MondayFiled under Reviews (Eats)
Looking at a map of the southern Caucasus, you’d expect Azerbaijan to be the next big thing in the world of food, sandwiched as it is between culinary heavyweights Georgia and Iran, connected as it is in so many ways to Anatolian Turkey. Previous trips to that country have not delivered, though. The last time we were in Baku, we landed hungry and curious and left disappointed by a trip whose gustatory high point was pints and bar snacks at a pub called Camel’s Toe.
But, as we recently discovered, perhaps that’s because we didn’t dig deep enough past the scummy surface of Baku to discover the lively home-style Azeri dishes like the ones served at Azerbaycan Sofrası in the Aksaray district of Istanbul.
If you haven’t yet heard of Azerbaycan Sofrası, that’s because it’s a tiny cubby of a restaurant at the end of a street selling car parts, and it just opened four months ago. That’s when husband and wife Sadaqat and Telman Mehmedov arrived in Istanbul from Moscow on tourist visas. They came, saw and, a bit reluctantly, settled. “Moscow was hard, but this place is harder,” said Sadaqat. But after 17 years of working in the wholesale markets of Moscow, Telman had had enough and was ready to go back to work in the kitchen, as he had in Baku in the 1970s.
Read the rest of the review at Culinary Backstreets.
All entries filed under Reviews (Eats)
no responses - Posted 07.21.14
Every year, for one month only, bakeries across Istanbul churn out round, flat, yeasty loaves of ramazan pide bread. Before Muslims break fast at sundown, they hurry to buy these addictively chewy pide, which are essential to the iftar meal here. Some bakeries rely on machines to shape the pide and stamp the traditional checkerboard pattern on ...continue
no responses - Posted 06.13.14
Anyone who has spent time in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia (or, “the ’Stans”) will have developed a deep and lasting appreciation for the cuisine of the Uighur, a Turkic people spread across the region whose homeland, Uygurstan, lies across the border in western China. In Dushanbe, faced with ...continue
no responses - Posted 05.29.14
The departure of Aret, our favorite garson in the city, had us reconsidering our love of this little cubbyhole meyhane where we've spent so many nights over the years. With our loyalty to Aret and his to us, would it not be cheating to return to Çukur when Aret now runs his own place just a ...continue
no responses - Posted 05.02.14
It is impossible to sleep late in Gaziantep, despite the tranquility of the historic quarter, the calming, hunker-in-and-go-back-to-sleep effect of the hotel room’s thick stone walls and the comforting, dusty smell of antique furniture. Even the promise of a nice breakfast spread served between 7:30 and 10 a.m. could not ...continue
1 response - Posted 04.22.14
Şenol Erol is trying to remain optimistic about running the last esnaf lokantası in Sultanahmet, where the market seems to demand tourist traps over traditional tradesmen’s restaurants. “I guess that makes us unique, doing things the old way,” he says, as if this vintage eatery needed a tagline. Our first meal at his ...continue
no responses - Posted 04.16.14
With all of the anticipation of local elections in March, the scandalous graft-laden tapes leaked via social media, the communication fog brought on by the ban of Twitter and YouTube and the subsequent call for a vote recount in many cities, this city’s stomach had good reason to be distracted. ...continue
no responses - Posted 04.09.14
In the Kurtuluş district of Istanbul, we’ve lately been exploring links to older, nearly lost, Istanbul culinary traditions. Spending time in the sweetshops, milk bars and şarküteri of this district, we’ve seen a glimmer, if faded, of the “Old Istanbul” that people remember from the 1950s and '60s, when the city’s historic ...continue
1 response - Posted 03.25.14
It’s hard to imagine Istanbul without its pastane windows stacked high with trays of ivory-colored flaky mille-feuille and coolers lined with row after row of chocolate-topped éclairs. And of course, the sweets scene in Istanbul would not be complete without the much-loved profiterole.Generations of İstanbullu have taken pleasure in these French exotics, but at ...continue
no responses - Posted 03.06.14
If there are an estimated 17 million souls in Istanbul, then there are at least that many opinions on the best kebab house in town. There are stodgy oak-paneled rooms with country-club appeal, where well-dressed businessmen marvel at heaping plates of delicious grilled meat. And there are 24/7 hole-in-the-walls, ...continue
1 response - Posted 02.04.14
Turkey as a country does not deal in absolutes, even though some of its more bombastic citizens are known to. So when one hears the numerous bewildered complaints about Istanbul’s dearth of falafel and hummus, the correct response is not “Turkish food is not chickpea-compliant,” but “You are not going ...continue