April 6, 2011

Istanbul. June, 2007

I had read about Güllüoğlu before I visited Istanbul, knew that it was housed in what sounded like an unappetizing location (ground floor of a parking garage) and became determined to find it. When I learned it was not far from my Beyoğlu digs, there was no stopping me. Yes, it anchors a high-rise parking facility, but you’d never know it. Güllüoğlu is a bustling baklava shop and cafe. (It’s also the only place in Turkey where I saw tea served in a cup rather than in a glass.) You go up to the large, L-shaped pastry counter and point to which kinds you would like (there are many shapes, many different kinds of nuts used, even chocolate baklava) and a non-judgmental salesman places them on a plate for you. Then you go get your tea at a different counter. Then to a checkout counter to pay. I visited this filo paradise many, many times during my Istanbul stay, each time emulating the admirable example set by high-school students who pack the place during the late afternoon: The general rule for them seems to be to have about five or six pieces. No problem! There are inside counters at which to eat or outside tables on a small patio. Of course, you can find baklava at hundreds of places in Istanbul and I thought it my moral obligation to taste-test quite a few. Güllüoğlu is my hands-down favorite.

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