Today I finally get to share something with you that I’ve wanted to share for a while. One of the reasons my posting has been so spotty of late is that I have been busy working on an interesting new project for BABAJI PIDE, a new venture by famed London restaurateur, Alan Yau, which places pide centre stage while celebrating the many pleasures of Turkish cuisine.
Working with Simon Johnson from THAT Magazine, we’ve been creating content for the new website, which just launched and you can view here. I’m pleased to say that I’ve done all the original photography for the site so far as well as a bit of writing too.
A high point in the work so far was getting to shoot with Ayse Dilek from FOOD PROJECT, who shared this recipe which you can make at home. So as a bonus today, I’m including the extremely delicious pide recipe she shared to make at home and tide you over until you can drop in on BABAJI PIDE on Shaftesbury Road in Soho. Here it is:
MOZZARELLA, COTTAGE CHEESE, SEMI-HOT PEPPER PIDE
INGREDIENTS (Makes 5 pides)
500 grams flour
12.5 grams olive oil
10gr granulated sugar
12.5 gr salt
1 grams fresh yeast
625 grams mozzarella / Turkish string cheese (if available)
375 grams cottage cheese / Turkish Çökelek (if available)
25 small pickled semi-hot peppers
Add fresh yeast to warm water (slightly warmer than lukewarm) and wait until it dissolves, set aside.
Combine flour, olive oil, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Make a trough in the centre and add the yeast mixture. Using your hands knead the dough together until it is smooth and consistent. Cover with a damp tea towel and allow to rise for minimum 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 180C.
Divide the dough into five equal pieces. Using a thin rolling pin, shape each portion into an oval.
Place ovals onto an oven tray. Distribute the toppings equally among the ovals.
Drizzle with olive oil and bake for approximately 10 min or until the pide dough is golden and crisp at the edges.
Serve with some fat dollops of Balkan style yoghurt and roughly chopped fresh mint & parsley … afiyet olsun! And drop me a line if you try the recipe at home, please. I’d love to know what you think.
In Istanbul between Wednesday and Sunday this week? Give yourself a little gift. Take a wander through THE MOVING MUSEUM which has turned a multi-storey carpark in Şişhane into an exhibition space. Open from 12-6pm it’s definitely worth the small entrance fee. I hope to see more novel uses of public space like this in the near future. This city needs the inspiration. And it’s a couple of short steps from the metro line. So, no excuses. Make a date before it’s too late.
I have a confession to make. Wait … I have two confessions to make. One, I have neglected the blog a bit lately and for that I am genuinely sorry, so I hope today’s post helps rectify my shabby behaviour. Two, I have an addiction.
My addiction led to wanton coffee consumption all across Istanbul. Worse, not all of that coffee was virtuous. To be honest, much of it was downright awful. You see, I did not know the origin of my espressos and lattes. And, yes, I am ashamed. Fortunately, a little over two years ago, I met a coffee snob who helped reform me. I am a new man, thanks to Çagatay Gülabioğlu. In coffee, once more, I trust.
Thanks to Çagatay’s high standards, he drew the attention of Mr Mehmet Gürs, top chef and the founder of Istanbul Food and Beverage Group, who has since become involved as a patron of coffee excellence. My own personal stake in this story is that I have had the pleasure of doing a couple of photo shoots with the new Kronotrop gang, both at their Cihangir shop location and their roastery, and truly enjoyed myself witnessing the processes involved to brew a worthy cup.
Perhaps to some coffee seems like a rather mundane affair, but in all seriousness, I really like to explore the processes and the degree of attention which the people who work together to bring me — and, I hope, you too — a much better cup of coffee. Think of all the different people a single cup of coffee connects. It’s the attention to detail and the eagerness to share a better experience which I can relate to and inspires me in my work.
Above and below are some of the keepers and outtakes from the shoots.
Today it’s all about you, blue. You show up anywhere and everywhere. You’ve even claimed the planet. You tend to play it cool, sometimes too cool, but you know you’re just too primary to ignore. You extinguish fiery reds to create presentable purples and silence screaming yellows until they’re gentle greens. You’re the hero of summer and the tyrant of winter. What would we do without you?
These days there seems to be a lot of debate about what is and isn’t Turkey’s official line on just about everything. Recently, this discussion spilled over into what Turkey’s national drink is — with one rather prominent member of Turkey’s elected government stating: ayran (pronounced: “I ran”). As tempting as it is to boycott something on that basis alone, it really wouldn’t be worth it. Besides, you can’t really blame a drink for its fan club, now can you? Like blaming lager for louts … perhaps I digress?
Made with yoghurt, water and a pinch of salt, Ayran is a powerhouse of refreshment — whether you’re depleted after a day in the heat, a night out, or suffering from insomnia, there’s something magic about this drink. It sets you back on your path somehow. It’s also pretty flippin’ tasty with a spicy meal.
Next time you’re feeling a little under it all, I recommend you reach for an ayran. Whether you have it with mint or not is up to you. I’m going to add a little honey to my next batch, so I can get sweet and savoury all at once. Is that a controversial move? Should I dare to mess with Turkey’s national drink? I really don’t know. Should you drink it in a tin cup or a glass? I rather prefer it in a glass.
