Probably from the first time I thought about visiting Istanbul, I have wanted to wander around the Grand Bazaar. One of the world’s oldest and largest, the GB is over 31,000 square meters, with over sixty four streets and alleys, twenty two entrances, and a mere 4,000 shops. Its origin dates back to 1461 and the days of Mehmet the Conqueror. I guess this would be the first shopping center ever built? It became the center of trade for the entire Ottoman Empire.
According to the Ottoman traveler Evliya Çelebi’s Seyahatname, by the seventeenth century the Kapalı Çarşı (or the Çarşı-yı-Kebir as it was known at the time) had reached its present size, with over 4,000 shops and nearly 500 stalls known in Turkish as dolap (literally translated to “cupboard”).
The Grand Bazaar is really a city within a city, with its own police station, post office, dispensary, several banks, and a tourist information center. Also on site are restaurants, a hammam, a mosque, and about ten smaller prayer rooms (mescits).
Each and every travel expert tells me that I should expect to get lost, at least many times! Chatting and bargaining, rather than rushing through the bazaar, provides the best experience. The eventual purchase is not as important as the haggling, and the relationship between buyer and seller.
I would expect sensory overload to be my first impression. Maybe the second and third as well. But I love these markets as I travel the world, but never having been to any this large, or this “foreign” to me. So, putting my hands on the product will encourage the vendor to close the sale. The more aggressive the vendor, the more likely the item is probably not worth my time. They say the most trusted shopkeepers do not harass customers into buying their products. I hope that is true!
Among the items for sale are jewelry, of course, antiques, furniture, leather goods, casual clothing, souvenirs, carpets, textiles, made to order, and eating and drinking. But the common denominator: they all use one liners and attention grabbers to attract customers. If you feel like a conversation, go for it, but beware of giving the merchant false hope that you will buy from them!
With anywhere from 250,000 to 400,000 visitors (over 90 million annually) a day, I expect it to be crazy. The bazaar is open every day but Sunday, from 9:00 to 19:00. So, how can I go about buying something, without overpaying, or pissing off the shop keeper? With 25,000 staff people, the place is buzzing!
First, the person waiting on me is most likely not the owner or shop keeper. And he or she is on a sales quota, getting paid only a commission for what is sold. So, much like vendors the world over, the early morning is when the sales person wants to make sure they reach their daily quota. As the day progresses, and they have made their quota, their focus turns to either more commission, or keeping the shop keeper happy by trying to sell excess or unwanted inventory. Between 11:00 and 13:00 are the best times, according to the experts.
On my side of the sale, I must try not too look very eager. And don’t just focus on one item, though make a mental note of it while looking around. Once an item is chosen, make the sales person give the best price first. Then, with a look of total astonishment, leave the item and head to another store with similar items. Either the clerk makes a new offer, buying my bluff, or he lets me walk. Once a new offer is made, the real bargaining starts.
Another trick, is slow and steady is the best course. The clerk’s urge to sell should be greater than my desire to buy. Never rush the bargaining process. Many times they will offer tea, usually in a hidden corner of the store. Why? So nobody else can hear what is going on. And second, the clerk may want to create a need for the sale, a more personal reason, like a family to feed or a sick relative.
Of course, it is all just a story, and his children will still be able to go to college, with or without your purchase. Keep playing his game with nods, and maybes. Without hard and fast rules, I always aim for 50% of the asking price. It may require some practice, though I have done it in SE Asia numerous times.
With 18 million people, I am certain there are a few that would like to make a buck or two off of me. They prefer targets who are alone. Bars with overpriced drinks, and under dressed women are a red flag. Single white men are the best target, usually confronted by a well dressed English speaking tout. Shoe shines and pick pockets are another scam.
Now, what really do I expect to buy? Maybe a T shirt or two, some spices and tea, a fridge magnet, that’s about it. I do not need a rug, jewelry, clothing, second hand books, clay pottery, pipe, or leather goods. They probably will not be too happy with me. But the lamp store might be somewhere I could buy, since we have several Turkish lamps at home.
I love the markets around the world here the locals shop.
We have all enjoyed kebabs of various sorts back home, including lamb (shish), beef, and chicken. I have even had fish, cheese, fruit, vegetable, and tofu kebabs in some places around the world. But what really is a kebab?
In the Middle East, Asia, and the Muslim world, a kebab is any variety of grilled meats, usually on a skewer, but not always. The meat on the kebab can be ground, cut, or cubed, and may include anything that can be grilled. But rarely pork due to religious reasons. One of my favorites is the doner kebab, available throughout the world, but particularly good in this part of the world.
The “Adana” kebab is quite popular here. It is made of ground beef or a combination of ground beef and lamb. Quite commonly, onion, garlic and Turkish spices are added. Then they are packed by hand onto large, flat, metal skewers. The fat helps bind the meat together on the skewer.
