Sahi Istanbul: Jessica's Turkish Delight

Sahi, near the Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque, Karakoy

We discovered a delightful new place in Karakoy, called Sahi, that was running a promotion where you could make your own Turkish Delight. I thought this would be fun for Jessica, so we went to try it out. The word "Sahi" in Turkish means "real" or "true", and so it was, with authentic recipes dating from early Ottoman times, together with more modern versions. Everything in the shop/cafe spells "Ottoman", from the handicrafts on sale to the delicious food on offer, even though some of the more traditional designs and flavours have been given a new, and modern twist.

Jessica started by brushing over the prepared base of the Turkish delight to remove the paper backing

She carefully removed the paper, assisted by the chef

Jessica was asked to choose from a whole selection of fillings. She chose to use dried apricots and pistachio nuts, with a powdered sugar covering.

First Jessica chopped the dried apricots...

...then she sprinkled the pistachio nuts along the edge of the base...

...and placed the cut dried apricots on top.

The chef helped Jessica in her task

He showed her how to roll the base around the filling

Jessica cut off a section and firmly rolled it together

Then she cut the Turkish Delight into pieces with a huge pair of scissors

And here are the pieces, all ready to eat in their wooden box.

That was such a fun thing to do, and I know Jessica enjoyed the experience. If anyone else is thinking of trying their hand at this, the promotion finishes on March 22, so there are only two more weeks left!
Elizabeth Coughlan


Edirnekapı Bird Market, Istanbul

Edirnekapı Kuş Pazarı (Edirnekapi Bird Market is held on Sundays

I recently spent a very interesting and edifying week at Thatcher Cook's Istanbul Photography Workshop. The focus of the workshop was to "Communicate your unique experience of the world by telling stories through your images".

Thatcher says that, "The telling of stories through images is an exciting and effective way for a photographer to communicate his or her unique experience of the world. The most profound picture stories are multi-layered. How a story is told is often more important than the narrative itself. Mood, color and composition are among the elements used to transform the narrative to the visually poetic."

So, armed with this philosophy, we ventured out on our first day to photograph the bird market in Edirnekapı, by the old city walls of Constantinople. Here men barter for the fastest racing pigeon, or the rarest breed of budgie or some other, to me anyway, unidentifiable bird.

Many of the birds are tethered with string so they can't fly away
when their owners show off their birds

Some of the men didn't want their photo take, but others didn't mind

This man was undoubtedly proud of his his beautiful bird

There was obviously lots of discussion before any sales were made

Drinking tea seemed an important part of the process...

...and food was never far away

I could see that this workshop was to present quite a challenge. This sort of street photography can be intimidating, especially for a woman among hundreds of men ...not to mention the pigeons! But, undaunted, I tried my best, and carried on to the next task!


Happy New Year from Istanbul

Mutlu Yillar means Happy New Year in Turkish

New Year celebrations here in Istanbul are over, and the decorations are coming down; although some shops, restaurants, and private houses are still festooned with typical decorations. To celebrate New Year, there are ornamental Christmas trees, street lights, and even Santa Claus, to be found all over the city. This is because Turkey uses all the trappings of Christmas to celebrate the New Year. ...even down to a turkey dinner, and presents from Noel Baba (Father Noel).

Noel Baba waves to passers-by on Bagdat Caddesi where I live

The presence of Santa Claus is not that surprising, considering he was born here, in Turkey. Saint Nicholas was born in Patara on Turkey's Mediterranean coast during the 3rd century, and became Bishop of Myra. He gained a reputation for secret gift-giving, and it was rumoured he had extra pockets sewn into his cloak that he filled with fruit and candy to give to children. This gave rise to the story of the kind Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus), who secretly leaves presents on Christmas Eve.

Many shops were beautifully decorated like this one...

...and this one

Christmas trees were everywhere...

...in different guises

...my local hairdresser had one in their salon.

All along the street were installations reminiscent of Christmas - like presents...

...and baubles...

...although I wasn't sure about the bear...

...or the elephant!

According to numerologists, 2015 is going to be a year of abundance and happiness, so here is wishing you everything you wish yourselves, and may this be the happiest of Happy New Years!

by Elizabeth Coughlan


Christmas in Italy

The view from Clare's apartment is stunning!

We had a wonderful Christmas in Italy with our daughter, Clare and family. It was such fun, although the time flew by so quickly that it seemed no time before we were back in Istanbul again!

We all wore Venetian masks while we opened our presents.
Clare and Jessica looked particularly fetching!

Reg kept us amused with his party popper...

...which Hugo found quite fascinating/

David wore his cashmere scarf (a present from Santa)...

...while Clare poured the champagne.

We had Christmas day lunch at Laguna Blu, our favourite restaurant,
where Santa was waiting to greet us.

As we entered the restaurant, we came across this Nativity Scene,
made entirely form pizza dough.

Our table was by the window...

,,,and this was the view outside. How wonderful was that?
It makes me smile just to see it again.

David and Jessica poured over the menu to see what delights we had in store.

The meal began with an aperitivo (non alcoholic for the young people)...

...and finished (after 5 more courses) with traditional pandoro and panettone with cream

There was definitely no room for supper that evening after such a gargantuan meal!

We have always enjoyed eating at Bistrot Laguna Blu, every time we visit Clare. Here is a video I made last summer, which shows the restaurant and its surroundings. Enjoy!

by Elizabeth Coughlan

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