Haunted House with a Great Art Collection: We were happy to host a former Amherst student, Amber Kahn with us this weekend. Amber is now working in Kayseri, Turkey, as a English Language Fulbright teacher. She took a break from this central Anatolian city to come to Istanbul, and we were so glad she came. In honor of her visit, we visited the Borusan Contemporary Art Museum, (also called the “Haunted House”, or Perili Köşk) which is only open weekends and which serves most of its life as an office building with a world class art installation and collection. The building itself offers views that together with the art, make me wonder how anyone gets any work done.
Here is a little bit of the history of this unique building, taken from their website
When World War I broke out in 1914 and the Ottoman Empire joined the conflict, all construction workers were forced to quit their jobs and enlist in the army. Consequently, construction on the building came to a standstill. [During the period between 1914 and 1995, families] continued to live on the fourth floor while other tenants lived on the first floor. Because the construction of Perili Köşk was largely unfinished, the second and third floors remained empty AND THE SEA BREEZES CREATED A MOANING SOUND AS THEY WHISTLED THROUGH THE UNFINISHED FLOORS. Hence, the local community began referring to the property as the “Haunted Mansion”.
Later, from 1995 to 2000, architect Hakan Kıran completed the building’s survey, construction and restoration processes. The stone and brick coating of the facade was finished in harmony with the original architectural plan after the brick materials were imported from England. While preserving the external appearance of the mansion, the internal spaces were arranged so as to provide a modern and spacious business environment. The ten-story building boasts views of both the Black Sea and Marmara Sea from its spectacular roof.
Here’s an iPhone panorama from the roof. It’s hard to see, but that’s Pat and Amber enjoying a rather unique meeting space inside the top of the turret.
Hope you have a chance to experience this!
Dining In: I know with all the discussion of our eating out, we may have misled you to think that we never cook at home. Not true! On a typical work night, we get home cold and wet and all we want is something quick and warm. One of our go-to dinners is Mantı, a stuffed ravioli-like dumpling with meat that our local market stocks freshly made. It would be delicious with any topping, but we serve this with a traditional yogurt sauce made by cooking up some onions in olive oil and then adding some garlic. When both are brown and aromatic, heat is turned off and we add the yogurt to just take the chill off it, and then mix and add to the boiled Mantı. We usually sprinkle on oregano and hot sauce, and served it up with some fresh or steamed veggies or a tomato, cucumber salad. If you want to try your hand at a recipe for this, try this.
Our other staple for these cold winter months is red lentil soup (kirmizi mercimek çorba). I was inspired to make this from Olga’s Delicious Istanbul blog, but the recipe is infinitely variable. For this incredible soup, all you do is brown onions, add two carrots and two potatoes, and then add four cups of chicken broth and 1 cup of red lentils. We spice with aromatic thyme and oregano, and finish it off with some red pepper flakes and green parsley. Fresh green olive oil and/or lemon juice from a fresh lemon wedge can be added at the table. This we’ll eat with toasted whole grain bread with more olive oil. Heaven awaits you in about 30 minutes, and we always make enough to have two dinners and put some away for those nights we get home late from travel and have no energy to make anything.
We have found a butcher who makes a deliciously spiced mixture of ground beef and lamb, that we use to make köfte, a quite popular dish in Istanbul. Any meat is pretty expensive to buy, but this is so good, that you don’t mind and a half kilo goes for two dinners. Kofte is usually served with rice or bulgur and roasted green peppers and roasted tomato wedges – all sprinkled with a good olive oil. Fast and delicious.
This weekend, we were looking for a bit of change and we were a bit tired of all the red meat dishes we’d been eating out. So on Friday night, we made some eggplant, pepper, and tomato stew which we served on a special pasta made here which is small and delicious. On Saturday night, in honor of Amber’s presence, we made a Fesecan Persian Chicken Stew with a walnut and pomegranate sauce and served it on rice. In our very old fashioned neighborhood of Emirgan, it is impossible to get boned chicken or shelled walnuts, so our meal came bones in, but I was kind to our guests and shelled the walnuts before roasting. Peeling pomegranates is good for the soul, no problem there, and every small market here has the pomegranate molasses which I love as an accompaniment to plain yogurt, which is also the only kind sold in our stores. YUM Here’s a link to the chicken stew recipe for those of you who would like.