EAT: Cafe Cakehouse

*This article first appeared on Yabangee.com. Go and read what else they have to offer right now*

EATOn Saturdays, Beşiktaş hosts a two story bazaar on Nüzhetiye Caddesi. Rain or shine the bazaar is always full of shoppers looking for cheap clothes, jewelry, toys, underwear, etc. It can be a stressful affair to navigate the stalls as every time I’ve been there it has seemed as though every other single person in Istanbul was there as well.

Once the shopping is done and the bazaar has spat you back onto the streets in a daze, carrying bags filled with shopping and a lighter wallet, you need some quick relief. Luckily, across the street from the bazaar sits a little oasis of calm in the form of Café Cakehouse.

WP_20140111_005The interior is a mish-mash of design ideas with colourful lights, stained glass windows, a big clock hanging from the ceiling, giant cutlery on the walls and a range of eclectic furniture.

But I’m wasting words talking about things that aren’t cakes. You don’t visit a place called Café Cakehouse to gaze at the gorgeous décor or relish the comfortable surroundings (though the café definitely has those), no, you go there for the cakes and the coffee.

The coffee was great. I ordered a latte which was served at the perfect temperature for me to throw it down my neck in three gulps mere seconds after it was put in front of me. Ideally, I could forgo caffeine and just order adrenaline straight to the heart but, until that’s possible, I will accept a strong, warm coffee and enjoy the nice buzz that comes with that.

But, again, we’re here to talk about cakes.

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Four of us visited Café Cakehouse and ordered different cakes to share. My wife ordered an apple tarteten, which was served with cream and tasted moist and chewy. My friends ordered a cherry, apple and walnut crumble and a slice of apple pie. Both were fresh, fruity and flavourful. I ordered a slice of Oreo cheesecake and was pleasantly surprised when it was delightful. In the past I’ve been bitten too many times by my choice of Oreo cheesecake when I am served something gooey and tasteless. Café Cakehouse’s cheesecake was rich, dense and creamy in the way a good cheesecake should be.

So, I would advise this: Shop until you nearly drop, and then go to Café Cakehouse and then you can drop…right into an order of coffee and cake.

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SEE: Five English Language Movies set in Istanbul

*This article originally appeared on the awesome, super hip, where it’s at! blog, Yabangee.Com. Visit them by clicking HERE*

SEEPeople say that cities have a personality. I disagree. For me a city has a genre. A category of literature or movies that jumps to mind when you think of the city. For me, London is a gangster film, New York is a romantic comedy, Rome is a screwball comedy, Yorkshire is a horror movie and Paris is a car chase movie. Why? Not sure. But if I was told to write a movie set in any of those places, that would be the genre I would jump to.

And Istanbul? Istanbul is a spy movie. Full of labyrinthine streets, dark alleys, rooftops ripe for foot chases, Istanbul can’t help but give off the vibe that some secret stuff is happening behind closed doors and, any minute now, the person you least suspected is going to reveal himself to be a Russian assassin.

This theory was given some credence when I sought to compile a list of five English-language movies set in Istanbul. The five I chose were a movie about a retired CIA man trying to rescue his kidnapped family, a movie set in the 1970s about Cold War politics and espionage, and three James Bond movies. It doesn’t get more spy movie than that.

download (1)Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall is the most recent film on this list, and it was being filmed while I lived in Turkey. Being far behind on the news though, I only realised Bond was in town when he already had left for Fethiye, so no chance of my smiling face being in the back of any shots. The sequence set in Istanbul is only twelve minutes long and at least five of those minutes were filmed with Adana functioning as the outskirts of Istanbul. The scenes set in Eminönu feature an exhilarating motorcycle chase across the top of the Grand Bazaar before Bond and his prey smash their way into the Bazaar itself. More so than Taken 2, the movie manages to show a lively and exciting Eminönu, full of stalls and shoppers, all trying to stay out of the way of the action, while also standing around rubber-necking in true Turkish style. The brief time spent in Istanbul is action-packed but, as my wife pointed out to me when we were stuck in traffic trying to leave the cinema, the idea of any kind of a car chase in Istanbul traffic is laughable.

taken_2_poster_1-593x889Taken 2 (2012)

Taken 2, for me, was a wasted opportunity. I don’t mean it was wasted in the sense of narrative because, realistically, other than repeating the formula this movie really had nowhere else to go. I felt it was wasted because it went for a stereotypical view of Istanbul (and this part of the world) rather than trying to show Istanbul as a modern, vibrant city. It was like they looked at a map and saw that Turkey is middle-east adjacent, then they thought, right, make every female extra dress in the most traditional wardrobe we can find, have the call to prayer ring out every two minutes and make sure that a mosque is visible in every shot. The action confines itself to Sultanahmet and Eminonu and, though it is all photographed beautifully, the film misses the opportunity for a car chase down Istiklal or some kind of crazy metro-based fist fight. Guess I’ll have to wait forTaken 3.

world_is_not_enough_ver4_xlgThe World is Not Enough (1999)

