Istanbul by foot

One of the things I am really enjoying now that we have our gorgeous dog, Dave, here with us in Istanbul (apart from the constant companionship – he is sitting on my lap as I type), is my renewed vigour for walking. I have always loved walking but somehow without a dog and in the heat, the focus is not quite the same.

My walks with Dave in Istanbul are very different from the English countryside, and of course, before that, the Cape mountains and beaches, that we are used to. So, it is not a case of running free across the fields or up the mountains or into the sea, but street walking. Now, instead of taking a taxi or the car, Dave and I walk home from Turkish lessons or walk to fetch the car from Peter’s office and I have to say, we are seeing a whole new side of Istanbul that I am loving.

I think I might have mentioned previously that Istanbul is built on seven hills and we have to climb several of them on any given journey! Yesterday for example, our walk involved steep climbing to begin with and then a cold brisk and blowy walk along the Bosphorus. As we were winding our way up a steep road that went under one end of the Bosphorus bridge, I came across this incredible sight of a mini farm – what brilliant use of a piece of unused land.

20131205-133141.jpgAnd as we were winding our way back to the Bosphorus, this lovely house that had a doctor’s sign outside.


A filleting fish first

Now, I know that ordinarily this picture of seabass fillets would not look very impressive….

20131205-130535.jpg…. but I have to say that I am ridiculously proud of those pathetic little fillets as I filleted them myself and that was a first I think! Especially pleased as done instinctively and not with instructions!

Getting in the Christmas mood…

Feeling a bit under the weather this morning, there was nothing for it but a quiet morning at home; and my mind turned to baking! I had offered to make something for Daisy’s school disco and bake sale tomorrow so decided to make some Christmas rocky road brownies.

I used a recipe of Nigella’s that does not use ‘good’ chocolate but just good ol’ Dairy Milk, as the decent stuff is hard to come by here (and expensive) and frankly, I’m mean – I want to keep my stash, carefully lugged from the UK, for our family Christmas baking.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun decorating the brownies before they went in the oven – sprinkling red glitter over, studding the mixture with white chocolate stars and mini Marshmallows (thank you Waitrose) and Christmas tree wafers and then a finally dusting of icing sugar when they came out of the oven.


Cok Guzel (Very delicious in Turkish)

I am very happy to report that this half term holiday, Billy has decided he wants to learn to cook.

Obviously being here in Istanbul, with no friends to go and hang out with, we need to be creative in finding things to occupy Billy, as seeing his family again, wears thin very quickly…

Having finally got our shipping container delivered on Friday, Billy’s first inspiration came from my stash of cookbooks being unpacked. Billy and Daisy had fun arranging them all on a book shelf in sections of different types of cooking, with the baking section, obviously taking pride of place.

So, the first thing Billy made was the Chocolate Birthday Cake from Jo Wheatley’s A Passion for Baking – she was the winner from the Great British Bake off in 2011 – of course made all the more topical with all the hype surrounding the most recent series.

I have to say, he did pretty well and this is the result.

Today, Billy decided to make his first pasta sauce which involved a trip to our new butcher in Bebek. They were recommended by our favourite coffee shop (think Monmouth and you’ll understand how good they are) and it was great to watch them strip down a couple of chickens for us in order to take the thigh and leg meat – Billy and I were in awe.

This is Billy with his new best friend, the butcher, as he gave him a chocolate muffin!


Anyway, it was great to watch Billy getting stuck into chopping the chicken, onions, garlic, parsley, etc learning how to skin the tomatoes – and here is the finished result – a chicken and tomato pasta sauce with some aubergine sneaked in by me!


My local market

Hopefully you haven’t noticed it has been over a month since I posted on this new blog. The thing is, I can’t write if I’m miserable because the only thoughts in my head are miserable ones, and who wants to read about misery? No positive inspiration = no blog posts. I guess professional writers learn to deal with that.

But yesterday I went to my local market, a mere 10 minute walk down very steep, narrow, cobbled roads. Actually, from where we are, perched up on the hill, I can watch the market being set up below from 7am.

So, with nothing in mind for supper, I came across a wonderful fish stall, and boy, did it look fresh – shining scales and bright eyes. So I bought 2 lufer, aka blue fish which we had heard about as being in season at the moment and rather a local speciality.

This was my market haul, rather a small one as back off to the UK again on Friday. Courgettes are still around and I was so happy to see the appearance of broccoli.

I used the tomatoes and olives to stuff the fish and along with the addition of some unctuous olive oil, lemon and parsley, they were baked on Peter’s new griddle pan, and were completely divine 😉




My haul from the UK

It was touch and go whether I got all my luggage on the plane back to Istanbul on Thursday – when I got on the bus from the rental car depot to terminal 3, the bus driver asked if I was flying business class? I shook my head. First class? Again no. He muttered something about no wonder the handle on my suitcase had broken and good luck getting that on economy.

Still, it all went fine and I managed with Daisy’s violin on my back, a hand luggage suitcase, handbag and duty free plus one incredibly heavy suitcase – thanks to Jed Hewson for carrying up 4 flights of stairs to our apartment in Istanbul 😉

Here is what I brought back –

A loaf of spelt bread
3 x packets salt and vinegar crisps
Waitrose pancetta
Pizza express pizza for daisy
2 x bottles of wine
2 x bottles of Jim Beam
Hundreds of bars of chocolate
Jar of horseradish
Jar of béarnaise
Jar of hollandaise
Egg noodles
1 kg soft brown sugar
1 kg caster sugar
Vanilla extract
Cake sprinkles
Cake candles
Cooking chocolate
Jordan’s cereal

An emotional goodbye to Cape Town

Sitting here trying to doze, I feel inspired to write my first ever blog post on the blog that Peter set up for me months and months ago – I know it was originally set up as a food blog but am going to use it to write about anything I feel like.

We’ve got about an hour to go before we land at London Heathrow to start our new life here in the UK… It feels so weird to have finally got on that plane after all the months of preparation and when it came to it, I didn’t really feel as if I properly said goodbye to the mountain and the beach and all the things that represent Cape Town for me as by that time, I was past it all and just had a tunnel-vision of getting on that plane.  But even then, I didn’t quite believe it.  As I sat marveling at the awesome service from Emirates, I kept having thoughts about how nice the return flight will be… except there is no return flight, these are one-way tickets – have to keep pinching myself.

Emirates is fantastic – its like travel used to be 20 years ago when you still got the menu telling you your breakfast or supper choices and you get the little snack packet with your gin and tonic (note to Karen – it was all so good that I broke my rule and had some wine also!! Further persuaded as was so excited to see good ol’ Jacobs Creek chardonnay).  The food was also fab and as for the inflight entertainment – I am forever debted.  I think out of 15 or 16 hours flight time, Billy slept for 2 and watched movies or played games for the rest.

Starting our descent down into London now and preparing ourselves for managing our 12 – yes 12 – bags (another great thing about Emirates is the huge luggage allowance thank God) but have realized that we don’t have any pound coins for the trolleys so not quite sure how we’re going to manage that.

Felt very sad and emotional over my last couple of days in Cape Town and saying goodbye to so many people – I know that I will see most people again and a lot have become very good friends but I will sorely miss in particular all my most wonderful women friends who have played such an enormous part in my life and provided me with the most amazing support over the years – I couldn’t have got through it all without you – Sam, Cathy, Karen, Dagmar, Gayle, Anna, Birgit, Helen – to name but a few.  Thankyou for being amazing friends and thank you for being there for me – I miss you already.

Sending loads of love

Polly xxx