It’s been three months since i stopped eating sweets! I know that for some this is not a big deal, especially if they are among those people that never eat sweets, however for me its very important. Furthermore my effort is valued even more because of the fact that i personally love sweets. I used to say that i could live eating nothing more than sweets. Oh sweets……. i wish i had a piece of Kazandibi from the Saray patisserie…..
I have been in Istanbul twice and i went to the Saray four times! That indicates my satisfaction from visiting the specific shop. It is indeed, one of the best, if not the best, patisseries in Istanbul. All of you that haven’t taste any Turkish-Eastern sweets before, you have got a great opportunity to be initiated to the unbelievable, unique flavors, by visiting the Saray. It is located in the Beyoglu district and finding it is very easy. Its is a bit further from the Greek consulate. From the Taxim square walk on the crowded Istiklal avenue or alternatively take the small scenic tram.
As you walk down on the pedestrians way, you will find it in your left hand. For those that choose the tram, you will have to get off at Galatasaray stop and then walk up on the Istiklal for about 300m. The very first thing that will draw your attention is the huge glass display window. Its illuminated beautifully and its full of sweets, of different kinds, that will prepare you for what you can taste inside the patisserie. Their variety is truly so big that will satisfy even those that are not used to the Eastern sweets. On the top there is a big, illuminated inscription with the shop’s name name and the year it opened, Saray Muhallebicisi 1935. Since 1935 when it opened, until today the Saray formed a reference point in the area of high quality sweets, as well as a nice place for meetings. Through the past years a lot of the other shops opened in Turkey, but the one in Istiklal is the first! And that has special value.
I remember the first time i visited Istanbul, i was walking on the Istiklal and suddenly i saw the Saray! Here we are i thought, while watching the syrupy sweets, the baclava pieces placed one on the top of other, forming a tower and the crowd inside, enjoying eating them.
Going inside the patisserie you will feel very intimately and that because of the beautifully decorated interior. The decoration is not modern, on the contrary it preserves the style and the character of the old patisseries. It is not one of those patisseries where you simply go, buy something you desire and then leave! Here you can take a seat and enjoy your sweet, your coffee or even your food. There are a lot of tables inside and almost every moment is full of customers. But even if you have to wait a while, believe me it worth waiting for.
On you right hand there is a big glass display rack full with every Turkish sweet you can name. Neatly placed, one next to the other, are calling you to pick them! Trust me, the decision won’t be easy. There is such a variety that you won’t be able what to select first. The prices are fair both for the quality and the patisserie’s style. Apart from the Turkish sweets, there are others more known to us, sweets that we all have tasted more or less. All of them are made of high quality, pure ingredients and their taste is incredible. It is true that in order to eat something exceptional, you have to eat it in its place of origin.
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Waiters were on the move, wearing their uniforms, serving the customers, while others were standing behind the display rack, waiting to help us select the sweets of our choice. Syrupy sweets, baclavas, ekmek, profiteroles, puddings, creme caramel, Turkish delights in different flavours and variations, kazandibi were only few of the sweets you can taste in the Saray. Their sweets have a strong flavour and are not ideal for diets. Both the syrup and the buffalo’s milk are rich in fat but…… this is of no importance! You are in a journey, so enjoy it and spoil your selves from time to time.
Out of all the sweets, i will talk about two i tasted during my visit. I believe that they are the most distinctive sweets in Istanbul, apart from the known Turkish delights and baklava.
The first one is the famous Kazandibi. Its name means the “bottom of the cauldron” and its nothing else, than milk pudding that was burned underneath during its preparation. The cream is made out of rice pudding and buffalo’s milk. It is said that once a Sultan’s cook burned the cream while cooking it. Nevertheless he offered it in fear to the Sultan who fortunately liked its taste!Don’t bother the burned crusty side! The Kazandibi is delicious.
The second one is the Ekmek. The authentic ekmek and not he Ekmek kataifi. Ekmek means bread in Turkish and its the base of this famous dessert. Its a special type of bread pudding that also contains eggs, milk and butter. It will probably remind you of the French brioche. One layer of the bread putting is place on the plate which is dressed with syrup. On the top the put Kaymak, a type of clotted cream made of buffalo’s milk.
I have to tell you that in the Saray you can also eat some of the various Turkish foods. Personally i would preferred only as a patisserie, since i believe that working as a restaurant doesn’t fit its style. That was not how it became popular. However you also have this choice.
When you travel to Istanbul you will definitely go for a walk in the Istiklal street! And then, don’t forget to search for the Saray patisserie. Either you love sweets or not, a visit there will definitely leave you with the best impressions and create the sweetest memories…
Saray patisserie: http://www.saraymuhallebicisi.com/ ( Only in Turkish )