Scrambled eggs and flatbreads in Istanbul: menemen, gözleme, pide

I have a writing deadline tonight, so it’s been another one of these days where I hole up and only go out for meals. No sacrifice on a hot day like this… and when the meals are so good.

I wanted breakfast for lunch, but when we walked out I vetoed every breakfast place we saw: this one was too dark, that one too crowded, etc etc. We ended up at a place called Hala, where you can see women in the front window making mantı and gözleme

Manti-makers at Hala restaurant


{as always, mouse over images for my notes, or click to enlarge}

I got spinach gözleme (a filled flatbread), and menemen, Turkish-style scrambled eggs with tomato and spices. This made a very hearty and tasty lunch.

Spinach flatbread (gözleme)

Scrambled eggs with tomato (menemen)

Erik had chicken wings, which were also very good. It puzzles me that every place we’ve eaten rice here, the serving has always been quite small. I am still holding out hope that someplace in Istanbul we will find the giant plates of pilav that I crave. ;b

Chicken wings with rice, shredded carrots and lettuce and onions

We walked home stuffed. We’re very comfortable with the neighborhood now and don’t hesitate to take different streets to find our way home. It’s really fun to see what’s on each new side street.

Bookstore cat

Plums (erik!) for sale

Mid-afternoon I suddenly remembered the apartment has a balcony, so I took my laptop out there to write. It’s a good option because our wifi coverage doesn’t reach the outside. ;b

Lisa on the balcony

For dinner we sought out Şimşek Pide Salonu, which was mentioned in Istanbul Eats. I knew pide was sort of like pizza, but I wasn’t really sure what that meant. After all, even pizza can vary quite a bit. The restaurant looked like a takeout pizza parlor and the menu was all Turkish, but a man came over to give us one-word translations: “meat,” “salami,” “cheese.” Our experience in Istanbul is that while few people speak fluent English, many people speak a little, and definitely the restaurants and shops are accustomed to tourists. I’ve been surprised and grateful how well everyone has accommodated us. There is really no reason to rely on the restaurants with English menus!

As for the pide, I think it’s my favorite thing we’ve eaten yet — which is saying something, because we have eaten a lot of really good food. The crust is a bit like pizza crust but it’s not puffy, and it’s somewhere between crisp and tender — substantial, yet cuttable with a fork and (slightly dull) knife. The toppings were simple but very, very delicious (not very veg-friendly though; the only veg option was cheese and I think that’d be a bit cheese overkill). Since the pide are made to order, they come to the table at the perfect temperature, and shiny with melted butter. We ordered two because we are gluttons.

Mixed pide

Meat and pastirma pide

We walked home groaning, but if you put another pide in front of me right now, I’d eat it.