A cook from Bursa is credited with the invention of the doner kebab. It is quite different from the doner, which can be found throughout Europe. Both generally are roasted over a rotating grill or rotisserie. From Istanbul food: In Turkey, the word kebap extends to include any of these dishes that are cooked over, or next to, a flame. It includes both small and large cuts of meat, as well as ground meat. Kebab in Turkey can be served on plates (known as porsiyon), in sandwiches, or even in wraps (known as durum).
Traditionally, the meat used to make Turkish kebabs is lamb. However, as individual tastes evolved, and regional specialties developed, other popular meats used in Turkish kebabs have extended to include beef, chicken and fish. Using vegetables in kebabs has also always been popular in Turkey, and most commonly you’ll find varieties of kebab made with eggplant, tomato, peppers and onion.
It is generally accepted that the first kebabs in Turkey originated from the Erzurum province in Eastern Turkey, as cağ kebab; with meat stacked and cooked on a spit horizontally, rather than vertically as today’s döner kebabs are. These kebabs are first mentioned in Ottoman travel books dating back to the 18th century. The ‘father’ of the modern döner kebab, Iskender Efendi, then wrote that he and his grandfather “had the idea of roasting the lamb vertically rather than horizontally”, and invented a vertical rotisserie. It is this dish that is today most commonly recognized throughout the world as ‘kebab’.
My favorite is, of course, the grilled lamb cubes, that we know back home as shish kebab, from our wonderful Armenian friends in the Valley. My Mom learned to make the shish, along with several dishes, from the Armenian ladies in her Tuesday night bridge club.
Most interesting to compare these kebabs to the ones back home. I love kebabs. I grew up on kebabs. My Mom had a great recipe form one of her Armenian bridge ladies. It was the best!
I have been waiting for many years to visit. The visit is upon me. What to see and do? How about these for a start?
I want to try the famous street food, particularly the Döner kabab, which is famous throughout Europe, and parts of Asia. A few I have tasted in Europe were quite tasty, and go quite well with a cold beer. Some other dishes to try: dolmas, koftas, and of course, the ubiquitous baklava.
The Hagia Sophia is the only place in the world to serve three religions.
Uniquely, have breakfast in Europe with a view of Asia, then lunch in Asia with a view of Europe. In other words, a trip on the Bosphorus, often called the heart of the city.
Witness a unique form of meditation, the whirling dervishes with their Sama ritual.
Visit the Blue Mosque by morning, party on the Bosphorus by evening. Experts say, “Istanbul is the new Berlin!”
Go shopping in the most visited tourist attraction in the world, the famous Grand Bazaar. I can’t wait. I love this concept the world over, whether Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market, Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium Flea Market, or the famous Night Markets throughout SE Asia.
Topkapi Palace was home to the Ottoman sultans for 400 years. Today it is a museum, holding, among other things, Muhammed’s cloak and sword.
Stroll down Istiklal street, with streetcars, Ottoman era buildings, nightlife, and Cicek Pasaji (drinking raki and eating fish).
While we are trying new food, how about the famous kumpir, Istanbul’s preferred street food. It is a baked potato loaded with appetizers (olives, hotdogs, pickles, corn and secret sauce).
Another one is tasting the palm ( a type of dessert) of Buyukada Island.
The islands can be toured by bicycle. Sounds right up my alley.
They say that I need to wrap a rag around a tree near Aya Yorgi Church to make a wish.
Tasting the lemon ice-cream in the Ice-Cream Maker Prinkapos’ place which is on the right-hand side while climbing the Büyükada Dock.
Having a Turkish coffee at Bebek cafe.
Try more desserts like keskul (almond pudding), ekmek kadayifi (bread), ayva tatlisi (quince dessert), and more baklava, of course.
I will let you know what I enjoyed the most.
From the Wine Cellar Insider:
Bordeaux wine gains its unique character and flavor profile from a combination of the grapes planted in the vineyards, the terroir and soil of Bordeaux, climate and the choices made by the wine maker. But it all starts in the vineyard with Bordeaux wine grapes.
First off, it’s important to note that a large part of what makes Bordeaux wine great, is that 99% of all the top wines are produced from blends of different grape varieties. Even though the Bordeaux wine being made today bears little resemblance to the wines produced in the region when the 1855 Classification took place for much of the appellation, the best wines of Bordeaux have always been produced using a blend of different grapes.
It’s the whole of its parts that comes from blending grape varieties that creates the magic tasted in Bordeaux wine. There are a few stunning 100% Merlot wines from Pomerol and St. Emilion, but the vast majority of the time, Merlot, due to its rich, opulent textures is the perfect pairing for blending with the more tannic, firmer Cabernet Sauvignon grape.
Keep in mind, the terroir and climate in Bordeaux is much different than you find in California, so while wines from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon are sublime from regions like Napa Valley, on its own, Cabernet Sauvignon planted in the gravelly terroir of Bordeaux is too hard and austere.
But when blending with other grapes, the wine gains in complexity in the nose and more importantly, the textures and mouth feel of the wine at its best develops elegance and opulence and silky, velvet textures. While Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are unarguably the two most important grapes used in Bordeaux blends, you can also find varying amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec in the blends. But that wasn’t always the case as you will see.
