The same friend who recommended the Burger Bistro to me (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2012/12/for-better-building-burger-experience.html) has been longing to take me to his favorite Turkish restaurant in Brooklyn. After a million dates scheduled and rescheduled we FINALLY made it this week! I feel like I conquered Mount Kilimanjaro, you know in a much smaller, more of a mountain versus a mole hill kind of way.
While I have never been to Turkey, I hear good things about Istanbul and had a professor in graduate school who was always pushing us to travel to that region, as if I could run their on a Thursday night. In his defense it was a political science course on the Middle East so let’s not split hairs.
The best part of trying foods from cultures other than your own is that it is like traveling and you never had to pack.
I love that in Sunny Anderson’s new cookbook she says:
I love that in Sunny Anderson’s new cookbook she says:
“… .No one should have to move for good food or wait for it to come to them, because it’s as close as your own kitchen. I can’t always get to Germany, Korea, or anywhere else I’ve visited physically, but when the smells fill my kitchen and my plate, just a bite is all I need to feel transported.”
This is the perfect description of how I feel. It is emotional and not just a physical reaction when we eat. I thought only Italians ate that way, now I know better. Incidentally because of Sunny Anderson’s delicious recipes I am also going to be eating better.
Growing up in my house with an Italian American mother (my father is Irish) it didn’t even occur to me that having pasta and/or marinara sauce five out of seven nights in my meal was not “American”. Chinese food was the only really different fare we had. I suppose whatever you are use to is the norm and this is why it is so much fun to get out and explore the things outside our comfort zone. I know for me I have been surprised at what I have eaten and liked and believe me I am that daring.
It was not that long ago when I didn’t eat sushi, Indian, or Thai food and now that seems so strange. I crave them on a regular basis. I don’t know how I lived without those bean sprouts in my veggie pad Thai and to think I didn’t like it the first time I had it! Now even falafel is a must have for me. I call it “Happy Falafel Day” and it is. I might have to have one by the end of this week.
The reason I was so eager to come here was the rave reviews I was hearing from the people I know. I hardly ever look online for a review unless I am reading the Dining and Wine section of The New York Times. Frank Bruni or Pete Wells anyone?
Other than that I am my own guide. I know what I will like better than anyone and if someone has convinced me to take their recommendation they it must be worth a shot. If they are getting a blog out of it, then the restaurant good or bad, it’s something.
My interest here is really in the regional cuisine. When I looked the restaurant menu up it seemed very similar to Greek and Mediterranean cooking. I could see myself ordering one or more foods from each category.
I love Greek food, especially the yogurt based tzatziki sauce. It is one of my favorite dressings. If it is offered on any dish I will get it. It is the sign of any good restaurant experience for me.
I like hummus too. It makes for a great dip, topping, or snack. It seems like the possibilities are endless.
Both of these were on the menu at Taci's Beyti. I was hungry just thinking about it. I am not much of a lamb eater but there was chicken listed so I knew I had an alternative when I got there. I hadn’t looked at the menu recently because for once I wanted to just go in and wing it. Dangerous yes I know.
But I need not feared it was all under control. The happy newly married couple who were both my company and leaders this evening knew exactly what we were doing. We were going to go with their favorite dishes eating mostly appetizers all at the same time so we could sample everything before dessert. It sounded perfect to me and the choices did as well. I want to note that when I got home last night I couldn’t breathe I was so full and now that I am reliving it for this blog and I am craving it! Damn I hate that.
So this is what we ate:
Cold appetizer -
· Pan fried eggplant with garlic sauce
Hot appetizer –
· Sigara borregi (feta cheese, herbs, dill, wrapped up in filos)
· Spinach pie (feta cheese, spinach, and wrapped in triangle shapes)
· Shepherd Salad (chunks of tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives in olive oil)
From the oven –
· Pastirmali kasarli Pida (Turkish pastrami pizza with mozzarella cheese)
· Kunefe (Shredded dough, kunefe cheese, with honey and pistachio topping).
What can I say about a meal like this? I can say that I was one happy girl that’s for sure. For starters I liked the restaurant. Atmosphere is always very important. If you are uncomfortable or annoyed from the get go you will hate what you eat no matter what. But this restaurant had good lighting but it wasn’t too bright, it was large enough to fit the throngs of patrons they had for a Tuesday night as it was very large length wise. It was only the three of us but we had a table for six so I had a chair for my purse and jacket and I love that. Anytime you can eat without holding on to your possessions like you are on the subway helps. It was warm but not overheated and as the kitchen was in the back. It didn’t matter who your server was anyone who walked by was more than willing to help- this made me heart them.
Since we were eating basically all starter foods it all came at once and very quickly. The bread they have on the table was good, it was hard and dry but once you got your plate together it was the perfect consistency for dipping. It needed to be strong to pick up all I was going to throw on top of it!
My ultimate verdict is this- you can’t go wrong here. I felt like the first time I had Indian food, I had made this perfect mixture of all these great dishes and each bite was better than the next. I had no idea what I had done but all I knew was that I wanted more! Last night I kept recreating as best I could and I could do no wrong. By far the things that made me the most happy were the spinach pies and the sigara borregi. If I had been home alone with them I could easily binge eat my way through those bad boys in no time flat. They were amazing. This in no way undermines the other choices. They all played their part and were necessary! God I love garlic sauce. It is one of the best condiments in life. My biggest surprise was the pastrami pizza. It was cooked very thin and was crispy. It was a nice crossover of bacon and pepperoni tastes. It was nice to go from salt to hummus to salt to spinach. It does not get old.
Our finale had been predetermined and I was sold once I heard it had cheese and pistachios. It took about ten minutes to prepare but the time flew by. I also got to try my very first Turkish coffee. I had always heard about how strong the coffee was and I was beyond thrilled it was headed my way.
When this tiny little pie arrived it was precut into little triangles. It looked strange and tasted more confusing. That is not to say it was bad. It was a bite of sweet, creamy, and crunch all at once. It was delightful. I only had the one piece because I was so full but now I could really eat an entire one by myself. Noticing a pattern here?
As for the coffee, once I got past the initial scolding hot temperature and was able to take a sip that too was delectable. It was dark and rich so it wasn’t too strong. I was happy I drank it black with no sugar. One little cup and it was all over.
After all this time of waiting I had finally conquered and crossed Taci's Beyti off my list.
It is always good to try new foods and open your mind and your mouth simultaneously. It satisfies a part of yourself you didn’t know existed and now that it is awakened you won’t be able to live without it.
I wonder what where my next meal will take me. I have already left the challenge to my more than capable friends.
For More of Sunny Anderson: