We made our way to our meeting point to meet with Olga our cooking instructor for the day. We headed out to the Asian side of Istanbul and wandered around the market. We stopped at various stalls to learn about local things and try foods native to the area. I especially liked the Turkish Coffee. We've tried some pretty good coffee here, but this one was the smoothest.
We then went to Olga's home to cook. We whipped up an assortment of traditional Turkish food. We started by preparing mezze (starters). We made one with green beans and one with eggplant. I absolutely loved the green bean mezze, which is not characteristic. But, they were so good!
We, then made the stuffed eggplant. It was stuffed with garlic, onions, tomatoes, and a beef and lamb mixture. That was also really tasty. Even though I'm a big eggplant lover, I'm not usually a fan of stuffed eggplant. But, I think this is because they are usually stuffed with rice, and I'm not a huge fan of rice. So this was delicious.
We made bourek in triangle form! Filled with a sliced cured meat, a feta like cheese and grilled onion mixture, wrapped in Turkish filo dough (which is a little bit thicker than other filo). Those were amazing.
For dessert we made what Olga called a sponge cake. And spongy it was! It soaked up a ton of simple syrup. It was served warm out of the oven with Turkish ice cream, which is made with a type of orchid root which has kind of a gummy consistency, much like the mastic we found in Greece. Delish!
That night we did some laundry and ran into some ducklings waddling around outside our hotel. They are adorable, but I'm not sure how much longer they're going to last without a mommy.
Today we went on a wild goose hunt. Yesterday, we learned from Olga's Turkish husband who used to work in tourism, that many people here would rather give you an inaccurate answer than tell you that they don't know. We definitely encountered this today. We asked the tourist office If there was a UPS. He told us yes then gave us directions. But the directions did not lead us to a UPS. We asked around and people kept pointing us in different directions, when finally one man in a hotel checked on the UPS website, and found it's location, which was quite a walk away. But, he told us there was a DHL down the street. Then we had to walk in circles for quite a while asking people for directions and being sent in all sorts of directions. Finally, after about an hour to an hour and a half we found the DHL, but they wouldn't ship half of our things. So we went for the regular post office, and had to wait a half an hour for the place to open. Once it was open we were sent on another hunt to buy a box, because they only had one size, small. My goodness. I wish people would just tell you to ask someone else if they didn't know.
We walked around for a bit and found a pide place that Olga recommended. Pide is Turkey's version of pizza. It's pizza, but the dough is shaped almost like a boat. It was pretty good.