Situated in the Galata district of Istanbul, the pastry shop called Karakoy Gulluglu is probably the best place to buy baklava in the city. Situated just over the Golden Horn from Eminonu, the nearest tram stop is Karakoy.
Customers can buy at least 20 different types of baklava either in kilograms or in portions. A teller on one side of the shop takes your order and you pay him; in return you get a small itemised receipt with your choices listed, which you then hand to one of the servers on the opposite side of the shop. I thought I would try three different baklavas and so bought three portions, which seemed to surprise the teller slightly but I didn’t think anything of it.
He handed me my receipt and I walked over to a server. He looked at my order and picked up a plate, pointed to it, and said “OK?” I nodded. He picked up his serving knife and went to get my first choice. He came back balancing 5 pieces of baklava on his knife and placed them on the plate. I assumed he was going to cut one piece off and return the other 4 to their own tray, but he left them all on the plate. 5 pieces of my other two choices were also placed on the plate.
I still hoped he would return some of them, but he just picked it up, mimed that it felt slightly heavy, and handed it over to me. I smiled weakly and I could feel my belt tightening around my waist at just the thought of eating 15 pieces of baklava. I walked over to a stand-up table and began to eat – wonderful crisp pastry, walnut flavours, cinnamon, and gooey sugar-laden honey attacked my taste buds. I ate two pieces of each choice and wrapped the rest in paper before putting them in a plastic bag. Later, I ate five more pieces for evening dessert and then left the rest for the lady who was cleaning my hotel room.
So please bear that in mind. A portion of baklava at Karakoy Gulluglu is actually 5 pieces of baklava.
Julian has written articles on Middle Eastern and European architecture for the US magazine Skipping Stones. He has written travel articles that were published in The Toronto Globe and Mail, Fate Magazine, National Catholic Register, and Northwest Travel. Julian has also written articles for the In The Know Traveler, Go Nomad, InTravelmag, and Go World Travel websites. He has also taken many photographs that have appeared in travel guides by National Geographic, Thomas Cook and The Rough Guides. Examples of his work can be found at http://www.photographersdirect.com/sellers/details.asp?portfolio=13734