Street Food – Istanbul, Turkey

My gorgeous girlfriends and I got our back packs on flew to Istanbul in May this year for some exploring. We managed to see loads of historical sights, visit the two big bazaars and do some shopping. This post is about all the street foods I tried while I was there.2015-05-03_14.45.31

Midye Dolma (Stuffed Mussels) – Found at the Ferry Port on the Asian Side20150504_194533

20150504_194553Emma, Astrid, Esme and I got a ferry across from the European side, where we were staying, to the Asian side, where my friend Hannah lives, as she was having a garden party at her house that evening. As we got off the ferry onto the Asian side, we saw a couple of these Midye Dolma street vendors. Obviously we had to try them. They opened up the mussel for us, scooped it all into one shell, squeezed some lemon onto it, and then it was served.

They make a rice mixture and then stuff it into the mussels to cook – it tastes very much like a seafood risotto or a seafood paella. DELICIOUS!

It costs 1 Turkish Lira for 2 mussels (£1 = 4 Lira at the time) and they are such a good tasty little street snack.images (1)

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Corn on the Cob and Chesnuts – Found around Sultan Ahmet20150503_181931

To be honest, I wasn’t too impressed with the grilled corn that I got. It was cold and the kernels was so hard and tasted like they were probably cooked in the morning and just laid out all day. They sprinkled it with salt which didn’t melt and infuse into the corn and instead lay over it dry. I doubt I will be rushing to have one of these again, but if you are to try these I would suggest asking for a freshly cooked one. Not my favourite. 2 Liras for 1 corn.

Islak Burgers (Wet Burgers in English) – Found in Taksimdownload (1)The Islak Burgers are found lining the streets of Taksim. You will see them in the windows of most of the shops. Emma, Astrid and I had one of these on our way home after Hannah’s garden party. It was surprisingly good.

It was a bun similar to a McDonalds cheeseburger bun, with a very thin meat patty inside, but what makes it a “wet burger” is that, not only is there tomato sauce on the inside of the bun like a normal burger, but it is absolutely covered in a tomato sauce. The sauce doesn’t taste as strong with flavour as a tomato ketchup. It had a lighter taste to it. This sauce somehow gave the burger bun a chewy texture, like the texture of a bagel.

A delightful midnight street snack AND it was only 2 Lira!images (2)

Simit (Turkish Pretzels) – Found all over the streets in Istanbulimages (3)These are great if you are hungry and on the go. It costs 1 Lira for one. Plain chewy-bagel-type-pretzels that are sold on every street corner.

Overall a fab place to visit and many interesting flavours. I still need to go back and try to famous fish sandwich which is also a street food.

Istanbul, I’m coming back.

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HIX – Soho, London

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For Jack’s birthday I got him tickets to see Book of Mormon (which I absolutely 100% recommend if you haven’t been – but that is another story for another time) and we went to HIX Soho for dinner before the show. HIX, owned by Mark Hix British Chef and Restauranteur, has a fabulously British menu where you can see all the regions that all the food has come from.

As we were looking at the menu, the waitress came over and asked us if we had any questions about the menu – and when we did she actually knew the answers and sounded really passionate about the food there. I love a restaurant where all the staff are passionate about their foods and drinks. It really makes the experience of eating at that restaurant even better.

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We decided to start with a couple cocktails and some Moyallon pork crackling with gooseberry sauce £4.25. The crackling was perfectly done – crispy, still hot from the oven, and not too puffy or dried out and they married very well with the gooseberry sauce. 20150422_180839The steak tartare £16.75 that I had for my main was such good tender meat that it just melted in my mouth. It was moulded into a circle with a raw egg yolk comfortably resting right in the middle with a side of three mini bowls of mustard and extra bits that I could add into my steak mixture. One of the best steak tartares I’ve had!

My steak came with fries which we shared. We also shared some broccoli and mixed vegetables for sides (£4.95 per side dish) which were all fresh and still had a bit of a crunch to them (nobody like a soggy over cooked piece of broccoli unless its being blended into a soup).

Jack had the hanger steak with baked bone marrow £19.95 which was also lovely. The marrow had a garlicky crust which complimented the meat very well.
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After dinner we headed down into the basement into Mark’s Bar, which is a quirky little cocktail bar under the restaurant where the Mixologists truly have a passion for what they do. You can tell them whatever tastes that you like and they can create something for you (about £10 – £12 per cocktail). I love this kind of speak easy type vibe in a cocktail bar.

