• Places

    a quick taste of tuscany

    Okay, admittedly, I tend to fall in love with new places pretty easily. However my new grand passion might just be with the landscape and life of Tuscany around Siena. What an eyeful of splendour! Two brief days left me wanting far more. Once upon a time I thought people were exaggerating about Tuscany just a little. From the moment we were welcomed by a committee of wild boar, however, a mother, father and a prodigious brood of 30 surrounding our car at the midnight hour as we approached Pieve A Salti, this became a weekend to remember. Even an excessively long car trip south couldn’t diminish the delightful nature of this place. Normally we’d have taken the train but it was fully booked both ways. Still we were upgraded to a pretty swish ride so our auotstrada slowdowns and unavoidable delays were more tolerable. However, the train route would…

  • Places

    back to glasgow’s west end

    Thanks to a recent work opportunity, last weekend I was fortunate enough to enjoy a couple of sun-soaked days in Glasgow. This is a city of great art, distinctive red and beige sandstone architecture and fantastically friendly people who compensate for the relative lack of sun by kindling warm conversation whenever and wherever possible. The West End, where I have family, is a particular favourite space for me. Now the Sun and Glasgow may not always be on the best of terms but this is a city that has plenty of charm whether or not the sun appears. When it does, however, the streets of the West End come alive with spirited people. So what to do? Follow me … First stop: Coffee. A must to start my day. Kothel on the Crow Road affords a welcome like very few other places. Ed Avdiasi and his cousin Ben are some dapper…

  • Food & Drink

    cold day, warm welcome: inä cafe

    There are days when the land seems drained of warmth, the sky of colour and any plans to find a bright spot of inspiration go completely amiss. Stumbling around Saturday was just one of those days. Perhaps I am imagining things but even the local creatures seemed to look at me askance as if to say: WTF, man, sensible people are elsewhere. We’d be indoors, given the option. Swans are usually a bit surly. However, the horse above really seemed to want to have words with me. Then I tripped across İNÄ a spot to wrap my chilled fingers around a cup coffee. Part concept store and part cafe there is a relaxed air of fun here. Then, this will no doubt surprise those of you who know me, I decided to see what craft beer was on offer. Big thanks to the über friendly folk at cafe İNÄ who also introduced me…

  • Food & Drink,  Photography,  Places

    hydra … our summer’s first and last port of call

    As stated before, I love islands. At their best they are little capsules of bliss. On an island you accept the fact that there is a disconnection from all that mainland hustle and bustle. You’re cut off. Which is a pleasure …  and while I am happy that there are more far islands left in this grand world to discover, my current favourite is Hydra. I am not alone. Far more distinguished company have resided or worked here – Leonard Cohen, Jurgen Teller, Sofia Loren among others. We had a celebrity sighting with a Game Of Thrones star. I’ve been twice and predict a return at the next earliest date. Although the amphitheatre arrangement style of the architecture of the port may be overshadowed by Santorini’s iconic and relentlessly photographed scene, Hydra doesn’t lack for charm. Strict codes preserve it from crass developments and ugly architecture. This is, for my…

  • 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

    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,  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…

  • Food & Drink,  Places

    the farm store: 83

    Farmer’s markets are something special, something not to be missed if you love food. But somewhere between Hirshtals and Hjørring in a place called Tornby in Jutland, there’s a long gravel lane crowded by soaring pines which leads to a store which looks fit to supply Valhalla. Fresh doesn’t do this farmer’s market justice — food is plucked from the ground or the vine about 100 metres from where it’s sold. It’s also displayed in an eye-catching, uncluttered way, on broad tables in colourful clusters, dirt still spilling off the root vegetables, while in among the produce are imported and local delicacies, such as French lemonades, gourmet English potato chips and local craft-brewed bottles of beer. Meanwhile, lightly humming coolers are stocked with everyday staples such as milk, butter and cheese. Here they grow potatoes worthy of a potato sandwich — and a sandwich is serious business to a Dane.…