• Food & Drink

    Behind the scenes at:

    Yesterday I had a fantastic opportunity to go into the kitchen and bakery at Auf and see magic being made. Talk about talent. Talk about love. The heat in this kitchen wasn’t only radiating from the ovens, it was glowing from a passionate love affair with food. The people I met on Esra and Zeynep’s team were so alive, and so full of ardour for what they were doing — a philosophy graduate who would rather bake, a former English teacher who’d prefer to create — all working really long hours and pulling it off with incredible smiles. Every day the women (and man) in the kitchen create a new menu, based on seasonally available produce and ingredients which might change anywhere up to 15 minutes before the lunch crowd storms in. Yet this is not a tense environment, and I don’t think simply because there was a yabanci in…

  • Art / Design / Craft

    Nihat Usta

    At 79A Kumbaracı Yokuşu, the street that falls from Istiklal Caddesi to Tophane, exists a portal into a another world. This is the dükkan of master craftsman, Nihat Usta. Every day Nihat Usta boards the early morning motorboat to make his way from Anadolu Kavağı to his Pera workshop where he restores the most incredible furniture from another era. From his shop emanates a glow. Is it the materials like mother of pearl and wood that he works with? Or the aura of a man who can create something that much of us only dream of? In any case, there’s something vital as well as timeless (at least, I hope so) about this place. Let’s hope that businesses like Nihat’s thrive for years to come. They are something that keep the spirit of places like Beyoğlu from becoming artificial or feeling gentrified. Thanks for keeping it real, Nihat Usta.

  • People

    Zeynep & Emre

    Sometimes I like to trace the trajectory of my life, wondering if (and when, if so) I would have met all the people who are now in my life, if you took out a few key lines. There are two people I should definitely mention on this blog as it’s dedicated to my daughter. The first year I spent in Turkey was a turbulent time, full of highs and many lows. However, despite all the personal setbacks two people (pictured above) made all the difference by welcoming me into their home, both literally and metaphorically. On Friday night it was Zeynep’s birthday. I first met your mother on Zeynep’s Birthday seven years ago. We didn’t start dating until about five months later, but that night changed everything. Whether life is random or determinined is something that’s hard to decide. Whether your life is better for knowing such people, is not.…

  • Places

    Lit up

    Colours saturate. Dull broken pavements suddenly glisten, slicked with rain. Vapours rise. Damp tobacco burns without the tiniest crackle. Exposed bulbs buzz, haloing in the rain. And all the while people migrate from one island of artificial light to another in the sudden fall of Karaköy night.

  • People

    Istanbullu IV

    Good, bad, lovely, mad … it takes attitude to last in this city. All these people (in one case I use the term loosely) provided plenty of personality and made the last week more interesting. Thanks for keeping it—mostly—real, everyone.

  • 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…

  • Art / Design / Craft

    Contemporary Istanbul

    If you happen to be in Istanbul today, and are wondering what to do, drop by Contemporary Istanbul. Even if the venue is not quite right for the subject matter the selection of talent and work is something special. It’s especially encouraging to see contemporary Turkish art take its place right next to international artists without any dissonance. I’ve been a little distracted (in a good way) the last couple of years, so I haven’t had much chance to monitor what was going on art-wise locally to the extent I’d like to so it was particularly nice to bump into friends and artists like Emel Kurhan and Ahmet Polat, both of whom are enjoying international success. It’s particularly interesting to view art with other artists and discuss the work without pretence. It’s a fair, which means it’s every bit as much about transaction and collection as it is appreciation. As…

  • Places

    Mussel man

    Everyday in some ways, extraordinary in others. That for me is what life is like in this city. This man is rinsing his catch of mussels with water from the Tarabya harbour. Some 25 metres away they’re driving huge underwater pylons/footings for the new floating pier system. It’s a little disturbing, thinking of what may be being unearthed, and what’s being poured into the water this man is using for his food source. Apparently this is one of the cleanest stretches of the Bosporus, and people (during warmer weather, at least) often swim around here. I’m certainly no marine biologist but the vast numbers of predators such as dolphins, often seem like an encouraging sign that this seaway is still a vital one. Let’s hope it stays that way for men like this as well as for the life within it. We need each other.

  • People

    The cure for dislocation

    Despite the chaos surrounding me it’s nice to be home and welcomed by some special people with open arms. There’s no going backwards in time, but for now that’s okay. Home is not really a place is it, Sof? That’s why I hope wherever I am, you’ll always be nearby. Then, even if I’m not home, at least I’ll know I’m close.

  • Food & Drink

    Good news. Good brews.

    I’m pleased to tell you that the “Aha!” moment real ale drinkers in Istanbul have been waiting for is finally here. Today, The Bosphorus Brewing Co has opened the doors to the brewery and is welcoming customers to take their first sips of honest brews that are gently carbonated and big on flavour. I’ve sampled all, except the Karbon Stout, which I have on good authority is equally excellent. Though I’m particularly fond of the IPA, I’ll just have to see how Karbon tastes. But not until I’m back in town. For those of you in town, however, you no longer have any excuse to drink mediocre beer. So don’t wait for me. All the pertinent details accompany the chap in the cap below — şerefe!