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Everything posted by sazji

  1. Oh...I gave up on peaches in the US years and years ago. Even the farmer's market ones were that way...fragrant and beautiful, but you bite into them and they're just mealy. Luckily it's not that way in Turkey. (Yet.) Eat yer heart out. Doddie, I think I've found one more eerie similarity between Turkey and Korea! The "big teaser" in Turkey is chocolate in any but the really good pastry shops. So much so that I've come up with the "Axiom of Chocolate Inversity" - That is, the degree to which a chocolate sauce or other product appears dark and rich is directly inverse to its actual chocolate content." The last victim was a visitor from the states at an actually fairly famous puddinig shop. She fell in love with the muhallebi (an unsweetened milk pudding) with what appeared to be a rich dark chocolate sauce. Despite my warnings she remained unconvinced. Till she actually took a bite that is. They use the cheapest cocoa and possibly food coloring. The real thing *is* available here but I daresy more people than not have never actually tasted a really good chocolate dessert.
  2. sazji

    Dinner! 2007

    I think getting thrown into a pot of boiling water might make me a little tense.
  3. Heheh, we had a Phuu Ping (Pronounced "poo ping") Thai restaurant in Seattle. Evidently Phuu Ping is the name of a famous mountain in N. Thailand. After several months the name changed to Lanna Thai. The owner was the same. I said "I see you changed your name." "Yeahhhhh...." "You know what it sound-" "Yeah, we knoooowww."
  4. You mean they weren't before? I just took this near Hagia Sophia:
  5. Istanbul has several places which are popularly considered to be "the best" in their area. Some really deserve it, like Hacı Bekir's lokum. I just haven't found another one quite like it. Bluefish as it just comes through the Bosphorus from the Black Sea is unlike anywhere else; by the time it gets to the Aegean it's lost its fat, and just isn't the same. BUT: There are several places which were perhaps very good but are now riding completely on their reputation and the fact that most people will eat anything. "Profitrol" here refers specifically to a dessert made with small cream puffs filled with pastry cream and covered with a rich puddinglike dark chocolate sauce. It is said that it was first made here by a pastry shop called İnci and people rave about it. Perhas it was good, once, but now it's made with cheap cocoa, the pastry cream is thick and paste like. It's a tasteless mess. And yet people go on and on about it; you see peopel go in and eat two servings and talk about how great it is. I disagreed with someone about it the other day and was practically read the riot act! Another one is Güllüoğlu Baklava. It's become fairly famous and has opened a branch in New York now. It's not bad at all. But I'm convinced they use som corn syrup in their syrup because I get a burning in my stomach after I eat it. I'd much rather eat that by Köşkeroğlu right around the corner; but lots of peole haven't even heard of it. And there are plenty of smaller places that make a really nice product. But if you ask anyone, they automatically say "Güllüoğlu."
  6. Similar! Maybe not quite so narrow but close. Of course without tasting it it would be hard to say. Now I'll have to try growing it!
  7. I can give two faves here. Though I don't know English names for them, I think at least one of them exists in the US as well. My all-time favorite one is one called "Bilecik" (bill-eh-jik), after the town and surrounding region where it is grown. I've seen pictures of a similar melon called "canary" but they tend to be small. These are big melons, 8-10 pounds sometimes. Here's a picture of a fairly small one (I have trouble getting the large ones into my rather small refrigerator!) They are very sweet and fragrant, but with a hint of crispness like a crenshaw as well. Another one is known here as "bal kavunu," or "honey melon." They can be round or oblong, with orange-fading-to-green flesh. The flesh is very smooth. It's my second choice but not as uniformly good as the Bilecik type. Very late in the season another one comes out called "Ankara" melon; it's similar to the bal kavunu but is always oblong and has some striations. It is very sweet and juicy, sometimes a bit too soft for my liking but still good. It keeps very well and is available on the market well into the winter. I also have a sort of "Holy Grail" melon - back in 1975 I ate a melon in the Peloponnese in S. Greece that I still can't forget. It was very long and narrow, with a smooth yellow skin and pink-orange flesh. It had an amazing fragrance with a hint of banana. I've asked about it several times and nobody knows it, but people in Turkey talk about one that was once grown and sold in Thrace which is no longer available that sounds similar.
