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.
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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 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
no responses - Posted 01.08.14
Near the Aksaray metro station, set back from a loveless part of Istanbul crossed by wide roads and overpasses, the kebab is flourishing. Over the past few decades, waves of migration have brought a particularly southeast Anatolian flavor to the otherwise drab apartment blocks and government buildings of this part ...continue
no responses - Posted 09.18.13
Southeastern Turkey’s culinary mecca of Gaziantep is best known for its baklava and kebabs. But lately we’ve been thinking that it's soup that may actually be the city’s real crowning glory. Not just any old soup, mind you, but beyran çorbası, a stupendously delicious lamb-based broth that is usually slurped ...continue
no responses - Posted 07.02.13
In our imaginary primetime lineup, a reality show called “Pimp My Kebab Salon” transforms a drab kebab shop into a grill palace suited to the tastes of the latter-day sultans. Surfaces are suddenly gilded in gold, fountains appear and everything is reupholstered under the watchful eye of the boisterous host ...continue
no responses - Posted 06.14.13
Editor’s note: While the fate of the Gezi Park occupation is being hotly discussed, we’ve been spending our time sipping deeper into Turkey’s other great debate: what is the country’s national drink? In the spirit of national reconciliation, below is our report. The recent protests that raged across Turkey may have ...continue
no responses - Posted 12.28.12
After four years of publishing weekly dispatches from Istanbul’s culinary backstreets, we are still regularly surprised by new discoveries, impressed by the staying power of old standards and shocked by how quickly so much can change. For better or for worse, it is that dynamism that Istanbulites line up for, ...continue
no responses - Posted 09.10.12
In a desk drawer at Istanbul Eats HQ is an envelope of leftovers from days when life was less sedentary: Tajik somoni, Kyrgyz som, Cypriot pounds, a wad of Macedonian denar and a small stack of Georgian lari. As with the last bite on the plate, it’s impossible to throw ...continue
4 responses - Posted 10.03.11
(Editor’s Note: This guest post was provided to us by Olga Tikhonova, who writes a wonderful blog about Istanbul food and life in Turkey. To her credit, Olga has managed to track down what had long been a holy grail for Istanbul chowhounds: a local restaurant serving authentic Georgian food.) (Editor's ...continue