Brewing methods galore at Drip Coffeeist

On January 3, Drip Coffeeist opened its newest location in Asmalımescit, in the heart of Beyoğlu. My first trip to Drip Coffeeist was a visit to its original location right off of Bağdat Caddesi. My friend Fatma introduced me to Drip Coffeeist’s cold drip and brownies and I was won over.

A new location in Asmalımescit means all the goodness of the original location is now more easily accessible for those of us living on the European side. Drip Coffeeist’s diehard customers had encouraged, in fact, pushed the owners to open another location on the European side. And when your first coffee shop is as successful as Drip Coffeeist’s, why not?

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Wall art at Drip Coffeeist in Asmalımescit

Like most coffee shops in Istanbul, customers have a variety of brewing systems to choose from, but unlike the other shops, Drip Coffeeist has perhaps the largest selection of different brewing methods. Imagine my surprise when the owner pointed out a brewing system I had never seen before.

That’s right, I’m talking about the Belgian syphon, not to be confused with the Japanese syphon, which is commonly referred to as the syphon in Istanbul’s third wave coffee shops. The Belgian syphon, or Royal Belgian Coffee Maker is – like its name – very royal-looking. Unlike the vertical Japanese syphon, the Belgian one works through a balance mechanism (for the full details, click here)  With a short brew time, the historical device is perfect for those who prefer a stronger body without the wait. Drip Coffeeist was one of the very first to use the king of coffee makers in Istanbul and so far, it’s the only coffee shop I am familiar with that is currently offering this brewing mechanism.

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The king of coffee makers

In the summer, the drink of choice at Drip Coffeeist is the cold brew, and it is indeed, very good; after all, it’s the drink that peaked my interest in interviewing Drip Coffeeist. The baristas at Drip brew their cold drip in the Kyoto-style meaning water drips drop by drop down the chambers to saturate the coffee grounds (for more details, click here). The process is extremely time intensive but the end product is worth it. Bottles of freshly brewed cold coffee can be purchased from Drip Coffeeist’s cold case and taken home to enjoy.

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Japanese-style cold brew mechanism

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Grab & go cold brew

If this all seems rather overwhelming, the baristas are happy to give customers a short briefing on the various beans and brewing methods in order to help them select the best combination. While chatting with the owner, I had a feeling that if you attempted all the varieties of beans and roasting methods, you would never be able to get through them all, and yet he reassured me that after 3 or 4 tries, most people find the perfect combination for their taste.

Drip Coffeeist uses single-origin beans, purchased in green bean form from suppliers in Istanbul. The beans are then roasted at Drip Coffeist’s Bağdat Caddesi location according to the particular brewing methods they will be used for. This process ensures that Drip Coffeeist controls and oversees the entire process, from green bean to the customer’s coffee cup. The best beans? El Salvador for espresso and Sumatra for brewing.

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Choose the beans for your perfect cup

So there you have it, go pick out your perfect combo at Drip Coffeeist. I tried a pour over with the Ethiopian beans and it was delish.

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Visit Drip Coffeeist in Asmalımescit

Drip Coffeeist’s Asmalımescit location can easily be reached from Tünel, Şişhane metro, or Istiklal Caddesi, and is located on the same street as the Adahan Hotel.

Asmalımescit Mahallesi, Meşrutiyet Caddesi,General Yazgan Sokak, No 9/A, Beyoğlu, İstanbul

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A breath of fresh air in Antakya & İskenderun

There is no other city quite like Istanbul, but despite its aching beauty, a city of 15 million can be incredibly overwhelming. Every so often, all Istanbul residents – myself included – get an urge to escape the city to catch one’s breath and rejuvenate the soul. For me, I usually head straight to Bursa, but I was happy to change it up for a weekend in Antakya, İskenderun and Adana with friends, Nazlı and Berk. A brief stay on the Mediterranean Sea, and I returned to Istanbul feeling refreshed and relaxed with a large bag of citrus to bring some joy to the Istanbul winter.

We landed in Adana early on Saturday morning and started off the weekend with breakfast at Can Cafe en route to Antakya. After an impossibly long wait, our grumbling tummies were rewarded with a spread of magnificent proportions including all the standard Turkish breakfast items, plus many more: various spiced and dried cheeses drizzled in olive oil, spicy ezme-like breakfast salads, breakfast-style eggplant dishes, and finally, tahini for the sweet tooth. We were surprised when the waitress asked whether we wanted normal tea or kaçak çay, tea smuggled from across the border. We opted for the kaçak çay which we found richer and deeper in color.

