Ivy’s Bistro – Our favorite little place to eat in NYC

An update:  Sadly, Ivy’s Bistro closed their doors in 2015 and life for us is not quiet the same when we pass by Tribeca!!

By Lakshmi:

Ivy’s Bistro – The name kept coming up in restaurant reviews as a casual place with great food, as a place with no pretenses but great service, a place to hang with kids.  And so one day with Siddhi and two of her friends in tow, we finally landed up at this bistro in Tribeca.

I distinctly remember every aspect of that meal – We ordered their famed baked garlic bread with creamy warm pesto sauce, the penne arrabiata and the cheese quesedillas.  Simple foods, oft-repeated on restaurant menus, this assortment makes a distinctive mark due to the freshness of the food and the warmth of the staff.   We savored every bite and there was not one morsel of food left on our plates.  Of course, with our sweet tooth, we had to have dessert which came in the form of blueberry crisp and triple chocolate cake.  The blueberry crisp which is made fresh and takes extra time to bake is to die for.  The sweetness of the molten blueberries form the perfect companion to the crunchy oatmeal crisp.  Just like our main course, we polished off our entire dessert, feeling so incredibly happy and satiated.  As we walked off into Tribeca that evening, we knew that we would be back and the bistro would be our special spot to bring friends or just hang out in the city.

Since then, we have returned for many meals at Ivy’s, each experience as lovely as our first one.

If you are in the Tribeca area, please do try them out.  Ivy’s is located at

385 Greenwich St
Tribeca
New York
10013-23

Phone: 212-343-1139

http://ivysbistronyc.com/

An Offbeat Experience in Istanbul – Biking Buyukada

By Lakshmi:

“A Turkish Idyll Lost in Time”, read the enticing headline of an article introducing readers to the tranquil island of Buyukada, a two square mile  island in the Sea of Marmara.   Less than a month later, on a clear but somewhat chilly August morning, we were on a ferry watching the Istanbul skyline fade away and the small town of Buyukada welcoming us.

For many years, Istanbul held this special place in my heart.  The history was fascinating, the Turks I knew built an even greater longing to visit, and the yummy Turkish food, especially the Imam Bayildi and Baklava we had sampled in Washington and Germany, left me craving for the authentic culinary experience.

Alas, when we arrived in Istanbul in August, it was overrun with tourists.  Every place we went, we had to stand in long lines and crane our necks to see things.  Travel to us is all about blending into the place, experiencing at least a slice of the local people and life, and unfortunately, every place we went to felt like a giant contest to get in line with half of Europe who seemed to be in town.

It was in this frame of mind that we set out to Buyukada, hoping to get a dollop of old world authentic Turkish charm.  And the island did not disappoint.

As we got off the boat and sauntered onto the island, we were immediately drawn by the small town feel….horse drawn carriages, bikes, people afoot and no cars.  This was already feeling good.

After a quick pick-me-up cup of coffee, we headed over to rent bikes.  Our goal?  Spend the day biking across the island, stopping to take in what our hearts fancied.

The day was indeed the ideal antidote to the rest of our trip, giving us a palette of audio-visual treats.

  • The Ottoman era mansions lining the streets were old, beautiful distinctive structures with architectural interest and ample greenery and foliage.  Many an affluent family from the mainland own a home here and rentals are popular among authors and poets.
  • The horse-drawn carriages transporting people to the two peaks, the clickety clack of the horses’ hooves creating a consistent background score throughout the day
  • Children racing one another, yelling and laughing
  • A set of teenagers racing their bikes, trying to pause, gawk and overtake us
  • People weaving through the market place eating lokmas (turkish donuts) and ice cream
  • The spectacular views from Agia Yorgi, a tiny hilltop church
  • The mares resting for a potty break on the roadside, their smells melding with those of the fragrant flowers carried by the fresh breeze
  • The many small restaurants each vying for our attention by yelling out their menus
  • Just us sitting at the top of a peak, with nothing but the ocean in front of us, reminding us of how gratifying even a small moment can be

As we watched the sun going down, we returned our bikes and made our way to a ferry packed to the brim with people heading back to the mainland.  As Buyukada gradually faded away and the distant lights of Istanbul twinkled on the horizon, we reflected on the day and agreed that this would be one Istanbul memory that would stay with us forever.

A Walk Across Galata Bridge: An Istanbul Must-Do

By: Siddhi 

Who?  Anyone who wants experience a slice of Turkish culture on foot and see Istanbul outside the lens of commercial tourism.

What?   Galata Bridge covers the Golden Horn (the part of the Bosphorus that essentially divides Istanbul and creates the historic harbor that throughout history has housed Ottoman, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine ships for thousands of years).

How?  If you’re staying in the heart of Istanbul, you are generally walking distance from Galata. If you’re further away, take the Istanbul Metro which has the majority of its lines traveling to or near the Galata Bridge area.

Why?  This seems to be a consensus among many travelers who have visited Istanbul in the last five years or so: it seems as if the city, including Old Istanbul which is supposed to be the hotbed of raw Turkish life and culture, has compromised itself for the explosion of the tourism industry. The industrialization of the historically significant city is lamentable, but it’s still possible to see how the people of Turkey live by taking off on foot and allowing yourself to get lost. Walking across Galata Bridge gave us true snapshots of day-to-day Istanbul life. Fishermen lining the sides of the bridge in a uniform and almost poetic motion, people from all walks of life commuting back and forth on a single road, and stunning views of the entire city and its landmarks that put Istanbul as a larger entity into perspective. Walking Galata makes you forget you’re a tourist and puts you in the shoes of the people of Turkey. And that is truly a rewarding and memorable experience.

View from Galata Bridge

With Food, Travel and Experiences

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