• 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.

  • Mind / Body,  Places

    Dislocation

    Ever wonder where you are? I do frequently. Last week I was in Western Quebec, gazing at lakes, examining a cottage reconstructed from a 150 year-old barn surrounded by trees and silence, eating pizza “stix” from a baker person — now I’m back in the middle of traffic, chaos and noise, trying to get myself back up to speed. It’s no wonder life seems like such a dream sometimes with the ability to transition between so many distinctly different landscapes in such short time expanses. I’m not always sure my mind is ready to catch up with my current experience. Perhaps it doesn’t always want to.

  • Food & Drink

    A few things I learned in a local pub

    On my recent trip back to Ottawa I noticed some very positive developments in both the food and the retail sectors. The one thing Ottawa once missed was local flavour on a world-class scale. I’m happy to say that’s far from true these days, and almost makes me a little homesick for the small town, big taste experience of which I just partook. The gastropub experience was truly world-class. Special merits to Jordan at the Hintonburg Public House. 1/ BE BIG ON TASTE. NOT PORTIONS. Good food and drink doesn’t need to be overly dressed up or presented in an excessively fancy way. The food here is neither huge nor especially fancy. It’s just damn tasty and interesting.  2/ SERVE LOCAL TEXTURE. NOT LOCAL TRENDS. Everywhere I went in Ottawa was serving pulled pork. Maybe it’s because I’m not at all interested in pork or food trends, that one of…

  • 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!

  • Mind / Body

    Mer Bleu

    Dear Sof, I had to go looking for your grandfather yesterday. I’ve missed him for quite a while now, and have only glimpsed him occasionally in the last few years, mostly in my sleep where he could be himself again. So I visited his favourite place, Mer Bleu, hoping to talk to him even if only briefly. He wasn’t there. There are so many things I’ve wanted to say to him, so many conversations we never had. I’d hoped they might be finished somewhere along this trail. But I couldn’t find him or even something of him that I could introduce you to. There was only a strange emptiness, an endless landscape once familiar to me, now as infinite as the terrain of dreams, merging with the sky above. He won’t be found here anymore despite its strange resemblance to the land of dreams. The next time we see Eric Robert Welbourne,…

  • People

    Istanbullu III

    A few years ago my friend Selin was in Milano, Italy for the furniture fair, but took regular breaks to indulge her nicotine urge. An Italian man who observed her said, “You’re smoking like the Grande Turco!” To which she replied, with a laugh, “I am a Turk!” Do Turks smoke considerably more than many other cultures? I don’t know. While I don’t endorse smoking in any way, this is still very much a smoker’s city. Despite being pushed to the pavements, despite the ever increasing size of the warnings on their packets, Istanbullu are pretty resolute when it comes to puffing.

  • Food & Drink

    Bosphorus Brewing Co. leak

    Once upon a time I decided I would never, ever work again in advertising or branding unless it was for something in which I believed wholeheartedly. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I believe in good beer. Better yet, I believe in good beer and good food. Happily I have made the acquaintance of the Bosphorus Brewing Co., an interesting new venture involving craft beer by a delightfully eccentric brewmaster named Philip Hall. He and his family have been living in Turkey for several years now and have decided to invest themselves fully into something which they too subscribe to — real ales and honest food. Well, my friends, I can tell you that I have sampled both now, and the golden nectar they serve is the genuine article. The entire menu at the Bosphorus Brewing Co. has been developed to pair perfectly with its select brews and is the work of…