Sunday, April 13, 2008


A tale of two restaurants

This was a good weekend for food.

Jason Avery is a friend, and a chef, and a couple of years ago he went to Turkey to learn some new things. He and his partners were working on opening a Turkish/Mediterranean restaurant in New York City, and Jason learned about Turkish cuisine and ingredients. Almost a year and a half ago, they opened Pera on Madison Avenue near 42nd St, with Jason as co-executive chef.

A group of us went there on Friday night, and had the most delightful meal. Jason selected the appetizers (meze) and desserts for us, and we picked main courses. And it was an amazing feast!

The meze included...

  • beef and bulghur tartare, hand-formed servings of raw beef and bulghur with tasty spices and lemon juice, with lettuce leaves for wrapping
  • marinated lamb tenderloin, with oregano pesto
  • warm hummus
  • roasted whipped eggplant
  • eggplant and tomato timbale
  • borek, crispy phyllo rolls filled with white cheese
  • fried artichoke hearts, coated with chick-pea flour and served with a smoked paprika youghurt sauce
  • tomato/onion/walnut salad with a pomegranate dressing
  • assorted pidettes, little pies, variously filled with ground lamb, spinach and pignoli, roasted eggplant, cheese, and Turkish sausage

With that spread, we didn’t really need the main courses, but we had them anyway. I got the mixed grill patter, which included chicken kebab, lamb kebab, lamb riblets, and lamb adana — spiced ground lamb. And we got roasted vegetables and potato casserole on the side.

For dessert: baklava and a chocolate pyramid, along with two specialties: a mold of toasted semolina filled with house-made pistachio ice cream, and a cake of shredded phyllo filled with cheese and topped with buffalo-milk cream. And Turkish coffee, of course.

We were in a complete food coma on the train ride home.


Saturday was the Greenwich contradance, so a decidedly lighter meal was in order before the dance. Barcelona, a tapas and wine bar in downtown Greenwich, CT, was perfect for that. Dinner was a small assortment of petits plats, including artichoke hearts with serrano ham, monkfish with white beans and cabbage, ham and cheese croquettes, chicken empanadas, sliced duck breast, and cauliflower and fennel casserole with Manchego cheese and ground almonds.

Mm, ¡que rico!


lidija said...

If there is one thing we do not curse the Ottomans for over in the Balkans, it is the food they brought with them. Mmmmmm..... We also unfairly and falsely call and claim it our own. Although in all fairness our boorek is nothing like the Turks' boorek (my mom's, naturally, being the best in the world). But it's really fun to see the overlap of the Turkish and the Greek food. And to mess with the respective peoples, and say, when in Greece, that you'd like some Turkish coffee... hee hee...

I hear there is a Turskish grocery, Zeytinia (I think it comes from "an oil store" if my memory still holds well) in Croton (why, yes, Google says so too: ).

Dr. Momentum said...

Looks like the Lebanese food I grew up with.

The meat-and-bulghur is a recipe we call "kibbe naye." They sometimes eat it with slivers of onion as little scoops.

I prefer the cooked version, which often includes a layer of pine nuts.