Hello Selin,I hope this message finds you well and your business continues to flourish. This message is long overdue, however I wanted to write to you to thank you for making the cooking lessons with my friends and family so special. It was the highlight of their pre-wedding festivities and provided some wonderful memories.
I promised photos and follow-up. I wanted to show you the blog post I wrote. (http://pointwhitedrive.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/turkish-flavors-cooking-with-selin/) I hope it is to your liking. Also, please feel free to use any of the photos for your own use.I am currently providing private English lessons, working with a new company work with high-level executives to improve their English and finally learning Turkish! Please keep in touch!Best Regards,Adrian
PS The beautiful artwork you gave me as a wedding present is the centerpiece of our living room. I LOVE it! Thank you!
"Streetfood tour in Istanbul"
Dear Annie: My sister and I, Judith, loved our evening with you. It was truly the highlight of Istanbul and you were great . You gave us a remarkable time, tour, food and even a reading list.We loved your home. We only wish we'd joined for the Princes Islands, but next time.I hope you will come to Boston en route to your son in LA and I have a great suite for you in Cambridge, near Harvard Square. Meanwhile, I have a close friend in Istanbul alone for 10 days. She is the widow of a famous playright and director--Herb Gardner ("A Thousand Clowns" etc.) Barbara is the head of the religion department at Hunter in NYC.She doesn't drink, eats very basic foods and lived with Philip Roth for a decade before marrying Herb. What a bizarre introduction. Anyhow, I will give her your name and perhaps she will get in touch You will very much be a good match and she, staying in Sultahamet should get the good Pera visit! Again, a wonderful evening we have talked over many times. See you here, I hope, or next trip. Warmly, Sharon Cohen August 14th,2012
“In the Kitchen with Selin”
July 4, my day with Selin in her kitchen, turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip to Turkey! I had some time to myself while my husband was working, and this looked like a unique way to enter the culture. It absolutely was. Selin invited us into her home as guests and taught us to cook side by side with her with the caveat that she was doing "home" cooking rather than a cooking show. The seven of us working at the cooking block stations quickly bonded, and we all came away with authentic recipes we can replicate at home. The experience culminated in our luncheon together eating our creations in Selin's beautiful dining room and sharing travel and home experiences with Selin like a family. I plan to prepare a six course meal the next time I entertain my extended family! I haven't stopped smiling about the experience. Thank you, Selin!
“A welcome diversion from historical monuments!!”
Our niece and nephew recommended this tour, which they'd taken a year ago, and we now recommend it to you. We loved our day with Taciser, who spent several hours leading our family of three adults through the extraordinary Spice Market, making stops to sample drinks, foods, and spices along the way. Having worked in the grocery business, Taciser knew the best vendors, and coupled these tastings with lots of information. We were able to stop and purchase along the way, yet, never was there any pressure to do so. We then were ferried over to the Asian side of Istanbul to tour the vast and impressive vegetable and fruit market. We've never seen anything to rival these markets. The day ended with a lengthy tasting lunch at Ciya, a world class Turkish restaurant, with a world class chef, located in the market. The dishes kept coming...each one exciting and delicious. Clearly, the freshness of the ingredients, seasonings, and uniqueness of the recipes pulled together the day's experience. Taciser was lovely, informative, and helpful. This is an Istanbul experience not to be missed, and well worth the price.
Natalie B Chicago, Illinois
A wonderful day for a foodie!
I spent the day with Selin who took us on a tour of the Spice Market and then to the Asian side of Istanbul, the Kadikoy market. She's fun, expert and passionate. We ate beyond our capacity...all the shops she brought us to and all the treats that we tasted really gave a complete overview of the cuisine of Turkey. I learned a lot, had fun and tasted many, many, many delights! For anyone who enjoys food and is curious to understand the cuisine of Turkey, Selin is the real deal!
