In one such building, fitted with floor to ceiling windows for a sweeping view, you will find a church of cuisine, Istanbul Culinary Institute — a place I reveled in, worshipped at and enjoyed as a devout foodie.
However, more important than a visit to the restaurant, is signing up for a cooking class. With a minimum number of four and maximum of twelve students (my class had 7 students), the courses are intimate, informative, relaxed and fun.
I participated in the Intro to Pastry course. During this two-part experience (Friday night and Saturday afternoon), my classmates and I created four desserts: profiteroles, lemon cheesecake, apple tart and almond tiramisu. Along with recipes (mine translated into English) and striped aprons, we were given easy-going instructions and practical pastry instruction. A task daunting for even a seasoned home cook, such as making petit choux from scratch (a science project dressed up as a light puffy pastry), was broken down into manageable steps by our light-hearted instructor, Feyza. The social experience of cooking — sharing cultures, stories and laughter —was the main ingredient. While we whisked, cracked, zested, crushed and pre-heated, we also got to know one another. As a foreigner in an entirely Turkish cooking class, I got an insight into Istanbulite life I haven’t found at any monument or historic site on a tourist map.
I can still hear my partner translating, “Play with the dough as little as possible.” Most importantly, I learned to laugh with my classmates and our teacher — pastries, a Friday night, the most dazzling city on a hill — life is so endlessly delicious.
• Book class in advance — at least a week, as classes on popular topics fill up.
• Request an English-speaking staff member to be available during the class to translate as needed (my classmates also helped to translate).
• Remember to have a macchiato or café Americano in the restaurant downstairs (the most heavenly coffee in the city) before or after your course.
(Images: Leela Cyd)