  8. Ah, you found the Timberline! It was in the old Sons of Norway Lodge. It was an amazing place really. Hehe I never got up the courage to go to Sonia's. I heard it was a real hard drinking sort of place (lots of bars in that area were, whatever the orientation of the clientele). I just remember Cafe Flora too - Kind of upscale, very nice food. Here in Istanbul there have been several attempts at gay cafes and cafe-restaurants. One (with the rather unfortunate name of "Cafe Cute") was quite nice, really good teas and homemade desserts; and a very comfortable low-key atmosphere. But they started having trouble with the wrong sort of clientele so the owner turned it into a regular restaurant, with unfortunately nothing much to recommend it. There is another factor at work too - the neighborhood in which most of the gay places in Istanbul are located is a once-seedy area that has now become increasingly gentrified. Before, places there always had a sleazy edge. So when people were "pioneering" there in the early and mid 90s, there suddenly were lots of comfortable, laid back places (of all persuasions) in grand old buildings that were comfortably restored. Now it has become very upscale; some places that were medium range and comfortable have now become very slick and unaffordable. Generally, there seems to be the idea here that if a place is gay, it need be nothing else - it will be expensive, crappy food, serving four-dollar nescafe. People also tend not to really have any idea of what sort of space they want to create, or what is really comfortable. So they simply rely on ideas about what's trendy, or on stereotypes. This means places that feel like a bus station during an acid trip, or froofy furniture and hot pink walls... One proprieter, a pot-bellied moustached macho guy from Siirt, told me he was opening a place. It was in an older building with wood floors and walls and unusually-shaped rooms; it had real possibilities. I went in a few weeks later and that great room was full of heart-shaped pastel chairs, and long swaths of sparkling chiffon draped through the rafters. I asked him "What's with all this?" He said "well, it's a gay place so it needs to be gay!" "Is your house like this?" I asked him. Of course it wasn't. "Do you think you are the only gay person who doesn't surround himself with pink chiffon?" But he was convinced it had to be that way; even though there are popular clubs that are not like that, there is this idea that the only cafes gay people would want to frequent must be places where Strawberry Shortcake would hang out. The only ones with non-irritating decor are run by Lesbians.
  9. sazji

    Dinner! 2007

    Thanks! Just so I don't give the impression that this was some personal breakthrough, it is standard practice here! Another interesting one is to close the ends of tiny stuffed eggplant with a wad made of a grape leaf. You stuff the good ones, and use the ripped or badly-shaped ones for "wads."
  10. sazji

    Dinner! 2007

    I made these stuffed peppers today. The filling is rice, ground meat, parsley, grated tomatoes, chopped onions, mint, a little cumin, salt, pepper, marash pepper and some sun dried red pepper paste, and a few left over "sivri" peppers (strongly flavored long green peppers popular in Turkey. The cooking water had a tablespoon of tomato paste added to it. They are closed with a thin slice taken off the sides of the tomatoes before grating. They're usually eaten with yogurt on the side.
  11. I saw a show in which Paula Deen made fried butter ... so http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/re...6_34925,00.html ← Lordy. I looked at some of her other recipes. She's got fried peanut butter and bana sandwiches, aka "the sandwich that killed Elvis." I'm wondering if she looks like Bubbles DeVere! (Warning - not for the faint hearted!)
  12. I love the Bhartha recipe in Julie Sahni's "Classic Indian Cooking." It's different than any I have had in restaurants; there is no garam masala in it for one thing. It's heavy on the ginger and garlic and has a lot of fresh coriander in it. When I can't get fresh coriander (which is about any time outside spring as it's not generally available in Istanbul, I have to grow it myself), I do put in a bit of garam masala, but I keep it light so that the smoky flavor of the charred eggplants doesn't get drowned out. I've also added a bit of cream to it and that's nice as well. You don't need a tandoor to get that flavor. The easiest is to do them on a grill/hibachi, just put the eggplants on whole (make sure to poke a hole in each one!) and cook until done. Alternatively you can do it on a gas stove burner. Here we have an enameled "pot" with lots of slits cut in the bottom for distributing the heat better, but it isn't really necessary. Just keep turning it till the skin is charred and blistered, then let cool a bit and peel off all the skin, and put in a strainer to drain.
