Hang around the Istanbul culinary scene for even a small amount of time and you will hear about the legend of Olga, she is kind of a big deal here. While relatively new to Istanbul she has made a big splash in a short period of time leading culinary tours, cooking classes and authoring a fantastic food blog Delicious Istanbul. So when a friend of mine recently informed me that she would be taking one of the classes, I did the only thing one does in that scenario, I invited myself along. So, on a spring Friday with another self-invited companion the 3 of us set out on the ferry from Europe to Kadikoy, to finally meet with the person about whom we had been hearing so much.
Olga did not disappoint. She met us at the station and the 4 of us excitedly made our way to the Kadikoy market. Olga answered some of our questions about various vegetables which are unfamiliar in American cuisine. For example we sampled both green almonds and green plums.
Olga’s theory is that Turks are impatient for the summer bounty to arrive, having waited through the long winter for something new to nibble on. It sounded like solid enough logic to me. We toured some of her trusted sellers, and while I certainly won’t give away any secrets of Olga’s tour, I was very happy to learn them for myself. We sampled pickles and olives and various Turkish desserts. During a coffee break one of my companions mentioned she had been struggling to perfect her Turkish coffee brewing technique. No problem said Olga we will buy some beans and experiment during the class. She really tried to cater to our level of knowledge and tweak the day to meet our interests.
After taking a short ride on the nostalgic tram through the Moda neighborhood we took a short walk to Olga’s kitchen. Over several hours and glasses of ginger tea we created our meal. Olga’s approach is very hands on. Just as it would be in a Turkish home, in her course there is a communal effort. We made 5 dishes total utilizing the fresh seasonal ingredients. Learning to create these dishes was of course enjoyable. What may have been more enjoyable was spending a few hours with culinary minded people. Exchanging thoughts and ideas about food and quizzing Olga about everything delicious in Istanbul.
At the end of the class we had declared to Olga that we must certainly be her favorite clients to date! Surely that must be the truth? With the wisdom of a politician she replied that through her classes she has found most of the time, the clients to be people she would otherwise choose to spend time with. We were satisfied with that.
If you live in Istanbul or if you are coming for a visit, and you are at all culinary minded, the class is a great way to spend a day. Olga also offers culinary tours and the occasional workshop, all of which can be found on her blog.