Tuesday, 28 September 2010

A few days in the life of this blogger

I‘m just back from wonderful, exciting London, literally last night. I must say, it is nice to see that those autumnal mists and rains haven’t yet struck Istanbul: the sun is in its place and I like it! The day before I went, I was in Eminönü in the Spice Market. How I love that place! Look at this photo and try to guess what these are:

 No, not new potatoes but fresh dates from Jordan! The seller informed me that they should remain for 2 days in the fridge before eating. He gave me one to try and it was a truly delicious taste sensation with a consistency that I would describe as being moist, soft, and creamy.  Very different but worth trying.
But London: first port of call once I had dropped off my case was to zoom off to buy some food for dinner, the nearest place conveniently being M&S. You forget what it looks like. Mmm ,what a mouthwatering selection of food . I made my choices and then had to smile to myself : 3 pork loin dinners,  beautiful crunchy celery such as we don’t get here, a bag of rocket and chard (oh joy, pre-washed!), some cheddar cheese, and lovely fresh raspberries. And no, I didn’t get the cream but instead Greek-style yogurt. Old habits die hard. It’s only when you revisit a place like that, that you realise there are some things that you really quite miss.
Another foodie stop a few days later was the Food Hall at John Lewis on Oxford Street. Amazingly, I had never been there. I know Harrod’s, I know Fortnum’s but  not this one. All I can say is don’t miss it next time you are in London: upmarket food enticingly presented and totally eye-popping.
Fish restaurants in Istanbul are deservedly considered excellent but I suddenly had a yen for good ole English-style fish’n’chips on my last night. Luckily my son lives very near Borough Market where there is a very nice restaurant nestled next to Southwark Cathedral charmingly called Fish.  Fresh cod in batter? Can’t beat it.
Later, the lights in the Cathedral were still on so we wandered round to see if we could visit. There were two men in robes who said it had just been locked. It did cross our minds that in Turkey, they would probably have unlocked it for us.
On the plane yesterday afternoon I had a copy of the Times Weekend to read. It turned out to be one of those very informative ones where every article strikes a chord. What immediately caught my eye was a supplement entitled How to make soup. Following my last blog re lentil soup, I was intrigued. But as my practiced eye scanned the ingredients, my face fell: too many unobtainables such as ham and bacon,chorizo sausage, parsnips, sorrel – I don’t even know what that looks like – split yellow peas, as well as a great deal of coriander which is a new herb here and as such only available sometimes in plastic packets in supermarkets.  There was a nice-sounding soup with dried shiitake mushrooms and I think I have seen them in my local 3M Migros. Not a usual item though.Of course one can substitute here and there but that destroys the integrity of the original recipe. So, unfortunately, nothing for me there. However, with the imminent arrival of pumpkin on the scene here,  I have a delicious creamy red pepper and pumpkin soup recipe up my sleeve that my French cousin Michele made for dinner last week. Watch this space!
 I discarded the supplement and went on with the Travel section which is always a good read. And here what did I see but 2 pages on a super-sounding place in a remote location overlooking Kumlubük bay in the south of Turkey. I have never heard of this bay but apparently it is somewhere near Turunç and right now it is offering a family ‘olive harvest’ week during the UK halfterm holiday. But what further caught my eye was the writer’s lyrical descriptions of the food offered at this place, Dionysos Estate:

'Slivers of cheese with fresh oregano. Raw sea bass with grated tomato. Grilled mushrooms in oil and rosemary. Baby courgettes, barbecued, bathed in oil and dill and served with a dill-spiked yogurt. Roasted red peppers enlivened with chopped basil and slivers of white cheese.'                   

Those of us who live here can easily do this! The ingredients are all the stuff of everyday shopping with an eye to what is available this week. The writer was obviously salivating at the memory but you can produce food like this too. Just go out there and buy the fruit or vegetables even if they seem unfamiliar. The important thing is to try them and try my recipes!

                                          Go on!