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Everything posted by sazji

  1. I was wondering more why the chicken was standing there motionless with a chef running at him with an axe? The I realized: He's trying to figure out how come he's still alive, but has somewhere along the line already been plucked....
  2. My dad's not Jewish, but if he were alive today he'd be 78. He was pretty typical for men of his generation I think - when Mom was away, we ate lots of pizza. He boiled a mean hot dog too. He was able to cook eggs, with or without salami. Not sure about oatmeal; I don't know if he was even familiar with cup/teaspoon measures etc. But he did do all the grilling of steaks, and was very good at it.
  3. Funny how a which heading to post under is being determined more by politics than actual geography or culture in this case. I live in Istanbul, a city with Turks and Greeks. I took a trip for New Years over the border to the town of Komotini, where there are lots of...Turks and Greeks. We went to a nice seafood restaurant even closer to the Turkish border, near the village of Maroneia. If we'd had the meal just an hour to the east, I'd be posting in the Middle East and Africa forum. So be it... I'd been to this place before and love it; it's a very basic fish taverna but extremely good. One of the things I look most forward to are the olives, of a brilliant rich green that I couldn't quite capture. The flavor is amazing; with an almost buttery "finish." We had friends up from Athens who also said they thought about those olives a lot... Another thing, a bit run of the mill but exceptionally good there are the potoes, which they fry in a huge pot. I think half the bulk of the food we ate that afternoon was of these potatoes... Another thing I always want when I come to Greece is octopus. Here after beating it's generally boiled first, then grilled, then topped with a dollop of olive oil. The oil there is as good as the olives. For seafood, we went with the shrimp. These were rolled in flour and fried whole. Oddly enough, they weren't fried at such a high temperature that the shells were edible (a la salt and pepper shrimp). So we did have to shell them. Delicious though. They also had a nice fresh bunch of red mullet. Much of what is sold as red mullet turns out to be gray mullet; the fish resemble each other but the taste is quite different; red mullet (barbounia/barbunya) has a much cleaner flavor. In Turkey it seems to be in vogue to say "never put lemon on fish, it masks the flavor," but nobody ever heard of that in Greece. (Yes Ismet, that's for you...)
  4. During my food blog, Domestic Goddess in Korea offered to trade me a box of Korean sweets for a box of lokum (Turkish delight). I just got back into Istanbul the other day and found they'd arrived! There were two things - one was sort of like a peanut-covered honey nougat, it reminded me of Bit-o-Honey but really hard at first - takes a little doing to get started. There were also some other things in separate packages. The packages were more mysterious. The peanut confection was straightforward enough; peanuts joined by some sort of syrup. The dark ones though...! At first I thought the larger, darker one was pumpkin seeds, but the seeds were much thicker, and the texture is different. Now I'm guessing green soybeans...? The other one I took for sesame at first, but the seeds are very round. Millet? The flavor of the binder is quite different too, almost like there is a bit of seaweed in it. Almost surely something I would never have tasted if not for eGullet!
  5. Oh my God...this is cruel and unusual display of food! :) I was particularly struck by the sign advertising Döner Kebap, the meat on the upright spit. I wonder what the Turkey-Vietnam connection is? I'd love to find out who brought döner there!
  6. A slightly below-the-belt one from Spain I just heard: Q: Why are women unlucky? A: Because in order to get a 15 cm chorizo, they have to take the whole pig.
  7. I'm so glad they pleased! I can't wait for the Korean ones and will gladly post a report.
  8. I was back in Seattle for a couple weeks in late November, and at Value Village I found a nice pasta machine for 9 dollars (which raised lots of eyebrows at airport checkpoints...that much metal makes lots of things whistle!), and a very nice old Turkish coffee pot for a buck. (Not sure where it was made, but it was nice than any I've found here in a long time, and just the size I needed.)
  9. I checked out the Greek recipes on the site above, the foods are quite Greek but not really Christmasy in any way I could see. It's not a major holiday anyway, but the real Christmas food in Greece is pork, often a suckling pig. The most typical Christmas sweet is melomákarona, a short cookie that is soaked in sugar/honey syrup and sprinkled with chopped walnuts.
  10. Let me put in my voice thanking you for your blog too, I got inspired to try some new things. And of course seeing pictures of Viet Wah and especially that wonderful chinese tea shop (one of my obligatory stops when I'm in Seattle)... I just missed the winter mountain tea, it was coming in on Thursday and the woman was adamant that I should come in and try it; I was completely consumed with last minute running around and couldn't make it. I hope she had you try the really nice new oolong and te kuan yin...amazing. I dropped about 50 dollars there for myself and gifts. Thanks again!
