Nausheen Noor’s Gourmet Travels

16 Dec 2011

UAE food writer Nausheen Noor brings you the latest culinary travel news…

Travel tip: When in Italy, don’t ask for it “to-go.” Italians frown upon eating while walking. You will never see an Italian person noshing on a bag of crisps as he hurries from one place to another. The only exceptions are pizza by the slice (pizza al taglio) and gelato. But even those should be enjoyed while sitting on a nearby bench and people-watching.

Foodie destination of the month:
Just 80 km from Cape Town, Franschhoek, a quaint farm town located in a lush valley surrounded by soaring mountains, is the setting for the Cap Classique and Bubbly Festival. In addition to 13 local wineries – which are some of the best in Cape Vino country – Franschhoek also boasts the highest concentration of fine dining restaurants in Africa. December is the perfect time to go to enjoy the South African summer, its peak produce and gastronomic delights.

Originating in ancient China, the Greeks brought chestnuts to Europe from Asia Minor and later they spread across the continent with the Romans. Now a Christmas-time staple, it is also a popular snack in the Middle East. To save time on your holiday recipes, you can get your pre-roasted whole chestnuts, chestnut spread, or marrons glacé (candied chestnuts) at the Castanea kiosk in Mercato Mall.

Istanbul – ancient, modern, then ancient again…
Much has been written about Istanbul and the magnetic power of its contrasts – ancient and modern, Occidental and Oriental – a place where cocktails co-mingle with kebabs. As the city continues to seamlessly merge the old with the new, this philosophy also applies to its cuisine. There are several restaurants in Istanbul which are showcasing traditional, Ottoman-era fare. These restaurants are emblematic of the recent trend in Turkey dubbed “Ottomania”, a cultural rediscovery of Turkish history and national identity. It is also reflective of the global trend of eating local, organic and seasonal as well as food archaeology – the practice of reviving historical recipes that have fallen out of favour. Here is a round-up of some of the best Istanbul has to offer.

1. Nar Lokanta, located by the Grand Bazaar inside luxury retailer Armaggan, serves everything from Ottoman palace dishes to humble village food, showcasing regional produce from Anatolia. The restaurant’s extensive wine list exclusively features Turkish wines, including a number of bottles from boutique vineyards.
Armaggan, Nuruosmaniye Caddesi No.65, 5th Floor, +90 212 522 28 00.
2. Ciya is the brainchild of one very dedicated chef, Musa Dagdeviren. He revives old Anatolian recipes, scours the countryside for unusual vegetables, and likes to highlight what he calls “peasant food.” The daily specials are displayed upon entry in vast simmering pots.
Guneslibahce Sokak 43, Kadikoy +90 216 330-319.
3. Asitane specialises in Ottoman court recipes, which were closely guarded secrets to which only the palace cooking guilds were privy and passed-on by word of mouth. The chefs at Asitane have succeeded in recreating these dishes after studying the archives of meals and celebrations held at Topkapı and Dolmabahçe Palaces.
Kariye Camii Sokak No: 6 34240 Edirnekapi +90 212 635 7997.

INFO: Nausheen Noor contributes to several food publications and is the author of the foodie website