Miss. Delicious #73 : Gulhane Sark Sofrasi in Sultanahmet!
Dear Steemit friends:
Did you know that the Michelin Star Restaurant Guides were first published over one hundred years ago to help travellers (primarily motorists) with useful information relevant to their travels? The first editions did not include information for dining, rather, it had information like where to stay, petrol stations and garages for repairs. Later, the guide began including reviews of dining establishments!
Over the years, it has become a de-facto standard for those looking for fine dining establishments to wet their appetites. No doubt the guide has provided many hungry travellers with important reviews of where to eat whilst on their travels in foreign lands.
Although Miss. Delicious has been existence for just one year, we've already had the pleasure of visiting and reviewing over 70 different dining establishments all over the world! In the future, the whole catalogue of dining establishments may prove to be useful for prospective travellers in all of these wonderful locations.
Today, Miss. Delicious will be visiting a little gem of a restaurant in the heart of the Sultanahmet (Old City), Istanbul.
Whilst a world of difference from the Michelin Star establishments in terms of it's luxury dining experience, getting a taste of authentic Turkish food is nevertheless an extremely rewarding experience, particularly in the historical centre of Istanbul.
Let's proceed and find out what awaits us!
Gulhane Sark Sofrasi is the restaurant that we'll be visiting today. Located at the South-West corner of the Gulhane Park, it is perfectly situated for visitors taking an afternoon break from visiting the numerous historical sites of the area.
As you can see, the restaurant is not trying to present itself as a fine dining establishment, instead it retains the old rustic feeling akin to the area and integrates perfectly with the old city's surrounding architecture.
A very colourful string of rainbow umbrellas decorate the outside seating area of the restaurant, making it rather easy to spot the restaurant which is otherwise much like any other in the area.
As we know, the Turkish flag is red, and thus represents the colour of the country. The restaurant stays humble to this colour "nomenclature" and uses predominantly red for it's table clothes and chairs. I really love how vibrant the red colours are because they serve as a reminder that we're eating at a traditional Turkish restaurant that has been family run for it's entire history.
In other parts of the world, the rainbow colours would represent LGBT pride, but in Istanbul and Turkey, they represent a vibrant country that yearns for peace in tumultuous political times.
The small vase of flowers further reinforces the feeling of harmony and peace, which I think go very nicely with the already very rich colour scheme of the restaurant.
Like many foreigners visiting Turkey and experiencing the culture for the first time, I was confused as to what these pots were used for. There were dozens laid out on the pavement just adjacent to the restaurant, all neatly stacked with aluminium foil wrapped over the opening.
My initial assumption was that they were used pots for storing some kind of snack and left outside to dry in the sun. Perhaps they might have been used as an instrument for fermentation.
Of course, I had to ask the waiter and he quickly informed me that they are used for a special kind of Turkish Kebab where the meat is cooked inside the pottery over a live fire and serves as a sort of mini kiln.
First up, we have the cold appetisers, on the left we have the Haydari which is a kind of Turkish Yogurt Dip. It consists of strained yogurt with herbs and garlic. To me, this seemed to be the all encompassing sauce which complements all sorts of other foods.
Next to it, we have the Turkish Salsa Salad which is a mixture of Tomato, onion, peppers, garlic and parsley, I do love the slightly sweet and sour taste of it with a touch of spice.
I even tried it with the Haydari on the Pita bread. Very appetising indeed!
Tuna Salad - A very Tuna heavy salad complemented by several different kinds of herbs. Although Tuna salad's can be enjoyed in all parts of the world, the extra herbal tastes of this Tuna salad makes it very unique to Turkey and is worth a try!
Moving on, we have the hot dishes, first up, the Shrimp Casserole which is baked with mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers and garlic. Usually I expect a dish like this to be quite thick in texture and very creamy but this dish was not creamy at all, the complexion of the sauce appears to come from the juices of the shrimp and vegetables making the dish seeping with natural flavour!
I was so surprised to see the Pottery Kebab served directly from the pot itself! The waiter came over with the tiny jug and smashed it open with a big knife to reveal this delicious smelling baked Lamb dish, garnished with tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, onions and garlic!
The vessel helps to retain all of the taste of the food whilst it is being cooked, saving all of the rich food aroma for the very moment it is served to you!
Still missing my grilled snapper from Bahamas, I decided to try out the Grilled Sea Bass which looked very delicious on the menu. This was actually Tania's choice but of course, we always like to share our food to get a good taste of everything!
It turned out to be every bit as delicious as it looked, me and Tania were so happy with it! Not quite the same taste as the snapper and certainly thicker in texture. The sea bass had a barbecue taste to it and with it's thick meaty flakes of meat, it had a lovely rich buttery taste. Incredibly delicious!
Finally, the infamous Turkish Baklava. No visitor to Turkey should leave without trying this sweet dessert pastry full of rich nutty pistachio flavour. The pistachio's are some what a home grown phenomenon in Turkey and are produced in over 56 provinces in Turkey. No wonder these desserts are so popular!
After lunch, we decided to go for a walk around the old city. These little cafe's can be seen dotted around the old city walls, and there are many people who are hiding from the sun whilst enjoying some coffee / tea and shisha!
This is one of the corners to the Hagia Sophia Mosque, now used as a carpet museum.
Actually, there are carpet stores all over the old town. The textiles produced in Turkey are very well known and some people travel all the way from China just to buy them and ship them back!
The old streets are amazing for little walks back into time. Here, there are no cars as they are prohibited from accessing the pedestrianised area.
Another angle of the Hagia Sophia
Along the path, I found these new houses which were built against the old city wall.
Here you can see what I mean about the houses being built against the old city wall. You can even see one of the gates to the other side of it.
And that wraps up this edition of Miss Delicious!
Thank you for joining me on this culinary trip through the old town part of Istanbul. As my first proper meal in Turkey, I couldn't be more pleased with the quality of the food, the friendliness of the restaurant staff, and how incredibly rich in culture the whole place feels.
Even though I'm accustomed to living in modern cities, I really appreciate how much history has been preserved in this area. Whether it's the style of architecture, or the food, both give me a strong sense of the Turkish culture which I have experienced so little in my life!
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