Great service, great fresh British sourced ingredients, great dishes and great cocktails.

http://www.hixsoho.co.uk/

Osteria All’Antico Vinaio – Florence, Italy

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On our first night in Florence, when we were there in April this year, we wondered the streets looking for All’Antico Vinaio (a hole in the wall wine and sandwich bar) on Via De Neri when we stumbled across their sit in restaurant across the street. We walked into the busy, lively restaurant and were seated shortly after we stood at the bar and ordered a bottle of wine.

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The menu was in Italian and they didn’t have an English menu – so when the waiter brought a very large basket of freshly baked bread, we asked him what he would recommend. He pointed at the charcuterie boards on all the tables around us (literally everyone had one) so we gave him a nod and a thumbs up.

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The board was covered in all sorts – two different cheeses, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, roast pork, all sorts of hams and salamis, and some jam to go with it all. One of the cheeses was a hard, strong flavoured, manchego-type cheese and the other had a lot less flavour and tasted more like a young cow’s milk cheese (basically tasted like milk). All the meats were scrumptious and we ate pretty much everything on the board.

He also brought us a couple of spreads on toasted bread – one was a thin layer of fat (which we actually didn’t eat as it just isn’t to our taste) and the other was a thick layer of home made pate which was lovely and earthy.
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For our main we asked the waiter about a (very) large steak that a man on the table was eating on the table beside us and whether we could get one for 500g – He laughed and said the smallest steak is 1kg. We decided that – even though the man beside us could tackle this large piece of meat on his own – this was one for us to share.

It came out sizzling on a platter. It was thick but very tender and it had a smokey flavour from being on the grill.

Cost about 30 Euros in total for the bill. A great meal and authentic local atmosphere. Definitely recommend for some wine, a charcuterie board and a steak!

http://www.allanticovinaio.com/en/home-osteria-eng/

Gusta Pizza – Florence, Italy

The weather was glorious in Florence when Jack and I went in April this year (but I guess I have London to compare it to, so pretty much anywhere else has great weather). It is such a beautiful city – even more so when showing itself off in the sunshine and cool, springtime breeze – and it offers such delicious foods made so simply with the freshest ingredients.

We read on Trip Advisor about a Pizza place that we had to try, so we got in a cab and as soon as we mentioned Gusta Pizza, the driver told us how famous it is and how good the pizzas are – so we knew we had made the right choice!

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As soon as you walk in it feels so lively and such a friendly atmosphere with the staff and chefs laughing and joking with everyone and making you feel so welcome when you enter. It is a small place with just a few large barrels with glass tops to use at tables and stools to sit on. You get in and you order at the till. Then they give you a number and you wait for it to be called then you go up and collect your pizzas.

I ordered a Napoli 6 Euros and Jack had a Calabrese 7 Euros. If felt like no time before they were out the wood-fired stone oven and onto the table. They made mine into a heart shape (CUTE!). The pizzas tasted so good. Everything from the prefect chewiness of the dough to the freshness of the sauce and the mozzarella – it was 100% the best pizza I have ever tried.

They had their own wine which we ordered as well and was absolutely gorgeous. I definitely recommend to try it – Plus it was only 10 Euros for a whole bottle!

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A Florentine institution! No pizza will ever be the same now.

Also read:

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187895-d1155597-Reviews-Gusta_Pizza-Florence_Tuscany.html

Gusta Pizza

Brunch at White Rabbit – Dalston, London

I have been to White Rabbit in Dalston a couple of times for brunch now for their ever changing brunch tapas menu. Pros are that there are always new dishes to try, however the cons are that you can go back for something you loved and it could be gone.

I went the first time with Fiona. We sat by the window as I admired the quirky Scandinavian interior with it’s bright, clean cut feel.

We got the menu and saw that it is £30 for 5 brunch dishes, we decided to get all 5 to share between us- although as the dishes came out, we quickly realised that these could actually be shared between 3 people.

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We started our White Rabbit brunch tapas experience with a plate of blood orange, ricotta and Cashew Nuts, which was a delightfully refreshing, light start to the meal. The orange worked surprisingly well with the creaminess of the cheese.

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Next came the cured salmon slices with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce to cover the egg with arugula sprinkled over it all. The salmon was light and not too fishy or salty and the yolk from the egg oozed over it all as we cut into it.

