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Blue wave

I dream of a perfect mojito on a summer evening, in a shadowy garden of the Havana restaurant in Bar Harbor Maine, at the end of a perfect day.

Perfect mojito

I laugh remembering the zing and the vivacious buzz of Provincetown in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Beautiful dining room

I savour the moments spent around a beautiful round dining table in friends’ house, and off. You’ve got to love a dinner that includes a dash to the seashore to photograph the sunset, alongside a wicked blueberry pie.

Thank you.

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Rain and lunch in Harringay, London

It is raining on Harringay High Street. I am waiting for my sogan kebab: minced lamb chargrilled with shallots and served with a pomegranate sauce and a delicious thin flatbread which they don’t even mention on the menu, but the flatbread deserves both mention and praise as it is delicious, if I remember correctly from last time.

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In Istanbul – Eminönü Pazari

At a stone’s throw from the famous Spice Market in Istanbul, there is another, the Eminönü Pazari. Just off the beaten tourist path, and yet so close to the Spice Market that I wonder how come I only saw a small handful of tourists there.  I came here in search of pide and Rüstem Paşa Camii (more about it below), and found a proper little treasure-trove of life and food. Full of life, more real and with more grit, I find this market also so much more interesting!

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Delicious notes from Istanbul

Simits!

Pastry seller in Istanbul

The first time we went to Istanbul, we did it all wrong, committed all the classic tourist mistakes. We stayed in a middle of a tourist trap, did no research before the trip, relied on unreliable guidebooks. In our brief defence, the trip was a bit of a last minute decision, but still, I’m not proud. We enjoyed the sights, but found that above all we wanted to be in the more interesting parts of the city, and spent a lot of time outside Sultanhamet. We loved Üsküdar most. Overall, we had a reasonably good time, but got hassled in touristy places and were above all somewhat disappointed with the food we found. We thought the food would be better, easier to find. It’s rarely like that, though, of course.

This time, I did it all right. I did the research, choose accommodation strategically, and took time to explore the areas I that grabbed my attention when they did. I had a fantastic time. Istanbul turned out to be one of those cities where you need to dig below the surface to discover its true charms. It’s not surprising though, given its tourist appeal; I’m embarrassed at our past naivety.

Here are a few of my delicious notes from my September trip to Istanbul. With thanks to these excellent sources of information and inspiration: Delicious Istanbul, Eating Asia and Istanbul Eats.

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2013 in my Kitchen: Bread & Turkey

My bread

Two things have left the strongest mark on my cooking in 2013: bread and Turkey.

Bread took me by surprise. I didn’t think it was my kind of thing. Too laborious, I thought, and like many, I was wrong. I found in it a rhythm of life that I didn’t even know existed, let alone that I fitted into it. It only goes to show that you never know what you’re going to find and love, even when you think you know yourself pretty well. I look forward to whatever lies ahead.

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