Simit Rings: the Turkish breakfast bagel

Turkish Simit Rings make for a wonderful breakfast option, a bit like our bagel. Each twisted circular bread is dipped in a sweet water and then encrusted with sesame or other various seeds before baking.

How many spices can you name off the top of your head? Even better, how many spice do you own? If new spices where on my shopping list I would love to make sure to find a store like the one Vassilis owns in the movie A Touch of Spice, in beautiful Istanbul. But for this Turkish Simit Rings recipe I would rather ask for his very best sesame seeds.

Simit Rings

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Bargaining a Carpet over Apple Tea in Turkey and Winner

I was stuck in my Greek Island cruise photo album again. Here is a second post down memory lane, with a traditional recipe, from one of my past trips. If you missed my first post on Boureki dish from the island of Crete click here. One stop on the cruise itinerary was in Kusadasi, which is is the Asia Minor in Turkey. I like to emphasize the Asia Minor part because this was my only time (yet) in the actually Asian continent. Unfortunately we were there only three and a half hours. I opted for a half day excursion of the ancient city Ephesus. Ephesus contains the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean, a really impressive site to see. I have included a few picture in this post that I took.

I did have a little bit of time to explore the city after and observe the locals. You will see men sit, talk politics and sip their tea all day long. It is the daily beverage of choice in Turkey. It is very common when shopping to be offered a glass of Turkish Apple Tea during the bargaining process. How civilized! Shopping is an experience, especially in the souk! You will be hounded like you cannot believe but keep in mind this is part of the experience. Take it with humor and just be very firm when you say NO. Shop keepers wait for you outside their stores. If you do go into a store it can turn into a very pleasant cultural exchange should a conversation strike up with the owner.

The top of the list item to buy during you holidays to turkey is a Turkish carpet. The excursion ended with a carpet shop visit. I knew this was a ‘cruisline approved’ place, a bit more expensive but trustworthy,  and I really wanted a Turkish carpet. During the presentation several employees were present, and carpet after carpet was being rolled open with flair and grandiosity. I spotted my 3×5 ish future carpet and started to bargain…Apple Tea in hand. All I remember is that our tour guide said we should pay 30-35 percent of the start price. My process was an interesting dance of numbers and I got to my ideal price of around 50% off (I think I paid about $250). This even included shipping to my home in Canada which was awesome.  If I was there for a few days I would have taken the time to haggle more, walk away, come back..the whole bargain dance.

 

Ξ Elma Cayi: Turkish Apple Tea Ξ

2 red apples, leave unpeeled and quarter them
1 unpeeled orange, quartered
1 cinnamon stick
1 liter water
2 cloves – whole
honey to taste (I did not add any)

1. Add all the ingredients together into a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Once at boiling point, leave the ingredients to simmer until cooked.
2. Strain the liquid in a pitcher and push gently the cooked fruits with a back of spoon to remove the liquid completely.
3. Pour in tea glasses and add honey to taste.

 

This is a picture of the carpet 12 years after I bought it, still in pristine condition. I treasure it to this day. My knotted wool carpet is from Bergama, specifically from the Yagci Bedir nomad tribe, which consist mainly of two colors, the dark reds and blues. The style of my carpet is the kind a bride to be would make for her future husband: apparently it is filled with symbols of fecundity. Have not married a husband yet so cannot test the fertility theory.

_____________________

Finally I am announcing the name of the lucky person who won the book Ingredients in celebration of my 5th Bolgiversary. And our randomly picked winner is…..drum roll please….

Kristy @ gastronomical sovereignty

CONGRATULATIONS!

Food Court @ Foodlab, trying to get Street Food to Montreal

Staying on the theme of street food from my previous post, did you know street food in Montreal is illegal? Apparently there is a municipal by-law banning the sale of street food has been on the books since the 50s. I always enjoyed having my NYC hot dog or roasted peanuts when I went down to the Big Apple for a long weekend but I have to admit I was pretty happy Montreal was free of a hot dog cart on every corner. Back then street food was junk food.

But now street food is the new chic dinner outing amongst the big cities foodie world. Parks have dedicated weekends where the best street food vendors sell their tasty small sized treats in a group. Cities that allow street vendors have seen the quality of the dishes rise, it’s a dog eat dog cut throat competition now to impress your customers and have them come back.

