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Best Bites of 2013

Breakfast at Yalçın Kaya's cheese shop in Erzincan, photo by Yigal Schleifer [1]

Breakfast in Erzincan
We were strangers in a strange land – eastern Turkey’s Erzincan, to be exact – and Yalçın Kaya welcomed us into his cheese shop with such gracious fervor that it didn’t surprise us to find out that this Anatolian cheesemonger moonlights as an imam.

“Have you had breakfast?” the mustachioed Kaya asked. Before we could answer, he zipped out, leaving us to quietly contemplate the shop’s glass-lined coolers and their shelves loaded with plastic containers filled with tulum, the salty, crumbly raw sheep’s milk cheese for which Erzincan is famous.

Kaya soon returned, holding just-bought packages of Styrofoam plates and paper napkins and a stack of freshly baked thin flatbread. He quickly arranged a tempting impromptu spread: chunks of tulum from a newly opened container on one plate, wildflower honey poured from an unlabeled jar on another, with the flatbreads and freshly poured glasses of tea on the side. Per Kaya’s instruction, we tore off pieces of the almost paper-thin bread, alternating between wrapping them around pieces of the pleasantly sharp cheese and using them to scoop up the fragrant honey.

Read about the rest of our favorites from this year on Culinary Backstreets [2].

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