Ladies Thighs, Sweet Lips, The Sultan Fainted, and Sultan’s Delight! Turkish dishes have the most delicious and just little naughty names! Names that conjure up images of the pampered sultan and his harem of voluptuous
Ladies Thighs, Sweet Lips, The Sultan Fainted, and Sultan’s Delight! Turkish dishes have the most delicious and just little naughty names! Names that conjure up images of the pampered sultan and his harem of voluptuous beauties. And like the harem, Turkish cuisine is a mysterious and sophisticated fusion of the Middle East and the Mediterranean, spiced with Central Asia. Here’s a sampling of what foodies can experience in Turkey this summer.
Fish and raki under the Galata Bridge
The Galata Bridge is a center of chaos and activity. Above the bridge, buses, cars, and the streetcar run back and forth between Karakoy and Eminonu. At any time of the day or night, fishers line the bridge, casting their rods and trying their luck in the cold waters of the Golden Horn. Seagulls hover, ferries roar, the mosque calls. Walk under the bridge, and another assault seizes your senses. “Yes, please!” “You look hungry!” and “Look at my menu!” Choose the pub with the best ambiance/most convincing waiter, grab a table and relax “ala Turka” with a round of Meze, freshly grilled fish, and a glass of anise-flavored raki. The perfect place to watch the ferries heave on the water and the sunset over the domes and minarets of old ‘Stamboul. Some fish in these restaurants can be expensive, so ask for the price at the ordering time. Balik Noktasi is highly recommended for its quality of fish and service. Reserve a table by the water and enjoy the Topkapi Palace’s fantastic view and the Haghia Sophia. You might end up eating one of the best pieces of fish you will ever taste here!
In the land where the grape is grown
Urgup is home to the international, award-winning Turasan Winery, which has recently been causing a furor with its annual wine festival held every June. Slowly but surely, Turkey is refining its wine industry and picking up where the Greeks left off when they left the area nearly 85 years ago. The red wines of Tursan are quite tasty. Try the 2005 Kalecik Karasi, a fruity Pinot-style wine that is perfect for a late afternoon lunch. Goreme, don’t miss the Orient Restaurant, with its fine collection of local wines and delicious appetizers.
Testi kebab in Cappadocia
An unusual dish you won’t want to miss is the Testi Kebab. Beef or lamb and vegetables are poured into a terra cotta vessel and cooked over hot coals for 5 hours. When it is ready, the vat is carefully and skillfully cracked open at your table with the back of a large cleaver. The tender meat is served with rice. Some Restaurant in Urgup comes highly recommended, not only for its testi kebab but also for its other dishes.
Midye dolma along the Aegean and the Mediterranean
Suppose you visit anywhere along the Aegean or Mediterranean coast in Turkey this summer. In that case, you will see vendors of midye dolma with purple mussels and yellow lemons neatly piled up on a small makeshift table. Sometimes they are packed on ice. Dolma means “stuffed” in Turkish, and you will see that these little morsels are steamed open and then stuffed with a spicy rice mixture along with the pink mussel meat. The mussels are arranged in two sizes and usually cost between 0.50 kurus for the small ones and a lira for the big ones. Generally, you walk up to the table with the mussels and point to the size you want. The vendor will then break open the shell and slide one shell under the meat and rice. A quick squeeze of a little fresh lemon juice, and he hands it to you. Use the empty shell as a makeshift spoon and scoop it in. But wait! There’s another one ready, and another, and another. He will keep preparing them until you tell him to stop. Count the empty shells and pay the man. Midye Dolma is usually found in seaside towns, especially near bars and taverns late at night. If you are afraid to eat off the street, you can sometimes order them in restaurants on the appetizer (Meze) menu.
Bring it home
Don’t leave your Turkish dining experiences behind when you leave the table; participate in the ultimate culinary experience with one of Turkey’s top chefs and take home recipes and inspiration. Food & Wine magazine calls Engin Akin “Turkey’s Martha Stewart and Julia Child rolled into one.” Her three-day program offers hands-on cooking experience in her cooking school on the beautiful Turkish Aegean coast near Bodrum. The course includes sailing on a yacht with a picnic lunch and a tour of local markets. As a cookbook author and radio and TV personality, this is a unique opportunity to learn healthy and delicious recipes from a world-renowned authority on Turkish gastronomy.