But not in Montreal, or are the times a changing? Queue the entrance of Grumman ’78, a taco truck that can operate during events when hired by the event organizers. This suggested loop in the law was allowed by City Hall. So if you want to hire Grumman ’78 for an event and have them sell their tacos on the street…that is OK. I have enjoyed their tacos twice: once at a cookbook launch event and once at the Food Court @ Foodlab, an event that was organized by Grumman ’78 of course.

Setting up shop on the now deserted stretch of Saint-Laurent street between Sainte-Catherine and René-Lévesque (due to a business offices/condo political fiasco), at the Place de la Paix urban square,  the Food Court @ Foodlab took place on September 30th 2011. I went there with another wonderful foodie friend of mine, Johanne. Here is a sampling of what we enjoyed…

A Grumman ’78 taco of course! The menu changes all the time and today it was curried goat. It was so finger liking good. With this taco we ordered each a hibiscus juice and we shared a gooseberry cheese cake. Who else would think of gooseberry for a cake! I love the white picnic tables set up to eat our goods.

L’Expérience Kangourou is run by these 2 wacky dudes! I first hear about them about 3 years back when the dinner group went to the Mondial Gourmand. Back then allt hey served was exotic kangaroo meat. If you have not tried it I urge you to taste this succulent meat. They had kangaroo on the menu but we decided to try the other 2 meats….

muskox on the left - seal on the right

The first was seal, double verdict: gross! If you like liver you will adore it, if you hate liver don’t even try. It had a strong iron taste with a meat texture. But the second meat oh so made up for it, we had muskox which is also an Arctic animal. Now this was heavenly meat, a perfect marbling of fat and muscle nicely grilled up. I wanted a full steak after.

Next we shared a very nice pulled turkey sandwich from Pas d’cochon dans mon salon, which translates into No pigs in my Living Room, what an awesome name.

no comment!

We followed it up with delicious meatballs from Nora Gray. I just love to witness to what extent my friends will go to make a good pic for the blog when I make a request!

Still sometime a challenge for me when it comes to acquired tastes, Curtis Vargo did not disappoint with wonderful fresh oysters. Oh Curtis, LOVE the apron!

After all these small dishes I think a dessert is well deserved. From la Dinnette Nationale we tasted 3 shortbread cookies: white peaches and anise seeds, goat cheese and hazelnuts, and both our favorite chocolate and black olives. I know it sounds like a weird combo but I was quite a revelation…just make sure to use only dark chocolate.

And the finale of our foodlab experience were soft and addictive homemade caramels: one honey flavored the other fleur de sel. Fleur de sel was the winner but it was a close call!

Our mini street food event was declared a big success, Johanne and I had a blast exploring the various food here. I hope there is many more such event to come in Montreal. Do you have street vendors in your city?

Vacation Eatz:Raleigh Mama Dip’s, Ice Tea, Grits and Turkey Shoot

Welcome to the North Carolina portion of my trip. I visited a friend here for 6 days. If you live in the South of the US you will feel right at home for the next 3 posts. If you come from anywhere else in the world…hold on to your hats and add an extra hole in your belt.

Southern food is by no means a glamorous fare, even if it can be presented that way. We are talking here about good home country cooking. Unfortunately we no longer work in the fields to work off all those calories! Granted my host Rich may have gone the extra mile to really stuff me with Southern food to give the max exposure to it. I did overdose and started to develop a fear of fried foods. My body was screaming for real veggies! But it was a blast.

My no.1 priority was to go to Mama Dip’s which we did on day 1 I think. This restaurant is your best bet as to tasting the local food. And it has a great history. “Mama Dip’s first job was as a family cook in Chapel Hill. She then moved on to work at Carolina Coffee Shop, Kappa Sigma fraternity and St. Andrews Hall. In 1957 she worked with her mother-in-law in a tiny take-out restaurant where she began to hone her business skills. On a Sunday in November 1976 Mama Dip opened her own restaurant with $64, $40 dollars went toward food and $24 was used to make change. The morning’s take was used to fund the lunch meal and lunch to fund the dinner. At the end of the day Mama Dip took home $135, and the rest is history”.

I ordered Fried Green Tomatoes because, well, never had them and its a movie about female angst lol. They were bland. Rich got the smothered pork chops with greens and green beans, he was very happy with his selection. I got a combo plate of Chopped BBQ Pork and Fried chicken with the mashed potatoes and black eyed peas. Sides, pork was pretty good, butt he chicken ruled. The batter used is remarkably light and fluffy, I loved it. I got to say everything had a bit of a blandness to it but this was a bit of a theme in the whole 6 days. I am so used to cooking with lots of herbs and spices, they don’t apparently. For me it made a big difference. That said I loved Mama Dip’s even if I found it bland a bit. Great adorable place and the sweetest most attentive waiter. We ate outside on the wrap around porch which give to a relatively quiet and almost residential street. Fabulous! If you go to Raleigh RUN to Mama Dip’s.