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Breakfast spread minus the potatoes and eggs

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The view from the breakfast cafe

After we had our fill, we headed straight for Antakya where we explored the city’s covered bazaar, a testament to Antakya’s reputation as a food lover’s mecca. Not only did we stock up on spices and the dried cheeses from breakfast, I witnessed the making of künefe, one of my all-time favorite Turkish desserts, and tasted lahmacun piping hot from the oven.

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Preparing strands of kadayıf to be used in künefe

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Finished kadayıf ready to be assembled

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A künefe workshop with baked künefe in the foreground

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A portion of cheesy künefe soaked in syrup at Petek Pastanesi in İskenderun

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Fresh bread and lahmacun from the oven in Antakya’s bazaar

In the evening, we dined at Şirinyer Balık Restoranı in İskenderun, a city once known as Alexandretta, or “Little Alexandria” as Nazlı, a Greek aficionado, patiently informed us. The selection of mezes at Şirinyer was huge and very much Middle Eastern-inspired; we opted for hummus topped with olive oil (hummus with butter was also an option), muhammara (red pepper & walnut dip), and Ali Nazik (fried eggplant in garlic yogurt, topped with minced meat). We followed the mezes with fried calamari and one large lagos fish which the waiter recommended we order fried, not grilled.

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A vast meze selection at Şirinyer. Muhammara is front and center.

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Fried calamari

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Lagos

The Ali Nazik was a hit; I had only previously had it served kebap-style, but the meze version was delightful. The heat of the muhammara was deceptive, light on walnuts but packed with the red pepper the region is so famous for, the heat crept up on you when you were least expecting it. The lagos turned out to be an extremely meaty fish with plenty to go around for the three of us. The waiter did, however, look disappointed when we left the head; I momentarily felt ashamed that none of us were willing to tackle it, but as soon as a plate of fresh fruit was set in front of us, we quickly forgot.

On Sunday morning in İskenderun, we had breakfast at the open buffet in one of the city’s three Petek Patisseries. We were served toasted bread topped with rosemary and drizzled with olive oil, and helped ourselves to an abundance of fresh herbs, mücver stuffed with greens, za’atar in olive oil, menemen deep red with ripe peppers, and yogurt thick as cheese. We were in food heaven, and over a glass of fresh mango juice for Nazlı and several cups of tea for me, we hatched a plan for a book together.

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One table from Petek Patisserie’s open buffet breakfast with fresh herbs, thick yogurt, regional cheeses, olives, and jams. A separate table offered baked goods and hot dishes.

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The İskenderun beach near Şirinyer

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Nazlı and Berk picking lemons

I found İskenderun to be a positively charming city nestled on the Mediterranean coast at the foot of the Nur (Amanos) mountains. Even in December, the gardens were lush with lemons and oranges, and despite the howling wind at night, the weather was perfect for a morning walk along the seaside. Christmas trees made of macaroons seemed to be on every street corner and the spirit of a Mediterranean Christmas hung in the air. The region’s diverse mix of religions and its rich history of French and Syrian influence have surely left its mark.

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Mountains and sea in İskenderun’s city center

Back in Istanbul, I returned to the hustle and bustle of the city, heaving my bag of  lemons and oranges along with me, just as all Istanbulites do after a weekend in the countryside.

No. 41, the only Beşiktaş cafe you need to know

On weekend mornings, I’m always at No. 41 Beşiktaş, a favorite cafe of mine tucked away on Yıldız Caddesi, parallel to Barbaros Boulevard and not far from Abbasağa Park. Everyone needs a coffeeshop that’s their home away from home, and for me, that’s No. 41. Even when moving from Dikilitaş to Beşiktaş, No. 41 was my anchor, with delicious coffee and friendly conversation with owners İbrahim and Kazım. There’s also a sly one-eyed cat lurking around that I’ve taken a particular liking to.

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İbrahim and Kazım opened No. 41 in April 2014 and it’s been a labor of love. High school friends from Afyon and later roommates while studying at nearby Yildiz Technical University, İbrahim and Kazım know the area particularly well. Their customer-base is vast including employees from nearby corporates,  neighborhood families with pets in tow, foreigners grabbing their coffee to-go, and couples and groups of young people relaxing. After the marathon, I even caught a group of runners getting their caffeine fix.

