Turkish Delights and the Spices of Life

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Out for a Saturday morning stroll in Selcuk, Turkey, I scoped out the local farmers market that was being held today for any possible photo ops… while these two presented themselves…

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… the real reason I was in Selcuk was to visit the ruins at Ephesus:Selcuk-Sep 22 2018-1429 1

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In any event this post is about food & drink, so on the way back from the market in the morning, I was nearly at my hotel when I stumbled upon a small restaurant where the owner was out in front pressing fresh pomegranate juice with some kind of pressing machine.

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Immediately I knew I had to have a glass – pomegranate juice being chocked full of anti-oxidants as well as being delicious.  Pure pomegranate juice is very expensive in North America, and while I have come across it in various other countries as “just another flavor” in the packaged juice section, its never been totally satisfying as it was missing something (perhaps due to being pasteurized or other chemical additives, or added sugar).

Wow I was not disappointed!!! The freshly pressed stuff had that slightly tart taste like you get from eating a fresh pomegranate.. it was a whole layer of flavour sitting on top of the normal out-of-the-box pomegranate juice experience.

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In general, I have found Turkish cuisine to be quite delightful, a mix of Mediterranean flavours and spice.. In particular, the kebab platters have been awesome (Sofya Kebab in Istanbul, or Buyuk Adana Kebap Goreme in Goreme), particularly when some yogurt is provided on the side.   Turkish pizza or pide is also great if you get the right restaurant (like I did in Selcuk Pidecisi in Selcuk), and if you are lucky you might even get a chance to try some special foods not on the usual menu like I did at Lokmahane in Konya.

I have been on the hunt for calamari, and while I did get it at Kaleici Meyhanesi in Antayla, it was quite a different preparation from what we normally expect.  Advertised as Grilled Calamari with Sauce, the ingredients included:  Squid, Cherry Tomatoes, whole Garlic Cloves, Peppers/Chilis, Teriaki sauce, Balsamic Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Butter, Olive Oil, Paprika, Thyme.  It’s something that I will definitely be trying to reproduce at home (I am assuming – marinate the squid with the Teriaki, soy, thyme and paprika, grill the squid, tomato, garlic, peppers till cooked, then combine & finish in a sauce pan with the butter and oil.

If you are a cook, I highly recommend that you don’t miss the spice markets (like the one in Istanbul – called the Egyptian Bazaar).  I grabbed a few hundred grams of Ottoman Spice blend after tasting a pinch of it.. but there were tons of other blends available.  See http://honestcooking.com/ottoman-spiced-baguette-croutons/ for an example of the Ottoman blend, sure to be great with your own grills or kebabs!

 

 

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