I highly recommend this place for people who come to turkey to relax, going to this cooking class is actually not going to a class but is like entering your own kitchen, you feel like home, Selin is amazing and her family makes you feel more than welcome, during the hole class your just learning, smelling, and tasting all those great Flavours, and by the end you just seat on the table for a lovely meal that you just prepared and share it with them and your class mates
Santi Velosa /Columbia
“Highlight of the Trip”
Three of us took the market tour and had an amazing time with Selin! We toured the Spice Market, the Asian side of Istanbul, and concluded at a fantastic restaurant for a huge lunch! We know she took us to the best possible places because she herself made purchases at many of the places we visited. I would highly recommend that anyone visiting Istanbul take a tour with Turkish Flavours! My only regret is that we didn't take the tour earlier in the trip, as she was a tremendous resource of information re: where to go, what to do, and of course what to eat! Todd S NewYork /USA
"Delicious, personal experience!”
I attended the spice market tour (1-hour) & Selin's cooking class (combined), yesterday. The market tour was so fun. Our guide involved us in sampling olives stuffed with orange, cheese, Turkish pastrami, sweets, and nuts, and she took us to a stand in the market where we were able to smell & taste many spices & teas. AND the cooking class was an experience beyond all my expectations. Selin's home is beautiful, the experience she offers is extremely personal, and meeting & cooking with new people added a new dimension to my summer travels, this year. She led us through an extensive menu using a wide variety of fresh foods & spices, and she tailored dishes to a vegetarian in the group without missing a beat. She is a consummate professional (and powerful entrepreneur) and made me feel like she was my Turkish aunt. This is unquestionably among the most memorable things I've done in 6 1/2 weeks of travel throughout Europe this year. (By the way, this was a great opportunity for my husband to have some much-needed time exploring on his own... )
Shelley L Arlington Washington
Turkish Flavours Cooking Classes and Much More
by Luca T. Davis- Witt Hotel Istanbul Magazine
The Turkish cuisine is world famous, and rightly so as you will experience during your stay. Turkish food is diverse and savory, spicy without being (too) hot, vegetable rich, and healthy thanks to the generous use of olive oil. Once back home, visitors often crave for these delicious dishes but fail to replicate them. This is why Selin Rozanes started Turkish Flavours back in 2007. She offers a full immersion into Turkish gastronomic culture with her hands-on cooking classes. This month I participated, and discovered Turkish Flavours is actually much more than just a cooking class. Here’s my experience.
Welcome and Introduction
I was expected at Selin’s house at 10:30 on a Saturday morning. It’s located in Nişantası, and I received detailed directions by mail in both English and Turkish (for the cab driver). The house dates back to the 1930′s, and has been family property ever since. Selin welcomed me, and introduced me to the rest of the cooking class participants — two girls from the US and a man from Belgium.
Over a cold glass of cherry juice, Selin told us she was born and raised in Istanbul, worked all her life as a culinary travel specialist and individual travel consultant. After she retired back in 2004, she started Turkish Flavours, where she offers Turkish cooking classes, Istanbul food tours, and cultural culinary tours in Turkey. A local experienced chef was about to teach us local cuisine — as good as it gets.
Chopping vegetables at Turkish Flavours.
After we got to know each other a bit, we moved to the kitchen. There was a big kitchen counter that can host up to 10 participants, with the stove and oven at the far end. Everything was already set up and waiting for us: cutlery, cutting boards, cookware, spices, herbs, and a stylish apron. We also got a Turkish Flavours recipe book and a spice chart to make notes. All these we could keep at the end of the cooking class.
Selin handed out today’s menu, which contained no less than 8 (!) different dishes the four of us were going to prepare. Needless to say you shouldn’t eat too much for breakfast. Although the menu changes according to the season (only fresh produce is used), to give you an idea, here’s what our course menu looked like: flaky pastry with feta and herbs (peynirli börek), green beans in olive oil (zeytinyağlı taze fasulye), zucchini in olive oil (zeytinyağlı kabak), split belly eggplant (karnıyarık), spicy bulgur (baharatlı bulgur pilavı), purslane salad with pomegranate molasses dressing, carrots infused in garlicky yoghurt with tahini and walnuts, and apricots stuffed with clotted cream (kaymaklı kuru kayısı).