Corn bread and biscuits galore everywhere. Love that! It seems that what I consider a vegetable list and what the South considers a vegetable list is 2 different worlds. This list below may not be the best example as it has the most actual veggie choice of all side dish list I saw. But sorry…beans, black eyed peas, potatoes, yams, macaroni, firs, rice are not vegetables body absorption wise! They all taste GREAT…but it ain’t veggies people! Greens, collar or otherwise, are not my top choice, but are a real vegetable. Sorry but this was my pet peeve with my host – the veggie thing.

And of course I got an ice tea. I have always been a fan of ice tea and the South serves ice tea everywhere. Thank god though you can get it unsweetened. Lord some places has so much sugar in it a diabetic would go into hyperglycemia shock in 2 seconds flat! I don’t put sugar in my coffee or tea. I make my ice tea normally with a dash of lemon juice and maybe 1tsp of sugar per glass. If you like sweet but not that sweet you can ask for half-half. Drank lots of ice tea with the heat.

Remember last week I promised you a story about that all natural syrup where Rich freaked out? Well i will tell you that story here. On this trip I only had grits once at a breakfast plate. I am very mystified by grits. Polenta I get, cream of wheat I get, grist I don’t. And I know I am not alone. That is why there will be an in depth study future post on grits. Anyways we are having breakfast and I got grits with it. It was 100% unseasoned and bleh. I added a bit of salt and that helped, but not much. I could not help feel how close to cream of wheat it was, something I used to eat for breakfast. And I always sweetened it a bit. So in my logic I took the bottle of syrup and added a bit to the grits. This is when friend literally FLIPPED OUT on me and looked around in shame to make sure no fellow Southerner should have witnessed my sacrilegious action! I was baffled but very amused by it though. He was so embarrassed to be seen with me for that moment l0l. I am assuming some of you reading are nodding in a agreement with him. But once the shock subsided (about 10 min) he reluctantly took a mini forkful of it saying he had to taste my abomination and in a very low voice filled with resentment said” its not bad but I will never admit it publicly” Pfft I say! It was awesome with syrup.

After lunch we went to A Southern Season. I had been there in January and adored this foodie heaven. Got myself a few things here like local cheddar cheese, salt water taffy, pecans, moonshine cordial chocolates. Also got stuff I regretted not buying the last time: a mango coconut sauce and banana ketchup. They are from Costa Rica! This place also has an awesome selection herbs and spices cheap, in cylinder plastic tubes. Got a mole rub and two other I was clueless too: Annato seeds and Epazote. I love getting unknown stuff and then researching it at home only.

Wow this is a huge post. OK finishing it off with a couple of pics from July 4th. This was museum day but we walked right by the State Capitol building where lots of celebration stuff was going on. That night we went to the State Fair Grounds to see the fire works. Wow there were a gazillion food vendors with enormous lines. All we got was a orange-aid. There was one thing that caught my eye: the Turkey Shoot. I am sure you are thinking the same question I did: do they shoot real turkeys? I asked my friend knowing how stupid it probably sounded out loud. Thing is he is excellent at keeping a straight face when responding so sometimes I never can quite tell if it is a joke or not..even if what he says makes no sense. It drives me NUTS  and he knows it and relishes those moments. GRRR!

So in the end no turkeys were being shot at…tree trunks were.  But I did my research! The term comes from the 1800s where REAL turkeys were tied down and shot at 25 to 15 yards away. If a bird was killed it WAS given to the shooter as a prize. years later an inanimate target was used and a frozen turkey was given to the best shooter. I am so quoting wiki on this one (inside joke): today, turkey shoots are still popular in rural America, where citizens are all likely to be familiar with shotguns. The prize was a T-shirt.

Just 2 more posts coming about my trip…then back to blog reality! Tune in:

Saturday…..Vacation Eatz: South Fast Food
Sunday…….Vacation Eatz: Sanitary Beach

A Festival for What?

This find was shared with me during our latest dinner event….a Turkey Testicle Festival in Illinois.

Yes, you read it correctly.

What a Bird!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers!

ATT00432

P.S. Hey Conor bet you never thought of doing that during lemon season lol