Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Last Turkey-related post, I swear!

Schönes Guten Tag meine Lieblinge!

Und so, jetzt bin ich in Deutschland. Na, bin ich hier seit 6 (fast 7) wochen schon aber schreibe ich nur jetzt. Es tut mir leid meine Schätze!

Are you all thoroughly impressed with my mad German skills? You should be – I've been learning since I was 14 years old (albeit in varying degrees of sincerity) including most recently a (very expensive) stint at the Goethe Institut in Melbourne.

Guten Tag, readers!

For those not quite up to scratch with their German/haven't quite worked out Google translate yet, Mr von S and I have been in Germany – and more specifically, Berlin – for close to 7 weeks now.

Since we gratefully put our backpacks into storage, we've been revelling in all the food, glorious food that Berlin has to offer. Great fresh-food markets, speciality restaurants from places like Vietnam, Nepal, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Greece, Turkey – the list goes on. We are certainly in a multicultural food-haven here in the little capital of Germany.

From food from other countries, to German food itself. For the country that spends a lot of time covered in snow, if there's just one thing they have to nail, it's comfort food. And now that I have my elastic-waisted cookie pants on (word to mah Scrubs fans!), comforted I certainly have been (I've farewelled anything figure-hugging until the snow thaws and I can exercise again).

But today's post isn't about the 1500 different varieties of sausage available in Germany, nor the gorgeous (and totally my type of) tradition of Kaffee und Kuchen. Today, it's about the Turkischemarkt.

**disclaimer – I am now thoroughly over talking about Turkish food, as much as I am sure you are over reading about it. I promise, this will be my last post on Turkish food. For a little while, at least! **

I know, I know, we're all Turkish-fooded out. But, after my last post on my love/hate relationship with Turkish food – which these days is nothing but love, I got a hankering. So, Mr von S and I donned our jackets, gloves, scarves, ear-warmers and two layers of everything, and headed to the neighbouring suburb of Neukoelln. Maybachufer plays host to a bi-weekly Turkish market on Tuesdays and Fridays – the nearest U-bahn station is Schoenleinstrasse. Sellers peddle their wares – from bargain-priced fresh fruit and vegetables (this week's special was two pineapples for EU1) to buttons, bolts of fabric and zippers. There are a number of vendors selling a variety of home-made dips, olives, cheeses, cured meats, childrens' clothing, fresh fish and poultry, not to mention the number of stalls selling ready-to-eat foods such as my favourite – goetzleme, falafels, broccoli patties, dried fruit and nuts, baklava, Turkish delight, und so weiter.

Despite it being -10 degrees, and snowing heavily, sellers and customers bravely made their way up and down the side-walks of Maybuchufer which are twice a week turned into market stalls.

With their canvas canopies strung together across the walk-way, stall holders created a covered corridor for their shoppers. The juxtaposition of tropical fruits and mounds of snow was quite bizarre, but was a nice awaking for our frozen olfactory senses. Walking past, I picked up a Clementine segment, bypassing the slices of not-yet ripe persimmons and juicy, slippery plums.

Past another clothing stall (I'm not really looking for a belly-dancing costume right now, nor knock-off LV, but I'll keep it in mind) we stopped at one of the stands selling various types of Turkish bread and bought three giant Milchbrots – a German word for Turkish pide. We happily continued down the corridor in search of an accompaniment for our most recent purchases. We stopped-by a couple of caravan-type stalls selling mezze: baby octopus, feta in brine, five different types of olives, smoked salmon and dips, dips dips! We chose Tarama (fish roe) Aubergine paste (said in a German accent) and hummus (universal). The delightful vendor sneaked in an extra 50 grams of spinach and walnut dip for us to try – while last week it was the offer of a couple of sun dried tomatoes.

Next stop on our list was the goetzleme stand – our final destination for the day. Standing in line (the place is popular) we ordered a cheese goetzleme and a spinach and cheese for me. These doughy, filled pancakes positively drip with oil, but managed to warm my hands even through my thick mittens. There is nothing quite so comforting as a nice warm goetzleme for our cold little bodies, and with pancake in hand, we made our way back to the U-bahn station, passing other people with similar postures: one gloved hand manoeuvring goetzleme, the other hand dragging a canvas bag stuffed full of Turkischemarkt goodies.

Despite the pained look on my face & the lack of make-up, I am REALLY enjoying my goetzleme.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Part two of 'Turkey: so epic there are two parts'

Haven't read Part one?