Cabernet Franc is one of three main grapes used in Bordeaux wine blends. The grape reaches its best expression and potential in the limestone soils found in the Bordeaux wine appellation of St. Emilion. Pomerol also offers fertile soils for the varietal.
Cabernet Franc is planted with varying degrees of success in other French wine regions; for example, the Loire Valley. In fact, the Loire Valley is where Cabernet Franc first became popular during the 1600’s. It at least 100 more years before plantings of Cabernet Franc began to appear in Saint Emilion and Pomerol.
While Cabernet Franc first earned its popularity in the Loire Valley in the 1700’s, when it was known by its original name, Bouchet, perhaps its greatest claim to fame is due to the fact that it gave birth to Cabernet Sauvignon after it was crossed with Sauvignon Blanc.
It has continued gaining in popularity in America with its best success taking place in California in the Napa Valley, Washington State and Oregon. Cabernet Franc is also planted in other wine producing countries including: Italy, (in Tuscany in the Bolgheri wines as well as in Friuli), Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, Hungary, Canada, Bulgaria, Croatia and most recently China.
Read more at:https://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/wine-topics/wine-educational-questions/grapes-for-wine-making-flavor-characteristics-explained/cabernet-franc-wine-grapes-flavors-character-and-history/
Cabernet Sauvignon is planted all over the world in a myriad of climates. It reaches its full potential in Bordeaux, especially in the Medoc as well as in Pessac Leognan, and of course the Napa Valley region in California. It is used to produce much of the world’s most expensive wine.
It is also used to make a lot of inexpensive wine. Cabernet Sauvignon continues to gain in popularity as a grape for wine. To illustrate the grapes explosive growth, in 1990, it was the 8th most widely planted varietal in the world. By 2010, it jumped to being the world’s most popular grape variety!
To give you an idea on how popular Cabernet Sauvignon is today, there are over 300,000 hectares of the grape planted all over the world. That is more than 741,300 acres! In 1990, 100,000 hectares were planted. Cabernet Sauvignon is so popular, the grape has its own holiday, International Cabernet Sauvignon Day is celebrated every August 30.
Clearly, Cabernet Sauvignon is now the most famous red wine grape in the world. What you might find surprising is, it was created relatively recently. At some point in the 17th century, it is thought that Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc was originally the creation of nature when the vines first propagated.
From there, French wine growers continued crossing Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. This new creation was named as you can see from the two varieties it was created from, Cabernet Sauvignon.
Because of this natural creation, Cabernet Sauvignon is limited in its genetic diversity. Working with the natural selection, growers continued working on the new variety to bring out its special flavors, tannins and tough, thick skins that made it easy to grow and harvest.
Merlot is the most popular and widely planted wine grape varietal in France, reaching its true zenith of expression in Bordeaux wine. Around the world, it’s the fifth most planted wine grape.
Merlot has also been used to make stunning wines in Tuscany and to a much lesser degree in Switzerland, Australia, Argentina and numerous other countries, as well as in America. Merlot continues to gain in popularity as a grape for wine. In 1990, Merlot was the 7th most popular grape.
By 2010, Merlot jumped to second place as the world’s most widely planted grape. Only Cabernet Sauvignon has more vines planted.
According to studies conducted by the University of California in Davis, the Merlot grape is related to Cabernet Franc and Carmenere. Thanks to DNA, it is now thought that Merlot is a cross between Cabernet Franc and the obscure grape Magdeleine Noire des Charentes.
Merlot started earning a reputation for producing quality wine in 1784, due to the growing fame of the wines produced in the Right Bank of Bordeaux.
While the Right Bank of Bordeaux discovered Merlot in 1784, it took several decades until the grape started to become widely accepted in the Medoc, even though it is only used as a blending variety in that region.
Merlot based wines are perfect for the lunch or dinner table, It’s naturally soft textures and rich flavors works well with a diverse array of foods. For the best wine and food pairing tips.
Try matching Merlot wines with meat, lamb, veal and stewed dishes. Mushrooms, chicken and pork work great. Depending on the preparation, use it with fish, if you add earthy sauces or flavorings. Merlot based wines are also perfect for a myriad of different cheeses. Merlot and Chocolate work for some people, although it’s never excited me personally.
The grape earned its moniker from its eye catching, dark, blue color. Merle in French is translated into a blackbird, which could be taken to reference either the color or the birds fondness for the sweet flavored, thin skinned grape.
Merlot is now so popular, it has its own holiday. International Merlot Day is celebrated every November 7. International Merlot Day
Merlot thrives best in the clay and limestone soils of Pomerol, Saint Emilion and Lalande de Pomerol. In those soils, Merlot delivers a unique expression that Christian Moueix, the owner of Trotanoy, La Fleur Petrus and other estates that combines feminine and opulent qualities.
So, there you have the three main varietals of the Bordeaux region. Also found here are Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Carmenere. White varietals include: Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Muscadelle, and Sauvignon Gris.
I intend to try them all! And at this point, you know as much as I do about Bordeaux wines.