Posted by: mollyscafeistanbul | May 11, 2010

shopping for molly’s cafe

actually, i shop for the cafe every day!  however, today i went to tahtakale, which is beside the spice bazaar.  i go there every few weeks to stock up on things like spices (way cheaper than in the spice bazaar), cheese, olives, special items like pickled hot peppers (i found pickled jalapenos there too!), candles, and special decorations.  i also buy my coffee there, from mehmet efendi coffee, better known for turkish coffee, but now selling filter, espresso, and presspot coffee.  i really enjoy going there, because people have been shopping there for hundreds of years, and now so does molly.  i think that is really cool.  most of the other people shopping there are tourists (actually they are mostly just passing by), headscarf women, and men.

today i took arun with me to be my hamal.  a hamal is a sort of porter, a man who carries things.  my arm has been giving me trouble, so i am being very careful and asked arun to help me today.  also, i finally found the phone i had promised to give him, so this was sort of payback for that.  he was happy to help and it was nice to have the company.  this time i took photos as i went.

marcia and nancy at the kamondo stairs

so, let me show you how we went.  usually we would walk down the hill and go down the kamondo stairs. they were built in 1850 by the kamondos, a wealthy jewish banker family.  it is said that they were built so the kamondo kids could go to school more easily and they were built in such a way that if a child fell, he or she would not be able to fall far.  in any case, they are a beautiful example of art nouveau/baroque stairs, made famous by a photo by henri cartier-bresson.  unfortunately, the kamondo family moved to paris in the 1920s and the whole family perished under the nazis.  however, they left a beautiful legacy and i enjoy going down the stairs (i enjoy less going up…).

a battered wall tower in galata

today we went by a little bit different route.  we went directly down iki belediye caddesi, which goes down to bankalar caddesi, further up from where the kamondo stairs meet bankalar cd.  as we walked down, we passed what looks like a parking lot, but if you look in a little further, you can see one of the old towers from the old galata walls. beside it you can see the bell tower from st peter and paul church, built in 1843 on the site of several churches (having burned several times) from 1475.  there are some tombs inside from when galata was called sycae in ancient greek times, as well as some tombs of people from the maltese community from hundreds of years ago.

both towers

we walked along bankalar caddesi and turned down beside what was once the headquarters of the ottoman bank.  it was bought some years ago by garanti bank and now houses a bank museum and hosts exhibitions.  the whole building is being renovated and apparently will be all exhibition space sometime in the next year.

hardware heaven

then we walked straight down, down the stairs, past the bereketzade mosque, the shoeshine man, the plexiglass guys, and then came to the big street that runs parallel to the golden horn.  we dashed across and kept straight on a short street that meets a street full of hardware sellers.  the hardware heaven photo looks left, but we turned right and walked towards an old bedestan. we turned left there and walked past boyaci sokagi (painters’ street) right to the water’s edge.


our boat is waiting

there we found our boat waiting.  i am so glad that now it is getting to be summer, as it is the season for taking the little putt-putt boats across the golden horn.  until recent times that was the only way to get across.  it is lovely to be sitting on a small boat close to the water.  it is a very different perspective and calming at the same time.  a man and his son were already on the boat, so when we arrived the kaptan set off.  these putt-putt boats are like the dolmushes, as they generally go when there are enough people to make it worth while.  i asked the man how much it was, and he told me 1.5 lira– the turkish priace as opposed to the foreign price!  when we got to the other side,  arun posed for his photo.

arun, tower, kaptan

the end of tahtakale

then we walked past a place where a byzantine building is smack up against a 19th or 20th century building.  they are beside a mosque which was rescued from dereliction a few years ago.  we passed these and crossed the big street to get to tahtakale.  at this end, the shops sell things like pots and lots of wicker and wooden goods.  as we walked along, we also passed by rustempasha mosque, which is normally a must-see, but not today.


the next photos are of where i especially shop.  the first one, sancarlar, is where i get my teas, herbs, and dried nuts and fruit, among other things.  the next photo is mehemet efendi coffee, where i buy my coffees.  this place has been in business since 1871 and i am pleased to be one of its customers.  our final stop was the cheese shop, where i usually buy taze kashar (sort of like monterey jack, melts well) and eski kashar (a sharp old cheese, the closest to cheddar).  today it was only a couple of kilos of the eski kashar.  they also sell string cheese, which my son loved when he was here, a van cheese that is made with herbs, and a variety of other delicious hard and soft turkish cheeses.  i often also buy olives from them.


murat bey cheese sellers
mehmet efendi coffee

at the tea garden

in between sancarlar and mehmet efendi, we stopped at the tea garden for fresh orange juice.  i dashed off briefly to buy flower seeds while the waiter talked to arun.  the first time we went there, the waiter, who is rom, thought arun was rom too and was quite taken with him.  in fact he keeps trying to get me to hire him for the cafe, but that will not happen. arun commented about how nice istanbul is, and i was happy that he liked it.  he is seeing a bit more of it than some of his friends.

so, this was my shopping  this morning.  in this season it is perfect weather for it, and it was very helpful to have someone else carry the bags!  i hope sometime you too can come shopping with me so i can show you the way people have been shopping for centuries, and of course i could use the help carrying things!



  1. Molly, I would love to come shopping with you one day! I have been baking and cooking up a storm lately and am always looking for less expensive or better supplies! Also, I don’t mind carrying a few things.

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