[HH] Swissotel the Bosphorus Istanbul has one of the best reputations in Istanbul for enjoyment and for its fantastic panoramic view of Istanbul. Atop the 16th floor in Gaja Restaurant and Gaja Roof Bar, visitors will be delighted with the food and the drink available there [HH] Gaja is a Sanskrit word that can be traced back in origin thousands of years and it symbolized fertility, royalty and richness. It brings to mind the ancient, very ancient Gaea, the Greek name for Earth or rather the goddess of Earth
GÜL DEMİR and NIKI GAMM
ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News
Istanbul has a magical quality about it and one can readily get into an argument over which the best season of the year is to be out and about. How about a special place in Beşiktaş? Once upon a time there was a forested garden on a hill that overlooked the Bosporus and a palace below on the shore. It was a beautiful garden in which the sultan and members of his entourage could walk escaping the confines of Dolmabahçe Palace. Today on those grounds stands a magnificent five-star hotel that any sultan would give his right arm for. [Actually Sultan Abdülmecid gave away a sizeable chunk of the Ottoman treasury to pay for Dolmabahçe Palace as it was in the mid-19th century.] One doesn't have to be a sultan or a king or even a prince to enjoy the 600 rooms, suites and apartments that make up Swissotel the Bosphorus. Add to these restaurants, bars, swimming pools, spas, Turkish hamams, fitness center, meeting rooms, etc. One has only to visit Swissotel the Bosphorus in Beşiktaş. One of the nicest venues during the summer is the garden-forest behind the hotel where the sultan used to enjoy himself.
The most recent event in the appropriately named Sultan Park was the Italian Food and Culture Festival. Complete with Italian music, a lottery, picnic style tables and delicious Italian food and wines, guests were whisked as if by magic and by sponsors to an Italian hillside this week. Chef Ugnazio Mondin presided over the delicious repast that can be enjoyed through June 25 in Café Suisse. It's not for nothing that Swissotel has earned a great reputation for food festivals. But leaving food festivals aside, if one hasn't already discovered the charms of its rooftop restaurant and bar, Gaja, then this weekend is a good time to start. Gaja is a Sanskrit word that can be traced back in origin for thousands of years and it symbolized fertility, royalty and richness. It brings to mind the ancient, very ancient Gaea, the Greek name for Earth or rather the goddess of Earth. One might surmise that it was one and the same since Gaea the earth mother was of Neolithic origin and both Sanskrit and Greek share a common language family. She was one of the older gods who reigned before the Olympian gods and goddesses led by Zeus and Hera. Gaja at Swissotel the Bosphorus offers a fantastic panoramic view of Istanbul from the old city and the Marmara Sea to the distant reaches of the Bosporus, Europe and Asia, sunrise and sundown. And there's no better view in the hotel than the one from Gaja. But visitors don't go up to the 16th floor just for the view. The restaurant offers a delicious dinner menu (open in the evening only in summer). Guests will find unique dishes on the menu from around the world. Designed A to Z for gourmets, this very special spot's menu is as at least special as one is. Master chef Dominic Scott Jack arrived a couple of years ago from the famous Taillevent restaurant in Paris, a restaurant that at the time had the distinction of being a three-star Michelin restaurant. A Michelin star is one of the most coveted awards that a restaurant can obtain and to hold it for several years as the Taillevent did is an extraordinary feat. Last year the Taillevent lost one of its three stars although there is no reason to believe it was because of Jack's departure. Nonetheless its loss is Istanbul's gain.
Jack is from Scotland originally, a country not well known for its cuisine and he wanted to a chef ever since he turned 15. He studied in Edinburgh and then worked his way up to the Taillevent. Coming to Turkey was to step into the unknown but he soon discovered the attractions of Turkish food and cuisine and set about integrating them into his cooking. So the diner is offered highly distinctive dishes of modern world cuisine combined with whatever is available locally. Unique dishes ranging from organic chicken to beef, sea bass to pate de foie gras, and salmon fume to seafood lasagna are available in the special menu of Gaja Roof. This unique menu is served with a rich menu of 150 types of wine to choose from, making a dream come true for wine lovers. This is almost half the number of choices available last year. Château Latour as one of the five best wines in Bordeaux, Opus One as the best wine of California, and Italian wines Sito Moresco, Angelo Gaja and Sassicaia top this menu that offers some of the most distinguished wines in the world. There are also special cocktails, martinis, fresh juice cocktails, wine and Fruit Caipirinha, which is an exclusive of Gaja Roof. Caipirinha is Brazil's national drink made with cachaca (a sugarcane alcoholic beverage), sugar and lime. Other fruits can be used in place of lime and vodka can replace the cachaca if it's not available. This is not just Brazil's national drink; it is one of the 50 leading great cocktails of all time according to the International Bartenders Association. Designed with the principle that no detail is too small, one will get off to an enjoyable start to the night for Gaja Sky Bar is distinguished with not only its bird's view of Istanbul, but also its live music from 11:00 p.m. DJ Suat Atesdağlı, its music consultant, has also compiled an album of local and international hit songs under the title “Gaja Voyage by Suat Ateşdağlı;” released under the label Yeni Dünya Muzik it is now available in all record stores. Exclusively compiled for Gaja Roof, this album contains remixed versions of songs performed by many famous artists including the tenor Mario Frangoulis, Katy Garbi, local megastar Tarkan, and Ferhat Göçer. The bar itself is open from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. and offers a spectacular view of the city. The white awnings covering the area to shelter guests from the sun seem like kites inviting one to take wing and see the city from above. One can imagine oneself a new Ahmed Çelebi Hezarfen who flew from Galata Tower to Uskudar in the 16th century. Or one can sit quietly enjoying the moon that looks bigger than ever these days with the arrival of the summer solstice. Gaja was one of Istanbul's favorite watering spots last year and bids fare to become even more of a favorite this year. But just for the summer of course!