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“The perfect introduction to Istanbul”
Review of Delicious Istanbul

Delicious Istanbul
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Attraction details
Owner description: Looking to experience the real taste of Istanbul? Join Olga Irez in exploring the local markets, visiting hand-picked vendors and food makers, tasting famous and lesser known local treats and, finally, cooking a Turkish feast at Olga's kitchen.Olga cooks and eats full time in Istanbul and also publishes popular food blog Delicious Istanbul, so her insights and tips put you on the fast track of learning all about Istanbul food.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Activities for older children
Reviewed June 26, 2011

When we think of our first trip to Istanbul, we will always be grateful for Olga's personal tour of a city full of sights, smells and sounds. I reviewed several choices for food tours and am confident we made the best selection. We communicated directly with her, she was very responsive and flexible. After arriving from an overnight flight, we were energized by her tour through the streets, the markets & the shops - places we would never have visited on our own. She introduced us to trams and ferries and helped us feel extremely comfortable over our next few days in a place where we didn't know the language or how to navigate. Olga used food to build a foundation for our understanding of the sense of place, culture and history. But food was simply the vehicle and our conversations led us beyond the initial 3 hours we had expected to spend with her. We were enthralled by her knowledge of Istanbul - equal to her appreciation for food - and soon realized we had surpassed our negotiated time. Never once did our jet lag interfere but our stomachs did begin to beg for relief! Who knew there could be such a difference between an average Turkish Delight and an outstanding one? Or how fresh the pide could be in a market stall for locals that you would have simply passed by? My only regret is that we didn't have Olga with us during the rest of our travels throughout Turkey but her introductory recommendations served us well. We have recommended Olga to travelers who came after us and they have wholehearetedly agreed with the assessment of our experience. We're confident you will as well. Thanks Olga!

2  Thank Henrimoore
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
karkusha, Owner at Delicious Istanbul, responded to this reviewResponded August 23, 2011

Janet, I am delighted to meet you and Vernon. Your deep interest in Turkish food and culture and a whole lot of other common interests and topics we have appeared to share have made the day very memorable for me too.

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Reviews (147)
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132 - 136 of 147 reviews

Reviewed May 14, 2011

I did a half day "food walk" with Olga on my first day in Istanbul. Not only did I learn a lot about the best places to find wonderful Turkish food, but I learned a lot about Istanbul as well. Olga is charming and speaks wonderful English. Highly recommended!

2  Thank sftraveler036
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
karkusha, Owner at Delicious Istanbul, responded to this reviewResponded August 23, 2011

Sarah, I am glad if I could offer a good orientation in the city and its food: thank for you all your curiosity, questions and stories.

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Reviewed May 9, 2011

I visited Istanbul during Easter holidays with a friend and we spent a few days walking around (=eating around) with Olga. Although not being Turkish herself she seems to have established a very close relationship with the city itself, as well as with a number of street vendors / market sellers / shop owners - basically, all the important people to make your stay in Istanbul the best it can be.

Our program included: walks around various central areas on both the European and the Asian sides, snacks/lunches/dinners at both well-hidden street cafes and upscale restaurants, food and spice shopping at the market, a cooking class, and a session of local wine tasting. In between, we had time to walk around, visit museums and do all the touristy things on our own.

Eating at small local cafes, drinking strong Turkish coffee or shopping for spices with Olga was like having a full day of family visits: we were constantly offered things to try, to smell, to touch without that unusual and annoying pressure that the European or American tourists tend to feel in the markets of the Middle East. It was like going around the city with a local friend when all the chaos and strangeness of a megapolis makes sense and is more entertaining than overwhelming. This was a great introduction to Istanbul and if I ever go back I'll be sure to get an advanced version of Olga's culinary walks.

5  Thank AlexandrinaS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
karkusha, Owner at Delicious Istanbul, responded to this reviewResponded August 23, 2011

Alex, it was a pleasure to spend a few days with you stuffed with the culinary experiences. I am sorry that I left little time in your program for the regular historical delights - but there is always next time for Istanbul. Spiced with a few meals, glasses of wine and food shopping, of course.

