MADE A RECIPE FROM THE BLOG? Share your creations tagging @ashafsk on Instagram and hashtag #MadeFromFSK

photography

Dublin, Eat and Drink - A Photo Post

Dublin, Eat and Drink - A Photo Post

Dublin this time completely amazed me. The quality of Irish food has always been gastronomic but the city now has several restaurant that have adopted the gastronomique from global cuisines and incorporated them into an Irish way of eating. 

Even more I loved the craft coffee culture that is springing up all around the city. I had several cups of beautifully roasted and well poured pulls! Below are some captures from my five days in the city just before last Christmas from places that blew my NYC mind! I highly recommend the Roasted Brown Coffee Co. for a relaxed cuppa with simple and delicious eats.

In Ballsbridge is a coffee kiosk that is also a micro-roastery. Yes, he roasted and pulls in a tiny shower stall sized kiosk. And, it is fantastic!!! Now, that is a revolution! 

Read More

Happy Jolly Merry Christmas!

By this time, I am sure the presents are wrapped, the menu for tomorrow set and prepped and you are relaxing with a glass of wine as I am! So, I'll just leave you with a lot of happy wishes, good cheer and few photos....

View of the Blue Mosque taken from inside the Aya Sophia. They look across at each other. It is a stunning sight at dusk

View of the Blue Mosque taken from inside the Aya Sophia. They look across at each other. It is a stunning sight at dusk

Photos in this post are from Turkey (taken on my phone). I chose them for a reason for Christmas. Everybody knows it has been an Islamic country since the Ottoman Empire but Christianity predates Islam here and vestiges of its Byzantine past blaze across the country in a stunning collage. 

The infamous Hagya Sophia was a stunning cathedral before being washed over to become a mosque. Well in the middle of the country are traces of Christianity buried amidst caves of tribes of tester years, beautiful frescoes painted in vibrant colors that are a complete contrast to the surrounding region. 

Entrance to one of the seven chapels carved into the rock during the early Cappadocian times. This dates back to as early as 3rd century. Inside Goreme Open Air Museum.

Entrance to one of the seven chapels carved into the rock during the early Cappadocian times. This dates back to as early as 3rd century. Inside Goreme Open Air Museum.

The original mosaic work that adorned the cathedral that once was Aya Sophia being recovered underneath the plaster that was laid over when it was converted to a mosque in the Ottoman times.

The original mosaic work that adorned the cathedral that once was Aya Sophia being recovered underneath the plaster that was laid over when it was converted to a mosque in the Ottoman times.

The stunning fresco of Christ inside a carved chapel within the Goreme Museum.  I was amazed at how perfectly arched the structure within the hill was and how vibrant the colors of the frescoes that has withstood at least 2000 years!

The stunning fresco of Christ inside a carved chapel within the Goreme Museum.  I was amazed at how perfectly arched the structure within the hill was and how vibrant the colors of the frescoes that has withstood at least 2000 years!

At this time as we celebrate, I send out a hope for peace, love and togetherness despite our differences. For irrespective of the religion we practice we are united in faith beyond the human understanding yet grounded by very human joys and fallacies.

____________________________________

Here is wishing you all a wonderful time with those you love and cherish this Holiday season!


Other Christmas posts you may like..

I Snap - Istanbul in Monochrome

The historic tram line in Taksim. I love taking public transport in any place I go to because it gives me a sense of everyday life. Istanbul is easily walkable but it is also well connected by trams and metros.

The historic tram line in Taksim. I love taking public transport in any place I go to because it gives me a sense of everyday life. Istanbul is easily walkable but it is also well connected by trams and metros.

Turkey is a fascinating country! 

After nearly two weeks in one of the most Westernized middle Eastern countries, I came away with a ton of impressions, insights and thoughts. As I traveled through the country, in big cities and small towns, I had a lot of opportunity to get close and personal with its culture.

My visit to Israel immediately before provided a rather interesting perspective on both countries, especially, against the backdrop of their respective religious proclivities. Talking about that in detail will be a whole other piece, so I am going to limit this one to the just energy in Istanbul.

