Hmm, looking over my pictures, I only photographed two meals in Greece. How odd. I guess because it was much of the same stuff, repeatedly~ kebabs, lamb, kebabs, etc. So here’s the teaser, only one of these meals, at Smiles Restaurant somewhat near our hotel:
Our first meal in Turkey was soundly disappointing, but we knowingly went into a touristy place. Ah well.
Our mezze (starter) platter – hummus-ish, horse beans, stuffed eggplant, shredded chicken salad type thing, greens, and I forget what was in the center. We liked this compilation quite a bit actually.
Worst meal overall on vacation: in Ciceki Paseji (Flower Passage, literally) in Istanbul, in the Taksim district. We sat in this crowded hallway like place, with cats roaming up and down (they were cute, actually), and the restaurant owners would insist you look at their menu and get very aggressive. We randomly chose a place that had people in it, because they all boasted fresh fish, but the prices were outrageous- even more outrageous was that they show you this tray of “fresh” fish (they’re all dead at that point, of course, and just lying on a tray), and when you try to order it, you find out that it’s served whole (head, tail, both on, with bones). Call us spoiled Americans- but even so, that’s not true; I’ll eat whole fish, steamed, at home, or in restaurants even and not flinch. Asian restaurants. Which are much cheaper than what they wanted (it was something like 20YTL per kilo of fish, and you had to buy the whole fish, and the turbot was HUGE- 2+ kg, plus it’s so simply prepared I just didn’t feel it was worth it, and not all of us wanted fish….).
Why all the pictures of one dish? Because, you see, my friends, this is me eating fried lamb brain. I swore I’d try it since I saw it on another food blogger’s site describing Greek food, after my friends decided we were going to Greece. I didn’t see it on any menus in Greece, so instead I tried it in Istanbul. The verdict? Don’t eat it with a doctor next to you telling you “Trust me, I’ve dissected enough brains, it tastes like brain.” Seriously, though, it’s kind of mushy, with no real taste of its own. I wouldn’t say I disliked it but I don’t see any reason to go out of my way to get it again. Kind of like how I felt about fugu (blowfish)… people eat it just to say “I ate that.” Though not sure about the brain, that might be a cultural thing, though it really tastes like nothing to me.
An honest-to-goodness Turkish snack: a “simit”. Something like a pretzel, but on the inside, at this particular place, fluffy like a croissant though less buttery. These can be found on every corner being sold from a cart, and in cafes, sometimes cut open to serve a sandwich within. We got this one- our inaugural simit from Simit Sariya (Simit Palace), and were very pleased, but annoyed the next day when we got one from a cart to discover it was rock hard and cold, much more like a NYC street-pretzel than we’d expected.
Though I didn’t photograph the rest of our meal (very normal, dive place, no big deal, though on the Asia side of Turkey), this was the only dessert we had in Turkey. A chocolate pudding, essentially, though the top was sprinkled with finely chopped nuts and had a layer congealed on top, the pudding itself was extremely delicious. We concluded that anything made with milk/dairy in Turkey/Greece (or maybe all of Europe) is better because it’s richer and has no FDA to regulate the pasteurization (if any) and therefore just tastes better.
Our last meal in Turkey was in the Grand Bazaar, at Havuzlu, which is mentioned in many guidebooks and, the proprietor proudly informed us, the New York Times (I bit back telling him exactly what I thought of the NYT and their restaurant reviews). It was a bit hard to navigate towards, and is in a strange, less traveled portion of the Bazaar, but we found it after much cursing and pushing of other tourists.
I will have more formal reviews for only two places we visited- one in Athens, and one in Istanbul… coming soon. For now, happy eating!!!