To win time, Selin and her assistant already washed and sorted all the vegetables. Time to get started.
Cooking Turkish Dishes
Making flaky pastry during our cooking class.
We pretty much went over the dishes one by one, and prepared them all together. Selin only gave step by step instructions and taught us basic techniques needed for Turkish cooking. That’s right, we did 99% of the actual cooking. She also let us taste the different spices, oils and ingredients before we added them. And for every item, she explained what region they came from, and where you can buy them to take back home. Maybe a word of advice here, don’t wait for the very last day of your journey to join a class. You’ll probably want to go shopping and stack up on herbs and spices before you head back home.
While we were chopping, cutting, mixing, stirring, frying, and eventually assembling the dishes, Selin talked about the origin of the dishes, and Turkish culture in general. She also took great pleasure in listening to our Istanbul experiences and happily answered any questions we had, being it Turkish food, travel advice, politics, you name it. We learned and laughed quite a bit while cooking — the cooking class actually turned out to be group of friends gathering for some kitchen fun.
Gourmet Lunch with Turkish Wine
Finally, eating the lunch we prepared with excellent Turkish wine.
About 2,5 hours later, all the dishes were ready to be served. We sat down at a nice, large table in her living room and enjoyed the food we just prepared accompanied by a glass of Turkey’s finest wine. During the lunch, we kept on sharing Istanbul experiences and tips, as well as future travel and sightseeing plans. The food was delicious, and I’m not saying this because I helped preparing it.
At about 3 p.m., after an excellent Turkish coffee to top it all off, it was time to say goodbye and thank Selin for a truly great Turkish cooking class filled with excellent tips and tricks. It was a magnificent experience.
On My Own
My own go at split-belly eggplant, courtesy Turkish Flavours.
A week later, I decided to prepare one of the dishes at home, on my own, based on what I learned and the recipe booklet I received. I decided to make karnıyarık, the split belly eggplant. I chose this one, because I know Turkish people just love it when made correctly. So, I put on the Turkish Flavours apron for the occasion, followed the instructions and used the techniques I recently acquired. It was smooth sailing, no surprises or split decisions. I deliberately made too many, so I could share them with my Turkish neighbors. And the local critics were unanimous: a job well done, one even said he wished his wife could make it that nice.
I found out about Selin and Turkish Flavours from the Luxe series of travel guides. She was listed under a section of the guide that covered things that should not be missed. The guide was right. We did two experiences with Selin. The first one was a cooking lesson and dinner at her wonderful apartment and the second was an excursion that covered visiting the spice market, the market in Kadikoy and then a fabulous lunch to follow. The cooking lesson or experience was exactly what we were hoping for. We are serious "foodies" and had done something similar in Bologna at a family's home. Aside from learning about the recipes and techniques, it really grounds you in the culture and Istanbul life in a way that cannot happen outside of someone's home. We made a number of courses all the while learning about Turkish foods and drawing on Selin's vast knowledge of the region and culture. There really is no substitute for having someone show you the secrets of how to prepare dishes. Learning from a cookbook pales in comparison. After we prepared the meal, we sat down to a leisurely dinner where we got to enjoy the fruits of our labor and learn more about Istanbul. While Selin is strident in her beliefs, she also proved to be the most reliable source of info on the right kind of restaurant recommendations and how best to use the time that we had to see what we wanted to see. I would argue far more reliable than our hotel! The tour of the two markets was also great as Selin has relationships with the most interesting sellers and you get to learn about all the different spices, produce and other foods in a way that would be impossible if you are just on your own. It's like she cuts out the noise and you are left with the best places to buy stuff vs. trying to figure it out on your own and hoping for the best. She can also answer the myriad questions that a foodie might have about all the different foods that you come across. After visiting two markets, my backpack was stuffed full of wonderful vacuum-sealed packages of spices and grains you just can't get even in NYC. We finished the second day with a lunch at one of the best places in Kadikoy called Ciya. While this is a place we had heard of, the experience of going there with Selin was entirely different than what we would have experienced on our own. She has a personal relationship with the restaurant and chef which allowed her to arranged a special lunch with our tastes in mind. Being able to sit and talk with the chef afterwards was icing on the cake. I would highly recommend Selin and Turkish Flavours to anyone that wants to get a more personal connection with Istanbul and Turkish food. With her, you get to benefit from years of experience, knowledge and relationships throughout Istanbul that you just can't get from a guide or elsewhere. She seems to genuinely love food and cooking which made spending time with her one of the highlights of our trip.From a comment on Trip Advisor
Hi Selin,Guess what? I have now made dinner for the past two nights and served "Turkish Flavours" Selin food...... to raves. I stuffed eggplant with tomatoes and onions, plus some ground turkey meat, and then the next night, I stuffed different colored peppers with your aromatic rice and added chopped lamb meat. For dessert, I made stuffed figs, prepared in the thick sugar and water sauce, marscapone, rolled in ground pistachio nuts. I really had fun and feel good.it All this is to thank you for such a fabulous trip. You thought of everything and everything went like clockwork. Your choices of activities was so varied, it blows my mind. But we did it all and had a terrific time doing it with you. You are such good company; interesting, interested, and humorous. You sure were accommodating.
