Saturday, October 22, 2011

What's "UP" in Istanbul/1... an ongoing series

Dear readers,

Istanbul is such an ever-changing, exciting and lively city! I say this with total honesty and confidence... just like New York City, there is something to do 24/7 - the city just does not shut down! There are many clubs that are open until the wee hours of the morning and there is always a place that is open where you can grab a bite to eat a night of partying! You can also shop to your heart's content - 7 days a week because of the countless shopping malls around town and even some boutiques in certain neighborhoods are also open on Sunday! 

So, I've decided to prepare posts on just some of the happenings around town... this is just a drop in the bucket of course, but it will give you a flavor and hopefully peak your interest - whether you are a resident or plan on visiting Istanbul! 

Once again... this is not a "one shot" post and I will be preparing like posts from time to time... so enjoy Istanbul!!!

BUT... BEFORE YOU GET TO THE TOPIC AT HAND... as alwyays, I must digress and share some news with you!

On Thurday, October 20 ... Luka, my one year-old (it was his birthday yesterday!) started his own blog! I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree! He will be writing on a whole lot of different topics - from his perspective...

If you are interested in what he has to say (and I bet the kids will be interested too - already my nephew went nuts over the first post!), visit

"relaxing" after my bath yesterday
And... he would love to get some comments from you and promises to answer each and every one of them!


Located in a lovely restored historical building in Tepebaşı, Beyoğlu and established by the Suna & Inan Kıraç Foundation, the Pera Museum ( was established in 2005 and opened its doors to the public in June.

At the 5-story museum, the 1st and 2nd floor is allocated for their permanent collection while floors 3-5 are used for temporary exhibitions. In the basement, there is an auditorium used for meetings, etc. and there is a very nice cafe (Pera Cafe) and Art Shop on the main floor.

The museum has been home to many notable internationally recognized exhibitions - and in my opinion, the most important one was of the works of worldclass artist Botero a couple of years ago. But, each and every exhibit is important unto its own.
Currently, an exhibit titled Osman Hamdi Bey and the Americans: Archaeology, Diplomacy, Art" opened on October 15 and will be on display until January 8th.

An important orientalist painter, Osman Hamdi Bey (1842-1910) is most known for his famous painting titled "Tortoise Trainer" however, his life long contributions in the arts (paintings, archaeology, museology and art education) must also be remembered.

Organized in cooperation with the Pera Museum and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, the exhibit is curated by Prof. Renata Holod and Prof. Robert Ousterhoust from the University of Pennsylvania and focuses on the first excavations that American archaeologists conducted on Ottoman land - specifically Assos and Nippur.

The exhibit includes a vast selection of paintings by Osman Hamdi Bey, archaeological photographs, drawings (19th Century), letters, travel journals and archaeological artifacts that are being displayed for the first time. The collection is on loan from several museums and private collections and two unknown works of Osman Hamdi Bey, discovered at the Penn Museum, will be introduced to art lovers.
Finally, as part of the museum's new orientalist painting collection, an exhibit tited "Intersecting Worlds: Ambassadors and Painters" is on display at the Sevgi and Erdoğan Gönül Gallery at the museum and a special section has been allocated and includes the works of Osman Hamdi Bey from the Suna and Inan Kıraç Foundation's collection.
I have not yet had a chance to visit this exhibit, but plan to in the near future! The Pera Museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10:00am to 7:00pm and on Sunday from noon to 6:00pm. The admission fee is 10 TL for adults (7 TL for groups of more than 10 people); free for kids up to the age of 12 and for the physically handicapped and their companion; 5 TL - children 12+, educators and senior citizens over the age of 65). (Meşrutiyet Caddesi No. 65, Tepebaşı - Beyoğlu)

Are you a fan of white Alba truffles? Meals prepared with this rare delicacy from the Piemonte Region in Italy are now available at Gina (; Tel: (0212) 353 54 52) Restaurant at Kanyon Shopping Mall and Da Mario (; Tel: (0212) 265 15 96) in Etiler until October 31. I highly suggest you make reservations (for lunch or dinner) before going to either one of these very popular eateries as they are always full!

Most Istanbulites familiar with the popular wining and dining venues around town must have heard of or must have visited Abracadabra located in a 3-story villa in Arnavutköy at one time or another! And... the same people were probably very very disappointed and sad when it closed last year!

