I have updated my useful and highly-regarded Istanbul Craft Beer Bar Hitlist with the following entries. It’s a tough job sometimes.
Milli Reasürans Çarşısı D:12, Nişantaşı
Visiting Taproom, in an arcade off Teşvikiye Cd. in the upmarket Nişantaşı neighbourhood, was a disappointment as I had been hoping for a relatively local outpost of good-quality beer-supping. It’s a small bar, open to the arcade, and without a great deal of atmosphere. They are supposed to have a selection of draft beers brewed by Taps available (this is an offshoot of the Taps Bebek brewhouse), but only had pilsner. As we were sitting with our beers, we noticed kegs of Tuborg being carried behind the bar, so presumably they’re not even selling their own beers anymore. They did have a small selection of bottles of expensive imported craft beers.
Moda Caddesi No. 60, Kadıköy
Ayı means ‘bear’, which brings to my mind an image of burly gay men, but I believe this is not the intended effect. Instead, you should think of an ursine- and wood-themed bar, quite trendy, with a decent selection of bottled beers and Weihenstephan on draft. It’s definitely a bar worth checking out if you’re on the Asian side of the city.
Kazandibi is a type of traditional Turkish milk pudding, a bit like a stickier crème brulee. The name means ‘bottom of the pan’ and the dish is typified by a caramelised layer where the pudding has been left to overcook against the saucepan. The recipe for the base pudding also involves chicken breast as well as the milk, which is further proof that the Turks really love their meat. Flavour-wise, it’s sweet and vanilla-y and is often served dusted with cinnamon. The accompaniment should, if you’re a Turk, be either a glass of tea or a small cup of intense Turkish coffee, but if you’re a reckless yabancı like me you could also experiment and serve a dessert wine along with it, and I did exactly that at the weekend. From my diminishing collection I was able to dig out a Tuscan Vin Santo or ‘straw wine’, the Vin Santo Della Signora 2009 Montellori. It’s quite boozy at 15%, sweet and redolent of apricots.
This was an enjoyable dessert course, but perhaps not perfect in terms of food and wine matching, as I thought that the wine was too robust. However, I suspect that the Vin Santo would go well with aşure, another traditional Turkish pudding, so there is a potential experiment for another day. Diligent internet research has also revealed that there is a domestic dessert wine here called Safir, made from Misket grapes (a Muscat relative I presume), although I have not yet seen it here in Istanbul. Yes, there is definitely scope for further experimentation.