Istanbul is loud (annoyingly so, often and especially, in the touristy areas and bazaars), vibrant, pulsating, capitalistic and almost schizophrenic. It was my last stop in the country and I had ample experience of the culture to compare and contrast with other parts of the region. As in every big city, there is a tradeoff between genuine warmth and profit making. For most visitors, every connection made here with a resident would be one with an undercurrent of a sale. 

Yet, if you only step a little away from the business and clutches of its enormous tourism, into the little alleys where real life exists, it breathes nearly the same as rest of Turkey does. Not only are you not waylaid every step of the way, you are also feel a lot less wary and more at ease. There is a lot more of the helpfulness, hospitality and welcome that this culture represents yet, far less of the engagement, genuineness and connection that I had come to expect from my stay in the smaller towns.

For a Westerner, the chaotic functionality of the city would come in amazement and its sheer vibrance compared to the quiet sophistication of the Western cities would be freeing. For an Easterner, it's westernization without loss of tradition will be revelatory. In short, Istanbul is a amazing place to experience whether you are from the West or East.

Nevertheless, wherever you come from, if Istanbul is the only place you travel to, you will indeed be missing out on Turkey. 

Today, I have a few photos shot on my phone in the city. Moments that I think captures the life here in its schizophrenic nature. I thought it was apt to portray it in monochrome, this time, to remove the distraction of color from the feel of the place.

Have you been to Istanbul and Turkey? How was your experience?

There are several mosques in the city and it is hard to walk more than a few minutes without spotting the distinctive dome and minaret architecture of one. Turks are both secular as well as devout. While I didn't see them breaking they daily business for prayer, I did see fair numbers of them in the mosques. The calls for prayer almost became my way of keeping time. This photo is from Sulaimaniye Mosque, which, despite being the second most known mosque in the city, was quieter with less tourist traffic affording for a real serene space of time.

There are several mosques in the city and it is hard to walk more than a few minutes without spotting the distinctive dome and minaret architecture of one. Turks are both secular as well as devout. While I didn't see them breaking they daily business for prayer, I did see fair numbers of them in the mosques. The calls for prayer almost became my way of keeping time. This photo is from Sulaimaniye Mosque, which, despite being the second most known mosque in the city, was quieter with less tourist traffic affording for a real serene space of time.

Chai is culture in Turkey. Tuekish tea is consumed in far more quantities than Turkish coffee. I was invited to chat over a cup of chai several times and it was a great way to connect and learn more about the culture, even though , in Istanbul, the opportunities for such tete-a-tetes were minimal and any offer of chai came only after or during a sale.  The Turks drink copious amounts of tea during the day and in the city, I actually tea-men who did rounds to deliver tea and pick up the emptied glasses.

Chai is culture in Turkey. Tuekish tea is consumed in far more quantities than Turkish coffee. I was invited to chat over a cup of chai several times and it was a great way to connect and learn more about the culture, even though, in Istanbul, the opportunities for such tete-a-tetes were minimal and any offer of chai came only after or during a sale. The Turks drink copious amounts of tea during the day and in the city, I actually tea-men who did rounds to deliver tea and pick up the emptied glasses.

People line up all along the Galata bridge to fish in the waters. As brilliant a view into the life of people here as can be. These are not fishermen but just people eking out a living any way they can. They are not fishing for their own plates but to sell to the overprices fish restaurants below the bridge. Anyone can fish here as the water abound with fish. Yet, I am not sure I would want to eat them given the pollution into the water from the steamers and boats docked all along the edge. 

People line up all along the Galata bridge to fish in the waters. As brilliant a view into the life of people here as can be. These are not fishermen but just people eking out a living any way they can. They are not fishing for their own plates but to sell to the overprices fish restaurants below the bridge. Anyone can fish here as the water abound with fish. Yet, I am not sure I would want to eat them given the pollution into the water from the steamers and boats docked all along the edge. 

Some fish caught by the men above. Still alive and swimming about and some dead. This is a variety of small mackerel specific to the waters here.

Some fish caught by the men above. Still alive and swimming about and some dead. This is a variety of small mackerel specific to the waters here.

One of the many mosques. This one is Yeni Cami by the Spice Bazaar along the water and Galata Bridge.

One of the many mosques. This one is Yeni Cami by the Spice Bazaar along the water and Galata Bridge.

