Two favorite restaurants in Istanbul

Whether you prefer to go fancy or casual, we found great food in Istanbul. Shown above was our table at Ulus 29 (Adnan Saygun Caddesi, Ulus Parkı İçi No:71/1, tel: +90 212-358-2929,, one of the city's top restaurants, where we met designer Zeynep Fadillioğlu and her husband Metin. He owns Ulus 29, and she designed it. Placed on a hillside overlooking the Bosphorus Strait, the restaurant has floor-to-ceiling windows. It's worth dining here just for the view. The food is pretty spectacular as well, leaning toward contemporary fine European cuisine. While we made a point of eating a lot of Turkish meze and drinking Turkish wine, we also ordered some dishes that wouldn't have been out of place at an upscale restaurant in Paris....Read More

An Istanbul take on mideastern muhamarra

One pleasure of dining in Istanbul was getting reacquainted with muhamarra, the walnut and pomegranate spread found all around the Middle and Near East. We buy it at home from Samira's Homemade in Belmont, where Lebanon-born Samira Hamdoun fashions all sort of tasty spreads. But we found it on every mezze tray in Istanbul, and decided we had to learn to make it for ourselves. Fortunately, our friend Elif Aydar of the Marti hotel group gave us her own recipe. It was a bit of a challenge to adapt, since we can't pop into the grocery store for red pepper paste or sour pomegranate condiment. Moreover, colloquial kitchen measurements differ between Turkey and the U.S. and the breads have different textures. But with a little...Read More

What to bring home from a Turkish grocery store

When we were in Istanbul last week, we were surprised to discover that it's common for unmarried men and women to live with their families well into their 30s. So when we asked our first guide, who is 30-something, what to buy in a grocery store, he was utterly clueless. His mother does all the cooking, and apparently all the shopping too. He's not even sure what's in her recipes. But our second guide proved a more modern young Turk. Yusuf Kilig works in Istanbul, far from his family's village in the south, and shares a flat with roommates. He knows his way around the kitchen, and the supermarket aisles as well. Yusuf had also worked for a few months at Walt Disney World in...Read More