Dining in Istanbul

View from the Bosphorus

Me and Lisa was down in Istanbul before summer. Basically to jump start the summer but also to experience the city so many spoke so highly of. It’s suppose to be the worlds fifth largest city in the world not counting suburbs.

During the long weekend we stayed at the W which was a real treat. As always we wanted to dine our way through the city and here’s what we found.

The best dining in Istanbul are the local gems. Whether it’s a backstreet in Beşiktaş or around the Grand Bazaar you can always find a good charcoal grill. For dinner we went to one of the best – Köşebaşı. Great grilled meats and mezes matched with some nice local red wines.

Two more posh places were recommended. The first, Vogue, was ok. They had good sushi and decent entrees. All in all it was a tad overrated and thus overpriced. The second, 360, was lousy as a restaurant but picked up more points as a club. The food was so so, the service was worse than average, the cocktails was a joke but the club had a good DJ so with a few beers the night ended well.

Fresh fish

A Good Restaurant in Córdoba

The Mezquita in Córdoba

Stepping out of the car and into the oven that was Córdoba we realized that the day needed to be divided into brief walks between anyplace air-conditioned. The Mezquita was amazing but I’ll focus on the lunch we had.

If you’re in town go to El Caballo Rojo, just of the side of the Mezquita. The service was very good, the facilities comfortable and the food interesting and well prepared.

When in Andalucía, try the local variety of Gazpacho called Salmorejo and that’s just what I started with – it was one of the best I tried in Andalucía.

Lisa and I then shared entrees. First one was a Mozarabic inspired cod with cinnamon. Just enough sweetness to go with a great fillet of fish. Since we’re in bullfight country the second one was ox tails. They were very tender in a boeuf bourguignon type of way.

I should also mention that we got a dry, cold, fino when we arrived – a perfect start on a lunch on a hot day.

A place I was recommended but didn’t got the chance to test was Casa Pepe (de la Judería).

More restaurant experiences coming up…

El Celler de Can Roca, Girona 16 July 2009

I finally got around summarizing a great experience at a great restaurant.

We started off with snacks consisting of Black sesame crackers, Cherry with Campari (we believe they made it with liquid nitrogen), Caramelized Olives (could be the favorite snack), Anchovy bone (think prawn crackers but with anchovy bones, so good!), Tomato and tuna salad (so much more flavor than you’d imagine), Razor clam macaroni al pesto and Pigeon bombon with Bristol Cream.

First serving: Cherry soup with eel. A lovely combination, especially together with the wine – Agustí Torelló Trepat D.O. Cava.

 

 

Second serving: Mussels on the rocks and fennel velouté. Now here’s one of the many memorable things – the rocks. Somehow they managed to transform rocks, sand, dirt well some kind of earth into a delicate sorbet-like thingy that when perfect with the mussels and the wine – Gran Fassians Mineralschiffer 07 Mosel-Saar-Ruwer.

 

Third serving: Charcoal-grilled king prawn, king-prawn sand, king prawn essence. A lot of king prawn flavor here and it was good. How was the sand you wonder, well a terrible parable is to say that it was like crushed prawn crackers, it was so much more than that. The wine was Finca Viladellops D.O. Penedès.

 

Fourth serving: Herring smoked caviar omelette. How they managed to get the smoked caviar, which was incredible by the way, inside the omelet is beyond me but it was a fun dish brilliantly complemented with Fino Inocente D.O. Jerez.

 

Fifth serving: Catalan cod pot-au-feu. I love cod, and I love the way they treated this one, matched with Pezas de Portela 04 D.O. Valdeorras which I found fantastic.

 

Sixth serving: Charcoal-grilled sole with green olive oil, pine nuts, fennel, bergamot and orange. The sole was perfect and consumed with the flavor accessories separately; it was like a story going from olive to orange. The wine, Nelin 06 D.O.Qa Priorat, was surprisingly friendly to all the flavors.

 

Seventh serving: Lamb and tomato-rubbed bread. This dish was very good but got the vote from all of us as the least exciting one. Wine was Finca Malaveïna 05 D.O. Empordà.

 

Eighth serving: Goose à la royale with peach. Now we’re back on track and the dish served a nice bridge to the upcoming deserts. We drank a Ramirez de Ganuza Rva 03 D.O.Ca Rioja.

 

Ninth serving: Charcoal-grilled eggplant confit. Here’s not only a dish but an experience. Throughout the dinner the charcoal grill had been an important ingredient and here it was a perfect companion with the fabulously prepared eggplant. The confit was served on top of a bowl covered in plastic film with a hole in it. In the bowl below the plastic was a twig (can’t remember if it was rosemary or something else similar) and the smoke from the charcoal grill and every time you took a spoonful of confit the smoke puffed up through the hole and supplemented your olfactory experience of it all. Almost forgot about the wine but it was an Ino Masia Serra D.O. Empordà and it was superb.

 

Tenth serving: Green chromatism. Who said you can’t use cucumber in deserts. It was cucumber and minty and it was fresh and wonderful. The wine worked really well – Scharzhofberger Kabinett 06 Mosel-Saar-Ruwer.

 

Eleventh serving: Caramelised apricot. It looked like an apricot but it was hard like candy and when we broke it a little piece of heaven flowed out and tasted like, well apricot. It was, well heavenly. Wine, never failing, good as always, Moscatell Cosecha Miel Casta Diva 07 D.O. Alicante.

 

Summing up it was an unforgettable evening. The food was daring, experimental but without losing any soul. The service was impeccable, ever present, never disturbing. The bread was something out of this world and the final grappa was fantastic, I just regret not remembering the name of it. Hats off for the setting as well, love it. Love it all! Thank you Joan, Josep and Jordi!