TOPAZ RESTAURANT … the jewel of Istanbul is one of my favorite places for lunch or dinner. Its serene and inspiring atmosphere, with a spectacular view of the Bosporus and the Dolmabahce Mosque was created by renowned International designer Koray Ozgen.
Chef Alparsian, who has a reputation for “gastronomic boldness”, uses the freshest and most seasonal ingredients in his modern interpretations of classic Mediterranean and Ottoman recipes. His rich and diversified menu reflects the wonderful fruits, vegetables, spices, meats and seafood that Turkey produces. Well-known International chefs, from Michelin starred restaurants around the world, are often invited to guest chef, and it’s an unexpected treat when one is on hand to add extra surprises to the menu. With over 225 wines in its cellar, the sommelier gave us an impressive education in pairing exquisite food with exceptional, but not necessarily expensive wines. Its current “Enjoy the Taste of Turkey” is show casing the best dishes from different regions in Turkey.
Great Bar! Great food! Great people watching scene!
If you can imagine the opulence of staying in a palace, once the home of Ottoman Sultans, and being able to arrive by limousine, yacht or helicopter (it’s the only hotel inTurkey to have a private dock and a helipad), chances are, and you too have experienced its splendor. The hotel’s fascinating and legendary history is documented in photographs that line the corridor connecting the original palace to the hotel, the crystal chandelier is breathtaking, and the original hammam, is now used for events.
Cilar Ilhan, Public Relations Director graciously extends an invite to join her at the Ciragan’s BBQ restaurant which sits on the edge of the Bosporus Straits. The night is balmy; the views are inspiring and the selection of meats, fish, and seafood cooked to order or served raw is overwhelming. Long tables are laden with an appetizing array of Turkish appetizers, dozens of colorful salads and decadent deserts. Plump chickens, ducks and a whole lamb are turning on spits; souvlaki is being sliced and stuffed into hot pita bread, and chafing dishes are piled high with grilled vegetables. I move from station to station, piling my plate with delicacies. It is indeed a memorable feast … fit for a Sultan.
Not to be Missed
The Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul, the only Ottoman Imperial Palace and Hotel by the Bosporus, celebrates Christmas 2011 and New Year’s 2012 with special two and four day packages that include:
Accommodations, daily breakfast, VIP amenities, Christmas or New Year’s Eve dinner, Brunch and a couple’s massage.
For more information and to book:
There are two Four Seasons Hotels in Istanbul, and I accept Marketing Director Sibel Benli’s gracious invitation to experience the spa at the Four Seasons on the Bosporus. After checking in at the reception desk, I change into a fluffy robe, and wait for my therapists to claim my body and begin my renewal journey. I am a big fan of the traditional Turkish hammam … a bathing, scrubbing and massage ritual that increases circulation, exfoliates dead cells and re-hydrates the skin with nourishing oils. The hamman was originally a place in the souk where villagers gathered for their weekly scrub, to exchange gossip, conduct business and arrange marriages. Today, the modern hammam is a luxurious environment within the spa, with rituals that embody all aspects of wellness. The Four Seasons Spa is unique in offering a selection of different hammam experiences. Serenity, Purity and Cleansing, are embodied in all aspects of the spa . . . from the music and fragrance that wafts through the air to the caring well- trained hands that anoint my body with delicious natural products that stimulate my senses. For my “Atik Pasha Surrender” massage, the epitome of Imperial Indulgence, two Four Seasons spa experts massage my body in unison. My anti-aging Diamond lifting facial incorporates Shiatsu techniques with micro-facial lifting and aromatherapy. I can feel the ingredients penetrating my pores as the intense hydration works wonders on my sun drenched skin.
The spa menu of rituals and treatments is most impressive: “Lavish Moments” includes a body masque … the “Marine Mineral Facial” uses Sodashi plant essences and a marine algae mask. Perhaps on my next visit, I will book the “Jojoba Bead Polish” or the “Vitamin C, Green Tea and Rose Hip Oil Scrub”. The benefits of this rewarding experience linger on.