A Stir The Pots Post

Istanbul: Act V “Breakfast of honey and olives…then some!”

by | Sep 14, 2008 | Istanbul

Most of the mornings visiting Dilara in Istanbul, I would enter her restaurant before any of the staff or customers. I’d sit there, lazily looking out on the Bosporus, taking in the passing tankers and small boats.



I’m not sure if it was the heat, my vacation, or perhaps the leisurely pace of Istanbul, but it certainly seemed slow in comparison to my hectic lifestyle in New York. Their laid-back pace could become addictive. It seemed like even the food seemed more relaxed.


Certainly the breakfasts had a leisurely feel, even luxuriously indulgent. Apparently, the Turkish morning staples are the most important meal. The first breakfast I remember thinking it was a bit similar to your basic European assortment of jam, butter, bread
basket and cheese. Only here it had a Middle Eastern flavor: olives, string cheese, a neon-pink Turkish version of
mortadella, and a spread not entirely traditional but naughty, nutella. Snuggled between the
cheese and charcuterie was a julienne of cucumbers, tomatoes, and a dip of olive oil
with oregano.

One morning I remember slathering my honeycomb butter over my bread, watching Dilara direct her team forPhoto

the days business. In between she  picked an olive from my plate, her eyes all the while busy surveying the action. “The olives aren’t fresh !” she yelled out to her market purveyor who was just bringing in the delivery from his local village runs. All the while I was immersed in the flavors of honey-olives-oil and fresh baked bread- Not even Dilara  or heat of the sun reflecting off the Bosporus could make the day go faster as I savored the unctuous  sweetness of my Turkish breakfast.

Menu day 4 Istanbul:
Cucumber yogurt soup garnished with avocado, chili and pickled onions with Dilaras favorite new garnish Bagel chips.Photo

Pan roasted monkfish with crisp polenta, confit tomatoes, arugula salad ,topped with olive and figue tapenade (adapted from David Lebovitz’s,by Carrie Brown)Photo


Upside caramelized fruit cake with strawberry red wine jam.

We whipped up all three of the dishes for demos and went down to eat. There I met a gentleman and his wife who apparently was also a restaurateur. We were joined by John, an expat friend of Dilaras who had a uncanny resemblance to James Beard. Dilara told me he wanted to take me to brunch at the Sultan Ahmet Four Seasons. Dilara and her friends chided John to take me to something more ethnic. For whatever reason, he was attached to the idea.


We had a tasting of meze dishes as well as some of my own, including grilled sardines. I tried Dilara’s confit of lamb rack with Bulgur pilaf olives, lacquered with pomegranate molasses.Photo


And then we had a varied meze plate that included a
variation of babaganoush with fava beans rather than chick peas. My favorite the Armenian rice and mussel dish with currants, pine nuts and spices. Calamari stuffed with cheese and grilled. Everything was great and the restaurant was full.Photo

Dilara gave her final instructions as we bid adieu to Ahmet and the staff, we were heading to town.


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