Linda and I would never have been able to visit that Exhibit about the History of Istanbul without your help. And I am going to take the train to NYC this afternoon, with my new cellphone pouch you gave me from the Bazar, around my neck. You really thought of everything that could possibly make our trip work.
I can't get you out of my mind. You are such a presence.Thanks for organizing such a stupendous trip. I enjoyed every minute.... and I am not kidding!!!!!!Love,Rindy
My wife and I recently visited Turkey and were scrambling at the last minute to fill holes in our itinerary. As we were traveling with a small band of like-minded foodies, we set our sights on a culinary day tour. Unfortunately, we were informed by many tour operators that the weekend we had targeted was Labor Day and due to past unrest (rioting), tours had been cancelled. Of everyone I contacted, Seline at Turkish Flavours was by far the most accommodating. Although last minute and despite the Labor Day madness, she managed to schedule our group for personal tours of both the Spice Market and Kadikoy Street Market. Seline normally uses taxis and ferries, but due to the demonstrations, hired a private van to take us from place to place. The tour itself was the highlight of our stay in Istanbul. We managed to eat our way through most of the city, sampling mussels, salted fish, fruits, various spices and sweets, followed by a long, magnificent lunch at an Anatolian restaurant on the Asian side, where Seline had arranged a special, multi-course tasting menu for our group. Fantastic meal. Seline’s guidance and knowledge of the city and the individual purveyors in the markets proved invaluable. If you love food, this is the quickest and most comprehensive way to introduce yourself to the tastes of Istanbul. We finished our day at Seline’s lovely, historic apartment, where we cooked an authentic Turkish dinner with friends, old and new. Both my wife and I thoroughly recommend Turkish Flavours.Michael Murphy,USA
It has taken me this long to get the fuzziness out of my head! I have been really jet lagged so today is the first day back at my computer.Thank you so much for the wonderful two days spent with you. I wish I weren’t so tired so that I could have done more shopping with you. Everything that you told me to buy, I have not regretted and wished that I had more space in my luggage. I don’t think we could have fit anything more in the three pieces we had. I carried two more bags filled with our purchase onto the plane. JP also stuffed his bags full and he will be using his Ottoman spice tonight with beef. I have cooked the Kisir, the smoked eggplant and made pilav and used the ottoman spice twice with beef. I used the Janissary spice in an egg omelette which was also very tasty. I will make the bell pepper stuffed with rice for dinner tonight. So you see I have cooked Turkish every day since I got home. Tim loves it and we enjoy the Turkish sweets after every meal. You do have a unique service and I will recommend you to all our friends who do travel to Turkey. Once again, many thanks for your kind hospitality, for the many memories and for the cooking class. Maxine Boscher,Sydney
We have thoroughly enjoyed your hospitality and learning a little about your life in Istanbul. Thank you for opening your house to us and for being patient with my children.Warm regards,Bronwyn,Geofrey,Elizabeth,Edward Brown -Brisbane, Australia via Hong Kong
Thank you for sharing your house of knowledge.. in a kind and delicious way!You made both our trip of my birthday very memorable.Please keep in touch. Ps .Putting on pepper caps was so much fun!And we will protect the secret of the pumpkin dessert! Merci beaucoup c'etait trés belle! Monica Samec & Barry Rawn - Canada/Netherlands
Thank you very much for your hospitality!It was great to learn how to make BÖREK !Hoi Ning and Sebastien - Berlin - Germany
Great class! Great food! Great time!Susan Russell - Chicago- USA
Our experiences in Turkey will remain forever etched in our memories( supplemented by many photos)because of your planning.We've had an incredible time,enjoying every location ,hotel and meal - the best being our "team" lunch that we cooked with you today. We wish the very best with Turkish Flavours and will recommend you to our travelling friends in the U.S. Warm regards, Maureen & Hil Brodie, Davis California- Kay Daniels& Steven Shpall - Palo Alto ,California
