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MAGICAL EATING: First there’s the setting of Abracadabra — a beautiful converted yali, or waterside villa, on the shores of the Bosphorus Strait. Each floor of the eatery has a unique feel and view, topped by a bird’s-eye terrace on the airy top floor, lined with books and contemporary art. If the location and arty, intellectual in-crowd clientele aren’t enough of a draw restaurant, the food — a mix of organic, seasonal ingredients in unusual combinations — does justice to the hype. Celebrity chefs Dilara Erbay and Mike Norman use their wizardry to conjure up menus including Armenian mussel rice with caramelized onions and raw salmon “meatballs.”
RESORT-STYLE DINING: The Istanbul branch of Lavanta, the restaurant that originated in the trendy Aegean resort of Alacati, has opened in boho-chic Ortakoy, offering shrimp wrapped in Turkish vermicelli, steak with celery mash and Bombay beans and rib of beef cooked eight hours.
SHOPPING EXCURSIONS: Markets are abundant, but sifting through the rails can be hard work. Roll up instead, as chic Turks do, to the Kanyon shopping center, with international shops (Harvey Nichols has its Turkish branch here). You can find fun Ottoman Empire T-shirts and prints of mid-20th-century paintings by Jordanian princess-turned-artist Fahrelnissa Zeid at the Istanbul Modern shop. Or see the real thing at Istanbul Modern Museum, a converted warehouse with one of the best views in the city. For beauty products, branch out from the usual roster of international brands and visit Aisha in the waterside “village” of Bebek, with products including Turkish rose-scented face water, lavender cream and a large mother-and-baby selection. For unusual jewelry, Leyla Taranto of Toz Design, in the stylish old Istanbul shopping district of Nisantasi, mixes weird and wonderful combinations of raw materials (sponge, buttons, wool, as well as gold and silver).
ISLAND HOPPING: Suada, a mini island on the Bosphorus, has become a must for style-conscious summer visitors, who can swim in the pool and look up at the Bosphorus suspension bridge, prop up the bar at night, admire the city’s sparkling lights or drape themselves on a sun lounger and simultaneously gaze at Europe and Asia on either side of the waterway.