Today I finally get to share something with you that I’ve wanted to share for a while. One of the reasons my posting has been so spotty of late is that I have been busy working on an interesting new project for BABAJI PIDE, a new venture by famed London restaurateur, Alan Yau, which places pide centre stage while celebrating the many pleasures of Turkish cuisine.
Working with Simon Johnson from THAT Magazine, we’ve been creating content for the new website, which just launched and you can view here. I’m pleased to say that I’ve done all the original photography for the site so far as well as a bit of writing too.
A high point in the work so far was getting to shoot with Ayse Dilek from FOOD PROJECT, who shared this recipe which you can make at home. So as a bonus today, I’m including the extremely delicious pide recipe she shared to make at home and tide you over until you can drop in on BABAJI PIDE on Shaftesbury Road in Soho. Here it is:
MOZZARELLA, COTTAGE CHEESE, SEMI-HOT PEPPER PIDE
INGREDIENTS (Makes 5 pides)
500 grams flour
12.5 grams olive oil
10gr granulated sugar
12.5 gr salt
1 grams fresh yeast
625 grams mozzarella / Turkish string cheese (if available)
375 grams cottage cheese / Turkish Çökelek (if available)
25 small pickled semi-hot peppers
Add fresh yeast to warm water (slightly warmer than lukewarm) and wait until it dissolves, set aside.
Combine flour, olive oil, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Make a trough in the centre and add the yeast mixture. Using your hands knead the dough together until it is smooth and consistent. Cover with a damp tea towel and allow to rise for minimum 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 180C.
Divide the dough into five equal pieces. Using a thin rolling pin, shape each portion into an oval.
Place ovals onto an oven tray. Distribute the toppings equally among the ovals.
Drizzle with olive oil and bake for approximately 10 min or until the pide dough is golden and crisp at the edges.
Serve with some fat dollops of Balkan style yoghurt and roughly chopped fresh mint & parsley … afiyet olsun! And drop me a line if you try the recipe at home, please. I’d love to know what you think.
In Istanbul between Wednesday and Sunday this week? Give yourself a little gift. Take a wander through THE MOVING MUSEUM which has turned a multi-storey carpark in Şişhane into an exhibition space. Open from 12-6pm it’s definitely worth the small entrance fee. I hope to see more novel uses of public space like this in the near future. This city needs the inspiration. And it’s a couple of short steps from the metro line. So, no excuses. Make a date before it’s too late.
I have a confession to make. Wait … I have two confessions to make. One, I have neglected the blog a bit lately and for that I am genuinely sorry, so I hope today’s post helps rectify my shabby behaviour. Two, I have an addiction.
My addiction led to wanton coffee consumption all across Istanbul. Worse, not all of that coffee was virtuous. To be honest, much of it was downright awful. You see, I did not know the origin of my espressos and lattes. And, yes, I am ashamed. Fortunately, a little over two years ago, I met a coffee snob who helped reform me. I am a new man, thanks to Çagatay Gülabioğlu. In coffee, once more, I trust.
Thanks to Çagatay’s high standards, he drew the attention of Mr Mehmet Gürs, top chef and the founder of Istanbul Food and Beverage Group, who has since become involved as a patron of coffee excellence. My own personal stake in this story is that I have had the pleasure of doing a couple of photo shoots with the new Kronotrop gang, both at their Cihangir shop location and their roastery, and truly enjoyed myself witnessing the processes involved to brew a worthy cup.
Perhaps to some coffee seems like a rather mundane affair, but in all seriousness, I really like to explore the processes and the degree of attention which the people who work together to bring me — and, I hope, you too — a much better cup of coffee. Think of all the different people a single cup of coffee connects. It’s the attention to detail and the eagerness to share a better experience which I can relate to and inspires me in my work.
Above and below are some of the keepers and outtakes from the shoots.
These days a private garden, shielded from the clamour and chaos of the city is an increasingly appealing idea. For those of us who can’t yet bring ourselves to abandon the manic pattern of our urban days, we can at least find a corner or two in which to plant a seed or two of happiness. With this in mind, Murat Patavi has brought us Epicure, named after Epicurus, the famous live-for-the-moment philosopher, who taught his students in his private garden groves outside Athens.
