Showing posts with label Turkish eats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Turkish eats. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Turkish Simit or Greek Koulouri: By Whatever Name. . .

. . .the fact is, it is yummy!

One of my favorite foods when eating in Greece is the ‘koulouri’ or in Turkey, the ‘simit’.  It is basically the same food, just known by different names.

Similar versions of this bread-shaped-like-a-huge-donut can be found throughout the Middle East, including Serbia, Egypt, Lebanon and the Balkans. In each place, it is called by a different name. The creations originated centuries ago.

By whatever name, it is one of the cheapest foods to be found in both countries in which we traveled this spring. Depending on your point of view, simit or koulouri is either ‘street food’ or ‘fast food’ (and one of the healthiest fat-and sugar-free fast foods to be eaten.)

We were introduced to the Turkish simit a few years back while exploring the port city of Trabzon, Turkey, (where the photo above was taken). I was so impressed with my new food find, that I wrote about it and had to show off the one I was eating – still warm out of the bakery oven. (Click here for that post).

At a cost of about one Euro or a Turkish Lira (about $1.25US) these baked dough circles encrusted with sesame seeds are so filling that it is easy to eat one for lunch or breakfast. (They are probably great with a bit of jam on them.) We’ve always eaten them on-the-go; purchased from street vendors in both Greece and Turkey who set up carts like the one pictured below.  This enterprising salesman on Ermou Street in Athens had added donuts to his offerings, but they weren’t selling as fast as those sesame wonders.


This fellow also served variety of koulouri, which was new to us. It was filled with chocolate – not an overly sweet chocolate and with a consistency of cake frosting. Those lovelies are stacked on the center right in the photo below. (We split one of them for ‘lunch’ and ate on it all afternoon – as a little went a long way.)


While researching the history of simit and koulouri, I came across a two-year-old web article  that said the Istanbul Simit Tradesman Chamber had petitioned for an international patent for the circular creation to be officially known at the Turkish Simit.  I found no follow up reports, so that will remain a mystery unless one of you kind readers can update us on that initiative.

By whatever name. . .my favorite new flavor came from a small bakery in Mykonos, Greece. It was there I discovered the wonders of the apple-filled koulouri. It was heavenly! Again,purchased for ‘lunch’ but it lasted all afternoon. BTW, if I had to choose between this and apple pie, this tasty morsel would win, hands down!


We came to expect those simit/koulouri vendors and their carts at ferry ports and tourist attractions and along city streets. The most enterprising salesman though was the man who passed us on the Galata Bridge as we walked over Istanbul’s Golden Horn. He was selling to the fishermen who lined the bridge:


Have you tried these tasty treats or something similar? Where did you eat them and by what were they called?

We are linking up this week with Inside Journeys Foodie Tuesday and Noel Morata’s Travel Photo Monday. Hope you’ll come back again later this week for another serving of our Greek and Turkish travels. As always, thanks for your time and your comments!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Istanbul: One Sweet Taste of History!

Our four nights in Istanbul came no where near satiating our sensory experiences. Although we made a valiant attempt. Too many sights, sounds, smells and tastes will simply have to wait until ‘next time’!

On our quest to ‘see everything’ we logged 9.5 miles on our pedometer our first day in town and agreed that we had earned a visit to the popular confectionery  “Hafiz Mustafa 1864” just off Taksim Square.


At the time, we didn’t know anything about the place other than it tempted with confectionery treats that made your mouth water just looking at them. The photo below is only one small section of one of the many displays:

From a history page in the menu, we learned that this candy store got its start 150 years ago during the early years of Sultan Abdulaziz’s reign of the Ottoman Empire.


Founder Ismail Hakke Zade came to Istanbul to be a money lender. He began making a candy called, “akide” a type of rock candy in the basement of his shop.  It wasn’t long before his son Hafiz Mustafa came up with another creation, ‘pogaca’ – palm-sized buns served with or without filling. The two items were hits and the rest, as they say, is history.


Hafiz took over the business and by the early 1900’s had won 11 European medals for confectionery creations. Over the years the location has been renovated and updated but still has a wonderful historic feel to it. During our brief visit we watched the tables pictured below fill completely and lines three and four people deep were continuous at the take-away counters.

The menu itself was a treat - a small volume complete with photos and descriptions of candies, cakes, pastries, teas, and coffees. Its cover features the Hafiz Mustafa logo with the word, “Istanbul” written in Turkish.


So, in what did we indulge? We had a ‘filter coffee’ (meaning regular coffee) and a cappuccino and. . .


This is chocolate mousse with sponge cake at the bottom. The sprinkles on top are chocolate, coconut and pistachio nuts. The picture doesn’t show the size of this serving - it was a bowl, not a dish – it was huge and easily shared by two.

If you find yourself in Istanbul, be sure to visit this ‘historic site’ for one sweet taste of history! For hours, menus, location and time visit their web site:  We are linking up today with Inside Journey’s Foodie Tuesday.


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