But, its crazy (affectionately) and highly talented and creative chef Dilara Erbay is now back with a new restaurant! Called Datlı Maya (have no idea why this name, but as usual Dilara is playing on words.. "datlı" is a slang way of saying "sweet" and "maya" is yeast), Dilara's new eatery is located in Cihangir. Here, she is creating a whole host of down home hearty and delicious Turkish dishes (most prepared in a brick oven) - of course with her very own "twist"! She has a page on Facebook and everytime she posts a new dish, I realize that I have to make the time to high tail it to Datlı Maya as soon as I can squeeze it into my crazy schedule!
 Good luck Dilara! I know you will be just as successful and have a following here - just like at Abracadabra! (Türkgücü Caddesi No. 59A, Cihangir; Tel: (0212) 292 90 56-57;

This piece of news is right up my alley! Doluca, a major Turkish wine producer has organized the 6th Istanbul Kadeh Kaldırıyor (Istanbul is raising its glass) promotion which began on October 19 and will end of October 30.

75 brands of Doluca wines and international wines imported by Doluca will be available by the glass! If you want to try one of these wines without having to open a bottle, then visit Anjelique, Borsa (IstinyePark), Da Mario, Gina, Istanbul Modern, La Brise Brasserie, Masa, Mikla, Sunset Grill & Bar, Şans, Topaz, Vogue and X Restaurant & Cafe until October 30. As you can see, these are some of the better restaurants around town and just some additional info on some of them... Borsa's menu includes some of the best dishes from Turkish cuisines...make sure to try some of their cold olive oil dishes too; at Vogue, not only will you get a very good meal (Japanese & International), the view of the city, the music, and perfectlyprepared pre-dinner cocktails, just adds to the ambiance; La Brise Brasserie will make you feel like you are in a typical French bistro in France! The food is very good - prepared at the hands of Esen Hünal Blake, a young and talented female chef. Some even swear that her Steak Tartare is better than those served at restaurants in France! Sunset Grill & Bar just added some new goodies to their fall/winter menu! Şans is always a treat! Located in a lovely 2-story villa in Levent, you will always enjoy a lovely meal (Turkish & International) accompanied with friendly and attentive service!  
More news from the world of wine! Several years ago, the "then" F&B Director of the Four Seasons Hotel at Sultanahmet - and my very good friend (in 2011, she transferred to the Four Seasons Hotel in Texas) started a casual, yet informative "Wine Tasting" held at the hotel every Friday night. Every week, a different wine producer's (Turkish & International) wines were offered to wine lovers accompanied with cheese, olives, breads, etc. Well, as you can imagine, it took off! However, the wine tastings are not held during the summer months ... but now it's back!
The wine tastings are held every Friday from 7:00pm on and the cost is 40 TL/person. Reservations are a must! (Tel: (0212) 402 31 56). You can also call the hotel and have them add you to their mailing list and get updates each week via email on the wines that will be offered.
The other day, I got together for lunch with an ex-subordinate of mine from my days at The Guide magazines. She too had left her job earlier this year and her new office is at Akmerkez Shopping Mall, which also has office floors and a residence.
Akmerkez Shopping Mall/Ulus entrance
Since she didn't want to waste time in traffic during her lunch break, she suggested we go to Cookshop ( which is right across the street from the Akmerkez Shopping Mall.