After one day of the pretzel-and-lemonade diet, I was determined not to miss out on all the glorious food that Istanbul had to offer. So on day four, I put my game face on and promptly marched to one of the numerous establishments selling every type of baklava and sweet pastry imaginable.

Heaven, I was in Turkish sweet heaven. Filo pastry, soaked in sweet syrup, flaky, crunchy, layer upon syrup-soaked layer, pistachio, walnut, almond, orange, rose-water. The flavours together are so fragrant and so pleasing to so many senses. The crunch of each bite – hear it and feel it; the smell and taste of citrus-infused syrup; the sight of bright green pistachio. We were also fortunate enough to have the shop owner offer us some floss-halva as we were polished off our baklava and washed it all down with some deliciously-sweet Turkish green tea. Perfect!

So, as with most illnesses we recovered. Thank the LORD for that! We got down to the biznass of eating pretty darn quickly. To make up for being sick on his birthday, Mr von S and I decided to follow some advice from the Lonely Liar (a.k.a. Planet) and head to a restaurant over the bridge from where we were staying in Sultanamet. Well, this was one time when the Liar wasn't!

Sofyali9 in Tunel was a great suggestion. We had a variety of mezze – small shared dishes – and more Turkish bread than even I could eat - and I freakin' love bread. We tried the hummus (finally, a win!) haydari (tzatziki without cucumber) a paprika/feta dish and giant white beans. All delicious and surprisingly affordable. We also snuck in a mini cheese borek (more flaky pastry!) because we could.

So, I mentioned Turkish breakfast before. Breakfast, just by-the-by, is one of my favourite meals – the other being dessert. As I like to say, the first and last meals of every day. I'm always pretty excited when breakfast is included in the cost of accommodation. Well after three weeks of eating the same thing over and over again, I was OVER it #firstworldproblems much? Try this for monotony: bread roll (although plus point for being freshly-baked every day) a boiled egg, cucumber, tomato, cheese and olives. Sometimes there would be honey, sometimes there was a weird, overly-processed reddish circular meat (surprisingly tasty – hey, I'll try anything once, don't judge). All in all, I don't really like to eat vegetables for breakfast unless there is bacon involved.

Since I've spoken about breakfast, how about I talk about lunch now? And since we're talking about lunch, we should probably also talk dinner, considering there is no difference in the offering (well, at least in Turkey!) After considering entrees (um, lentil soup or hummus? Both are good in my books!) it's time to think about mains.

Do I want:

a) - a chicken (tavuk) doner kebap (don't stress people, it's a kebab, just spelled differently!)
b) - a beef (adana) doner kebap
c) - a) or b) but in flat bread a.k.a. doner durum
d) kofte – which is actually b) but rolled into balls or fingers
e) shish kebap - not actually a kebab, but the same meat as b) or d) only on a plate
f) a pide (Turkey's answer to pizza apparently) usually contains the same meat as e)

Repeat these choices twice a day for 18 days (that's 36 times!), and do ya see why I would prefer the potato and potato and bread and potato choices available in Germany?

Of course, the silver lining to this thunder storm was the bread. Bread, oh delightful Turkish baked-every-day-twice-a-day bread. Bread that can be bought when stuck in traffic on the highway, when waiting in line to see the Blue Mosque; bread that is served at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Enough said.

Before I wrap up this absolute epic of a post, I must make one more mention of a couple of sweeties (whenever I say that word, in my head it comes out in a creepy old lady voice 'would you like a sweetie deary?' Mum, do you have any insight on that one?) I experienced while in Turkey.

Firstly, you didn't think I could do a post on Turkey without mentioning Turkish delight, right? Of course, the stuff is available en masse in Istanbul (although not really anywhere else...hmm, tourist trap anyone?) and we chose to procure our sample from the Spice Market. We chose, well, actually, the guy who (swindled us out of our money) sold us the 'delight chose a selection of the stuff sweetened with honey, rather than sugar. It was a much more subtle taste, and the majority of our selection was opaque in colour, pinks, whites, greens, all riddled with pistachios and a majority covered in coconut. Nary a one covered in chocolate like the Turkish Delight bars at home. The first 20 were delish, after that, I never wanted to see another Turkish delight again.

