x0x BAYLAN PASTANESI
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By Narhanim ALIDEDEOGLU
The heart of Kadikoy, a district with a long history on the Asian side
of Istanbul, is the narrow busy street lined with small food shops of
all kinds: grocers, fishmongers, butchers, bakers, cheese and pickle
shops. The variety is endless and tempting. This is the oldfashioned
and really fun way to shop for food, a far cry from the cavernous
modern supermarkets. And while you are here, do not forget to ask the
way to Baylan, Istanbul's oldest patisserie, to sit for a while and
enjoy a special treat.If it is summer you can go through the shop to
the green, creeper-swathed garden behind, and sit at one of the
So what are you going to order? If you eavesdrop on the other
customers, you will probably find that the most common request is for
coupe grillée. While the waiter is bringing your own coupe grillée,
let us take a look at Baylan's history.In a corner of the shop hangs a
copy of the entry about Baylan Patisserie in the Buyuk Larousse
Encyclopaedia: `Baylan Patisserie.
A patisserie in the district of Beyoglu, Istanbul, established by F.
Lenas in 1923. Originally named Le Orient, it was situated on Deva
Cikmazi off Istiklal Caddesi. It quickly became famous for its
European style cakes and confectionery, select clientele and elegant
decor. A branch opened in Karakoy in 1925. In 1933 the main branch
moved to new premises on Istiklal Caddesi and the name was changed to
Baylan in 1934. Until it closed down in 1967, Baylan was a meeting
place for artists and writers. In particular during the 1950s writers
gathered here for literary discussions. In 1953 the Karakoy branch
moved to its present premises, and in 1961 another branch opened in
Kadikoy.'Today the Karakoy and Beyoglu branches of Baylan Patisserie
have disappeared, but the tradition which began with the founding of
the Turkish Republic in 1923 still continues in the Kadikoy branch.
When Filip Lenas migrated from Albania to Turkey he was just 16, but
his dream in life even then was to become a top confectioner.
He started working at a patisserie in Istanbul, rapidly rose in his
profession from apprentice to master confectioner, and in 1923 opened
his own shop, naming it L'Orient. L'Orient soon became one of the
city's best known patisseries, ranking with such celebrated
establishments as Nisuaz, Markiz, Lebon and Moskova.
In 1934 a new regulation came into force obliging all businesses to
take Turkish names, and a replacement for `L'Orient' had to be found.
Professor of art history, Burhan Toprak, one of L'Orient's habituees
proposed the name Baylan, a word which means `perfection in its own
field' in the Cagatay dialect of Turkish.Today Istanbul's oldest
patisserie is run by Harry Lenas, the older son of Filip Lenas. After
graduating from high school Harry Lenas studied for a year at Vienna's
Zuckerbaecker Schule, a school of confectionery and pastry cookery.
He went on to work as a trainee in Vienna's pastry shops, and then
continued his studies at the Richmont Faschschule in Lucerne. He
worked for a time at the famous Movenpick Restaurant, and attended
courses in chocolate making. So as you see, Harry Lenas is an academic
confectioner. In 1954, after his return to Turkey, he opened a branch
of Baylan in Karakoy opposite the entrance to the Tunel funicular rail
line. At this branch he carried out numerous experiments never tried
in Turkey before, such as the Tagesbar, or daytime bar.Lenas told us,
`It was also in this pastry shop that we tried many drinks and foods
for the first time, including Italian expresso coffee, Italian ice
creams and coupes, milk shakes, Scandinavian open sandwiches, and
toasted sandwiches. The latter were no ordinary toasted sandwiches,
but made with the best Gruyère.' Baylan was also the first place in
Turkey to make cappuccino coffee, and liqueur, lemon and croquante
About the role in literary life played by Baylan in Beyoglu, the
writer Demir Ozlu has written: `Baylan Pastry Shop was the main
meeting place for our generation from 1954 to the end of 1960. We went
there almost every day, and there were always scores of people either
engaged in or interested in the arts.' Its afficionados included
literary critic and publisher Fahir Onger, novelist Oktay Akbal, poet
Behcet Necatigil, and poet and essayist Salah Birsel. In 1952 Atilla
Ilhan came for the first time and `set up camp' in Baylan, followed by
novelist and short story writer Ferit Edgu and actor and film director
Fikret Hakan, who also wrote stories under a penname, journalist Hasan
Pulur and poet Hilmi Yavuz. The list goes on and on. Harry Lenas
cannot forget shortstory writer and playwright Haldun Taner, who used
to take breakfast of tea, coffee and croissant every morning at
Baylan, the last time being the day before his death in 1986.
But now let us return to Baylan's best loved speciality coupe grillée,
which has been served here since the 1950s.
It is made of ice cream, caramel, almonds, vanilla, pistachio nuts and
whipped cream, with honey and caramel sauce and served with a boudoir
biscuit. Coupe grillée is Harry Lenas's own invention, but its fame
has spread far beyond the frontiers of Turkey to enter international
confectionery literature.Next time you are in Kadikoy, visit Baylan
again, and this time try one of its marvellous parfaits, adisababa or
rococo. The former consists of ice-cream mixed with candied orange
peel, cherries and figs and pistachio nuts, with chocolate sauce over
the top, while rococo is a Swiss confection of ice cream containing
meringue served with chocolate sauce.
The Italian tiramisu was introduced to Turkey by Baylan, and another
of the shop's specialities is chocolate mousse.Lenas proudly explains
that most of the confectioners who have trained at Baylan over the
years have gone abroad, to the United States, Australia and Greece.
He says that it was the confectioners who went to Greece from Turkey
and from Egypt in 1964 who established the patisserie culture in
Greece.And what about the future? Harry Lenas has no children to carry
on the family tradition, so he is thinking of handing the shop over to
one of his confectioners when he retires.