Monday, July 11, 2011

BEBEK & LUCCA..... with Luka!!!

Talk about a hot hot day in Istanbul! Dear readers... I believe summer has FINALLY arrived in Istanbul. Until today, the weather has been milder than normal and we had on and off rains, but like the meterologist said a couple of days ago... "the temps in Istanbul and rest of Turkey will rise and be about 3-4 centigrades above average". 3-4 centigrades might not sound like alot - but it is!!!!

Now that I work on a "freelance" basis since January 2011, I no longer dread Mondays! It's just another day for me and that feels good!

However, since I have a lovely little pup - his name is Luka - he came into my life on  May 10, I no longer need an alarm clock!!! The little bugger wakes me up EVERY morning at 8:15am - he doesn't care what time I went to bed. According to him, this is the time that the day MUST begin!!! Sure, he sleeps on and off all day - I on the other hand, don't go to bed until at least 1:00am - even if I am just haning out at home - I am a night owl!

First... just some info on Luka -it's a long story - so I will give you the short version... Luka (male) is a maltese terrier - he is about 9 months old, 3,5 kgs and I love him to pieces! He came into my life on May 10 - so we are still getting to know each other. As you can see,now that it is the summer - he has a haircut as it is too warm to have his coat longer (like in the photo of Luka and I in my main page post photo).

After our morning ritual - a walk around my housing complex, breakfast and reading the papers - I had some errands to run for my mom but decided that before doing that... Luka and I should take a trip down to Bebek.

Sorry for the bad photos of Bebek, but I forgot my camera - had to take them with my iphone on a very very sunny day (couldn't see anything) with a little dog dragging me!

Bebek - which means "baby" in English is on the Bosphorus waterfront and one of the trendiest neighborhoods in town. The waterfront area (the main street is called Cevdetpaşa Caddesi) is not more than about 10-11 blocks (counting Bebek Park and the area with just apartment buildings and the entrance to Bosphorus University), but has sooooo much to offer its residents and visitors! But, I guess this is "good" if you are visiting, but can be a problem if you live there... it is sometimes too lively!

Let me put it to you this way... of the total 11 blocks, in about a 7 block radius, there is a boutique hotel, lots of cafes/restaurants, pastry shops, grocery stores, fishmonger, pharmacist, bookstore, banks, fishmonger, florist, jewelery store, fast food eateries and more! At the end of the article, I will give you some recommendations on some of my favorite places.

Luka and I arrived in Bebek at around 1:30pm and walked from the entrance to Bosphorus University to my favorite place in Bebek - Lucca ( - both with our tongues hanging out from the heat! In fact, I had to carry good ole Luka part of the way because he got tired - and it's not such a long walk! Upon sitting down and seeing our situation, Sonat (the waitress) immediately gave us water to quench our thirsts and cool down. This is not the first time that my Luka has gone to Lucca... so all the waiters know him too!

Lucca is my home away from home - I have been a regular customer since Lucca opened a little over 5 years ago... I know the owner - Cem Mirap - a great guy and savvy businessman AND the recent father of twins! I know all the managers, waiters and head bartender (Cevat Yıldırım... makes EXCELLENT cocktails and has created some of his own too) by name and they know me... they know what I like to drink and what I like to eat. They know when I am happy - when I am sad and a couple of them had even invited me to their weddings! Most of the clientele also know each other - either they became friends at Lucca or know each other from other places. In lots of ways, it is a very "clicky" (but all customers are welcomed with open arms) and in an article I wrote on Lucca several years ago for The Guide Istanbul, I had compared it to an old popular TV series... "Cheers" - where everyone knows your name!

It's hard to figure out why Lucca is still sooooooooooo popular after all these years, but I think it mainly has to do with the fact that the food is very very good and updated periodically, prices are not outrageous, the wait staff is incredible as far as I am concerned and its very homey and inviting..

Normally, it is very difficult to find a place to sit outdoors (even in the winter!), but since it is the summer and most of its regular customers go away for long weekends to the south of Turkey - I had no problem finding a place to sit. I ordered a glass of red wine - a malbec (yup... even in the heat - I prefer red wine to white, rose or blush wines) and 2 light appetizers - mozarella cheese and tomato bruschetta and grilled asparagus drizzled with olive oil and slices of parmesan cheese.

My fav dishes here are the shrimp and duck rolls, grilled salmon, pan-fried seabass and grilled köfte (turkish version of meatballs but oval), but it was so hot I wanted to have a light meal...The menu includes numerous appetizers, sandwiches, salads, mains and desserts. Also, during the evenings, a couple of sushi/sashimi dishes are available.

After a second glass of wine and espresso... Luka and I said goodbye to Lucca and went to Levent to do my mom's errands... then visited mom and got home around 5:30pm and Luka has been out cold ever since! I on the other hand have checked my emails, facebook account and now preparing my post! I am wiped out too... so I better go to sleep early - little Luka will be waking me up at 8:15am!!


Where to Eat/shop, etc.

Seafood: Bebek Balıkçısı ( a little expensive, but definitely worth it! Make reservations)

Cafes: Mangerie (is not on the street level, but rather on the top floor of a building at Cevdetpaşa Caddesi No. 69 - food is very good with indoor and outdoor dining areas); Kitchenette - steps from Lucca with indoor and spacious outdoor dining areas).

Drinks/Snacks: Bebek Bar (at the Bebek Hotel) - has been around for over 35 years! Right on the waterfront.. nice and quiet/relaxing and good snacks and some main courses available during lunch and dinner hours. Also, even though a bar, you can stop by for coffee... tea...a cola... fruit juice...

Fast Food: for a juicy burger - Dükkan Burger! They have a few tables, but you can also take out.

Pastries: Baylan ... a longstanding pastry shop  - they opened a branch in Bebek last year - they also have indoor and outdoor seating areas.

Shopping: Yargıcı Accessories ... nice selection of casual attire and accessories with many branches throughout the city.

Other: Meşhur Bebek Badem Ezmesi - the marzipan and almond candy is delicious! Ladurée - French purveyors of macaroons.. they are produced in France and shipped to Turkey. Laleli Olives & Olive Oils (self explanatory!)

Charcuterie/Deli: Santral Şarküteri... the BEST appetizers prepared fresh daily. They also carry alot of products from the USA too (cereals, soups, pancake mix, etc.), but expensive.

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