Döner at Özçelik Aspava

Ridiculous!  I have posted about their döner before, but I feel it needs to be done again.

We ordered döner, the rest you see is complimentary.

Mixed green salad, with a pomegranate molasses dressing.

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Fresh French Fries with a homemade tomato sauce.

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Cacık with sumac and mint on top.

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And the pièce de résistance : Döner.  I had already had a bite before I took this photo.  I couldn’t wait!

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The money shot, thinly sliced which had been roasted on a rotating spit.  Served with homemade tomato sauce and sliced onions rolled in a fresh soft lavaş.

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This is my favorite place to eat in Ankara.

Birthday FUN!

I am not closer to 30 than to 20.  It feels weird.  Though I was still the youngest (adult) at my birthday party.  There was a 4 year old, but of the people who have learned to read in that room I was the youngest by 6 years.  So. Still a baby.  Which is good, because I don’t always feel like a grown up.  I think that is normal though.  In a chat with my Nana, who is 97, she says she still feels like  young woman.  She is only tethered to age by her body.   As are we all.

Birthday

My party was a blast.  It was not a “birthday party” but a party for my birthday.  That is what I wanted, fun with my friends.  And we had a great time.  There was wine, and food, and wine and beer and cake and wine.  055

The spread was quiche, Mac-n-cheese, kisir, Polish apple and leek salad, tuna veggie salad, white cheese borek, chocolate cake, cinnamon rolls, kadayif and carmel cake.

Yes, I am still waddling.

Parties Are Supposed To Be Fun!

Unless you are planning them.  So this is to be my first big party, ever.  I have hosted large dinner parties, but not full scale bashes.  I am slightly nervous about it.  Part of it is that I don’t know everyone will fit in the apartment, also I am hoping that many people will come.  It is also less common (meaning not at all) to use disposable plates or cups.   Which is great for the environment, but not great for me.  We only have the dishes that my school provided with the apartment.  That means I have two dinner plates, four dessert plates, three soup bowls ( I already broke the 4th) and two wine glasses.  Unless I buy some disposable plates and cups, the people will just have to look at the drinks, or swig out of the bottle.  Which could be fun.

I have brought the American tradition of potluck to the party aka I can’t afford to feed and liquor forty people.  I will be attempting to make eggnog, cookies and mulled wine(Thanks Barbara) as base items on the buffet. Perhaps their will even be some pizza on the horizon.  Please suggest easy to make apps and desserts or magical hosting tips!

Life as it is …

Life is progressing here in Turkey.  I finally feel as if we are settling in.  We have bought a car. We have recovered from H1N1.  Life is good.

Last night to celebrate our auto purchase we went out to an Asian restaurant for dinner.  Turkey is still new to ethnic food, and sometimes restaurants which serve such food can be hit or miss.  Mostly miss.  However, we have been to this particular restaurant before and it is ALWAYS good.  Not only is the food fantastic but the service is wonderful.  The assistant manager recognized us when we came in, so we received amazing service, such as complimentary jasmine tea and extra tidbits.  But the kicker is the left-overs.

I ordered Pad Thai with Shrimp (that is the other lovely thing about this restaurant-they have Chinese, Japanese and Thai food).  It was a large serving, but I was starving.  I ate about 2/3rds but didn’t want to stuff myself.  I asked them to pack up what was left over, it wasn’t a meal but it would be a nice snack.  A little later the assistant manager came over with the package.  He apologized, they had thrown out my leftovers by accident.  So he had them cook me a WHOLE new order, and that was what he was sending home.  He was apologizing because it took longer.

How wonderful is that!  It is pretty typical that in the service industry people go out of their way to be helpful and pleasant.  That is one difference between the US and Turkey.  People are proud of the establishment they work in, from the busboy to the waiters.  They consider the restaurant their territory and extend you, their guests, every hospitality they can.  They couldn’t be nicer, even if you were a guest in their own home.  This changes the experience in a restaurant significantly.   I had a lovely lunch of Pad Thai today, and very much appreciated the manager’s kindness.

How Lazy Can I Be?

Pretty lazy actually.  Tonight I had McDonalds delivered to my door.  They do that here.  All the fast food places deliver.  They have little mopeds weaving their way all around the city delivering Big Macs and Whoppers to the lazy and hungry.  You should see these deliver guys.  They drive on side walks, against traffic on one ways.  They cut across 4 lanes of traffic only to lift tri bike over the median and go the other way.  The food’s travels serve only to make it tastier.  That and they walk it right to your door. 

Let me explain lest you think me  a total sloth.  I have lost 2 kilos with the flu.  That is about 4 pounds.  Bulent’s mother was very kind and brought over food, however, it is very flavorful. Turkish food tends to have quite a bit of spice, not spicy, but very flavorful.  The smell of such food has done a number on my stomach over the last week.  However, the doctor chastised me and ordered me to eat protein, and definitely not the plain yogurt I had been living on for a week.  Hence the McDs.   A nice big hamburger patty that has no spices, and only a medium about of taste.  Bonus, since I did not have to cook it my kitchen does not smell like meat and won’t make me want to throw up every time I walk by. 