  13. Seattle, where I lived for many years, had (and possibly still does have) several gay restaurants, though only one of them as far as I know (the Cadillac Grille) actually advertised as such. It existed earlier under a different name. There was a place, Charlie's on Broadway, which had, I think, a higher proportion of gays than other places. It was decent food, as others have said, not stellar but decent, and a bit of a fancy atmosphere. There was also a Chinese place that was probably more known for its rather hard-drinkers' bar, Jimmy Woo's (?) Jade Pagoda. I was told they had a decent hamburger; it was pretty good. One day I made the mistake of actually ordering a Chinese dish there. It was pretty much the worst incarnation of Cantonese-American I ever had. Kung-pao chicken in a thick sweet and (I think) flour gravy.
  14. Ummm...I hope the privelege of cleaning up said mess went to Mr. Care!
  15. How about a person who walks into a restaurant, sees what's on the menu, and proceeds to demand something that's not on it? I was with an American friend in Athens, we went to a souvlaki place. It was a busy saturday night, there were lots of peope waiting to order. I translated the menu to my friend. The conversation proceeded as follows: Me: They have pork or chicken souvlaki. Friend: I want lamb. Me: They don't have lamb. Friend: They must have lamb! Me: No, only pork or chicken. Friend: I think you're wrong, Bob, they should have lamb. Me: Well, not according to the menu, just trust me on this one. Friend: They should have lamb! Waiter: What'll you have? Me: I'll have a pork souvlaki with everything. (to my friend) what do you want? Friend: I want lamb! Me: I told you, they don't have lamb. They have pork or chicken. Friend: Ask them if they have lamb. Me: They're busy, they don't have lamb, make your choice, please! Friend: Why are you being so difficult? Why don't you just ask them if they have lamb? Me: (to the waiter) Exete arni? (do you have lamb?) Waiter: Oxi, kotopoulo i xirino. (No, pork or chicken.) Me: (to friend) They don't have lamb, just pork or chicken. Friend: Why don't they have lamb? Me: It doesn't matter why they don't have lamb! They don't have it! (Meanwhile the waiter is getting impatient, something that takes a busy Greek about 12 seconds as it is.) Friend: Just ask him why they don't have lamb! Me: (to waiter) I'm sorry, my friend is slightly insane today. He'll have pork. Friend: Did you ask him why he didn't have lamb? What did he say? Me: No. You're having pork by the way. Friend: God, if you'd given me a choice, I would have ordered the chicken! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH! Actually I was grateful that the waiter, waiting through this exchange, didn't understand English...
  16. Blackberry! They are in season now. I've never tried curd with them but have juiced them by cooking them down and straining - get some red fruit ifyou pick them yourself to get a bit more tartness. I've used it for a junket with the addition of cream and cream cheese - a sort of blackberry pudding, and used it to fill tarts. I also made a blackberry merengue pie, the flavor was really intense. I think it would make a great curd.
  17. Funny how so many of these are just so obvious.... I will never again use my Krups coffee grinder to grind anything other than coffee. I was trying a recipe that takes two tablespoons of "menengiç," a local little "nut" for lack of a better word, in the same family as pistachios. They are dry but oily. My spice grinder was broken. So what the hell I said...already having an inkling that it probably wasn't the best idea I'd had. Whirrr...out came one tablespoon of...not powder but paste, sort of like toothpaste out of a tube. And it was black, because it was full of coffee dust. So I decided to "clean" the machine by putting coffee through again. Out came...coffee paste, a combination of ground coffee and all the oily gook that had remained on the grinder wheels. It took a good half cup of coffee through there before I stopped getting odd, resinous-flavored coffee. (P.S. I am not a crystal meth head...)
