Şekerci Cafer Erol – Istanbul, Turkey

8(above photo Kapat – pistachio paste © Şekerci Cafer Erol)

Şekerci (Confectioner) Cafer Erol

(90)  216 337 1103 Yasa Cad. No:19
Kadiköy, Istanbul, Turkey

7:30am  10:00 pm – daily

Yonca Erol  is foremost a charming woman; she is also a member of the Cafer Erol family, and the manager of  the Şekerci Cafer Erol.  Founded in 1807 this magnificent confectioner store as expanded to five branches around Istanbul.   Yonca was more then happy to chat and lecture us on the different techniques used in the production of their wonderful sweets.  After a thorough tasting and aquiring a variety of gifts for friends and family – Yonca walked us all the way to Ciya, her favorite food spot in Kadiköy (but more about that on a different post :).

2(above photo mix akide candy © Şekerci Cafer Erol)

Cafer Erol  is lined with widow refrigerators holding delectable looing chocolates, filo pastries, halvas, honey cakes, marzipan and a 100 other sweets.  On top of beautiful large glass jars with brass tops, are filled Ottoman sweets.

One such is the “Akide” pulled sugar.  The Erol’s are flavored with honey, real fruit extracts, fresh spices and nuts.  To the untrained eye the might seem like ordinary candy flavored with synthetic components and lots of unhealthy corn syrup; but these confections are exceptional due to technique and the quality of the fresh ingredients.

Our favorite Akide was the bergamot. This candy is made according to the old traditions -  cooking the sugar in copper cauldrons over wood fire to a specific temperatures.  Once it starts cooling and before it fully hardens the flavors are added, and the sugar is pulled.  This is what gives the candy it’s outer shine. We brought some home in some of the fantastical gift containers on offer; a fez hat and sultans’ turbans as well as copper bowls

6(above photo Turkish delight with hazelnut © Şekerci Cafer Erol)

Turkish Delight, or Lokum, is a sweet dating from the 17th century.  It was initially made with honey, molasses and flour.  Through times eventual erosion, the basic components changed to refined sugar and starch; to help it acquire a silkier texture.  Cafer Erol produces about thirty different flavors of this national sweet.

Be sure to swing by, say hello to Yonca and to give a little gift to your sweet tooth!

14(above photo Turkish delight with walnut © Şekerci Cafer Erol)
3(above photo akide candy © Şekerci Cafer Erol)
4 (above photo fruit jelly © Şekerci Cafer Erol)
sekerci-cafer-erol_005 Şekerpare – honey cake


 sekerci-cafer-erol_002Bergamot oil akide candy


Maison Grazia – Bogota, Colombia



Maison Grazia

(57) 1 702-1115
Calle 69#5-04
Bogotá, Colombia


7:00am -7:00pm   Tuesday – Saturday
9:00am -5:00pm   Sunday

As of 2013, Maison Grazia is the best pastry shop in all Colombia.  French pastry chef Raphael Haasz, formerly of Daniel in NYC ,and his lovely Colombian wife Claudia Oyuelo (head chef – trained at the French Culinary Institute also in NY and  also worked at Daniel) bring to Colombia a taste of elegant food.  In a City where most restaurants are just a mediocre discolored  copy of European and American favorites, this is sorely needed!

Beyond the beautiful fact that they bring excellent quality, attention to detail, top ingredients, they bring knowledge and education to the local palates via their short classes.  For example, Grazia is probably the only place in Colombia that you can find real ice-cream.  Prepared in the classic way, with actual diary, eggs, cream, flavor and NO corn syrup!   absolute joy for every foodie and expat in the country :)

There are also madeleines served out of the oven (the traditional french way).  Serving Breakfast, Brunch, lunch, coffee, tea time and early drinks – anytime is the perfect time to go.

The viennoiseries and breads, always better just out of the Oven, were a part of our daily schedule during our last months in Bogota.  We used to buy them a day ahead and know the baking schedule, arriving just as they were ready to pull apart in a crusty joy.  Maison Grazia is right on the courner of carrera quinta and calle 69.  A lovely space that combines inside and outside with a slick black facade.  A five meter tall vertical garden that serves as a backdrop to the glass island pastry counter tricks out the design and furniture concept by Oda Asociados Ltda.

Thank you Chefs – you have finally brought true culinary artistry to Colombia!

 Grazia-003  Grazia-005choux, lime tart
Grazia-006coffee eclair with chantilly

Patria – Toronto, Canada

bg-91above photo © patria

Patria Restaurant

(1) 416 367 0505
478 King St W, Toronto,
ON M5V 1L7, Canada


17:30 – 22:30   Monday – Sunday
10:00 – 14:30   Sunday

Wandering by an alley on Toronto’s busy King St. West, we were surprise to glimpse a glow and lively vibe emanating from its depths.   Upon entry,  you are impressed with the striking decor and full-on art-piece by Laura Carwardine.  Laid over a two-story mural designed by Marlo Onilla, the installation of 17,000 knitted cross stitches.


Patria is another part of Charles Khabouth’s INK Entertainment.  Charles Khabouth is really an impressive figure … cutting a swath across Toronto’s scene.  The dining is medium formal and reservations are recommended … although they take walk-ins at the bar, and we think that is a much more entertaining place to dine!


The strong Spanish menu by Australian chef Swart Cammeron holds up against the visuals.  During one of our visits he personally prepared the tapas at the bar for us.



A good note is that if you are at the bar, you can ask for crystal  glasses which from the side cabinet – while being much prettier, we thought our drinks did taste better!


Our advice is to stay away from the paella and stick with the classical tapas.  The manchego croquettes with aioli are perfect.   Follow that up with the pan con tomatae (home made sour dough), Almendras asadas (Salted Marcona Almonds),  pimientos de padron,  garbanzo con espinacas, pulpo montaditos over romesco sauce, Patatas Bravas with spicy tomato sauce and a fried egg on top (break the yolk and mix it with the potatoes), etc, etc …..   Just have fun!




oct12patria08above photo pimientos de padron © patria


bg-12above photo © patria
bg-51above photo © patria
patria_dinner_printsize8x12-1above photo © patria


Patabove photo © patria
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