• Food & Drink,  Places

    Unter ups the Karaköy swank factor

    If Karaköy wasn’t swanky enough for you two weeks ago, its swank factor has just increased considerably with the addition of Unter, a project by the minds behind Nupera’s Auf. This beautifully designed eatery and lounge might just be my new favourite hangout, diagonally opposite my favourite coffee joint, Karabatak Café. If I was allowed to bring one street corner with me to my deserted island, this might well be it. In fact, I could quite easily and happily lose an entire day and night here. The food is delicious and the staff hip yet friendly. Better still, they know how to pour a pint of Ireland’s most famous stout. Downstairs is the main dining area an intimate space enlivened by its view of the kitchen and street level location. Upstairs is the perfect venue for a party, with fireside chairs, a long table — a space with plenty of…

  • 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

    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!

  • 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…

  • Food & Drink,  Places

    Spilling into the street: café culture in Istanbul

    I recently composed a half page piece for the Globe & Mail, one of Canada’s national broadsheets regarding Istanbul’s café culture, and my pick for the best coffee joint in the city. It was nice to see they used my photography as well. I must say I had a great time researching the piece, as drinking coffee and people-watching seems to be one of favorite pastimes. They didn’t edit or alter much of what I submitted. I had hoped to include a link to their website, but the piece has only appeared in print. To read the full text please follow the link below the article picture.

  • Food & Drink

    Palamut

    No innocent people were harmed in the crafting of this post. Just some fish. Yes, my friends, the streets have come alive with the sound of “Beş Lira! Beş Lira! Beş Lira! Evet Palamut! Beş Lira! Beş Lira! Beş Lira!” Palamut, a kind of Turkish Bonito is in season at the moment, and no matter where you go they all seem to be 5tl (Roughly $2.50 US) per fish, which is a mighty fine deal for catch of the day. This oily fish is a perennial favorite of many fishstanbulians—sorry could resist, but didn’t. They’re caught both in the Bosporus and Black Sea, and probably chock full of all the right omega fatty acids. So Bonito appetito! Their suffering isn’t in vain. It’s Friday and this nice man below will do all the hard work for you, like gut and behead the little devils. Now stop staring at me, fisheye, you had it coming, and you…

  • 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.

  • Food & Drink

    Autumn Ottoman Delights

    Once again I managed to snag a delicious (literally) photo assignment with friends and foodies, chef Selcuk Aruk and writer Lale Kayabey for XOXO the Mag. October’s issue features a fantastic array of autumnal colors and tastes favored by the Ottomans. This time I thought I’d show some of the photos that didn’t make the final cut. Trust these dishes and their ingredients — jujubes, pomegranates, cinnamon, spice, carrots, spinach and yoghurt and everything nice — to make your mouth water. They certainly did mine.

  • Food & Drink,  Places

    The real conspiracy

    In a country like Turkey there are plenty of conspiracy theories. Just about every person in the street has at least one they fervently believe. Today, however, I’d like to tell you that I have fallen victim to a 100% genuine conspiracy at the hands of some nefarious yet innocent looking people here in Istanbul. It didn’t happen to me on the proverbial “bridge between east and west” but on the very real bridge between Karaköy and Eminönü, a.k.a The new Galata Bridge. What happened?  Well, I can only tell you that I was minding my own business, wondering about the future of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s republic when I fell prey to the twisted words of a white-shirted, black trousered man, saying, “Cold beer! Cold beer! 5TL! Yes, my friend?” Yes, I thought I was stronger and better than that, I thought I was prepared for the wiles of the…