If you want to make it yourself, I figure that it’s about as easy as falling off a bicycle. It also has the virtue of allowing you to control the salt content. I find the trick is to put a ratio of about 2 cups of plain yoghurt to one cup chilled water, plus a pinch or two of salt and then blend them together till it’s good and frothy. I hate lumpy homemade ayran, so that’s how I make it myself. Some people use cucumber water instead of regular water for an extra dose of cool. Again, whether that’s adulterating your ayran experience, or whether it’s truly Turkish or not with cucumber water is not for me to say. Turkish purity control is not my concern. I hope you have the freedom to enjoy your ayran in whatever way, shape or form you prefer. Peace be with you.
These days a private garden, shielded from the clamour and chaos of the city is an increasingly appealing idea. For those of us who can’t yet bring ourselves to abandon the manic pattern of our urban days, we can at least find a corner or two in which to plant a seed or two of happiness. With this in mind, Murat Patavi has brought us Epicure, named after Epicurus, the famous live-for-the-moment philosopher, who taught his students in his private garden groves outside Athens.
Located in the neighbourhood of Armutlu, opposite Mr Patavi’s Sushimoto restaurant, the store stocks everything you might need to create your urban oasis, with lots of low maintenance succulents, planter pots, clippers, soil and spades and plenty of decorative details and all sorts of other accessories, which can help you celebrate today and create an escape for tomorrow.
bilgi sok.no:23/b armutlu etiler, İstanbul, 34450, Türkiye
+90 (212) 323-13-53
Istanbul has been sweltering. And even that tricky little trickle of water and so-called strait, otherwise known as the majestic Bosporus, doesn’t seem willing or able to wash the heat out even at night. As I’m cooking for guests tomorrow, I thought I’d start by giving an old favourite a new twist, a cooling little concoction I’m calling”limonade” because I used more limes than lemons. Now let’s introduce you to the key flavours of our episode today …
6 cups of ice cold water
1 cup of brown sugar loosely packed
2 tablespoons of honey
small bunch of basil (washed)
small bunch of mint (washed)
1 inch of ginger peeled and cut into discs
INSTRUCTIONS: Wash all the ingredients thoroughly. In a small pot on a low, low heat dissolve brown sugar into 2 cups of water. Add ginger discs. Zest one lemon and one lime and add to syrup mixture. Do not boil the syrup and remove from heat once sugar is dissolved. Stir in honey and then set aside to cool. Squeeze all the lemons and limes and strain them into a pitcher. Add mint and basil leaves. Once syrup is cooled strain mixture to remove ginger discs and add to pitcher. Add remaining 4 cups of ice cold water to pitcher and stir. Serve with plenty of ice and extra lemon or lime slices.
It’s probably inevitable that anyone who inhabits a loud, sprawling, stinking mega-city believes at one time or another that the only antidote is some form of pastoral life. But would it truly work after a few weeks? If it was somewhere in Prince Edward County it certainly might. Until relatively recently, this large isthmus which juts into Lake Ontario was only inhabited by “Proudly Loyalist” settlers, and overlooked by much of the population of its own province, not to mention the world at large, because once upon a time people, especially Ontarians, sneered at the idea of Canadian wines. Now, however, this latest of Ontario’s appellations proves that’s no longer the case. Winemakers can safely praise such things as the “limestone purity” of their chardonnays and calcaires because over the last decade or so PEC has gained a foothold in the imagination of both connoisseurs and purveyors of enological culture.
For what was once simply a staid but sun-kissed summer land of wheat, corn and potatoes is now a booming area of blue sky thinking on vineyards and green-oriented agriculture. Wine culture has prompted food culture in general to take root as part of the county’s blissful offering, meaning artisanal cheese shops — one of which claims to be Canada’s “greenest” cheese outfit — as well as swanky little bistros, breweries and Waupoos’ County Cider Company (top four pictures), a distillery, and many more food and beverage enterprises have all added their flavour to the County experience.
However, let’s get back to the reason that prompted everyone to flock to the PEC in the first place: wine. The county is simply bursting with vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms. These vary from elegant little rustic outfits operated out of reconditioned barns to ambitious forward-thinking complexes constructed of raw concrete, to cater to the needs of high flyers from Toronto.
Huff Estates, for instance, boasts an impressive art collection, indoors and out, with installations ranging from a few hundred dollars to some which cannot be as easily carried away as a few cases of wine. It also has an inn where you can sleep off the enjoyment of one too many glasses. Sofia’s favourite experience was, however, the Hinterland Wine Company, which also raises free range chickens and has a nice little playground behind its main building for the easily bored, underage set.
Although not pictured, the adult consensus seemed to be that Norman Hardie‘s vineyard was the choice place to while away a few hours. In addition to a very welcoming tasting room Mr Hardie offers up the delights of a patio with a wood-fired pizza oven and some very drinkable glasses of wine. This is a place where they only do the things they can do very well. Which is why it was unfortunate to miss Sunday’s oyster shucking.
Winner of the most charming rustic location visited was definitely Closson Chase Vineyards. With a small air-conditioned tasting room, gallery and a beautifully landscaped garden overlooking the vineyard, you could be forgiven for wanting to take up residence.
This, unfortunately, is just a small accounting of the many delicious and satisfying enterprises taking place. The feeling of just having scratched the surface can easily leave one with a long, lingering itch to return to Prince Edward County.