On my previous trip to Istanbul I stuck to eating yummy Turkish ice cream and Turkish delight (TD only where I could read what the ingredients were). While this was fun, and I got to eat a lot of Turkish delight I knew that more existed for coeliacs and I was not wrong.
After a lot of research and major helping hand from @uniqename on twitter, btw a massive thank you her – I discovered that gluten free baklava is available in Istanbul and not far away from the touristy Old Town, Sultan Ahmet. I cannot begin to tell you how delighted I was on discovering this. This alone has probably made my year! In my double figured life, since being coeliac I am proud to say that I have pretty much adapted everything to being gluten free, but baklava was the one thing that alluded me. I think it was just the fact that making filo pastry is considered hard (for gluten munchers) so I just never got my head around how to do it if that makes sense? Eating the gluten free baklva totally opened my mind to how to do it!
The baklava was 100% baklava. The fact it was made by one of the most famous baklava shops in Istanbul probably helps ensure it’s high standard. It had everything essential in my mind which baklava should have: stickiness, crunch, chew, perfume; it was a total lip licking, sticky experience …perfection! I cannot begin to express how delighted I was to be able to have it, I wish I was able to go back and buy some more!
Now Karakoy Gulluoglu is located just over the Galta bridge (if you are, like I was, in Sultan Ahmet) it is a bit of a walk but as usual on any gluten free hunt we discovered lots more interesting things.
Once you get to Karakoy Gulluoglu it is not hard to miss. It feels like the whole of Istanbul is here. Everyone is jumping around choosing their baklava and it is hard to actually get close to see anything. The thing which confounds things even more (if it was possible) is that you have to pay before you acquire your baklava. As a fellow tourist said to me, “…but how to do you know what you want?” A legitimate question, fortunately (and I never thought I would ever say this) yes fortunately being coeliac the choosing was quite easy.
I joined the queue to pay, asked for the “Baklava glutensiz”, the cashier asked how much we would like by weight and what type (pistachio or almond), I opted for mixed. After I had paid he then felt over whelmed to say ” you know you have bought baklava without gluten”!!!!! I don’t think he got that was the whole purpose of the visit!
Finally we got to join the second round of queues, this was where I was extremely impressed in terms of awareness of cross contamination something which lacks even in countries with a high coeliac count. First, the server washed his hands. Then he brought out clean utensils. I was very impressed. My baklava came a in a box which was then vacum wrapped. In principle it would have been very easy to bring it home but I could not resist so naturally I ate my baklava while in Istanbul!