The best way to learn about a city, country or culture, in my opinion, is through their food.
We may not look the same or speak the language, but we can all come together so to speak through the simple act of “breaking bread” with one another.
That’s why I LOVE food tours.
You get the opportunity to explore the farmers market, go to great restaurants, sit in cafés and bars to do as the local (insert country here) would do on an afternoon or evening out.
We had the opportunity to do just that with the brand new Walks of Turkey and their Istanbul Food Tour!
If you are thinking “hmm… Walks of Turkey that sounds familiar somehow are you sure it’s new?”
Walks of Turkey started their first tours in Spring 2015, but the “Walks of….” brand has been around for a while and is very highly rated by many travellers online as well as on Trip Advisor. They are very well-known for their expert guides, small tour sizes of 12 or fewer, and best of all their all-inclusive tours with a “no surprises” and no shopping stops guarantee. After you’ve paid for your tour online, you could arrive without a penny in your pocket – everything listed in their tour description is in the tour price.
We at Calculated Traveller have taken quite a few of their tours and highly recommend them.
- Walks of Italy A Cooking Class in Rome
- Walks of Italy My (Almost) Private Tour of the Vatican with Walks of Italy
- Walks of New York Official Mario Batali Greenwich Village Food Tour
Walks of Turkey Istanbul Food Tour
Are there good eats to be found in Istanbul?
Our tour started with a ferry ride from the European to the Asian side of Istanbul and a nice hot cup of Turkish tea, cookies and conversation.
Here’s a tip about the tea – it’s served black with sugar and no milk – AND it’s offered to you wherever you go. So don’t be surprised if you are just browsing in a shop and you get offered a cup of tea. The Turks are just an incredibly friendly group of people that way!
With our very energetic and friendly guide Güney, we moved efficiently through the streets of busy Istanbul like a pro.
For about 4 hours our taste buds were on high alert as we visited the markets and back streets in search of new tastes and new smells.
We sampled dried fruits, cured meats, grilled meats, cheeses, bread, and sweet and savoury treats — here are some of the highlights.
Burgu peyniri – Buffalo milk cheese, similar to mozzarella
Eski Trakya Kasar – Thracian aged cheese
Keci Peyniri – Goat cheese
Beyaz Peynir – Feta Cheese
Isli Peynir – Smoked cheese
Ici Kofte – Wheat balls filled with minced meat and walnuts (delicious)
Midye Dolmasi – Stuffed mussels served cold (my personal favourite with lemon squeezed on top)
Dolma – Stuffed vine leaves
Cig Kofte – Traditionally “raw meatballs” but these use bulgur and walnuts
Warm honey right off the honeycomb and drizzled overtop of Turkish yoghurt. Sweet / sour and totally YUMMY!
Kebap (ground beef and lamb kebab)
Onions flavoured with sumac
Grilled green peppers and tomatoes
Turkish Pide Bread
You don’t have to like everything on a food tour. For example, the sour yoghurt milk called Ayran and the pickled beet juice wouldn’t be going on my personal list of “things to order again.”
With our belly full and the evening drawing to a close we ended the night at a café for an authentic Turkish coffee served table side with Güney — no longer our guide, but now a new friend. Our tour was a true memory that will last a lifetime.
Walks of Turkey Istanbul Food Tour Tips
- Wear comfortable shoes. There is a lot of walking, and many of the streets are cobblestone.
- Dress modestly.
- Bring a bottle of water with you.
- Ensure you tell Walks of Turkey of any food allergies, food restrictions before the tour.
- Lastly, don’t drink the “sludge” at the bottom of your Turkish coffee cup”. Put the saucer on top and carefully tip your cup upside down. Look at what’s remaining inside your cup and it will show you your fortune, or so Güney says!
Spending time on a local tour for a few hours when you first arrive in a new place makes you feel more comfortable and confident to explore on your own after the tour ends.
Food tours are excellent, and we’ve done many. It’s the easiest and fastest way of finding the best local eats in a strange city and avoid overpriced tourist fare.
Do you look at food tours when you are planning a trip?
Travel assistance was provided by Walks of Turkey. All opinions are entirely our own.