What is now known as the city of Istanbul, Turkey has been a settlement of humankind for 3,000 years. It was first founded by tribes, colonized by the Greeks, fell to the Roman Empire, and later the Ottoman Empire. With history this deep, you can imagine that Turkish cuisine is quite extensive. Therefore, it was important to me to get help from someone with more knowledge of this immense history. I did some research and discovered Istanbul On Food’s Taste of Two Continents Food Tour. The food tour covers a wide variety of dishes on both the European and Anatolian side of the city. Before I knew it, I was strapped in for a six hour food adventure!
The Taste of Two Continents Food Tour departed at 9:30am near the Istanbul Spice Market, which dates back to 1664 when it opened. Our tour guide was Ayse who was simply lovely! The market felt very special with all the very Turkish items for sale. We made our way through labyrinth of shops and learned a lot along the way. We gathered a few items for a hearty breakfast, and then stopped at a small nearby café to feast. The meal included cheese, olives, eggs, sausages, tea, and more. It was tasty and a great way to start the day!
After our first meal, it was on to the next stop, but not before making our way through several other alleys of the market. The next food stop was a bone marrow soup called Beyran çorbası. This was truly heartwarming. It reminded me of Japanese Tonkotsu Ramen broth, which also cooks down bones creating a rich and deep flavor. Although it looks simple, this soup packed quite a punch!
We made our way out of the market and then to the nearest ferry pier, just a few steps away from the market. We learned a bit about the extensive culinary history of the Ottoman Empire along the way. Over my few weeks in the city, I’ve grown to absolutely adore the ferry boat rides. About 20 minutes later and we were on the Anatolian side.
Our first food stop on the Asian side was at the originator of the vertical Turkish kebab. Passed down from generation to generation, this restaurant served the juiciest kebab meat I had ever had.
We made our way through another market and ended up at a full-blown lunch with lots of Turkish Meze to sample. One of my favorite items of the entire meal was the candied tomato. Although the other dishes were good, the tomato absolutely blew my mind, which was topped with clotted cream. This paired with a little Turkish coffee was one of the best desserts I’ve had in recent memory.
A little bit more walking through some more modern parts of the city and then we made a quick stop for stuffed muscles. Some spicy, some mild, all were tasty and squirted with lemon. Much better than the ones I had tried at a famous shop on the European side.
Even though we were super stuffed, it was time for several types of Turkish Baklava! The green you see in the pictures are pistachios and offer a different flavor than the standard version. Turkey has so many varieties that come with different textures and moisture levels. All of them accompanied with a Turkish tea were just divine.
Even though I practically needed to be rolled down the street because I was so stuffed, I agreed to try Turkish ice cream and an intestine sandwich. These were both very interesting to say the least!
It was truly a lovely day and I was so excited and happy that I got to try so many different Turkish dishes from this extensive cuisine. Ayse, our tour guide, knew an incredible amount of knowledge on cuisine, culture, and history. This was a well-rounded and well-planned tour that offered a lot of variety. I can easily recommend the Istanbul On Food company!