No. 41 serves all the standards from espresso to pour overs, lattes to Turkish coffee. Customer favorites include the chemex, syphon and cortado.  I wasn’t familiar with the cortado – espresso cut with milk – which İbrahim described as more sert than the latte. I gave it a whirl and it paired perfectly with the Nutella cake, my personal favorite. The cafe offers a rotating selection of boutique cakes as well as pizza every Wednesday. In the summer, you can find salads and the cafe’s signature watermelon slush, served on vintage pink plates and in mason jars.

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Preparing coffee with the chemex, similar to a pour over

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The cold brew coffee contraption

From concept to execution, İbrahim and Kazım have done it all themselves and are very humble about the talent and passion they have poured into No. 41. The design and decor are the work of their hands. They set the vibe with a great music selection, sometimes Bon Iver, sometimes old school jazz, sometimes French, but always, very, very good. And, since it’s just İbrahim and Kazım working the barista bar, you can always be sure you’ll find one of them at the cafe. The two make a point of remembering their customers and catching up with them even when their Turkish is dismal like mine (& for that I am very appreciative!). İbrahim describes the cafe as a samimi bir yer with arkadaşlık sıcak. In other words, you know you’re in good hands when warm friendship is at the core of the owners’ philosophy.

Next time you are in the Beşiktaş area, skip all those franchises.  Head up Barbaros for No. 41’s friendly spirit and yummy coffee. It’s so good you might end up like this guy:

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The one-eyed cat sunbathing after a coffee binge.

No. 41 has an amazing social media presence so be sure to check them out on Instagram & Twitter.

How to get there? 

Get off at the Yıldız University bus stop, walk up the small flight of stairs to the large veggie/fruit stand, continue down Yıldız Caddesi and you will see No. 41 on your right. If you don’t mind hills, get off at the Barbaros Boulevard bus stop, and walk up the incline directly to the right of Cheya Hotel until you get to Yıldız Caddesi, then turn right onto Yıldız Caddesi and you’ll find yourself in front of No. 41. The cafe is also easily accessible from Abbasağa Park, just follow Yıldız Caddesi. If you hadn’t guessed, No. 41 refers to the cafe’s street address. There’s also a great sahaf (second-hand bookstore) across the street with early editions of Turkish classics and ephemera.

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Hours of Operation

Weekday hours: 8 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Weekend hours: 9:30 am – 7:30 p.m.

All photos used with permission of No. 41.

 

Turkey day in Turkey

I’ve been sharing a lot of fun and quirky articles this past week about Turkey in Turkey. If you missed them, check out Why Americans Call Turkey ‘Turkey‘ and What’s the Word for Turkey in Turkish. Instead of heading out to one of the city’s swanky hotels for Thanksgiving, we decided to pull together a potluck Thanksgiving dinner with American colleagues from work. After several trips to Macro Center for supplies and a few nights in the kitchen, I finally pulled off the two dishes I was responsible for – deviled eggs and green bean casserole (next year, I want to make this cranberry sauce with figs). I substituted Ayşe Kadın beans for İzmir fasulyesi, the type most similar to American string beans, since the haricot vert style were nowhere to be found in my neighborhood. The turkey was prepared by Macro Center; they had accidentally given away the turkey my colleague had reserved and in order to make up for it, they cooked and delivered a turkey just in time for dinner.

If you are heading out for turkey in Turkey, be wary of the hotels’ Thanksgiving dinners. Last year, the same group of colleagues and I went to the Renaissance and many of the dishes looked like traditional Thanksgiving dishes and that’s where the resemblance stopped. The cranberry sauce? Yeah, they were sour cherries and the stuffing nothing more than spiced couscous; they also served the turkey with the neck still on! The Conrad, however, comes highly recommended  by a very reliable source so if I head out to a hotel again for Thanksgiving, that’s where you’ll find me.

Our Thanksgiving view, overlooking Istanbul:

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Istanbul cityscape

My family’s Thanksgiving view:

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A wintry Wisconsin wonderland

A great contrast, don’t you think?

The eyesore seen from Yoros Castle

Controversial construction projects have become one of the defining marks of Erdogan’s reign, and the Third Bosphorus Bridge is perhaps the most conspicuous of them all although the recent presidential palace has certainly garnered its fair share of attention. Critics say the 3rd bridge will irreparably damage the environment and surrounding natural area, not to mention it will cast an iron silhouette over the once pristine view of the waters where the Bosphorus and Black Sea meet. Those wild boars running around Istanbul? You can also chalk that up to the 3rd bridge.

