Saturday, November 24, 2012

What's "UP" in Istanbul/4... an on-going series

Dear readers,

Today is one of those days that you just want to curl up on the couch with a good book with a crackling fire and a glass of wine!!! Finally, the winter season has arrived in Istanbul! We have been soooo fortunate with mild weather and very little rain so far this year that we got spoiled! Just yesterday it was a gorgeous day and I went out with just a light jacket. On the other hand, it hasn't stopped raining yet today (and it is now 2:45pm) and it doesn't look like it will let up at all, so I cancelled all my afternoon errands and instead have just been reading newspapers and finally decided to do some writing, however, I will not be able to finish this post today as I am going to go out to dinner, so it won't be a totally "lost" day! The place I'm going to is a newcomer to Istanbul and just opened two weeks ago: the US based PF Chang's... I do enjoy Chinese food and will be sharing notes from my evening with you in the next few days. (I started writing this post on Thursday, November 22nd and unfortunately haven't had a chance to finish it until today - Saturday, Nov. 24th, but interestingly enough... it's another wet and cold day and the stuff I wrote about above ... wine, fireplace stands! But, since I don't have a fireplace... I made a great homemade soup to warm up while writing this post - I'll have some wine later on after I finish up!)

The topic of this post is a smosgarbord of information on some of the stuff going on around the city... let it be exhibitions, wining & dining, etc... it is a very "short" list because Istanbul is so dynamic and constantly "lively and alive", but some of the things I'm posting might be alternatives that you might not have considered, especially the info on activities at some hotels around town. Most people don't usually think of going to hotels for dinner, etc. but I think that's a mistake! I personally have always been a fan of dropping by some of the hotel properties around town because they do offer alternatives that can be interesting from time to time...

So, let's begin!

There is absolutely no end to the number of art exhibits that you can attend in Istanbul - from the small and avantgarde gallery to the more traditional "museum" style events!  

For example... I'm a major fan of the impressionist painters.. Van Gogh, Monet, Manet.. etc and have been fortunate to have visited some exhibitions of these prominent painters in New York City and Paris....

Now... and until January 6th... you have the opportunity to visit one of these painters exhibits right here in Istanbul! Claude Monet's exhibit titled "Monet's Garden" is on display at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum which is located along the gorgeous Bosphorus waterfront in Emirgan.

Claude Monet - Water Lilies
39 pieces of work from the artist's late period are being displayed - from pictures of Monet's house in Giverny Garden and water lilies to his famous Japanese bridge paintings. The theme of this exhibit is flowers and nature from the artist who gave the impressionist movements its name, and proclaimed, "I perhaps owe having become an artist to flowers."
Claude Monet - "Blue Lilies"
Just a few more notes about the exhibit: the paintings displayed were not exhibited or sold during Monet's lifetime. The exhibit was organized in cooperation with the Marmottan Monet Museum and the curator Marianne Mathieu stated, "In 1966 Claude Monet's son Michel Monet donated the collection of his father, which was kept in his house in Giverny to the Musée Marmottan, located in a private house in the 16th residential area in Paris..." This museum contains the largest collection of Monet's work with about 100 paintings, photographs and sketch books.

Monet's exhibit is open Tuesday-Sunday until 8:00pm.

One of the other great things about going to exhibits at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum is that besides great artists works for you to enjoy, visitors also have a chance to have a wonderful meal at one of the better restaurants in Istanbul: muzedechanga, which is the "sister" of Changa Restaurant located in Taksim. Not only does the venue offer a breathtaking view of the Bosporus with indoor and outdoor seating areas, their menu is always intriguing, ever-changing according to season and most importantly, the food is delicious! I downloaded the following photograph from their website as I didn't have any recent pictures that I took myself...

muzedechanga (photo from their website)

muzedechanga (photo from their website)

Besides muzedechanga's normal list of goodies to choose from, the team has prepared a special set dinner menu, served on Tuesday and Thursday evenings which they've called "If Monet Could Cook" and includes actual dishes served at Monet's table at his home in Giverny while others are dishes inspired by his paintings. I'm not going to be lazy and will list the items on the menu and recommend everyone to go before the exhibit ends(of course including myself hopefully!)