The grandest of all, the Grand Bazaar entrance. It goes through another mosque, Nurosmaniye Cami. A fascinating study of human character if only you are allowed the peace and time to do so amidst being constantly being accosted. It is a labyrinth inside with tunnels trailing away from main causeway. The ceiling is resplendent and richly painted in gorgeous Ottoman designs and it dates back to the original reliefs.

The grandest of all, the Grand Bazaar entrance. It goes through another mosque, Nurosmaniye Cami. A fascinating study of human character if only you are allowed the peace and time to do so amidst being constantly being accosted. It is a labyrinth inside with tunnels trailing away from main causeway. The ceiling is resplendent and richly painted in gorgeous Ottoman designs and it dates back to the original reliefs.

I was intrigued to find a visible and strong armed presence in the city. Ever more because I did not think the place was a bed for unrest. Contrastingly there were none visible in Tel-Aviv and even in Jerusalem only by the Western Wall security. In Istanbul there were all over the place, especially, in the Old city.

I was intrigued to find a visible and strong armed presence in the city. Ever more because I did not think the place was a bed for unrest. Contrastingly there were none visible in Tel-Aviv and even in Jerusalem only by the Western Wall security. In Istanbul there were all over the place, especially, in the Old city.

I loved the street food in Istanbul and it was both better value and tastier than most of the restaurants around.  Here is a street vendor selling Simit, the traditional Turkish bread. They sell for 1 TL or little under 50 cents and make an excellent breakfast or snack. This being the season, you also get roasted chestnuts, kestane, and coal grilled corn. Both young and older run these little carts and prices are pretty much standardized.

I loved the street food in Istanbul and it was both better value and tastier than most of the restaurants around. Here is a street vendor selling Simit, the traditional Turkish bread. They sell for 1 TL or little under 50 cents and make an excellent breakfast or snack. This being the season, you also get roasted chestnuts, kestane, and coal grilled corn. Both young and older run these little carts and prices are pretty much standardized.

A lady making the thin crepe like bread for Gozleme in a window of a restaurant. I am not kidding. There are many establishments which display ladies making these fresh everyday much like the dumpling making women in Chinatown. Life is hard in the city, and, being an European one, expensive. It often shows in the expressions of people here, who are doing what they can to make ends meet.

A lady making the thin crepe like bread for Gozleme in a window of a restaurant. I am not kidding. There are many establishments which display ladies making these fresh everyday much like the dumpling making women in Chinatown. Life is hard in the city, and, being an European one, expensive. It often shows in the expressions of people here, who are doing what they can to make ends meet.

____________________________________

For snapshots of Israel, read here.

For more travel posts, click here


Snapshots of Food in Israel

Falafels are both common as well as unique across the Middle East. The spices, texture all vary but the freshness of the ingredients is one thing that run common while making it so intensely different from those available in the West. This one was in a small stand in a side road in the main Carmel market in Tel-Aviv.

Falafels are both common as well as unique across the Middle East. The spices, texture all vary but the freshness of the ingredients is one thing that run common while making it so intensely different from those available in the West. This one was in a small stand in a side road in the main Carmel market in Tel-Aviv.

___________________________________________

As a guest of the Israel Ministry of Tourism, I was invited to spend a few days around this country sampling the culture and food. What I experienced was unexpected, amazing and deeply curious. While I stay in the road and continue my journey through Turkey, I find that I am able to put my experiences in Israel in wonderful relational perspective.

I intend to write a longer and more detailed post on the week here when I am back home and able to sort and arrange all the photos I took. In the meantime, I wanted to share some of the scenes I captured through my handy iPhone.

Across the board I was impressed with the leaps the country has made in becoming self-sustaining in agriculture. Blessed with a year round warm climate, they have tamed nature's eccentricities by draining swamps and irrigating arid lands to grow a variety of produce within. Several of the restaurants boast using local ingredients and have a heavy hand with fresh herbs with definitely adds to the allure of the food.


TEL-AVIV

The View from Herod's hotel on the beach. It is the start of the promenade that runs all the way along the shore to Jaffa. Makes for a great running track.

The View from Herod's hotel on the beach. It is the start of the promenade that runs all the way along the shore to Jaffa. Makes for a great running track.