My first view of the infamous bridge was when my friend Heidi  was visiting from the States. Instead of doing the typical tourist activities, we escaped the city and headed out to Anadolu Kavağı to see Yoros Castle. It was a gorgeous May day (the best time of year to visit Istanbul), the sun high and weather breezy. We took a ferry from Sariyer which turned out to be only a short 5 minute jaunt across the Bosphorus and found ourselves in the sleepy fishing village of Anadolu Kavağı. Yoros Castle is located uphill from the main square and instead of hiking our way up, we flagged a taxi and paid a premium price for the 5 minute ride. I recommend doing the same.

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The ferry landing at Anadolu Kavağı

Once we arrived at Yoros, I was surprised to find that there was no official museum kiosk; instead, people were haphazardly milling around. One area – the side facing the water – had been gated off, and a man who was neither in uniform nor wearing an official tour guide badge appeared to be the guardian of this gate. Every 15 minutes or so he would let a handful of people pass to the other side, close the gate behind them, and give them just enough time to take in the view and snap a few photos before signaling to them that it was time to wrap up.

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The ruins of Yoros Castle

From the side of Yoros which faces the water, one has a clear view of the construction of the 3rd bridge. The picture below was taken in May 2014 and one can see that already a good deal of green space has been cleared and the supports erected. .

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The view of the 3rd bridge from Yoros Castle

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The view coming down from Yoros Castle

On the way down, we passed a multitude of cafes with great views but shady menus (i.e. the kind with no prices). We snapped some pictures but passed on what I assume were extremely overpriced mezzes and drinks.

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Delicious fried mussels at Kafkas Cafe & Restaurant, located right at the main square and ferry landing

Back in the center of Anadolu Kavağı, we had fried mussels and fish sandwiches at Kafkas Cafe & Restaurant. The fried mussels were delicious, light and crispy, and hot from the grill. Whenever I think about the best fried mussels in Istanbul, Kafkas is the first place that comes to mind. Heidi who hails from the land of seafood has vowed to bring fried mussels to the East Coast. I think it’s guaranteed to be a hit.

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Heidi finds a little munchkin in AnadoluKavağı

How to get there:

From Beşiktaş, take a minibüs/dolmuş from Barbaros Blvd to the Sariyer iskele and then a ferry from Sariyer to Anadolu Kavağı. The ferry doesn’t run frequently so do check the schedule ahead of time otherwise you may find yourself in Sariyer with hours to spare.

Homemade food with a twist of Tarsus

Not only does Dört Kadıköy serve up good coffee  and hospitality, they also get a thumbs up for their recommendation to visit Sımsıcak Ev Yemekleri, a restaurant just a few storefronts down the street. At first my friends and I were just going to stop in for a tea since we had had our fill of coffee and desserts at Dört, but we certainly couldn’t say no to all the mouth-watering dishes on display. We ordered a huge spread and sat down to eat while at the same time informally interviewing the owner.

Sımsıcak Ev Yemekleri (translation: really hot homemade food) features a set menu of dishes which customers pick from the display up front, and they also rotate in different dishes depending on what’s fresh and in season at the local market. The owner’s family is originally from Tarsus, and thus, he also tries to incorporate goods from the Tarsus area when possible such as olive oil and pomegranate sauce, dried veggies, and spices.

Like Helvetia in Asmalımescit, Sımsıcak has several dishes for the vegetarian crowd, and for everyone worried about whether the veggies we eat in Istanbul restaurants are cleaned well, don’t fret at Sımsıcak. They wash all their vegetables three times, yes that’s right, three times. First in water, then in vinegar, and again, rinsed in water. And for those lamenting the amount of plastic bottles used in restaurants, Sımsıcak has one large water cooler where you can fill up your water glass, enormously cutting down on the amount of wasted plastic.

In addition to an amazing karnıyarıkone of my all-time favorite Turkish dishes – the restaurant’s two standouts were the eggplant puree and çıntar mantar. Eggplant puree is a standard Turkish dish made by roasting eggplant over a gas-burning stove and then pureeing it. Delicious, right? Well, as much as I like eggplant, I often find the finished puree to be too strong on the palette, either because of the burnt flavor or the bitterness of the fruit. Sımsıcak’s eggplant puree, however, was so smooth that for a split second, I doubted that it was even eggplant. When we asked the owner about his magical puree, he told us about a secret ingredient he incorporates into the dish. Where he got the idea for it is baffling since it’s not a common ingredient  used in traditional Turkish cooking, but it’s genius all the same. He did, however, ask us to keep the secret ingredient a secret, so I’m keeping my word.

