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Green Oases in Istanbul

by Redaktion (comments: 0)

Istanbul, a huge city of about 15 million inhabitants on the Bosporus, has only a rudimentary underground railway network, which helps to explain why above ground the totally inadequate transport system for cars, taxis and busses causes everything to grind to a halt every single day. With air quality correspondingly poor, the lack of discipline on the roads and drivers constantly sounding their horns, any normal central European spending a few days as a tourist there is soon stressed out and is at the end of his tether. What could be more alluring, therefore, than visiting one of the green oases in downtown Istanbul, where you can relax with slow food and wholefood in pleasant green surroundings. (Picture: Kahve6 – a vegan restaurant that uses some organic products)
Zencefil (ginger) is the name of a restaurant founded in 1993 that is an advocate of slow food. It’s located in a quiet side-street a stone’s throw from the well known Taksim Square and the pedestrian precinct Istiklal. Situated on a site between four-storey houses, there’s enough space for an extensive winter garden, a cultivated garden, 60 seats inside and 26 outside. The managing director Hande Solakoglu (picture) lived and worked in Switzerland for many years and speaks fluent German. She values healthy cooking with fresh ingredients that come from small farms in the region. She estimates that 20 % of the food is organic. “In the wholesale market, I often buy everything some small producers have got. Anything we can’t use fresh we preserve ourselves for the winter,” she explains. For example, last year they bottled 2,000 kg of tomatoes for tomato sauce and 40 kg of basil for pesto.

“Although we use meat in just a few of our dishes, we particularly value health-conscious, vegan customers,“ declares Hande, who manages the restaurant together with the owner Ferda Erdinc. She is keen to have a constantly changing offer on the menu. For example, she creates her own varieties of ice-cream and sorbet that contain hardly any sugar – pumpkin, ginger, pomegranate, rose and lime blossom or green tea. She has completed an appropriate online training course at the Gelato-University. Her creative ideas have earned her a mention in a number of guide books and also some prizes, with the result that 40 – 60 % of the people visiting the restaurant are tourists.

Balya organik, not far from Istanbul’s gallery of modern art and the Galata Tower, is a combination of a classic wholefood shop and a café. Below the shop, that was opened in January 2011, is the kitchen, where simple meals and snacks are prepared. In the shop itself and outside are a couple of tables that can each seat a good dozen guests (picture). Whereas everywhere you go in Turkey you get concentrated black coffee with grounds in the cup, here the offer naturally includes café latte or iced latte. If you want something to eat, you can choose from, for example, salmon bruschetta, grilled cheese sandwich, veggie burger or avocado salad, and to go with your coffee there’s apple cake or a brownie. To be recommended too is the organic ice-cream in a variety of flavours.

On the menu at Balya are ten different smoothies and milkshakes. “From 10 o’clock the breakfast guests start to come in“, says Aylin Gozubüyük (picture on left), who runs the shop together with Sinan Tüzer. Aylin spent 19 years in the USA and speaks English like an American.

About 90 % of the products come from organic agriculture and are bought mainly at one of the weekly organic markets. 1,400 articles are crammed into the 25 m² shop. Because there is no wholefood wholesaler who can supply everything they need, they have to order goods direct from the manufacturer and, with 150 organic brands in their product range, they come from around 40 sources or are bought in from one of the organic markets. Some manufacturers don’t charge for delivery; others do. (Picture on left: Aylin Gozubüyük already has many regular customers)

The cosy Bistro-Café Kahve6 is a green oasis for 20 guests in a rear courtyard. Even when it rains, you can still eat outside under a roof (see picture at top). To reach the exit to the garden area, you have to go through the front part of the restaurant. Some of the vegan ingredients come from organic agriculture and are prepared fresh in full view of the guests. Inside there are another 20 comfortable seats. (Picture on right: Street view of Kahve6)



Kurabiye Sokak 8, Istanbul-Beyoglu
Tel: +90 212 243 82 34

Balya Organik
(Bild rechts)
Defterdar Yokusu Batarya Sokak 16 A, Istanbul-Cihangir
Tel. +90 212 252 35 82
Öffnungszeiten: 9 – 20 Uhr 

Kahve 6
Akarsu Cadd. Anahtar Sokak 13 A, Istanbul-Cihangir
Tel. +90 212 293 0849
Öffnungszeiten: 9-23 Uhr



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