Talk about fresh. In every hotel in Israel, there was a whole honey comb waiting to be scraped onto breakfast yogurt and fruits. Delicious and addictive.

Talk about fresh. In every hotel in Israel, there was a whole honey comb waiting to be scraped onto breakfast yogurt and fruits. Delicious and addictive.

Keeping Kosher I found time again was being leveraged to advantage by Israeli chefs. Although Tel-Aviv is secular in its approach to Jewish cuisine, the culinary school in the city stays strict to the religious rules. That means no cheese with meat. The alternative, Tahini foam on this  Lahambajin

Keeping Kosher I found time again was being leveraged to advantage by Israeli chefs. Although Tel-Aviv is secular in its approach to Jewish cuisine, the culinary school in the city stays strict to the religious rules. That means no cheese with meat. The alternative, Tahini foam on this Lahambajin

I have never seen so many different types of cured olives! At Carmel Market

I have never seen so many different types of cured olives! At Carmel Market

Communal lunch at Three Brothers. Run by three brothers this family establishment is an Israeli steakhouse updated to 2014! The ambience is warm and welcoming and the food  exasperatingly  good. By that I mean, despite being stuffed to the gill with market food, I did fair damage to the spread here!

Communal lunch at Three Brothers. Run by three brothers this family establishment is an Israeli steakhouse updated to 2014! The ambience is warm and welcoming and the food exasperatingly good. By that I mean, despite being stuffed to the gill with market food, I did fair damage to the spread here!

Perhaps one of the highlights on my dining experiences in the country was in the company of chef Eyal Shani at North Abraxas. Case in point, this family style dish of charcoal grilled and oven finished fresh sea bass that was served with flaming sage and a simple, yet, finger licking good sauce of fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic and fennel.

Perhaps one of the highlights on my dining experiences in the country was in the company of chef Eyal Shani at North Abraxas. Case in point, this family style dish of charcoal grilled and oven finished fresh sea bass that was served with flaming sage and a simple, yet, finger licking good sauce of fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic and fennel.


AKKO and Tiberias

Lunch at Uri Buri was a revelation. Sitting beside the breaking waves in Akko on a stormy day while relishing a multi-course experience of the finest seafood presented in refined and clean dishes was a meal to remember.

Lunch at Uri Buri was a revelation. Sitting beside the breaking waves in Akko on a stormy day while relishing a multi-course experience of the finest seafood presented in refined and clean dishes was a meal to remember.

Fresh squeezed juices are rather the norm in the entire region, I am finding out. In this season of Pomegranates and citrus, there is nothing more refreshing!

Fresh squeezed juices are rather the norm in the entire region, I am finding out. In this season of Pomegranates and citrus, there is nothing more refreshing!

Israeli cuisine is not ethnically original but rather is a confluence of its immigrant. Like the Shawarma, an originally Arabic import, it is not rather commonly found in every market in the country. Yet, it is decidedly different in flavor from the ones I taste in Turkey. 

Israeli cuisine is not ethnically original but rather is a confluence of its immigrant. Like the Shawarma, an originally Arabic import, it is not rather commonly found in every market in the country. Yet, it is decidedly different in flavor from the ones I taste in Turkey. 

Although Israel produces a ton of Olive oil (pun intended), it is still a net importer. Here is a traditional olive oil press run by a miller. This being olive harvest season, he is rather busy crushing and pressing. Curiously, the currency of transaction is the oil itself! Harkens back to the age approved system of barter. 

Although Israel produces a ton of Olive oil (pun intended), it is still a net importer. Here is a traditional olive oil press run by a miller. This being olive harvest season, he is rather busy crushing and pressing. Curiously, the currency of transaction is the oil itself! Harkens back to the age approved system of barter. 

Perhaps my highlight of cultural experience in this trip was Tea in a Druze home. A breakaway subset of Muslims, their culture and cuisine is a unique fusion Islamic traditions and local environment.

Perhaps my highlight of cultural experience in this trip was Tea in a Druze home. A breakaway subset of Muslims, their culture and cuisine is a unique fusion Islamic traditions and local environment.


