Thursday, November 25, 2010

This Thanksgiving We're Thinking About Turkey

With the mashed potatoes on the stovetop, the stuffing's onions slowly caramelizing, the bread dough on the rise, and the chocolate pecan pie in the oven, we can't keep our minds off Turkey.

And away we go...

The Blue Mosque via Steven Ford

As the historic center of the spice trade, Turkey's bazaars serve as a conduit for the world's boldest colors and brightest flavors. The following are our favorite resources for a trip around Istanbul and Turkey's outer regions in search of new tastes:

Martha Stewart in Istanbul - In this entire hour-long episode, Martha serves as personal tour guide to Istanbul by boat, on a walk through the spice market, and gazing upwards at the 400-year-old Topkapi Palace, the former-cathedral mosque Hagia Sophia, and the Blue Mosque. She takes us to Ulus 29, a restaurant re-spinning Turkish classic pastries and kebabs with a modern twist.

Cafe Fernando - This award-winning Istanbul-based baking, photography and travel blog, written by Cenk (Jenk), covers traditional recipes, local restaurant reviews, and an extensive image collection, transporting you to the heart of Turkey's contemporary eating and cooking culture.

Istanbul Eats - A homegrown restaurant review site run by - and read by - locals. Come here for authentic cheap eats, organized by neighborhood, cuisine, and cost.

Turkeys for Life - Expat couple Julia and Barry take us around Fethiye, Turkey, where they settled after several holiday trips away from England. Their quirky personal recommendations of where to eat, where to drink, and what to do, sound like they've been live streamed from the local pub, and they probably have been.

Istanbul Culinary Institute Walking Tours - The culinary school hosts in-depth food tours, such as a recent trip with food writer Filiz Hosukoglu featuring a visit to a copperware handcraft market, demo and tasting of katmer (a regional sweet with clotted cream and pistachio), a tour of a baklava production facility, lunch at a local house with a demonstration of home cooking, and participation in a pistachio harvest. Half-day tours of the spice markets, fish markets, and street foods are also available for around $60.
In our research, we've uncovered many gorgeous personal photos from the region, and we wanted to share.

Sesame-dusted simit, a circular snack traditionally sold on the streets of Istanbul in glass carts or carried in a big stack on the seller's head, are made of flour, butter, eggs, olive oil, and milk. Simit are thinner than a bagel, with a larger central hole, and are a whole lot crispier. No lox schmear required.
Simit via AfRO

Istanbul's countless spice markets serve as a conduit to the tastes of the world.
Spices via Shoko!!

The starchy sweet Turkish delight can be made of dates, pistachios, hazelnuts or walnuts, and is most often flavored with aromatic rosewater, mastic or lemon.
Turkish Delight via canmom

Hamsi, the Black Sea seasonal fish, are available fresh at Turkey's fish markets beginning in October of every year, served as hamsi ekmegi (deep fried and on bread with arugula and onion) or uskumru ekmegi (fresh on toasted bread).

A shared pot of Turkish tea, served in small clear glasses with lumps of beet sugar, is seen as a symbol of friendship and hospitality.

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