  18. Yeah, they say the Laz can put hamsi into almost everything, even a dessert. (The Laz I've talked to say this nothing but exaggeration of the already-exaggerated stereotype and that there is absolutely no hamsi dessert.) But I've had people swear up and down that not only does it exist, but that they ate it while in the Black Sea. Things get a little sketchy when you ask them to describe it however... I hope you like the bread and will look forward to hearing how it turned out. Mostly I find the Black Sea cornbreads almost inedible, but I've always had them the second day. The hamsili ekmek was the only one I actually liked; it was moist and dense.
  19. Ekmek is simply "bread" in Turkish, ekmeği is a grammatical form (ekmek + i = ekmeği), "its bread." Mısır ekmeği is literally "corn its-bread," or corn bread. There are several different corn breads in Turkey, plain and with the addition of other ingredients as well. They are most popular in the Black Sea region (both west and east) because corn grows well there while wheat does not. Most of them are very dense because corn meal is usually the only flour used. Hamsi is a small fish that travels in huge schools around the Black Sea, it's a staple for the peoples of NE Turkey. "Anchovies" is sort of a general word that doesn't describe one particular species of fish. You wouldn't want to use canned anchovies for this! If you can get fresh sardines that would work. You might find salt cured similar fish at a Greek or Turkish grocery. Smelt might even work though the flavor is rather mild. Some people remove the spines of hamsi before cooking, others leave them in for certain things as they soften and are hardly noticeable when well cooked. Up to you! Hamsi bread is usually rendered "hamsili ekmek" in Turkish - "bread with hamsi." The Laz name is kopçoni mçkudi. Say that five times fast. (Laz are a local people of the East Black Sea who speak a language related to Georgian.) The hamsili ekmek variations I've had were not topped like a pizza, all the ingredients were mixed evenly. But why not try it? There are lots of other breads with meat toppings, though I haven't had any fish ones before. This dish is definitely not "street food" in Laz country, it's a very common home cooking recipe. I did a search for hamsili ekmek recipes. Turkish recipes generally go something like: "Make dough with flour and add water till it is the right consistency, add enough salt and other ingredients, bake until done." The good news is that the recipes are quite varied. The most basic are simple corn meal, hamsi, green onions and chard or kale, and others are more varied. Some used salted hamsi, others used fresh. I would not use canned anchovies, those are another thing altogether. Kale is the sine qua non vegetable of the Black Sea, but if you use it for this, you want to use young tender leaves (easy if you grow your own). So it's really up to you. The most complex is a recipe I found here, it can serve as a guide: http://bizimkuzine.blogspot.com/2006/07/hamsili-ekmek.html I provided the link mostly for the picture. Here's a translation: INGREDIENTS 1 bunch chard (here it's sold that way; about 1/2 kg ) One bowl salted hamsi [the recipe is not more specific] 2 medium onions 2 tomatoes 4-5 "sivri" peppers (a local thin walled long thin pepper that can be either hot or sweet) 1 bunch parsley 1 bunch fresh mint (a "bunch" would be around 12 stems) Coriander leaves (cilantro) or ground coriander [use fresh!] 3 cups corn meal. 1/2 c vegetable oil hot water PROCEDURE Soak the salted hamsi in water to leach out the salt. Combine the finely chopped chard, onion, pepper, tomato and soaked hamsi and add water, knead into a dough. [i'm assuming the parsley, mint and cilantro too, chopped, though the recipe leaves them out] Add the oil and enough hot water to make a soft dough, continue kneading. Place into a baking pan and bake at 170 C (350 F) for 60-70 minutes, until the top is well browned.
  20. I will second cacık - thinned yogurt, cucumber, dill, top with a bit of olive oil, add garlic if you like. The Greeks do it (tzatziki - same word through the filter of greek phonology!) differently - strained yogurt, grated cucumber, salted and squeezed to remove extra water, then garlic, salt and olive oil, dill optional. Another thing I really love is cucumber ginger lemonade. Take a 1 1/2 inch length of ginger, grate finely, and simmer slowly with half cup of water and half cup of sugar. While it is simmering, make lemonade with fresh lemons, take a few of the peels and knead in the lemonade to release some of the oil. Take two medium cucumbers and process in the food processer, leaving the skins on if the skins aren't bitter (they provide flavor and beautiful color). Strain into the lemonade, add the ginger syrup and as much sugar as you like.
