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Beyoğlu Pastry Shops, Istanbul

Turks love pastaneler (pastry shops), and in the Beyoğlusection of Istanbul you’ll even find many European-inspired patisseries as well as the traditional Turkish ones.

My longtime favorite was the venerable İnci Pastanesi, İstiklal Caddesi 56-H, a classic 19th-century-style patisserie famous for its chocolate-soaked profiteroles.Alas, modernism caught up with the İnci some years ago and so, after a century’s run, it closed and is gone.

Saray Muhallebicisi, İstiklal Caddesi 177, opposite the big Demirören shopping center near the Hüseyin Ağa Camii (mosque) between Taksim Square and Galatasaray Square, is also a longtime favorite for Turkish-style pastries, especially—my favorite—Fıstıklı Burma Kadayıf (shredded wheat rolled around a core of pistachio nuts, then drenched in syrup). There’s always a pile of burma kadayıf in the front window.

Barcelona, at İstiklal 126-A, has more European-style pastries, as well as coffee, tea and other drinks.

The dean of Ottoman sweet treats is unquestionably Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir, inventor of lokum (Turkish Delight). A branch of the venerable confectioner is at İstiklal Caddesi 83-A, opposite İmam Adnan Sokak. They’ve got all sorts and flavors of lokum, as well as other candies and sweet stuff.

Lebon Patisserie & Café , İstiklal Caddesi 231-A, corner of Kumbaracı Yokuşu just north of Tünel Square, dates its foundation from 1886, when it was the choicest patisserie on the Grande rue de Péra.

Let’s not get into the touchy subject of whether or not the modern Lebon is really the legitimate descendant of the original. Just sit and enjoy the refined atmosphere and French-inspired pastries, cakes, biscuits and cookies.

—by Tom Brosnahan


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