 Pea Soup with almonds and wild flowers
Asparagus with Croquette of Quail Eggs
Confit of Duck with Mustard Mashed Potatoes,
Oyster Mushrooms and Cabernet Sauvignon Sauce
Upside down apple tart and rose geranium ice cream
Jasmin flavored Changa chocolate
I highly suggest you make reservations! Tel: (0212) 323 09 01. Sorry, don't know the price, you can find out when you call.
Our next stop is the Çırağan Palace Kempinski Hotel's Art Gallery for Fikret Otyam's exhibit titled "Hoşçakal Istanbul" (Goodbye Istanbul).

Fikret Otyam painting
Prominent Turkish painter Otyam is 86 years old and he has been painting for 69 years! He held his first exhibit in 1952 at the Maya Art Gallery in Istanbul and this exhibit includes acrylic paintings of working women villagers, village homes, scenery and more depicting Anatolia. The art gallery is located in the Palace section of the hotel,is open 24/7, admission is free and this particular exhibit will be on display until December 27. So, plan a lovely day on the Bosphorus waterfront at the Çırağan where you can combine art with "wining and dining" by visiting  one of the hotel's cafes and restaurants.


The last stop on our "mini" tour of exhibits around town takes us to the Pera Museum located right in the heart of Tepebaşı/Asmalımescit in Beyoğlu! Located in a lovely 4-story restored historical building, this museum has been home to many prominent exhibits since its opening about 5 years ago and continues to entice art lovers with the variety of exhibits displayed. Also, make sure to see the museum's permanent collection.

Currently and until January 6th, the Pera Museum is hosting two exhibits: "Golden Children: 16th-19th Century European Portraits" and "Flashback: Yannick Vu & Ben Jakober"

Golden Children

Yannick Yu & Ben Jakober
As it's name implies, the first exhibit includes 57 select portraits of children from the Yannick & Jakober Foundation's Children Portraits Collection while the 2nd exhibit includes different insights into the different aspects of the couple as individual artists as well as including their collabortive works after 1993.
For more information on this exhibit visit where you will also find information on admission costs and visiting hours.
I have been meaning to write about Frankie Istanbul for a long time now, but had not gotten around to it. This beautifully decorated  lounge, bar and fine dining restaurant opened on the terrace of the boutique Sofa Hotel in trendy Nişantaşı on Teşvikiye Street right across the street from City's Nişantaşı Shopping Mall in late April, early May.

Frankie Istanbul Lounge

I went to dinner at Frankie Istanbul for the first and unfortunately the last time on May 25th to celebrate my sister's birthday ...
Frankie Istanbul Restaurant
I didn't get a chance to take too many photographs and not thrilled with the ones I have, but I just wanted to give you an idea of the place. I remember the food being excellent, cocktails well prepared and the wine list and sommelier excellent. Not surprising as Frankie Istanbul is managed and run by two names - Kaya Demirer and Ayşem Saraçoğlu who are both very well known on the eating and drinking scene in Istanbul.
Besides great food and drink, since September, Frankie Istanbul offers live music a few times a week and well-known DJs appear from time to time on Friday or Saturday evenings. The live music performers include a list of Turkish & International jazz artists. So, now you can also enjoy live music while you wine & dine in lovely surroundings with a great ambiance and crowd. The acts change weekly, so I suggest you get on their mailing list to receive updates and you can also visit their website (available in English and Turkish) for more information ( on the venue. Reservations are highly recommended! Frankie Istanbul is also open for lunch. I plan on revisting Frankie Istanbul hopefully soon and will be writing about it in more detail.
I was first "introduced" to the Four Seasons Hotel properties when I lived in NYC, and the Four Seasons Philadelphia was my favorite hotel to stay at when I traveled on business for American Express... so obviously when they first opened the Four Seasons Sultanahmet and then the Four Seasons Istanbul on the Bosphorus I was thrilled! Like I mentioned earlier, I enjoy going to hotels too and I can suggest it to everyone who wants a different experience  from time to time... The following are just some "news" from the two properties in Istanbul.
For example, the Four Seasons Bosphorus Lobby Lounge is now offering a new cocktail menu and some of the cocktails were inspired by ingredients from the Eygptian Bazaar! The following are 3 samples and you just have to go and try it for yourself to find out how they were prepared! Besides 3 cocktails with an "Egyptian Bazaar" theme, 12  "infusion" cocktails are also on the menu!
Four Seasons Bosphorus "Enhar"

