Baklava in Istanbul

8 Nov

You can’t stumble more than a couple blocks in Istanbul without running into a baklava shop, the same way you’d run into a Starbucks in America. But baklava is so much tastier than Starbucks coffee. I ate baklava daily – if not multiple times a day – during my trip to Istanbul, and my favorite was at Hafiz Moustafa. I’m pretty sure there are multiple locations, but I frequented the one on the main avenue, İstiklal Caddesi, near Taksim Square.

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Large windows show off Turkish delight on one side of the shop, and baklava on the other, with customers surrounding all sides of the U-shaped counter.

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Fresh baklava in Istanbul is generally cheaper than in the United States… except at Hafiz Moustafa, where it’s just about on par. Totally worth it though, for the selection alone!

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My husband’s favorite is the chocolate baklava with pistachios inside (top row, square piece). Chocolate baklava was not something we were able to find at most baklava shops  – stock up at Hafiz Moustafa!

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Not all baklava is created equal, either. Avoid the very drippy kind (below) – it’s older baklava with added sugar poured over it to keep it looking “fresh”. (This was at a different shop on İstiklal Caddesi).

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Some tourist guidebooks chose Develi for the best baklava in the city, so we went on the hunt. It’s a small, nondescript shop near the Spice Bazaar. My husband liked the baklava from Develi best (guess the guidebooks are on to something). I liked its texture – it was flakier than the baklava at Hafiz Moustafa, but I didn’t like the flavour as much – a bit doughy to me. 

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Unfortunately, fresh baklava isn’t something you can keep around for a while and bring home with you in a suitcase. Day-old baklava is alright, but two-day old baklava? Fuggetaboutit (it’s no longer as flaky, and it’s dried out too much). So go to Istanbul, and stuff your face with baklava! I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

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