Located in the neighbourhood of Armutlu, opposite Mr Patavi’s Sushimoto restaurant, the store stocks everything you might need to create your urban oasis, with lots of low maintenance succulents, planter pots, clippers, soil and spades and plenty of decorative details and all sorts of other accessories, which can help you celebrate today and create an escape for tomorrow.
bilgi sok.no:23/b armutlu etiler, İstanbul, 34450, Türkiye
+90 (212) 323-13-53
Open a newspaper or turn on the television and you’ll probably get a pretty troubling picture of things in Turkey these days. Sometimes it’s enough to make an outsider want to switch off entirely. Fortunately, peppered in amongst the drama, life still presents many moments of genuine hope here on a daily basis. One such was a couple of weekends ago in Yeniköy. Over the last couple of years I’ve been truly fortunate to attend and enjoy the welcome of the local Rum (Byzantine Greek) community at various events and ceremonies. It’s something that grounds you. And witnessing the baptism of one small but treasured member of their community was a highpoint in my nine years in Turkey, moreover since it was something my family was welcomed in to share.
Until a couple of Sundays ago, I had never been fortunate enough to attend such a ceremony. It was truly interesting to watch. Religion gets a lot of bad press these days, but when you are part of such an event, it’s much easier to understand the contribution that belief and spirituality makes for a community. Especially in such a small and tightly knit community. Read More…
Don’t know about you, but I like a good party. However the party of parties is a wedding, so I have to say I like a good wedding even more. Today I thought I’d reminisce about my favourite assignment of 2013: Cansu & Baskin’s Wedding. Like all the best jobs it was an opportunity to collaborate with some great talent, including a true friend and a great visual storyteller, Ahmet Polat — I certainly wouldn’t have been comfortable attempting to tell this grand a story without him. Over 400 guests! So let it be known that his shots feature prominently in this collection. Now that you know who I documented the event with, let’s introduce you to our two leads in this grand love story, the bride, Cansu, and the groom, Baskin.
Nice couple, no? If only every assignment found me working with such a fun pair. Not surprisingly, their family and friends were a class act and a spirited group of individuals too. When shooting a wedding, I like to include lots of the back story. It’s not simply about the poses, the set ups and I do moments. It’s as much about all the work and all the dear friends that brought two such worthy people together. That’s why it’s really important to document these moments in the lead up since they fly by so swiftly on the day itself. Read More…
In Istanbul it’s increasingly difficult to remember that our world isn’t comprised entirely of concrete and glass. Luckily this city has a few surprises left in store. One of which is only a few hundred meters from Haci Osman Metro station. Rough and unkept, unlike Emirgan Park or Belgrad Forest, is a large, and largely unused, pine wood. Although it’s open to the public, it’s not open to cars — although, unfortunately, it did seem to be open to the odd motorcycle.
A few hundred meters from the entrance, you begin to lose sight of anything but the stands of pine. A blue sky looms overhead, and sunlight filters through the branches. Soon the city disappears, and aside from the wail of the occasional siren, you hear little more than the wind through the trees. Stray a little from the beaten paths and you’ll soon feel the soft springy carpet of pine needles underfoot. It’s then that you can occupy yourself with the important things in life — such as locating the perfect pine cone.
If you haven’t ventured out to see Anish Kapoor’s exhibition at Sabancı Museum in Emirgan you’re really missing something. I think the only somewhat negative comment I have about this exhibition is that it might have made even more impact if there had been fewer works included. This might be a case where more really is less. There’s really something quite ‘epic” about the scale of many of Mr Kapoor’s works and it sometimes felt they deserved a bit more room to breathe and be navigated.
I’ve visited twice now and even though I didn’t have my junior art critic with me — who, incidentally, got a lot out of the experience for a three-year-old — I passed over some of the pieces much more quickly because I want to spend a bit more time with some of the ones I was most taken with the first time. I’ve only shared a couple because pictures don’t do the tactile, sensual feeling of these sculptures and their media the justice they deserve. So go feel it for yourself.
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.