It has been a highlight of our visit to Istanbul to meet you and share your insights in to the markets and wonderful ingredients of your city. It was a privilege to visit your home, learn about your tours ( and meet and play with Yoyo). We look forward to welcoming you in New Zealand. Mavis Airey- New Zealand
Thank you for an exciting 2 days. Your knowledge and enthusiasm is so great to share with us. Your apartement is warm and lovely. See you in Usa soon. All the best Chef Jaxon - Park City - Utah
A pleasure, Selin ,to meet you and cook with you. Thank you for showing us all the markets,shops and most especially ,your home. Molly + Walton Rutherford - Roanoke, Virginia
At last, we managed to get away from our busy cooking school in Belgium to enjoy our 6th wedding anniversary and... to cook even more!! Selin is the most concerned hostess and culinary guide, a relaxed, good and precise cook. I am so impressed with what we've seen- tasted-cooked and eaten- a true delight. I 'll be back for much much more of this! A million thanks! Inge & Jurgen - Belgium
Thank you so much for a wonderful day welcoming me in to your home. I loved the market tour! An I loved learning how to cook a Turkish meal. I look forward to making a Turkish feast for my friends and family at home. Many thanks for your gracious hospitality. Judy Kuskin- USA
What a wonderful time I have had spending the day with you, cooking and talking and learning about Istanbul. I can take back the recipes and stories to Tokyo and share them with my friends. Cheers and all the best. Teri Weaver - Tokyo
This has been the most wonderful experience, and I can make everything at home. Thank you for welcoming me in your home and sharing your secrets. Ti aspetto a Roma! Maureen Fant - Rome
Thank you for a wonderful addition to our experience in Turkey. We enjoyed the opportunity to learn about this important part of Turkish Culture. The food, the company, and the hostess were wonderful. Joanna & Andrew Laytin - USA
It's a pleasure to spend time doing something you love to do in good company. The food was wonderful and I can only hope to replicate it at home. Patty&Jeffrey Meissner - USA
Another wonderful experience that will be added to many memories of Istanbul. Your hospitality was lovely and the food we prepared delicious. Thank you for everything. Stacey Bowen- USA
Thanks for a fabulous day and being so accommodating. Your knowledge,techniques and warm personality helped make this a great experience! Will think of you every time I cook a Turkish dish at home or eat in a Turkish restaurant. Hugs. Koren Borges USA
Melissa and I wanted to learn a little about Turkish Cooking, but instead we were welcomed in to your beautiful home, entertained, given advice on all things Turkish AND learned about Turkish Cooking! What a wonderful honeymoon this has been. You have been a highlight. My wife now wants to do what Selin does for a living. Thank you. Monty&Melissa Oppenheim- USA
RECENT REVIEWS FROM PARTICIPANTS OF OUR EXPLORE TURKISH FLAVOURS TOUR IN TURKEY
Hi Selin,Guess what? I have now made dinner for the past two nights and served "Turkish Flavours" Selin food...... to raves. I stuffed eggplant with tomatoes and onions, plus some ground turkey meat, and then the next night, I stuffed different colored peppers with your aromatic rice and added chopped lamb meat. For dessert, I made stuffed figs, prepared in the thick sugar and water sauce, marscapone, rolled in ground pistachio nuts. I really had fun and feel good.it All this is to thank you for such a fabulous trip. You thought of everything and everything went like clockwork. Your choices of activities was so varied, it blows my mind. But we did it all and had a terrific time doing it with you. You are such good company;
Interesting, interested, and humorous. You sure were accommodating. Linda and I would never have been able to visit that Exhibit about the History of Istanbul without your help. And I am going to take the train to NYC this afternoon, with my new cellphone pouch you gave me from the Bazaar, around my neck. You really thought of everything that could possibly make our trip work.I can't get you out of my mind. You are such a presence.