  21. Tomatoes seem to be the first thing to go bad wherever agriculture gets "modernized." Especially when they start growing them in greenhouses so they will be available year-round, with hormones to make them fruit..you get these mealy, pale, hard things with seedless, tasteless jelly inside. I hated tomatoes growing up and learned to like them for the first time in Greece back in the 70s. Just recently I was back there and watching Vefa Alexiadou's cooking program, and she said "...of course we can't get good vine-ripened tomatoes any more, so we have to make do with what we can get..." and I wanted to cry! (To be fair, you can still find decent tomatoes in the street markets.) The commonplace Turkish version of a "hamburger" is so disgusting that I won't subject y'all to it...I think an American-style "real hamburger" place here would be a wonderful idea, if for no other reason than to let people know that McDonalds is not the be-all-end-all of American food...
  22. I'm always interested in linguistics! Arabic words in Turkish can take on some odd forms as some, as you say, came into Turkish through Persian, and other changes happened because of the lack of many of the sounds of Arabic (the velar consonants, the glottal stop, the `ayn...), which were still indicated in the old arabo-persian script but not in the latin, which is phonetic. There's another factor - as a language of the learned, but which was not necessary spoken, arabic was also was "morphed" in ways that wouldn't ever have happened in Arabic. So there are usages and actual words that almost no Arab recognizes. Like "itfaiye," which (which evidently is from an Arabic root having to do with extinguishing) meaning "The Fire Department." The green was definitely not deniz börülcesi (literally sea blackeyed pea). That's Salicornia in botanical latin, quite common in meyhanes. This was definitely a plant with regularly-distinguishable leaves and stems. I'd love to see Çiya's take on deniz börülcesi though!
  23. I haven't been back here for a while, it's fun catching up. I remembered a meal a while back of the toughest, most dried out and intensely gamey mutton I'd ever had in my life. I can deal with lamb that's a bit gamey but this was anothr league. Dessert came - compote of stewed dried figs which is nice. Here village folks still eat some things (like this) out of a single bowl, everyone has a spoon. Fine, till grandpa wanted to feed the baby some figs. He fished around in the compote with his fingers till he found a piece suitably small, which he popped into the baby's mouth (already crusty from other things). Of course there was as much outside the baby as in the baby. Granpa solved this by squeegee-ing the goo off baby's face with his fingers, then licking it off his own fingers. Then back into the bowl for some more fig for baby! Um...I'm full thanks.... The vegan potluck account sounds so familiar; I have a neighbor who was vegan for a long time though as that's very difficult in Turkey he's adjusted. So much of the "doctrine" is based on pseudo-science, i.e. the "science says we evolved to be vegan, to eat entirely raw food," etc. As if we stopped evolving at some point and that's that. Anyway he was talking excitedly about a favorite dish, "raw lasagna." The noodles were replaced by thin slices of zucchini which had marinated for 2 days in olive oil, oregano, basil, garlic, onion and I think lemon juice, the filling was also a highly-spiced puree of fresh tomato and onion, and the "sauce" was ground almond, lemon and...? It almost sounded good but it almost made me gag. Salty, sour, slick from all the oil, intense old raw onion and garlic flavor. The irritating thing was all the talk about how healthy it was. What's sad is that actually a lot of vegetarian and even vegan food is (or can be) delicious, but for lots of the more 'doctrinal' vegetarians flavor really seems to be second priority, so they spend so much energy convincing themselves that the raw oat hull lentil tofu loaf is divine.
  24. I have nothing against creativity, not every cook in Greece makes every dish the same of course, and I don't expect that. (I do get a little tired of places that throw a little feta and oregano on anything and everything and call it "Greek" though.) And here in Turkey many restaurants regularly come up with their own new dishes that are unique. We wouldn't have cuisine without creativity. But I would have a problem with a Chinese restaurant that didn't provide any rice! I do wonder what eating in an Indian restaurant in the US is like for someone from India. Is it more often like a "taste of home," or like my experience, just a letdown?
  25. I "Pittsburghed" my forearms several times while working at a pizza place back in the 80s. I think the most disturbing part was the smell...nicely seared skin actually smells...sort of...good....
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