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Karnıyarık, split eggplant stuffed with minced meat

The other highlight was the çıntar mantar, a mushroom which grows in Tarsus on the cedar tree but can also be found on kızılçam (red pines) in the Kanlıca area of Istanbul. I had never heard of çıntar mantar before, and in fact, I have been struggling to find the correct English translation but another blogger has referred to it as a Saffron Milk Cap. To be honest, I thought it was ciğer (liver) at first  due to its meaty appearance, and when I tasted it, it certainly had a meatier texture (& better taste!) than the standard table mushroom. For this very reason, the çıntar mantar is an ideal meat substitute and may feature in some of Sımsıcak’s dishes traditionally made with meat. Mushroom-stuffed mantı, anyone?

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Chopped çıntar mantar with grated vegetables

Just when you are starting to think that you might be enjoying a homemade meal made by your favorite Turkish abla, teyze, or kaynana, you are kindly reminded by the mustachioed Charlie Chaplin on the wall that you are in Kadıköy after all, and that you’ll step out into the streets to be swept up in the energy of Istanbul. But don’t forget to pay the bill first, and trust me, Sımsıcak Ev Yemekleri is quite the deal!

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Zucchini stew with mint

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Lentil balls (mercimek köfte) with assorted pickles

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Saçaklı köfte (meatballs with shredded potato) on a bed of potatoes, peppers, and eggplant with yogurt

Istanbul’s post-modern neighborhood cafe: Dört Kadıköy

 “A post-modern neighborhood cafe.” That’s how Neylan Öğütveren, one of the owners of Kadıköy’s newest cafe – Dört Kadıköy – describes it. Her goal is to create community and do something good for the neighborhood in a time when people aren’t sharing enough and need to know each other more than ever. From my perspective, her and her three business partners (and very close friends) Fahri, Emrah, and Ürün are off to a running start. I connected with Neylan over Twitter @dortkadikoy and set up an interview with her shortly after the opening of Dört Kadıköy earlier this month.

Due to Neylan’s welcoming spirit and outgoing personality, the interview turned out to be an informal chat between friends. I got to hear all about her inspiration and vision for Dört Kadıköy while enjoying a refreshing cold brew and warm walnut brownie topped with ice cream, followed by an artisan latte.

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Latte art, the way to my heart

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Cold brew drip mechanism

Dört Kadıköy isn’t your normal Istanbul coffee shop; in fact, it’s much more than a place that just serves coffee although they do that well, too. The cafe promotes a healthy lifestyle and welcomes four pawed friends. Don’t forget to say hi to Zeus, Neylan’s and her partner Fahri’s, Doberman in the back, and if you bike to the cafe, you get 20% of your purchase. The coffee and tea are organic and Neylan expects to expand their menu to include organic and vegan selections. Now, that’s something I can get behind.

The cafe is already holding Friday night Spanish language tables and plans to expand its community events to include long-table discussions and workshops including topics such as: COFFEE. The owners completed an extensive coffee training course here in Istanbul and they want to pass the information they learned onto the greater community – how to select beans, which brewing system to use, etc. Thanks to Dört Kadıköy’s partnership with Petra Roasting Co., a roasting company that made a big splash on the Istanbul coffee scene earlier this year, Dört Kadıköy is serving top of the line beans from one of Istanbul’s leading roasters.

Neylan’s background in Performance Art Management and Digital Performance also comes through loud and clear, and no detail has gone unattended to. The cafe’s interior design channels the Brutalist style, and in fact, the cafe was previously a repair shop so this too was an inspiration for the cafe’s design. The walls will soon be home to installations of local artists (first up is Çandaş Şişman) as well as permanent artwork. The logo’s design by Emre Parlak was inspired by the Bauhaus Movement and it’s an aesthetically pleasing logo that jives well with the cafe’s trendy brand.

Oh, did I mention the baked goods are homemade by women in Moda? That’s community for you.

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Syphon coffee with baked goods

 

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My lovely ladies enjoying the goods. The more the merrier when exploring new places!

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Sample menu (subject to change)

Exploring Istanbul’s urban food system on the Princes’ Islands

I’ve started writing for the Miracle of Feeding Cities, a website that explores the urban food system in some of the world’s major cities. The project is supported by the University of Texas at Austin and it is a great initiative that has got me thinking more critically about Istanbul’s food system and the sustainability of our current food practices.

Check out my article on the Princes’ Islands where I took a look at the islands’ food distribution system and its opportunities and challenges. A big shoutout goes to Gurkan for helping me with the interviews and research and Becky Altinman for being extremely helpful throughout every step of the process – providing first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to live on Buyukada, how the locals navigate the local food landscape, and connecting me with the friendly people of Plus Kitchen!