Do We Do Anything But Eat? Rarely.

The other day I spent the afternoon in Kızılay, in downtown Ankara.  Kızılay is awesome.  It has open air bars and cafes, street vendors, live music, and a general pazar like atmosphere.  I was super hungry after walking around and shopping all afternoon so I treated myself to a balik ekmek, or a fish sandwich.  I resisted the fried fish and instead got grilled mackerel.  It was loaded up with onions, lettuce and parsley, with a lemon squeezed on top.  It was super!  Sitting on a stool, out in Kızılay, sharing a table with absolute strangers.  A great day.  Later, Bulent met me in Kızılay and we had some dessert.

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I chose a pie, which was filled with chestnuts, grated carrots and raisins.  It was not too sweet, and the flavor and texture of the chestnuts were just fabulous.  I was careful to make sure the dessert did not contain hazelnuts or walnuts, I made sure the vendor knew I was allergic (so that he would take it seriously.)  And he did.  Bulent ordered cake which contained walnuts.  Before it was delivered to the table the waiter rushed over to our table to make sure Bulent did not let me eat any of his.

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Bulent chose a chocolate cake, loaded with walnuts and a little ice cream on top. He said it was very tasty, and I took his word on that.

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I promise soon I will post about something other than food. Or food and something else.

Food Adventures: Adana Kebab

The other day we went out to lunch with Bulent’s father.  He is from the city of Adana where they make  “Adana Kebab,” it is a specific style of kebab.  The place we went is the only place he will eat Adana Kebab in Ankara.  It is a small place where the owner and waiters boss you around.  We ordered a small portion of çopşiş…

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But they said “No.”  You have to have kebab too. They brought out Adana Kebab with grilled garlic, tomatoes, and peppers.  It was accompanied by Shepherd’s Salad, and Esme.

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Also, with fresh arugula, parsley, yogurt, and onion salad.

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All of this was served with fresh lavash bread, I mean FRESH.  They would put it in the oven right before they served it.  We love this place, but try not to come too often, because there is so much food.  We usually end up waddling away.  I might have waddled that day, but it was worth it.

Recent Food Adventures

Bulent and I have gone out a few times and this is one of our favorite places.  We usually split a lahmacun and a doner durum wrap with sauce and onions in it. 

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The durum doner wrap usually comes with four pieces.  One had already been eaten before I was able to get the camera out.

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A close up of the wrap, saucy, onion-y, meaty goodness.

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Next up…Lady Thigh Meatballs—tasty!

Staying.

So as you know, we are staying in Turkey.  While this is exciting, I also miss things from home.  Like sushi and bacon.  There are just some things here that I can not get, or are incredibly expensive.  I certainly miss the convince of the U.S.  I think the biggest difference is in cooking.  It takes me twice as long to cook things here because everything has to be made from scratch.  There are no short cuts.  No cake mixes, or frozen bread dough or pie crusts.  No canned tomato sauce, or semi-prepared veggies, etc.

The good news is that we are eating very little processed food and we have lost weight without trying.  So anyone who would like to send me love swag, otherwise known as care packages, let me know.  In preparation for the flood of goodies, I have started a list. Seriously.

Road Trip(s) and Food

We have traveled quite a bit recently.  To Bodrum for our friends’ (from San Diego) Turkish wedding reception.  Then another week we drove to Bulent’s grandmothers in Seferhisar and on the way we visited Bodrum, Kusadasi, Izmir and Cesme.  Bodrum is an adorable Aegean town/city.  It is very developed and has a very busy party scene.  It has a lovely marina that runs the length of the main tourist drag, as well as a historical castle right on the sea and a renowned underwater archeology museum.

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While we were there we had some Lokma, which is cousin to If Jesus was a Baker.  Sweet dough, deep fried then soaked in a sugar syrup. While you eat them, you can actually feel your fat cells expanding.  But very delicious.

Marmaris JulyAug 2009 068 Once we got to Seferhisar our days consisted of visiting with family, eating, swimming and preparing to eat.  Uncle Shadi grilled every night, there were koftes, and veggies and lamb chops and chicken. Marmaris JulyAug 2009 146

Anything that didn’t move fast enough was grilled.  It was tasty.Marmaris JulyAug 2009 136 Here you can see koftes, corban salad, bulgur pilaf, and grilled tomatoes and peppers. That was my plate, I was excited to eat.  Don’t I look happy!

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Also naked!   I would like to state I was not eating dinner topless with Bulent’s grandmother.  Though it may appear as so.

Though in other news I over came  my shyness enough to tan topless in the yard.  Where people saw me.  Yay!