I love visiting a place for the second time. You have the fond memories of your first encounter, which makes you eager to return, while also enjoying a bit of comfortable familiarity since you don’t have to stumble around blindly as you find everything for the first time.
We first visited Istanbul several years ago with the boys on our way to sail the Dodecanese Islands. The beautiful mosques, the delicious food, and the wonderful new friends made Turkey a family favorite, and we couldn’t wait to get back again.
Our second stay in Istanbul was in the Asian side of the city at a lovely bed and breakfast on the waterfront of the Tuzla province.
We were right on the Sea of Marmara, which connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea at the point where Europe and Asia meet. It’s a bustling waterfront filled with fishermen collecting the abundant sea life, including red sea bream, John Dory, dour sole, turbot, swordfish, grouper, and other delicacies.
We elected to sample the best that the “Land of Seas and Fishes” had to offer at Adil Salih Balik, a well-known waterfront restaurant that serves dishes in the Mediterranean mezze style. You order a selection of small dishes that include salads, cheeses, pickled vegetables, and cured meats served with bread, then you choose your fish by weight.
When I say “small” dishes, I don’t mean tiny. When it comes to food, Mediterraneans don’t do tiny. Our starters of tomato and walnut salad (gavurdağ salatası), herbed olives, white beans with vinaigrette (adil pilaki), and garlic butter shrimp (tereyağlı karides) were each enough for four or more people to share. And that was before the entree of fresh local sea bass (levrek izgara) with potatoes arrived.
It was a beautiful (enormous) meal with an equally beautiful view, and it left us wanting a third trip to Istanbul as soon as possible. But for now, we were headed to Tbilisi, Georgia, and a road trip to Armenia.