I was always told that when traveling to Turkey, one must take Turkish Airlines, and I must say they were right! Having taken several exhausting transatlantic flights in the past, Turkish Airlines was a pleasant surprise.
We boarded to find goody bags on our seats that included several on board necessities, but most importantly a pair of socks, slippers, a tooth brush and its accompanying paste.
The seats were remarkably comfortable and the staff was extremely hospitable. Their staff includes an on board chef who took the time to make me a special meal that did not include mushrooms which I am allergic to.
You will enjoy the flights entertainment system, on your own tv, which includes numerous new releases for you to chose from, as well as a small number of live television channels. They offer free wireless internet on the flight.
Having landed later in the day, our excursion for the day was enjoying a Turkish dinner at a local restaurant.
We visited Özcanlar Köfte, a restaurant located in the Astoria Shopping Mall in Istanbul.
The Turkish people are extremely hospitable and aim to make your stay in their country a memorable one. The staff at the restaurant was just that and the food was spectacular.
We started off with a Mevim Salatasi, or Seasonal Salad, which is served with Turkish olive oil, fresh cut lemons and vinegar. These are served “family style” where a plate of salad is brought for the table to share along with some fresh local breads with butter. The salad was a very refreshing start to the meal.
For the main course we ordered different plates in order to try several different items.
For background, Köfte in Turkish means meatball, although they are not necessarily shaped like a ball and, in fact, can take several different shapes.
The first was the Tekirdağ Köfte, which is “made from a mixture of veal, bread, salt, onions, garlic, and black pepper.” It has a sausage-like taste with plenty of flavor and was complemented well with the grilled pepper, tomatoes, par-fried potatoes and their special hot pepper sauce it is served with.
The second was the Kaşarlı Köfte, “made from veal, locally produced yellow cheese made from sheep’s milk, bread, salt, onions, garlic, cumin, and black pepper.” Its rich taste also made a great pairing with the grilled pepper, tomatoes, par-fried potatoes and their special hot pepper sauce it is served with.
The third was the Çöp Şiş. This is “made of small pieces of lamb meat grilled on skewers with marinated onions. It is served with green salad, garnish, rice, grilled tomatoes and pepper.”
The fourth was the Sucuk or Turkish style Fermented Sausage. Its taste was very similar to a Spanish chorizo. It is made 100% with veal which is fermented via traditional methods and served with grilled pepper, tomatoes and par fried tomatoes.
For desert, we had Hayrabolu Tatkisis, which is a regional cheese dessert which is made using unsalted cheese served with milk cream, nuts and sesame oil.
And of course, one cannot have a traditional Turkish meal without Turkish coffee. Turkish coffee is very strong and you are not to drink the entire amount poured. You should always leave the last 5th of the coffee cup which contains some of the coffee grains. In some places in Turkey, once you have finished your portion of the coffee and it has cooled, you take the cup, flip it over on a plate and let it sit for a couple of minutes. You then pick up the cup and you can read your fortune from the lines left by the coffee on the inside of the cup.
Today’s trip on Turkish Airlines and our meal in Istanbul were great experiences and very satisfying, serving as great appetizers for what we can expect in Turkey during our visit.