Perhaps I simply wasn’t paying attention, or perhaps they were simply planning their attack.  I’m trying not to fight it. We can co-exist, right? Though to a lot of people they may seem like a cheesy symbol of romance and bad poetry, I have to say I’m beginning to respect them a little bit more, un-plucked and on the vine. Perhaps it’s all the reading I’ve done on alchemy and Rosicrucianism. Perhaps it’s what natural healer Jayda…

  • Photography

    The Alchemy of Pink

    Pink, there are times when you come off a little garish, or seem the feebler cousin of Red, lacking that vibrant color’s conviction. For some you can be a little hard to define, your hue being somewhere between Red and Magenta. But when you place yourself in partnership with Green, you truly know how to shine, perhaps even how to heal. You also know how to highlight magnificently the hours of dawn and dusk in between the contrast of slanting beams of light and long layers of shadow. You’re the color of love and the signal fire that says the equinox is here. Pink, you definitely have your moments. The spectrum of the universe would not be the same without you. Keep shining.

  • Places

    Japon Bahçesi

    One of these days I will be lucky enough to visit Japan during cherry blossom season. Until then, however, I’m lucky enough to have discovered this wonderful little gift from the city of Shimonoseki, Japan to Istanbul. Since 1972 the cities have been sister cities because of their similar landscapes and straits. This park was built about 10 years ago to commemorate the friendship in Baltalimani, not far from the Sakip Sabanci Hospital. The three weeks I spent in Japan a few years ago were nothing less than incredible. Since then, I have a radar for anything reminiscent of Japan. This is the perfect place to take a book or a loved one (or both) and a flask of green tea, and relax and spend a few hours. Don’t know what it’s like on weekends but it is very quiet weekdays. It’s especially nice if you’re a parent because the grass…