Thanks for organizing such a stupendous trip. I enjoyed every minute.... and I am not kidding!!!!!!Love Rindy
SUMMARY: A friend and I took the 11 day Culinary Trip through Turkey in May and LOVED it. Although we are both well traveled, neither of us had been to Turkey before, so we balanced our interest in learning about the local cuisine with a desire to see the major sights. We are two women in our mid 50’s, one American and one British. Most of the “food” portion of the program was overseen by Selin R., and the cultural component directed by Faruck B. You couldn’t have nicer or more knowledgeable hosts. Both of us have traveled a wide range of the economic spectrum, and were very impressed with the value offered by this package. On the few meals where we were on our own, we were directed to wonderful restaurants (which we recognized after one unfortunate night at a tourist trap we found on our own) which were beautiful and popular with locals.
FOOD: We toured the markets (old and new), tasting, learning, (buying! Great spice mixes, teas and saffron) and lunching on the way. Selin has many favorite shops and restaurants, but will detour and explain anything which catches the eye. There were lessons at Selin’s home, a village house and one of the hotel restaurants where we could participate as much or as little as we wished. Questions were welcome, even by the village lady who was more enthusiastic an instructor than I could imagine with Faruck rapidly translating. It was a fun party of flour, kids, English, Turkish, pots, pans, and grape leaves. The restaurants were all delicious and several were visually spectacular. The food ranged from casual to quite elegant.
HOTELS: The hotels were mainly the ones on Selin’s initial list, with a couple of substitutions based on availability (staying at the one where we cooked one night) and upgrades. The Blue House is comfortable and fabulously located in the old town. We switched to the Ciragan Palace on our last night to spend some time on the Bosphorous, which while luxurious and lovely was hardly necessary and seemed a poor value later. The most fun was the Yunak Evlari, a cave hotel. These are all solid and comfortable small three to four star hotels.
TOURING: The time apportioned was enough to see the main sights of each area (Istanbul, Cappadocia, and Bodrum on the Aegean) at a reasonable pace. Faruck and Selin are good at helping calculate when to get going and when you can sleep in if that’s how you are so inclined. You could do this tour without any other research and see more than most would see after hitting the guidebooks for months. They were also excellent at advising on the suitability of other sights under consideration for us to tour on our own. We had no problems with taxis and touring on our own in the evenings or on the extra day we added to the tour.
EXCELLENT EXTRA'S (that make all the difference): It was fantastic to be able to eat and visit in private homes. This is something which elevates one from tourist to traveler. All of the hotels had extremely friendly other parties comparing notes at breakfasts. Don’t do room service coffee even if it is your norm. My traveling companion also served up a “nightmare client” double whammy of being unable to eat meat and having a work crisis which often glued her to her blackberry. Selin and Faruck handled it with aplomb; switching out some dishes and letting her work while making sure I didn’t miss out on anything. We had very comfortable vehicles and drivers at our disposal, but also rode on public ferries and trams to get more of a local feel. Selin appears to evaluate people’s comfort with being on their own, and adjusts accordingly. She won’t send you off in a taxi on your own unless you prefer that, which we did. We also did a day on the islands near Istanbul, which gave a great sense of how Turkish people really live. This tour is a well balanced combination of tourism/history, food, culture and modern Turkey. It covers everything but still leaves space for people to pursue other interests. An excellent trip to a gorgeous country!