  11. Okay I promise I won't dis FAGE here - I think you should be just fine using it in foods. In Greece and Turkey this strained yogurt is mostly used for things like tzatziki/haydari. I still find myself wondering though why they can't produce a yogurt in the US that is simply yogurt, with no added gelatines/gums/carageenan etc. I was back for a month just recently and I found that the one thing I just couldn't "tolerate" was the tasteless American excuse for yogurt. I didn't see FAGE there, but it seems several companies are now trying to imitate it and calling theirs "Greek Style" yogurt. Funny that the single most un-yogurt-like brand of yogurt in Greece became the one to cross the borders and become known as "Greek Yogurt." Life is strange.
  12. Ah you are making me homesick, even if we couldn't really see Mt. Rainier. But it is winter; I was there for almost a month and never once saw it... There's a little Viet place around the back of Hau Hau grocery where I get the best black sesame sticky rice cakes...went in this last trip and they had just sold out. Can't wait to see your okonomiyaki and find out why mine..is...so....dense......
  13. Well...cheaper but not really all that cheap. Good baklava is not cheap either, if you look at it from the standpoint of what most Turks earn. Coffee - well actually that subject will be fairly easy. There's one company here that has the reputation, Hacı Mehmet Efendi. It's okay, I can't say I'm wild about it. The best coffee I have had here came from Iraq, was roasted quite dark and had cardamom in it. (This was in Silopi, where people get a lot of their staples from Iraq.) As for making coffee - I think the main thing is to do it slowly; heat it on a low flame rather than high, and after pouring the foam off, to heat gradually and just to get it bubbling up again, not to boil it violently. Some people don't even do the final boiling. (In the Balkans, many places boil the coffee only to the point of foaming up, and bring you your indiviual serving with the head of foam in the pot.) Compared to Greece, they don't drink much coffee here any more; tea is the winner. In many places now they will even bring you a coffee with no water alongside; you have to ask (and pay) for the water! This is because Istanbul water is safe but tastes disgusting, so everyone drinks bottled water, and the PET bottle has become almost the rule at restaurants...
  14. Thank you and what the hell are you doing in your oven? (Referring to your avatar)
  15. So I can still post in here? [looking left...right....] Yes, I think you definitely need to get here! It's not even all that expensive to get here from the E. Coast. Everyone talks about meeting fellow gulleteers, wouldn't it be fun to get a group of several here for a week or so! (I'll just find a good excuse to take leave when y'all decide to go eat tripe soup...)
  16. Seattle....Asian....I was just back for a couple weeks, and my greatest regret is that I went out for Dim Sum only once! I'll be looking forward to pictures of what I miss(ed)!
  17. Rachel - I'd love to keep posting but my access to this blog will end in approximately 30 minutes! But I'll keep posting elsewhere... Chufi - yeah, when I first came here I never even ate kebab. I lived on street lahmacun, those "buffet" restaurants, and occasional pide. I do remember eating *way* too much baklava in one sitting one evening... and I was lucky enough to be here during Ramazan so that güllaç was around in its original homestyle form before every place started making it in plain flat pans. And that's just the food. With people from all over the country, Istanbul is really almost as vast as Turkey itself, but it takes a long time to search it out/meet people/stumble upon it. It's good to know that there will always be something new to learn here! I hope you make it back!
  18. It was a pleasure, and I'm glad it inspired. Pepper is used a lot but in most of the country it's used with moderation. The Maraş and Isot peppers are hot but not searing, you can actually use quite a bit before the heat becomes unbearable. Many people in the west of the country and in the Black Sea can't deal with hot pepper at all. Urfa and nearby areas are best known for using a lot of hot pepper. A friend from Maraş used to brag that he could eat any amount of pepper of any heat. And by Turkish standards, he was pretty impressive. He'd go to a kebap place and eat an entire bowl of the very hot small thin yellow pickled peppers, happily hiccupping away till the actual food came. On one trip back from the US, I brought him an habanero, with repeated and insistent warnings, even though he wanted to just pop the thing into his mouth. In the end I persuaded him to try a piece half the size of a pinhead first, and then if he could take that, to have at. He put it into his mouth, bit, and said "Heck, this isn't hot at a---Aman Tanrım! Aman Tanrım! Aman Tanrım! Aman Tanrım! Aman Tanrım! ...........................Aman Tanrım!" This script continued pretty much that way for several minutes, — peppered (so to speak) with a few choice words that I won't include here but started with "s" and "a" for those endowed with that side of Turkish vocabulary. (Aman Tanrım, if you haven't guessed already, means "Oh My God!") "Sazji" is the non-turkish-character rendition of "sazcı," which means "a person who plays the saz" (the instrument being played on the two video clips I provide a few posts back).
