Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday, January 28, 2013 - No comments

The Coffee Diaries: Keeping Warm in Istanbul

Wednesday, January 16

#1 - Half a mug of Starbucks Christmas Blend as I flew around getting ready.  (In my Istanbul mug, of course - tradition before departing for my favourite city.)  

Somehow, every time I’m heading to the airport, no matter how early I get up, I always end up trying to slurp down burning hot coffee before I have to run out the door, and I end up having to toss half of it because I couldn’t finish it.  Then I am bummed on two counts - one, for wasting it and, two, for not ingesting enough caffeine!

#2 - A disappointing (and, again, hurried) cardboard cup of “coffee” at Burger King in the domestic departures terminal.  Ever since that time last year when I had a surprisingly good cup of coffee at the BK in the Izmir airport, I’ve held the idea in my head that this is a good back-up coffee option when there’s nothing else around.  My second experience proved that the first was a fluke.  It was pretty much Nescafe that had been sitting in the machine a few hours too long.  Bleh. #3 will be a high priority as soon as I get into Istanbul.  

#3 - A perfectly foamy latte at Baylan in Bebek - the first stop on my Istanbul Macaron Crawl.  I got a chocolate and a caramel macaron, which were disappointingly almondy, but the coffee totally made up for it.  And the table beside the Bosphorus on a surprisingly sunny day didn’t hurt, either!

Thursday, January 17

#1 - Starbucks Christmas Blend VIA packet (in a Beşiktaş mug) while I took a gazillion photos of the macarons I’d bought the day before.  (Rule:  make ‘em pose before you eat ‘em!)  All this was done with a curious neighbour across the street leaning out the window and watching me with amusement.  :)

#2 - At Çekirdek, a newly opened cafe in Moda that came highly recommended by a coffee-savvy friend, I had a latte with a nicely poured latte art leaf on top.  I sipped while alternately working on a writing assignment and chatting with Tunca Bey, the one-man-show who runs the month-old cafe.  He was in the process of baking almond biscotti and I was delighted when a plate of it arrived on my table, fresh from the oven, compliments of the chef.  I’m not usually a fan of anything almond-flavoured (besides actual almonds) but that stuff was really good.

#3 - By hour two of the nearly three hours I spent there, I was ready for another cup.  (Let’s not call it “a caffeine fix” - let’s call it “writing juice.”  Plus, it was a cold day!)  

I got a Flat White - the “more espresso, less milk” big brother of the latte.  I first tried one with Jess in London in November.  It definitely packs a punch that I haven’t quite grown into.  Next time I’ll start with this guy and get the latte as a lighter follow-up.  (It definitely gave me the boost I was looking for, though!)

Seeing how excited I was about taking pictures of his creations, Tunca Bey invited me behind the counter to shoot while he did some practice pours.  

“I’m a novice at these,” he admitted.  The Latte Art Workshop certificate on the wall behind him suggested otherwise.  

He generously offered to give me this one on the house, but I admit I was grateful when a customer wanting a latte walked it at the exact moment he finished pouring it.  (Less caffeine for me, impressively fast service for her!)

#4 - I had fun chatting with other customers who came in a constant stream all afternoon, most of them for the first time.  My high praise of the biscotti made for some good sales, and my commission came in the form of an unsolicited white mocha, which just about put me over the edge.

Needless to say, when I went from there to meet a friend at Fazıl Bey’s “for coffee,” I opted for sahlep instead!

Friday, January 18

#1 - After lugging my laptop all over beautiful Büyükada (the largest of the Princes Islands out in the Marmara Sea), I figured I ought to at least sit down and use it before heading back to the mainland, so I settled in at Starbucks on the square for a couple of productive hours of writing.  (I know, I know - Starbucks.  There just aren’t a lot of options over there!)

The drink:  a Ristretto Bianco - the new Starbucks version of a Flat White, or so I’m told.  (I’m working up a tolerance that is well on its way to enjoyment.)

#2 - A Peppermint Mocha for the chilly ferry ride home.  I’m not usually a mocha fan, but this one is more like a fancy mint hot chocolate in my mind.  Plus, I find the Red Cups hard to resist.  :)

Saturday, January 19

NO COFFEE!!!  Can you believe it?  

But I did have a whole lot of tea.  My Turkish mom and sister and I headed down to Çınaraltı in Çengelköy - the classic Istanbul weekend breakfast experience.  We grabbed three different kinds of börek (flaky pastry filled with cheese, onion, ground beef, spinach, etc.) from the Çengelköy Börekçisi and sat by the water with our çay and had a lovely Bosphorus morning....until it started to pour and we had to move inside.  :)

Sunday, January 20

#1 - Starbucks Christmas Blend VIA packet before everyone else got up for breakfast.  As soon as I poured the powder into the mug, I remembered that I’d used the last of the milk making hot chocolate the night before.  This necessitated a PJs-and-coat-clad trip down to the corner bakkal where I waited in line with five other people dressed just like I was.  Ah, Sunday morning....

Monday, January 21

#1 - Şekerli Türk kahvesi (sweet Turkish coffee) upstairs at “my table” by the window at Fazıl Bey’s, my favourite Turkish cafe.  Otlu peynirli poğaça (cheese and herb filled bun) from Komşufırın + a piece of Turkish delight + a good quiet time on the side = a happy last morning in the city.

#2 and #3 - Two lattes on two consecutive coffee dates with two different friends at Çekirdek in Moda.  

Note:  We gave Tunca Bey’s chocolate cake three thumbs up.

Tuesday, January 22

#1 - Early morning latte at Kahve Dünyası in the domestic terminal at Sabiha Gökçen Airport to celebrate making it through security in one piece and give my poor, sleep-deprived self enough juice to make it the rest of the way to my gate.

On the side:  two macarons - a caramel (thumbs up) and a Turkish coffee (thumbs down - too almondy.)

#2 - So-so cup of airplane coffee on the flight home.  But bless Turkish Airlines for still serving it - and lunch - for free!

**Apparently the caffeine from those two cups hadn’t kicked in enough by the time we landed for my brain to be fully functioning.  Over the course of five minutes, I managed to forget to rezip my suitcase after a luggage shuffle, thus ending up with clothes all over the floor when I picked it up, and then unthinkingly put a bottle of water in the same pocket of my bag as my macro lens where it, of course, burst, soaking the lens - a potentially expensive trauma from which my poor baby has yet to recover.  (I’ll get the doctor’s report tomorrow.)
Ugh.  Shoulda had a third cup of coffee.