The World is Not Enough is one of my favourite Bond movies and one that I have seen a great number of times. In the lead up toSkyfall’s release I read an article about all the Bond films set in Istanbul and was really surprised to read that the climax to this movie is set here and that I hadn’t recognised it. The finale of the movie is all about Bond trying to stop the launching of a submarine from the Maiden’s tower. You don’t really see any more of Istanbul than the skyline and the Bosphorus but I did get a big goofy smile on my face when Bond escapes from the exploding submarine and has to flag down a Bosphorus ferry for a lift. Earlier in the movie there are scenes that are meant to be set at a palace in Azerbaijan but the establishing shot clearly shows the gorgeous Küçüksu Palace instead. Being able to smugly smirk when I saw the palace made me very happy as I got to indulge in two of my favourite activities: watching movies and being smug.

Tinker-Tailor-Soldier-Spy-Poster_6Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

This incredible spy film has a brief flashback set in 1970s Taksim. The scenes set in Istanbul are mostly interiors, but when the action goes outside the filmmakers have done an incredible job of 70s-ising the city. The cars, technology and fashion all combine to further cement the illusion of seeing into Istanbul’s past. As with all the films on this list (save for Skyfall) a Bosphorus ferry plays a part. In this film there is a gorgeous scene of Tom Hardy standing on the deck of a ferry as it cruises along the water, the city flashing by in the background, full of secrets and the promise of adventure.

007russia (1)From Russia With Love (1963)

I think this is my favourite of this list and the one with the best depiction of Istanbul. Made in the 1960s, this film offers Istanbullus a chance to look back on the city as it was fifty years ago. For example, the scenes set around the Hagia Sophia are incredible in that there are barely any people or buildings around the site when today that area is one of the more bustling parts of this city. Like Tinker Tailor, this movie shows Istanbul to be a square on a greater Cold War chess board with people moving in and out of the game while trying to outthink and out fight their opponents. As exciting as it was to see James Bond motorcycle his way through the Grand Bazaar, there is something much cooler and more satisfying about watching an impeccably dressed Sean Connery saunter through the bazaar to meet a shady contact named Kerim Bey. Of the five I have listed, this is the must-watch for two reasons. One: because it’s a great film and two: because it’s almost a historical document of this great city during the Cold War and the 1960s.

A dishonourable mention goes to Argo (another espionage movie) which does feature a brief scene in Istanbul, however, that scene has Ben Affleck entering the Blue Mosque but, when we follow him inside, the interior shots are of the Hagia Sophia. For that, and the fact I didn’t want to watch it again, I kept it from the list.

EAT: Journey

*This article originally appeared on the awesome, amazing, flip-floop fabulous blog, Yabangee.Com. Visit them by clicking HERE*

EATBeing English, one of the foods I miss most from home is a good scone. A good scone, baked to perfection, served with butter, jam and cream. Having been in Turkey a few years, I had made peace with the fact that, chances are, there’s not going to be a restaurant in Istanbul that has a cook who learned to make scones from my grandmother (an artist in the field of scone making.) And that was fine.

Until I was recently googling for somewhere to eat in Cihangir and stumbled upon a blog post about a place called Journey. I went to the website and what should be sat there in the menu section? That’s right, English scone platter.

IMG_6482I contained my excitement long enough to wait for the weekend when we travelled to Cihangir for breakfast. The cafe itself is quaint, quiet and cosy. Outside, there are seats for al fresco coffee/smoking while inside the cafe is a long, skinny affair. One wall is crowded with bookshelves containing English and Turkish books and magazines. Every table has fresh flowers on it to go with the large green plants that are scattered around the interior. Also, at the back of the cafe was a doorway out into a lush, green garden fitted with seats for summer dining. The decor is closer to a modern home than a restaurant, which adds to the overall feeling of cosiness. Upstairs, there is a lounge area with sofas and coffee tables for if you’re really in the mood to just drink coffee and do nothing all day.

Delicious bacon (Credit: S. Fallon)

We ordered the scone platter, poached eggs with bacon, a latte, freshly squeezed orange juice and a Turkish coffee with milk. The Turkish coffee was super sweet and thick like a hot chocolate. The yolks on the poached eggs were runny and sun-yellow and just begging to be mopped up with the big piece of sourdough bread that they were served on. The bacon was a bit fattier than I like but, when it comes to Istanbul, I’ll take any bacon I can find.

As to the scones. Perfect. The platter is three homemade scones with four shot glasses containing butter, jam, cream cheese and, just to remind us that we’re in Turkey, olives. Slathered in cream, butter and jam the scones were demolished in moments. The only thing missing was my grandmother telling me stories about Liverpool while I devoured the fluffy cakes.

The bill came to 55tl between the two of us and once we had paid we sat in the cool surroundings, holding our bellies and wiping scone crumbs from our chins. If you are someone who craves a scone now and then, or you want somewhere quiet to read, write or relax, then this is the place for you. Great service, nice surroundings and delicious food.