  19. I don't have the Algar book here to be able to give you a good answer on that. As it's hard to find, she might have made adjustments in the amount of pepper or compensated in some other way. One really nice way to use it that I didn't mention before, is to make acılı ezme, or "hot crushed salad." Take any amount of chopped walnuts and add enough of equal parts pepper and tomato paste, enough to bind them and then some, like a spread with walnuts in it. Say you used half a cup of walnuts, add at least half a cup of pastes. Add a clove or two of garlic, olive oil to thin a bit, salt, chopped parsley, and some dried mint. Some people also add thinly sliced/chopped fresh red onion; it's good either way. This is very good as an appetizer eaten with bread. You can use either sweet or hot pepper paste, or a combination, to your own preferences.
  20. This week has gone really fast, and the timing has been great; no urgent work has come in but now there are three real estate appraisals awaiting translation, so life is going back to normal very soon. This is my last "real" entry, though I'll be hanging around till 12:00 tonight to respond to any questions or comments. It's been a very fun project, but it also has driven home the point (to me at least) that a week is not nearly enough to really delve into food in Istanbul, let alone Turkey. There were more places I wanted to visit and share, but I do loiter around "What's for dessert" and "What's for dinner" quite a bit, as well as the Middle Eastern food forum. Still it's been great to do a blog and go back and forth. And of course I'm willing to try and answer any questions you might have in the future or refer you to someone who can. Many thanks also to those who sent their kind and encouraging messages, both within the blog and in private. So...I set out this morning highly expectant but things turned out a bit anticlimactic in reality. My first stop was Köşkeroğlu Baklava, in Karaköy, which in my mind is one of the finest Baklava makers in the city. I recommend it to anyone who visits Istanbul. I hoped to take pictures of some of the different varieties and go into the kitchen and show the rather amazing process of opening baklava yufka (phyllo) to about half or less the thickness of the commercial phyllo generally available in the US. They roll up to 13 sheets at a time to get it that thin. I had the name of the owner and a reference from a friend, but it turned out he is in Athens, where they are opening a branch, till Tuesday. Well, lucky Athenians! But I do plan to go back sometimes next week or the week following. The person at the desk was very nice and was happy for me to take photos out front but could't allow me into the kitchen on his own. Here are just a few random shots of some of the things available. A double-pistachio-filled baklava: A view of the offerings in the window. Pictures probably speak more than words here! Here's a bit of what I had - Pistachio, walnut and almond baklava, accompanied by dark and sugarless tea! One of the most beautiful things there was the pistachio bohça, or "bundle" baklava. Köşkeroğlu has two outlets in Karaköy, which is right across the Galata Bridge from the Old City. The first is on Mumhane Caddesi 2/2, below the large parking garage. This branch also serves kebap. The second is nearer the bridge, on necatibey Caddesi, Eski Gümrük Sok. No:6. If you want just baklava the smaller one is probably the better one to visit; it's old and picturesque. My original plan was then to take a boat across to Kadiköy and visit Çiya restauant. The next setback was realizing, after I'd gotten all the way to Karaköy, that when I put on my shirt this morning, I had forgotten to take both my ID and my bank card. The first was a bit of a nuisance (gone are the days of surprise ID checks at any time), but the second was a problem because I had all of 10 YTL on me and there is no way to get out of Çiya for 10 Lira! So since it was a beatiful day I decided to take a few photos as requested of a mosque or two, and then head up to a nice restaurant where a friend works. The route to the Old City takes one across the famous Galata Bridge, which spans the Golden Horn, the inlet that divides the European side of the city in two. Once a green "playground," it was built up with factories in the early part of the century and horribly polluted. Nothing lived in it and the smell was nauseating. Now it has been cleaned up and 24 fish species are once again thriving in its waters. Just this side of the pink building in this photo is a great little cheap fish restaurant, especially worth going if you come in the fall after the fishing season opens. It's right at the end of the fish market by the water at the end of the bridge. You sit outside, order your food, shiver a little, have a nice bonito washed down with rakı. There is a constant crowd of people fishing on the bridge. Now they are catching mostly istavrit, or horse mackerel. They use fishing rods but they are strung with lines of 10 or more hooks. From the bridge one has a good view of Eminönü, the site of the famous Spice Bazaar and hundreds of shops selling all sorts of dry goods, coffee, cheeses, meats, vegetables, you name it. Hamdi restaurant is here, also very good if you are willing to shell out a bit of money. There are also two mosques here worth visiting. One of them, Rüstempaşa Mosque, is the smaller mosque in the foreground. Behind it on the hill is Süleymaniye Mosque, the largest Ottoman mosque in the city. Eminönü is a bustling market area, everyone is selling something, and it's nearly always crowded. The underground pedestrian passages are loud and crowded, lined with shops selling food, clothes, clocks, belly-dancing dolls, electronics.... The large mosque at the end of the bridge is Yeni Cami, or "New Mosque." It is often overlooked by visitors in favor of Sultanahmet and Aya Sofya, but it is a beautiful building. Looking up we see the names of Hasan (Right) and Ali (Left) in Arabic calligraphy. Ottoman mosques tend to be airy and bright; the play of light within them can be stunning. It's nearly impossible to realize the enormity of Aya Sofya without actually entering it, but coming up the back way one sees a little-photographed angle, which gives some idea of it. Across from Aya Sofya, and built of the stones of the ruined Byzantine royal palace, is Sultanahmet Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque. Okay, back to food! My friend works in Mozaik, a very nice restaurant in the heart of the tourist area near Aya Sofya. It's in an old house just a street back from the light rail stop. Their food is quite good. I looked up at the engravings on the wall and right next to me was one of an Ottoman palace cook! A little inspection revealed the head chef just a few feet away. I imagine him saying "come, let me show you how to stuff a quince..." I'd like to see Emeril wearing that hat. Being practically lira-less, I ended up having the employee meal along with my friend. It was delicious - Lamb with eggplant, tomato and pepper, and a big pile of pilav. What was interesting was that the pilav was made of long-grain rice, the first I've ever seen here! It's never available in grocery stores, people preferring short-grain types like Calrose and Baldo. One thing this blog has done is made me look at storefronts with a newcomer's curiosity again. On the way home, I found something I'd never seen before that I had to take a photo of. Food vendors nearly always go all out in presenting their product. Pickle sellers often have jars of pickled fruits and vegetable arranged artfully in beautiful jars. Sometimes they are packed into bottles in a way that the only way to extract them would be to break the bottle. These are generally not for sale (the pickles for sale being in normal vats in the back); they are simple to catch the eye. But usually everything in the jars is edible. This particular masterpiece featured an unusual ingredient: pinecones! Next to it are bottles of a popular brand of şalgam (Check the section on yesterday's kebap lunch for a description of it.) And...I guess that's about it for this time. Thanks again for reading and responding!
  21. Are you in Chambana? I lived in Urbana for 4 years. Even did time at Jumer's. As a busboy. I'd be interested in knowing how the Turkish place does. Unfortunately many of them seem not to do well; I've seen many come and go, usually because they do what many do here - get the customers coming, then once they get their clientele, start cutting corners on quality to make more money. Or just not consistent. I've seen several really wonderful places go that route in Istanbul lately and have heard similar reports about others that I haven't been to. A place gets famous and they start trying to ride on the fame.
  22. Lessee....Ι brought four pounds of coffee on my last trip to Seattle, gave one to a friend, that leaves three, which should last me until about the second week of February... February is definitely the best time to come to Turkey, yep, no doubt about it. Spring and fall are the best times I think. You can take advantage of shoulder fares. Spring can be rainy but the landscape is beautiful and the wildflowers especially on the plains can be amazing. May is wonderful, the rain has mostly finished and everything is still green. Fall is also nice, the heat is less, and fairly dry till mid October or so, then it's iffy. Summer is more expensive in terms of airfare, and late summer can be hot and humid (drier and searing inland). On the other hand it's when some of the best fruit is in season. Winter in Istanbul...well, we covered that! As for Turkish cookbooks in English, I like Ayla Algar's quite a bit. She goes beyond the most common recipes and provides some recipes for things I remember fondly when I'm away, like Kandil Simidi. Don't follow the boza recipe though, it doesn't work. If you get into boza, ask me.
  23. Though it's not over yet, I'd like to thank everyone who I haven't answered specifically for their kind words and supportive comments throughout this blog. It's especially good to know that some have become more curious about the rich culture (and food culture!) of Turkey. If you find yourself on the way to Turkey let me know; if I'm not swamped it's always nice to find a dining companion. (Heh, and you can bring me coffeeeeeeeeee...) I hope you'll forgive me for a two-line off-topic note: There is a lovely performance by musicians Tolga Sağ and Cengiz Özkan at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtBMeHWFrxI&NR
  24. A kitchen big enough so that having a full size refrigerator (instead of the small dorm type) wouldn't mean losing half my counter space! A garden free of #%*)@ Ailanthus trees (yeah, this is culinary related, they suck all the water out of the soil so that half my vegetables grew stunted!) An eating trip to Malaysia!
  25. Oh yeah, ripping up into bits is a great way to deal with something that has good flavor but has lots its form! Years ago a friend of mine made a rather expensive (well, for her at the time on a grad student budget) chocolate cake for a party. It stuck viciously to the pan. By the time it came out, it was a complete mess. She was about to go out and buy something when her housemate said "Now hold it a minute...", ripped it up, piled it in a souffle pan layered with some grated chocolate for texture, whipped cream with cocoa added, and I believe some m&ms cause the kids thought they were pretty, and a new household dessert, "Chocolate Ooooh" was born!
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