Istanbul is dressed in blooming tulips and newlyweds getting a photo shoot are seen in all parks. The country that is believed to have spread tulips to Europe and have created Tulip Mania is exhibiting a vast collection of tulips, many of which I hadn’t seen else where. Surely, April and May are the best time to visit Istanbul.
Including the typical Turkish tulip that resembles a Turkish tea glass, there are so many different species and I’m particularly excited walking around the city, tulips being my favourite flower as a child, but not now. Why? I’ve come out of the shell.
I’m glad I caught these flowers at their best as they die in the ugliest form.
I didn’t know tulips could look like this. There are many more photos of other varieties but I thought it’d be rude to paint the page with photos of flowers and my very favourite tulip photo isn’t here because it didn’t come out well!
Another thing that makes spring an exciting season is strawberries but in Turkey, you also get mulberries. Koreans would instantly think of making a special wine with them as did the lady I met last week, who owns three Korean restaurants in Paris.
I tried to think up interesting recipes to use up the strawberries I had bought but I like eating them fresh so much that I ended up eating them all. However, the one thing I won’t miss is making my favourite strawberry jam towards the end of the season when I get tired of eating them fresh. But there are plenty out there to indulge for now. Fruit carts go around streets, which I find very convenient as I don’t have to go to markets to buy fruit. I hear a voice yelling ” Fresh fruit!“, then I jump outside to buy.
As for vegetables, artichokes are abundant here. You see a man trimming artichokes at every corner grocery store and sometimes a truck filled with artichokes parked in the street with an artichoke man working his way through them, peeling and rubbing. A good thin, flexible, sharp knife, lemons and water are musts. He cut a piece off the stalk and handed it to me to eat so I took a bite without realising that it’d be suffering from the numbing tannins in the mouth for hours. I’ll never try it raw again. Apparently, artichokes have the highest content of antioxidant and tannins but the artichoke tea was too bitter to swallow no matter how good it was meant to be.
This is the most famous dish, an artichoke heart stew filled with peas, carrot and potato, also known as Constantinople Artichoke. All the leaves are discarded here and one day I brought whole artichokes home and peeled them for myself to be able to eat the leaves dipped in aioli, and then I said to myself, “Never again.” I love doing everything from scratch but I’m really giving these guys a credit.
I used to keep a jar of marinate artichoke hearts to use for making various dishes but it always made me wary of the quality of oil in commercial products. So I make my own whenever possible using quality extra virgin olive oil, and the fresh herbs, sage and rosemary, I picked up from Mr.O’s aunt’s garden drove right into the action.
While I was at it, I decided to make marinated goat cheese as well! Certain types of preserved food do wonders in the kitchen, adding unique flavours that fresh ingredients can’t give. I wouldn’t buy cooked beans in cans, for example, but marinated olives, artichokes and goat cheese are good to have in the pantry.
Especially, in warm seasons, when I like having a picnic in a sea-side park, sipping wine and eating nibbles instead of cooking, these pre-made foods come in handy. I marinated the artichoke hearts in bay leaves, lemon, garlic and dill, and the goat cheese in rosemary, sage, garlic, orange peel and peppercorns. I’m sure that if you’re reading my blog, you must be a foodie who knows all about how good these are and how to make them, so I’ll skip the explanation. The only thing I’d share is, just in case, that I dry the herbs in the sun and heat them in the pan slightly before placing them in the jar to help the herbs infuse well. Besides the contents in the jar, the oil itself is very useful in the kitchen for cooking as you know, whether you drizzle over other food or add to salad dressing or marinade.
I guess that is all for now. I hope you would be making some delicious marinades.