Milk Street on the Road: Istanbul
By the grace of geography, Istanbul sits astride one of the planet’s most monumental crossroads, bridging Europe and Asia and connecting diverse cultures — and their cuisines — since before the time of the Byzantines. Over 8 days and 7 nights, you’ll get a local’s access to the heady blend of history and modernity that defines this metropolis. Your guide is local expert Gonca Karakoç and your resident chef is author and teacher Özlem Warren, a regular guest at the Milk Street Cooking School and on Milk Street radio. You’ll learn to look at the city’s vibrant markets through the eyes of a local and pick the highest quality herbs, spices, cheeses and more from the best producers.
Over the course of this week, you’ll be exposed to many of the regional foods of Türkiye, with a special focus on Özlem’s multicultural home region of Hatay in Southern Türkiye. You’ll learn to navigate Istanbul’s bustling markets like a local, picking out everything from the best coffee pots to the freshest saffron. And as we walk through the city’s quieter neighborhoods, you’ll sample everything from tahini and pistachios to stuffed mussels and Maraş chiles at exclusive tastings. You’ll see how farmers continue to thrive by farming in the city’s ancient moats and will meet members of Istanbul’s Sephardic Jewish community, whose roots there extend back to the Spanish Inquisition. We conclude our week with a boat tour of the Bosphorus, which divides Europe and Asia as well as Istanbul, and a dinner at Çiya, the headquarters of chef Musa Deviren’s quest to preserve Turkish culinary traditions rural culinary traditions nearly lost due to internal migration.
Immersion in Local Markets
Learn to navigate Istanbul’s markets like a local, tasting spices, nuts, tahini and olive oil along the way.
Hands-on Cooking with Özlem Warren
Get in the kitchen with resident chef Özlem Warren, who will show you how to make vegetable-forward Turkish classics from her home region of Hatay.
Unique Agricultural Visits
See how farmers carry on tradition by farming in the ancient moats between the city’s Byzantine-era fortifications.
Turkish History and Culture
See how the Bosphorus both divides and unites the two sides of Istanbul and visit chefs who are carrying on generations-old culinary traditions.
You’ll enjoy artichoke hearts braised in olive oil; Balkan börek filled with Turkish goat cheese; spicy Adana kebabs; stuffed grape leaves; Black Sea-style pide—and much more.
Traveling the world has always been part of what we do at Milk Street. We work alongside home cooks. We sample street food. We get behind the scenes in restaurant kitchens. We explore bustling markets, family farms and small-scale producers. Now, after years of traveling the world, it’s about time we took you with us. Milk Street’s culinary tours, designed in partnership with Culinary Backstreets, give you an up-close and personal opportunity to see the world the way we do: filled not only with great food, but with fascinating stories, profound lessons and incredible people. Join us and a small group of curious fellow travelers to experience destinations and flavors that will change the way you cook.
- Pricing and Accommodation
- The total cost of this trip is $5,250 per person in a shared accommodation in the Bank Hotel. For travelers wishing to have single accommodations during the trip, an additional $1,250 will be due at the time of the final payment. A $500 non-refundable deposit per traveler is required to secure space on the trip. The balance is due 90 days prior to the start of the trip.
- Activity Level
- Travelers should be reasonably fit and feel comfortable walking 2 to 4 miles each day and remaining on their feet for long periods of time. Keep in mind that Istanbul is a bustling and crowded place!
- Arrival and Departure
- For flights in and out of Istanbul International airport, we suggest you arrive by 3 p.m. on Day 1 and depart anytime on Day 8 We are happy to book you extra nights at the group’s hotel, the Bank Hotel, and provide suggestions for things to do and see in the city on your own.
- • All accommodation throughout the trip in stylish, boutique hotels.
• Professional guides throughout the entire experience.
• All meals and drinks included in the above activities.
• Admission to all proposed activities, locations, and events.
• Private coach for visits inside and outside the center city
• A hungry group of Culinary Backstreets and Milk Street travelers, excited to explore all that Istanbul has to offer!
- • Private individual arrival & departure airport transfers
• Airfare and transportation to/from the start and end destination
• Meals beyond those specified in the itinerary above
• Alcoholic beverages other than those served at the table
• Accommodations outside those noted, including pre- or post-trip hotel nights
• Activities, tours & entry fees not included above
• Personal purchases and incidentals at hotels
- Dietary Restrictions
- We encourage an adventurous palate! We try our best to accommodate dietary restrictions, though ingredients cannot always be substituted or omitted from particular dishes. This trip can easily feature plentiful vegetarian options and can accommodate others. If you have other food allergies or intolerances, please contact us to find out if this is the right trip for you.
- Notes on Itinerary
- Itineraries and daily schedules are subject to change. We expect to do everything listed in the itinerary, though the order may be rearranged based on weather or other local conditions.
- Our Commitment to Safety and Sustainability
- At Culinary Backstreets, we have reinforced our commitment to sustainability and safety with new guidelines to assure maximum safety of our guests on our trips while maintaining the quality of the experience. All of our experiences are designed to have minimal impact on the community and environment. For more details on our precautions, read here. Our cancellation policy is extremely flexible to deal with changes in travel plans.
“Exactly as the name describes: food as an entry to culture, with off-the-beaten-track, one-of-a-kind experiences.”