Journey
Akarsu Cad. No: 21/A
Cihangir

Drink: Coffee at Jamie’s Italian

drinkThings about Jamie’s Italian restaurant in the Zorlu Center has been whispered to me in hallowed tones. The idea that the great Jamie Oliver would grace our tiny megalopolis with his presence seems to have people rushing to the emergency room to be delivered of the kittens they’re having. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Jamie O. The work he did in England to make our children healthier was hero’s work and the TV show about him trying to do the same thing in America was comedy gold. However, the things I heard ranged from the restaurant being the greatest thing since someone stared at a pig’s arse and said, ‘If we cut that off and fry it, it’ll go great with eggs’ to the food being the culinary equivalent of drowning in a bath full of sick. In the spirit of adventure, and after getting the all clear from the doctor that I was allowed to drink coffee again after injuring my kidneys with too much caffeine, I took my wife there one afternoon for lunch and coffee.

7. Jamie’s Italian.

SavedPicture-20131216145827.jpgThe shower in my apartment (and your apartment and everyone else’s apartment) is a capricious bastard. The tap, much like porridge in a bear’s house, has three settings: too hot, just right, too cold. The difference in where the tap has to be to access these setting can probably only be measured by the Large Hadron Collider. If the shower is too cold, and when I say cold I’m not saying its slightly chilly, no, its the temperature of Lisa Mills’ blood that time in high school when she said that I had a big nose and pimples just to make everyone laugh at me during chemistry. If the shower is too cold I think that maybe a nudge to the left will warm it up. Once the nudge is achieved and the tap has moved a fraction of an inch the water temperature goes from too cold to surface of the sun, interior of McDonald’s apple pie, Lisa Mills’ piercing fiery look when I asked her what the time was and she decided that my big nose needed to be known about, hot. So with fine tuning and mild frostbite/third degree burns I manage to get it just right.

What does this have to do with coffee? I hear you ask as you stop reading two hundred words ago. For me coffee has to exist in the just right zone. Tea can be served to me boiling hot and I will pass the time waiting for it to cool by reading the paper, chatting to my wife, or plotting revenge against Lisa Mills. Coffee on the other hand needs to be at the exact right temperature for me to get my laughing gear around it almost instantly. In terms of warmth I require something on par with a Christmas sweater or an awkward hug.

Jamie’s coffee was molten. I ordered a latte (price forgotten and not available on their website) and it was served in the tall glass that is all the rage these days and that I’m losing keenness upon. By the time it had cooled down any flavour it had once had had been scorched away leaving me with a warm glass that tasted like the memory of coffee.

SavedPicture-20131216145819.jpgHow about you? Do you think that Jamie’s coffees are supreme and unbeatable? Do you have an opinion of where to find the best coffee in Istanbul? Do you know where I can get a really good cafe au lait? This is what the comments box is for guys so get in touch.

DRINK: Beer & You in Istanbul

drinkFrequent readers of the Istanbulletin –yes, both of you- may have noticed a certain drop in our usual high-powered, jack-hammering output. This is due to many circumstances, not least open-mouthed confusion and laziness.

Capture2So it is time to revisit the topic of beer. You may recall many moons ago we blind tasted a range of beers, declaring Tuborg Gold the Sultan of the Istanbul beers (Actually we forgot to taste it on the blind night, but we did make up for this oversight later, though that night neither received nor deserved a write-up-ED.) But let’s go out, shall we?

CaptureEfes, the scourge of our palates, has a near monopoly  but seem to be getting the picture that there are way more beer appreciators than their pissy brew can keep happy.

In a direct dick-slap to Tuborg, Efes has come on strong with Efes Malt. They have ditched the sugar and rice that befoul original pilsner and made something that is not half bad.

More to their credit, and in a move that may just get the Efes board a big wet kiss on the mouth, they have started bringing Duval directly in from Belgium. This is a delicious, meaty blond with a cheeky alcohol rate of 8.5%. Many venues are pricing as a luxury beer (count on 20tl in fancy places) but in Sanat, for example, you will bag one for 11tl.

It is a great beer if you don’t like getting bloated and gassy.

Other beer bargains include Elma Pub in Besiktas, where you get Beck’s on tap for only a lira more than Efes. Bar Ish in Taksim are sticking to 14tl for a Hoegaarden, or at least they were last I checked.Capture3

Another great option I have been enjoying is picking up a Leffe from the booze shop located under Nusr Et in Bebek and drinking it in Bebek Park. Proudly secular, the inhabitants of that particular suburb are highly unlikely to cause a scene if you a delicately sinking a bottle of Belgian craft beer. Right?

Let’s pool our resources. Where are the other beer bargains to be had?

 

Technical Difficulties

Merhaba,

You may have noticed that recently there has been quite a lot of inaction (Can you have a lot of nothing?-Ed) on this site. Work obligations coupled with novel writing and a heavy amount of spamming and technical issues have made us be absent-minded parents to our baby blog.

Hopefully, in the coming weeks, we will resolve some of these issues and be back on form.

Thank you for your patience.

Here is a picture of a cat in a tree.

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