Revani - pic from stu_spivack

The other sweet was a delightful semolina-based cake/slice called revani. Sadly, I was only able to sample revani once, despite my best efforts. I've mentioned texture before in this blog, and revani is a great example of how texture can really enhance a food-related experience for me. Rather than being light and fluffy like a flour-based cake, revani is dense and reminds me more of a gluten-free cake. Add to this that revani is soaked in syrup (thank you Turkey for soaking your sweets in syrup!) and it's sensory overload – the texture, taste and smell of the oft-citrus infused syrup (as mine was) it was almost like my kind of food heroin. Probably a good thing I only found it once. Bad news, there are recipes on the interwebz.

The funny thing is, despite being completely over Turkish food by the time we left, once we arrived in Berlin, I was craving kebabs and hummus like a fiend.

Having given myself this trip down food-memory lane, I see now that I really had taken Turkish food for granted. I love the fact that now, even while in Berlin, I have access to a fantastic Turkish fresh-food market, where I can buy hummus and fresh flat bread, goezleme (which I didn't actually eat in Turkey, crazy!) and baklava every week. It's the fact that it's not every day that I can eat hummus and haydari that really makes me appreciate it, and proves not one, but two of those old clichéd sayings (sorry to get all preachy in yo' faces, but!)

everything in moderation


variety is the spice of life.

Xx Fif signing out.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Turkey - so epic there are two parts!

Turkey, Turkey, oh where do I begin? I know I've missed that special window in which I can pun about Turkey the bird eaten at Thanksgiving a mere two weeks ago and the country that borders Asia and Europe, but I'll see if I can't squeeze a couple in for you all (after-note, nup, couldn't find a suitable opening).

So, Turkey. I almost feel overwhelmed by the culinary memories that sing out from my mind when I think of the place. We spent a good two, nearly three weeks exploring the amazing natural beauty of this unique country, however when the time came to catch our no-name airline-carrier flight to Berlin, I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

You see, I think I built up the food in Turkey in my mind way too much, and in doing so, managed to ruin the experience for myself. Those nights I went to sleep in Bulgaria (did you notice Bulgaria is yet to be mentioned yet? Yeh, there's a reason) dreaming of amazing middle-eastern food such as I had experienced at Maha in Melbourne's CBD and Kanzaman on Bridge Rd in Richmond (both definitely worth checking out!) and even the little Turkish guy in the Foundry on Little Collins Street who does pide, two dips and salad for AU7.00. Um, where was I? That's right, lost in dreams of Turkish food yet again.

Even after being in Turkey, it's not the authentic stuff I dream about, it's the Anglicised versions, the stuff that has made its way into pop-culinary culture. I feel like I need to say three 'hail-Dorie-Greenspan's in penance for such blasphemy, but it's true.

After pondering a bit more, discussing it with Mr von S and making a list of my Turkish food experiences, I feel that perhaps I had begun taking Turkish food for granted. Because really, the food was great, don't get me wrong. It was just the monotony of eating the same thing for nearly three weeks straight. After all, we don't go out for Turkish food every single meal, every single day, for 18 days straight, now do we? Variety is the spice of life, or something.

So let's survey my list of food-related memories, shall we?

I have to say, things didn't start off too well on the food front in Turkey. It all began in Bulgaria with some dodgy KFC (we think). Mr von S was hit with a terrible case of food poisoning the day before his birthday, a day which we would be celebrating on an 14 hour bus from Sofia to Istanbul – hooray! So there we arrived in stunning Istanbul with Mr von S looking even paler than usual (sorry darling) and having eaten nothing but some pretzel sticks and lemonade for 24 hours.

I was chomping at the bit to get some of the much-lusted over Turkish food in mah belly, so dragged the sick one to a restaurant on the tourist strip for our first taste of Turkey.

I wanted hummus. We had DREAMED of hummus all through-out Europe, because apparently, not much of western Europe has even heard of the stuff. Sadly, my little heart fell when our order of hummus and flat bread came and the hummus tasted like sand. Having grown up on the beaches of Australia, I am quite to authority on what sand tastes like. This definitely tasted like sand.

Day two in Istanbul and I knew the food could only get better – we would venture out of the tourist district and get some of the real, home-made Turkish food I had dreamt of. Only, while sitting at breakfast (and I must talk about breakfast in Turkey) I felt the urge to pull out my surf-board as I rode waves of nausea.

The worst thing that can ever happen to someone who loves food as much as I, is to lose one's appetite. And then have appetite be replaced with nausea. Well folks, it happened. A very sad couple of days ensued...

Will Fifi and Mr von S recover? Will they be able to taste Turkish food without throwing up? The saga continues soon.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...