Jerusalem

The old market of Jerusalem is a sight to behold. Much like any other old city, it has its fair share of junk shops. But ensconced amidst the touristy vendors are genuine purveyors of spices, sweets, as also, several peddlers who sell the produce either from their backyard or foraged locally. This is surprisingly a heavy Arab settlement. 

The old market of Jerusalem is a sight to behold. Much like any other old city, it has its fair share of junk shops. But ensconced amidst the touristy vendors are genuine purveyors of spices, sweets, as also, several peddlers who sell the produce either from their backyard or foraged locally. This is surprisingly a heavy Arab settlement. 

Chef Moshe Basson was an interesting man to meet. Hailing from a line of seers, he has an almost mystical approach to his food. Focusing on Biblical food, he is highly knowledgeable in many esoteric wild herbs and their roles since time immemorial in the fortunes of mankind. The food at his restaurant, Eucalyptus, was decidedly ethnic but yet had the freshness of being  Original .

Chef Moshe Basson was an interesting man to meet. Hailing from a line of seers, he has an almost mystical approach to his food. Focusing on Biblical food, he is highly knowledgeable in many esoteric wild herbs and their roles since time immemorial in the fortunes of mankind. The food at his restaurant, Eucalyptus, was decidedly ethnic but yet had the freshness of being Original.

While the Old City market commands most attention, for a food lover, there is no better place than the Machanae Yehuda. Nestled amidst its several raw food, halwa and other stores are small restaurants that have delicious and varied bites. This is triple cooked potato pita from  Dwini . Essentially a pita of fresh fries, it is really anything but pedestrian.

While the Old City market commands most attention, for a food lover, there is no better place than the Machanae Yehuda. Nestled amidst its several raw food, halwa and other stores are small restaurants that have delicious and varied bites. This is triple cooked potato pita from Dwini. Essentially a pita of fresh fries, it is really anything but pedestrian.

I did indeed save the best for the last. A true revelation in this religious city. Kosher cuisine. I'll confess, I find it appalling. In the best of the Kosher restaurants in NYC, the food is barely palatable. To someone with a fairly advanced palate, it tastes bland and restricted. Yet, Chef David Bitton at the Kind David Hotel in Jerusalem, definitively changed that stereotype. Working within the strictest rules of Kosher cuisine under the nose of the priests he turns the limitations to his advantage. During a meal in his meat restaurant, you barely notice that there was dairy missing, or indeed, spices! A credit to his skill and as much to the ingredients.

I did indeed save the best for the last. A true revelation in this religious city. Kosher cuisine. I'll confess, I find it appalling. In the best of the Kosher restaurants in NYC, the food is barely palatable. To someone with a fairly advanced palate, it tastes bland and restricted. Yet, Chef David Bitton at the Kind David Hotel in Jerusalem, definitively changed that stereotype. Working within the strictest rules of Kosher cuisine under the nose of the priests he turns the limitations to his advantage. During a meal in his meat restaurant, you barely notice that there was dairy missing, or indeed, spices! A credit to his skill and as much to the ingredients.


For more of my food experiences captured as I travel, follow my Instagram feed.

To see what and where I am eating in Turkey, catch me on Instagram.

For a lighter note and one that is more about the sights, follow Ted as he globe trots!


My heart bleeds blue...

Blue skies, blue seas, crisp corn, luscious berries... That's what I am thinking of this Summer! :)

DSC_0255-1
NOURISHED Summer Issue - Corn
NOURISHED Summer Issue - Berries

Today is just a quick stop with some photos from the weekend. I also wanted to give a sneak peak at the theme of the next NOURISHED issue. It is all about enjoying the different tastes of Summer and taking time to relax, enjoy the good things in your life and share the laughter and fun with friends and family! :)

Issue will be out in 1 WEEK!! Wow! I running to wrap things up.

Meanwhile, I will let you bask in how gorgeous and colorful I think Summer can be! :)

Happy Monday! What are your weekend stories?

DSC_0265-1
DSC_0289-1
DSC_0286-1
DSC_0251-1
DSC_0252-1
DSC_0280-1
MADE A RECIPE FROM THE BLOG?

Share your creations tagging @ashafsk on Instagram and hashtag #MadeFromFSK