One of countless cool things I've discovered about Istanbul is that you can have lunch at Ottoman palaces. As in, you wake up on a Saturday and think, "I'd like to have a palace lunch on the Black Sea today," and you do. I ate here - at the circa 1459 Topkapi Palace. Its walls and turrets and cavernous halls and passages jut out over the Bosphorus Strait toward the gaping mouth of the Black Sea. Looking at the picture above, you can see the part of the Konyali Restaurant where we ate and stared out over the salty sea.
What could be more luxurious and leisurely than a Saturday afternoon luncheon in a palace on the Black Sea? (Seriously. I'm so blessed. Sometimes I can hardly believe this is really my life.)
But it appears to be. Looking up, I see a corner of the castle. And over my left shoulder is a view of the Bosphorus Strait and the bridge connecting Europe and Asia....
... oops, and at the edge of the table the waiter's just arrived. He's dressed fancily and speaks formally, opening our menus and unfolding our napkins with a flourish. I feel underdressed and ridiculous ordering a Cola Light (no "Diet Coke" here). Oh well. On my carefully drafted list of 30 Things To Do Before I'm 30, drinking Diet Coke in 30 cities is goal #18.
Istanbul joins the list. Diet Coke? Check!
Now. What to order for lunch in an ancient palace on the Black Sea? Lamb, of course. (I love lamb and haven't eaten much of it since my 22nd birthday when I spent a week in Boston and ate nothing but lamb and beans.) The menu calls it "Stuffed Lamb" and it's 30 YTL. That's $24.25 US dollars. Gulp
It doesn't look so appealing, maybe, but it was good. Not what I expected, and certainly not a value meal, but good. Of course, I'm sure the surroundings had everything to do with it. I mean, nearly anything would taste Ina Garten-good in a palace by the sea on a beautiful Saturday, right?
It's my latest working theory anyway. Although maybe I should hit one other palace before I head home, just to be double sure. And I am headed home this week. I'll try to slip you some pictures of the actual palace sometime before I do....