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Then came the heavier plates. The Green Eggs were a saucepan of potatoes, bacon and a fried egg covered in chives, which was probably the most ordinary of all the dishes we ordered but still tasted great.

The baked eggs in a pan of tomatoes, chilli, bell peppers and cheese with arugula spinkled over was bursting with all sorts of flavours and had a gorgeous hint of warm spice from the chilli. The cheese was springy as you forked into the mixture. Altogether a great combo.

The burrata was a creamy ball of mozzarella-like cheese which you should not cook and should eat fresh. We tore the balls apart with our forks and even though it felt light, it was definitely very filling. A great way to end the meal.

One of my favourite brunch spots – definitely worth a try!

http://www.whiterabbitdalston.com/2540420

Jai Krishna – A Southern Indian Vegetarian in Finsbury Park, London

Emma and I have lived in Finsbury Park for over a year now and since moving in, we have kept saying that we needed to try Jai Krishna, the Southern Indian Vegetarian BYOB Restaurant. I am not the biggest fan of meat curries but I absolutely love vegetarian curries – plus the fact that it is BYOB (and let’s be honest now, who doesn’t love a Bring Your Own Booze establishment?) – just made it sound glorious.

Finally, one year later, on a Friday night we decided to try it.

Across the street is an off-licence that sells all sorts of craft beers, normal beers, ciders and wines from all over the world. So we got a couple of interesting beers and crossed the street into this authentic Southern Indian gem.

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It is a small restaurant with a very chilled out vibe. As we sat and looked through the menu at all the vegetarian delights, I no longer felt like I was in the middle of London but instead felt like I was back in Asia at a local family run restaurant.

We started with the Masala Dosa £4.95 which is a thin, fried pancake filled with spiced potatoes and onions and it came with a coconut sauce and a chutney on the side. It was very flavourful but very filling.
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We ordered a Spinach Dal £3.55, a Chilli Paneer £5.25 which tasted a bit like a sweet and sour mixture with paneer (not really my thing), a Malai Kofta £4.95 which was a curry with kofta made out of paneer (had quite a potato-like texture to it), a Pilau Rice £2.25, and a Garlic Paratha £2.25.

There were lots of burst of great Indian spices and flavours that were absolutely gorgeous. The spinach dal was without a doubt my favourite thing. I could have just had that with some plain rice – but obviously (as when trying any new restaurant find) we had to order a few dishes to try them all out first.

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With everything that we ordered and our bellies full to the brim – it only cost us £14 each. I definitely recommend for an authentic South Indian food experience.

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g186338-d719381-Reviews-Jai_Krishna_Indian_Vegetarian-London_England.html

The Magic Roundabout – Old Street, London

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One Friday evening after work, Jack and I made our way to The Magic Roundabout as we had heard about it from friends and it is right by my new office.

It was a buzzing atmosphere but still quite relaxed and not ridiculously busy. We could still order drinks and food easily without waiting in any stressful queues or crowds and we still found a spot to sit down. It is a no frills pop up joint with just two stalls, one craft beers and coffee stall and a main bar where you can get the usual main stream bar drinks.

With music in the back ground (no too loud that you needed to shout into your friends ears) and great weather that evening – it was a really nice place for a chilled out post work dinner and drinks – and something a bit different.

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We shared the Tiger Prawn Slider which came with a loving portion of fries and a seafood sauce to dip them in. The prawns were beautifully grilled and popped into a brioche type bun with some fresh lettuce. Wonderful seaside flavours.

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We then made our way round to the much talked about Burger Bear stall.

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Jack got the Grizzly £10 (above) which has bacon, bacon jam (a recent foodie sensation) and cheese. Although I find a tenner a little steep for just a burger and no sides and buying from a stall – but the price was easily forgotten when we bit into these juicy, meat filled brioches.

I had the Burger Bear £7 (below) – the original Burger Bear cheeseburger. I am not a fan of raw onions so had to pull those out, but apart from that it was equally as delicious. You can taste the excellent quality of the burger meat and it is ever so slightly pink on the inside (perfectly cooked for a proper burger) and still oozing with juices as you bite into it, then there is the cheese melted over the top and then placed in a brioche with all the salad trimmings.
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http://www.londonpopups.com/2015/06/the-magic-roundabout-on-old-street-with.html

http://www.burgerbearuk.com/#about

https://www.facebook.com/prawnographyldn