I first went to Cookshop when they opened their first branch at City's Nişantaşı a few years ago and liked it very much for a casual meal. Since then I had been to the one in Etiler by the Akmerkez Shopping's Mall Ulus entrance many times in the last few months and always enjoyed my meal (but not the sometimes loud music they play!). So, I wanted to give you some info on this place if you are in the neighborhood shopping at the mall and want to grab a bite to eat outside the mall.
Cookshop has a very extensive menu, including breakfast treats, appetizers, soups, salads, pastas, mains and desserts and alcohol is also served. The prices are moderate and the portions quite satisfying. I have tried their soups (a soup of the day is also available) and my favorite dish so far is the Grilled Salmon with sauteed vegetables. My friends have had salads and say they are very good too. So, for a break from shopping - or to just have a casual meal, Cookshop is a good choice!
Even though I am usually not a big fan of "multi-location" cafes (unfortunately the quality & service is affected), Kitchenette breaks the mold. I have been to many of their branches (Bebek, Ortaköy, Taksim), but my favorite is their Kanyon branch. Recently I received an email from Kitchenette with two announcements. First, they have revised their website (, but secondly and more importantly, they have added new goodies to their menu! As a repeat customer, and even though I have my favorite dishes (i.e. Eggs Norwegian, Kitchenette Toast, Grilled Salmon salad), I do like to try new dishes from time to time!
Kitchenette Kanyon
Eggs Norwegin @ Kitchenette
Some of the new items on their menu include "Alaturka" Burger (I guess a hamburger prepared Turkish style); chicken with parmesan cheese; seabass filet wrapped in pastry; and a selection of detox beverages, among others. 
Like most women, I love jewelry! My personal favorites are rings and bracelets (necklaces come in a close 3rd and I don't wear earrings), but I am very set in my ways and usually do not change my jewelry according to my outfit and prefer "standard" items that can be worn with all outfits. That is why for the last few years, I prefer silver jewelry and wear at least 10 different bracelets - all from the same maker - and at the same time on my right hand. I only prefer to wear a watch on my left hand.
But, before my silver jewelry kick, I was a major fan of the jewelry produced by Swarovski and still to this day, one of my favorite rings that I own was designed and is from the Daniel Swarovski collection. And, a couple of years ago, a friend of mine gave me a Swarovski studded white pen for my birthday which I always carry in my handbag!
A couple of weeks ago, I ran into the Turkish distributor of Swarovski in Bebek and she had on the MOST gorgeous necklace! I immediately fell in love with it and found out it was from their Fall/Winter collection! She also told me that they totally re-did the decor of the store at Kanyon.
@ Kanyon Shopping Mall
I was at Kanyon several days ago - but on the run, so I was only able to take a photo of Swarovski with its new "look" and it looks fantastic! Thank God, I didn't have time to stop by, because I am sure I would have purchased something!
The Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul Hotel has organized a "Amateur 'Meze' Competition"!
You must be an amateur chef to enter this competition which ends on November 10th...
Laledan Restaurant @ Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul
Here's how it works... 3 meze or appetizers selected as winners will be included in the menu at the hotel's Laledan Restaurant for one year! So, if you are confident that you have a recipe for an appetizer that is a good accompaniement to seafood dishes, visit where you will be able to enter your recipe. The website is available only in Turkish. 
The amateur chefs recipes that pass the first round will be announced on Friday, November 18. Then, the finalists will be asked to present their recipes to a jury at the hotel during the first week of December. Afterwards, the top 3 appetizers will be selected. Also, other prizes await finalists to include a hotel stay, complimentary dinner, etc.! Good luck!  
Lately, the weather in Istanbul has been crazy! In the past two weeks, we had very cold weather, then heavy rains and now we are living an Indian summer! All of these weather changes have no doubt affected many people and more and more Istanbulites are starting to get a cold or a flu! Not fun!!!!
There is no "best" way to avoid getting sick, but there are things that we can do to keep our immune systems up! I am in no way a nutritionist or health expert, but like everyone, I do read up on the subject and have my own special tricks to hopefully avoid getting sick - even though it might be inevitable!
Recently, when I was talking to my sis about this subject, she told me that she eats honey every morning (all year) and that this helps her to keep healthy and strong! Made sense to me and I said why not? And... to boot, I had jars of honey at home that I hadn't even opened!
Last year while I was still working at The Guide Magazines, a major honey producer - Balparmak had sent me samples of some of their gourmet honey that had won international awards along with a press release.
The Balparmak gourmet series includes the  above along with those produced in Yüksekova and Muş.
So, for the last couple of weeks, I have added a tablespoon of honey to my breakfast regiment! And.. among the 3 above, my favorite is the one produced in Şemdinli. I have also noticed that I am feeling better and energetic!
Besides these jars, I also had a bottle of Balparmak honey at home that I had purchased at the supermarket. However, for some reason, I only used it when I got sick and put some in my tea!
So, if you have no health issues - like diabetes - you might want to try it too - can't hurt and it tastes good too!
Till the next time...

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