Turkish Mezze Cooking Class, Kuzguncuk, Istanbul

The wonderful view from the apartment

Claudia, who blogs as A Seasonal Cook in Turkey, gave a small group of us a really fun class on how to cook, and prepare, a selection of Turkish Mezzes. The venue was perfect. It was a professional kitchen in Kuzguncuk, with an amazing view of the Bosphorus.

There was a wonderful array of pots, hanging from the ceiling

Claudia, addressing the class

Turkish mezzes are the starters and appetisers brought out at the beginning of the meal. It is usual to start with cold mezzes and then continue on to hot mezzes. They are often so varied, and so delicious, that I find it difficult to manage the main meal afterwards!

We diligently followed Claudia's instructions

Claudia, with her finished dishes,

Of course, we couldn't resist taking photos, before eating them all!

Here are the mezzes we made:

Zeytinyagli Barbunya - Borlotti Beans in Olive Oil

Cevizli Sarimsakli - Courgettes with walnuts in a garlic yoghurt sauce

Zeytinyagli Yaprak Sarma (Yalanci) - Vine Leaves Stuffed with Rice, Pine Nuts, and Currants

Cacik - Yoghurt with Cucumber and Garlic

Semizotu - Purslane in a garlic and youghurt sauce

Patlican Biber Tavasi Yogurtlu Sarimsakli ve Domataes Sauslu - 
Fried Aubergine and Green Peppers with Garlic Yoghurt and Tomato Sauce

Gavurdgi Salatasi - Turkish Tomato Salad with Walnuts and Cumin

Thank you, Claudia for helping us to prepare such a delicious lunch.

Elizabeth Coughlan


Photography Trek to Ortaköy Mosque, Istanbul


The square beside the Ortaköy Mosque, is a popular destination for Istanbulu at the weekend.

For the past three years, the Büyük Mecidiye Camii (Grand Imperial Mosque of Sultan Abdülmecid I), more commonly known as the Ortaköy Mosque, has been undergoing an extensive renovation. In all that time, we were unable to take any photographs, as the building was shrouded in plastic sheeting. So, once the Prime Minister had formally opened the mosque, on Friday June 6, our photography club arranged a trek to see the finished result.

The mosque is right on the edge of the Bosphorus, beside the Bosphorus Bridge

This Mosque was commissioned by Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid, and built in 1853 by architects Garabet Amira, and Nigoğayos Balyan, who also designed the near-by Dolmabahçe Palace, and Mosque. This is not the first renovation of this picturesque mosque. The original minarets collapsed in 1908, and its dome was later damaged, and replaced with a reinforced concrete one. Fortunately, the Mosque's Neo-Baroque style has been preserved.

One of the ornately decorated grills on the windows of the mosque

Inside, the mosque is quite small. This is the main entrance into the mosque.

Huge chandeliers hang from the ceiling of the mosque

The dome is richly decorated

Here is a detail from the beautifully patterned dome

The outside of the mosque is covered in intricate stonework

The flag seller outside the mosque

Thank you to all my lovely friends in the Photography Club of Istanbul, for yet another successful trek. We always have such fun!

Elizabeth Coughlan


Advanced Night Photography Workshop, Istanbul

The night-lights in Istiklal
The hanging shopping bags are advertising Istanbul's annual Shopping Festival

Following our night photography shoot with Cenk of Fototrek (see my blog about it here), he ran an advanced night photography class for our photography club. Whereas before we had used tripods, this class we handheld our cameras - much more demanding. Following an introductory class where Cenk talked about camera settings, and gave us a list of shots we should try, we spent an evening shooting in Taksim Square, and down Istiklal, one of the most famous avenues in Istanbul.

A Kebab chef, preparing a chicken kebab

Istiklal is such a fun street, full of shops, food vendors, street musicians, restaurants, cafes, bars, nightclubs, in fact everything you need for a night on the town! So there was plenty for us to photograph.

The beautiful, red vintage tram which runs along Istiklal

A woman admires the flowers, and flower headdresses, for sale in Taksim Square

My night-shot of Taksim Square

A roast-chestnut seller in Istiklal

A chef, in a restaurant window, with his reflection

Delightful desserts in a restaurant window

This guy was selling mussels, and gave one to this girl to try

Sandwiches, waiting for the hungry passers-by in Istiklal

A famous chocolate shop in Istiklal.
(This man looks as if he is deep in contemplation, but he is actually watching TV, 
while he waits for the next customer)

Lottery ticket salesman

We ended in the "Cicek Pasaji" or "Flower passage" a rococo style building, dating from 1876, 
famous for its restaurants, fish market and small shops.

Thanks once again, Cenk, for a great workshop!

Elizabeth Coughlan


A Weekend in Istanbul

Catherine and Michael in the Grand Bazaar

We were delighted when our niece, Catherine, and her husband, Michael, came to stay with us in Istanbul, even if for a very short time. Cath had visited Istanbul before, but everything was new to Mikey, so we decided to give him a brief overview of all the delights this city  has to offer.

Our first stop was the Grand Bazaar...

...before going up onto the roof of the Buyuk Valide Han. 

Cath and Mikey, and their bird's-eye view of Istanbul

We continued our walk through the maze of streets leading from the Grand Bazaar down to the Spice Bazaar, and on across the Galata Bridge before heading home.

Hmm... so many Turkish Delights to choose from in the Spice Market

Day two was pretty exhausting, taking in the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque, mainly because in all three we were fighting to get through the hoards of tourists, and endless queues!

Cath photographing the Hagia Sophia

There's a great view down the Bosphorus, from the Topkapi Palace.

The final day was much calmer, as we sailed down the Bosphorus, all the way to the last stop, Anadolu Kavagi.

We imagined what it must be like, living on the edge of the Bosphorus

Mikey relaxes on the ferry

The ferry station at Anadolu Kavagi

Here, I opted to save our premium seats by the water's edge, and enjoy a glass of wine, while Cath and Mikey hiked up the steep hill to Yorus Castle, built by the Byzantines, then restored and reinforced by the Genoese, in 1350.

Lunch in a restaurant beside the Bosphorus

After a relaxed lunch, we returned home for our last night together, before they left again for England. It was such a short visit, but David and I had fun, and I hope Cath and Mikey did too. We are looking forward to their next visit.

Here is the video I made of their visit

Elizabeth Coughlan

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I couldn't resist this one!