Four Seasons Bosphorus "Ahmer"

Four Seasons Bosphorus - "cucumber" & rosemary infused martini
While there, after cocktails you can swing by Aqua Restaurant and try one of Italian chef Luca De Astis and his team's new lunch or dinner menu. I've included the photographs of some of the dishes which need no further comment! For reservations, call Tel: (0212) 381 40 59
Aqua Restaurant - "Tonnarelli cacio e pepe"

Spagetti Alla Chitarra
One final note on the Four Seasons before we go on...  "Wine & Cheese" Tasting held every Friday night starting at 7:00pm at the Four Seasons Sultanahmet. This event was started years ago by then F&B Manager and my friend Angela Moore and has been going strong and popular ever since. During the "tasting" 4 different wines are offered from different domestic and international wine brands accompanied with a selection of wonderful local & international cheeses for only 45 TL/person in the hotel's beautiful winter garden. It is a good idea to make reservations (Tel: (0212) 402 31 56).
Four Seasons Sultanahmet "Wine and Cheese"

Kanyon is one of my favorite haunts to hang out to have a light lunch/dinner, food shop at Macrocenter and shop at new branch of Marks & Spencer (great pjs, etc.), Paşabahçe for glassware and D&R and Remzi for books. I'm not really a "shopper shopper" so I don't visit the  retails shops for clothing and shoes... not to sound snobbish.. but I prefer to shop for these in Europe - between the tax free and assortments and prices, I get better deals I think!
Kanyon Shopping Mall/view of Carluccio's
I'm writing about Kanyon for two reasons: first, since September Kanyon has been hosting a live jazz artist/group on "one" Sunday (TBD) each month. This is an event they started a couple of years ago organized during the fall/winter season.You missed the performance for November as it was on November 18th, but check their website for their program for the upcoming months! It's free... and takes place on the B2 level by Remzi Bookstore between 2:00pm and 4:00pm.
A newcomer to Kanyon is Carluccio's, an Italian eatery that opened it's first branch in Istanbul. It's been around for several months now and I had lunch at Carluccio's a couple of weeks ago with a friend. First impression: prefer the outdoor terrace weather permitting as the indoor area has very bad acoustics and it's very noisy; the food is good and portions satisfactory (we each had breasola, arugula and Parmesan cheese) and prices are reasonable. What I also liked is that they have small "shop" at the entrance where you can pick up a whole host of Italian sauces, pastas, olive oil, crackers, etc AND... deli meats (pork products too), cheeses (pecorino, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, etc.), pastries, sandwiches, etc. In fact, I picked up a bunch of goodies to take home and I found the prices for the deli meats and cheeses especially reasonable for Istanbul. You can't make reservations at Carluccio's, so it's first come - first serve!
Leblon... "Revisited"... I had written a long post on Leblon in October and then went back again with some friends for their great lunch a couple of weeks after I wrote my  post and then went again last week with my friend Aslan...As I mentioned in my earlier post, Arda Türkmen is the young chef and owner of Leblon and also has a cooking show on CNN Turk on Sundays...
Me and Arda Türkmen

We had a chance to speak to Arda and talked about his trip to Paris and some of the great ingredients and cookbooks he picked up. We also noticed that he changed the set lunch menu selections and prices, which I wasn't suprised to see as for an incredibly low 25 TL/person you could eat like crazy with lots of "expensive" choices... now the lunch menu is as follows and is still quite reasonable...

As you can see from the list posted in front of the restaurant, they have added grill selections, "home cooked" meals, cold olive oil dishes buffet and soup and the choices change daily. One thing that hasn't changed is that alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are discounted 25% between noon and 5:00pm!

Leblon - "cold olive oil dish" selections "of the day"
So, this wraps up my What's "UP" in Istanbul section for this post... I hope to have time to prepare more of these types of posts because I can give you a quick "snapshot" of info on a variety of topics!

The next post will be about P.F. Chang's, a popular US based chinese restaurant and the newest "newcomer" to Istanbul! I might prepare it today or tomorrow...not sure yet as it is getting on in the day and I'm a little tired!

Stay well!


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