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Our Baklava Hunt Through Istanbul – Foodgasmic Tales From The Road

by Meg · 16 comments

When looking for the perfect dessert, I always default to my true love, chocolate.  But when I am on the road, I like to be adventurous with my pallet and try local dishes.

This past week, Tony and I ventured to Istanbul with Tony’s parents, Jerry and Cathy.  In Turkey, chocolate is not present on most dessert menus.  But what you can find at almost every restaurant and café is Baklava!

For those of you who do not know what Baklava is, Wikipedia can help there:

Baklava (bɑːkləvɑ): A rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire.

If I had to compare this dish to an American dessert, I would say that it tastes somewhat similar to Pecan Pie – One of my many dessert weaknesses.

Of course being Rulli’s (foodies and extremists), we had to go on a mad hunt through the city in search of the perfect Baklava.  Not a day went by on our trip where this sweet treat did not pass our lips.

We tried pistachio Baklava:

Baklava with clotted cream:

Walnut Baklava… This one is not pictured, mainly because it was my favorite and I ate it before Tony could get the camera out.

And chocolate Baklava:

In short, Baklava is OUTSTANDING.  It could be my new favorite dessert and if I ever see it again on a restaurant dessert menu, I may even choose it over chocolate… And that is saying A LOT!

As an added bonus, if you order it at a restaurant, they often bring it to you warm and gooey out of the oven… Simply divine.

At roughly 400 calories a piece (and loaded with corn syrup), how could these little Turkish balls of joy not be epically delicious?!

Ladies and gentleman, trust me, these are worth the calories.  If you ever venture to Turkey, get your butt to your hotel gym, run some serious miles, and enjoy one (or several!) of these suckers every day!

Your Turn: Have you ever had Baklava? What is your favorite dessert that you only discovered while on the road?

About Meg
Exhausted from traveling every week as a Business Management Consultant early in my career, I took a year off in 2012 to travel at my own pace. I am a high-energy girl that loves being active, eating food, drinking wine, and exploring the world with my partner-in-crime (and husband), Tony! I now reside in Portland, Oregon and continue to write about travel, food, wine, and the awesome adventures we have in the Pacific NW!

Bethany ~ twoOregonians June 10, 2012 at 11:22 am

Oh my gosh! Delicious. So glad to hear you guys had fun sampling around the city. My dad’s side of the family is Greek, and my cousin is a professional baker who brings amazing baklava to family events. So spoiled. Also, our favorite Lebanese restaurant in Portland makes pretty killer baklava – and they have the pistachio option on the menu, too. Just another temptation to lure Landing Standing to PDX :)

Meg June 10, 2012 at 11:25 am

Does this cousin of yours live in Portland? If so, I think we are officially sold on moving there!

JR June 10, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Sounds like the Baklava hunt was a lot of fun. They can be as addictive as popcorn.

Meg June 11, 2012 at 8:45 am

If coconut oil popcorn with truffle salt was put next to a plate of Baklava, I am not sure which one I would go for first…. Both incredibly delicious and both incredibly addicting! I guess it boils down to whether or not you are a sweet or savory person 😉

Catherine Rulli June 10, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I remember saying after the first day of tasting that I did not think I could eat any more Baklava. Then the next day I would wake up and crave it. I am craving it right now! Maybe we can get that greek cousin to send a bit to Boston?

Meg June 11, 2012 at 8:42 am

OoooOo That would be the hookup of a lifetime. I have been craving it daily since we left Istanbul….So yummy!

Natalie - Turkish Travel Blog June 11, 2012 at 1:05 am

I think I must be the only person in the world who does not go mad over Baklava. I can not eat it, just find it too sweet for my tastebuds

Meg June 11, 2012 at 8:44 am

It definitely is overwhelmingly sweet! I feel that way with most donuts in the states and people think I am crazy… I can totally relate!

Stephanie - The Travel Chica June 11, 2012 at 11:14 am

Baklava is amazing! When I was growing up, I had grandparents (by marriage) from Macedonia. Baba made the best baklava I have ever had.

Meg June 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm

That sounds amazing! I never really tried Baklava until Istanbul and I now know what I have missed out on for the past 27 years… You are so lucky to have grown up with a such a family treat!

Magz June 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm

okay… I didn’t even know how much my life was missing before reading this post. now I NEED baklava!!!

Meg June 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Oh Mugz you would love it! Nutty and fabulous!

Kipp June 14, 2012 at 6:11 pm

pistachio Baklava looks like it would be my favorite for sure. I haven’t seen a lot of varieties of this dessert in the US restaurants that make it. nothing like coming from the source I guess. But we’re on the hunt for a Lebanese bakery in Chicago so hopefully they have some!

I wonder if there’s a healthy recipe for it (sans corn syrup?) doubt it…

Meg June 15, 2012 at 8:07 am

Thanks Kipp for commenting! A lot of recipes make it with honey so I am sure you can find the good stuff pretty easily… Keep us posted on your bakery hunt in Chicago – Sounds right up our alley!

Shtina June 16, 2012 at 8:59 am

I hope you tried some of the take-away bakeries/baklava shops? We had incredible baklava all over Istanbul and Turkey from these little walk-up shops! Why wait for the end of a meal to enjoy a treat? :)

Meg June 16, 2012 at 10:28 am

The closest we came to a bakery/takeaway shop was Karakoy Gulluoglu and the rest were all restaurants – I wish I knew about this before! I am always a huge fan of desserts before a meal :-)

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