Ottoman-sized (vegan) feast!

An Ottoman-sized feast was awaiting me on the other side of the Bosphorus. I’d have to cross a river and travel to another continent to get it. And then I’d be able to brag that I’d breakfasted in Europe and lunched in Asia.

Çiya was somewhat of a pilgrimage. We’d hopped on a ferry, deboarded in Kadikoy, and wandered our way through a fish market in order to find patio seats at the humble restaurant named Çiya Sofrasi, lauded for their traditional Anatolian cuisine with an emphasis on regional dishes that were on their way to extinction. Elif Batuman most certainly brought the place well-deserved acclaim among the English-speaking crowd a few years ago with her piece in the New Yorker, and on this particular weekday in June, the tables showed it. Most people come to savor the unique meat dishes you can’t find on other Turkish menus: minced meat with sour cherries, or meat stew with green plums. Luckily for me, Turkish cuisine is replete with vegan/veggie options, and I was in for a surprise with Çiya’s selection of mezes, the always-abundant variety of appetizers found on all Turkish menus.

I picked out as much as would fit on the plate from the self-service meze bar and sat down to feast on stinging nettles, stuffed eggplant, bulgar salad, lentil-parsley salad, and perhaps one of my favorites, Turkish muhamarra: a tart tapenade of pomegranate, red pepper, and walnut. Most of it got scooped up with the freshly baked flat bread that arrives at the table more quickly than you can ask for it.

Thanks to the recommendation of the enthusiastic Turkish man seated next to us, we sampled brilliantly colored sumac and green plum juice, and somehow saved room for a few bites of candied green walnut for dessert. The entire walnut –shell and natural green outer husk- is doused in sugar and clove and is left to sweeten until soft enough to enjoy as a delectable dessert.

The cross-continental pilgrimage was well worth it, and save for the copious amount of bread consumption, this naturally vegan meal was probably one of the healthiest I’d eaten. Now that’s what you call an Ottoman-sized feast.

Day 6 of 30; Postcards from Turkey

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~ by maureenmoore on July 14, 2013.

One Response to “Ottoman-sized (vegan) feast!”

  1. That is a good-looking plate of food; yum! ~jm

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