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Reviewed March 18, 2011

As an expat who spent the past several years living in Istanbul, I thought there were few things left for me to discover in terms of good food and new tasty treats. When Olga Tikhonova took me for a food walk last Saturday, however, she had quite a few surprises in store for me. We started our walk with a sumptuous breakfast at an ancient (and deceptively simple) place in Beşiktaş, which is famous for its kaymak—heavy cream eaten with honey spread over a piece of bread. The owner greeted us like old friends and proceeded to produce ample supplies of thick kaymak, aromatic honey, crispy, freshly baked bread, and divinely tender and luscious eggs fried sunny side up. This simple meal was the tastiest breakfast I've had in a long time, and the ambiance was also unparalleled—with the elderly owner and his wife busily bustling about while well-fed cows (the ones who produce the milk for the famous kaymak) peered at us from the photographs on the walls.

After the filling breakfast, we proceeded to explore the back streets of Beşiktaş, with their quaint shops selling a variety of foods—from dried fruits and nuts to olives and cheese to fish in the famous Beşiktaş market. We then proceeded to walk up, through Maçka Park and the posh districts of Harbiye and Nişantaşı, with their expensive shops and fancy coffeehouses, to an organic market that takes place each Saturday at the Feriköy Halk Pazarı. I have heard about this market from other expats, but I never took the time to visit it. Finally, with Olga leading the way, I found myself in Feriköy, amid a bounty of fruits and vegetables, all screaming, "Buy me by the bushel! Take me home! Cook me into a delicious soup—or a stew—or a desert..." After all that walking, it was a welcome relief to sit down by the ladies rolling out whole-wheat gözleme (thin layers of dough baked with a mouth-watering filling of feta cheese and parsley) and wait for our turn to have a bite. The wait was long, considering that it was a modest market stall. It was only after 15 minutes or so that we got our gözleme, which we supplemented with buttery börek filled with Swiss chard from a neighbouring stall, and a selection of savoury pastries. Add to this freshly pressed juice and organic tea to wash it all down with, while watching hordes of locals and expats of every kind raid the stalls, kids, dogs, and shopping bags in tow.

The walk back was long and leisurely. We took a minibus back to Beşiktaş and proceeded to explore the district of Ortaköy, which is a favourite with Istanbulites on weekends. A cup of Turkish coffee was all that I needed to replenish my energies, and a solid late lunch of moussaka at a local "ev yemekleri" (home-made food) required that it be finished with something light and sweet. An ice cream, perhaps, or, better yet, a paste made of candied chestnut and covered with melted chocolate.

Ah, one could not wish for a better Saturday! In addition to producing endlessly delightful treats for my taste buds and introducing me to the tastiest, hidden food spots in Istanbul, Olga tirelessly shared her insights into the Turkish cuisine and encouraged unabashed exploration of what it has to offer. I am definitely looking forward to more food walks with Delicious Istanbul, and I strongly recommend that you book a tour next time you are in the Great City. Your taste buds will thank you for it!

2  Thank GypsyInModa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
karkusha, Owner at Delicious Istanbul, responded to this reviewResponded August 23, 2011

Mari, thanks for sharing a great day: as much of a challenge as it was to take around an expat foodie who have lived in Istanbul for a while I am honored to get such a review from you.

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Reviewed March 15, 2011

Usually when we talk about excursion it should be something about history, architecture… Delicious Istanbul it’s something different and really fascinating. Olga Tikhonova is a really great teller and guide and all time, that we spend with her was unforgettable.

Various small shops with Turkish delight, Egypt (spices) Market, lunch near Galata Tower, tour through Bosfor, Kadikoy Market and dinner in Taksim. Everything was so full of flavor and exiting, that I’m sure I will recommend this attraction to all my friends.

I’m pretty sure, that memory connected with taste and smell are even stronger than other. Now I’m sure, that taste and smell of Turkish delight, jam with tomatoes, walnuts and oranges, olives, different fish, bakery, dolma, sahleb, various teas and spices, nuts and dried fruits, real Turkish coffee and tea will stay with me for a long time.

Thanks a lot, it was really great.

2  Thank o_darka
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
karkusha, Owner at Delicious Istanbul, responded to this reviewResponded August 23, 2011

Odarka, great meeting you and showing a different side of Istanbul! Thanks for the wonderful interview too.

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