When travelling in Turkey… it really helps to like lamb. Even better to really love lamb in every form you’ve known and then some…. I’m on day 4 of a whirlwind 9 day trip all over this big exciting country – bigger than Texas- if anyone really believes that! Could that be? While they do have great beef here also, I wasn’t here for the beef. It’s all about the LAMB!
By Day 4, I already had lamb kabobs, lamb stew, sliced leg of lamb, lamb shanks twice and ground lamb. I know more awaits me. So far the ultimate has been shredded lamb shank cooked in the form of a cup cake (in a turrine) topped with a tart prune sauce and placed gently (once again) on a bed of creamed egg plant. It was divine! Those Turks really know what to do with their lamb. No lamb chops, however, anywhere!
The menu on the next day at Argos in Cappadocia we were served a Rocket leaves salad which consisted of leaves enriched with artichoke hearts. Also rolled pastry with Turkish Pastrami (very popular in this land of underground caves where slaves had to hide food that would last for months….nuts, dried fruits, dried meats). The pastrami was covered with garlic yoghurt. THEN, out comes the roasted lamb shank with yet another bed of eggplant puree. Dessert was Crem brulee with ice cream. I was very comfortably stuffed to my neck after this lunch and riding on the bus for two hours. Oh, why do we do these things to ourselves?.
Vegetable dishes are also very abundant here with almost every restaurant using their own gardens or purchasing daily at local markets. The combinations chopped up together beautifully make you feel healthy and proud of your eating habits until they bring out the big LAMB!
Day 6 we have arrived at yet another lovely Turkish restaurant – Divan Lokanta-The menu started with everything that I had never heard of exept strained yoghurt and roasted tomato sauce. While it didn’t sound particularly appetizing, at least I could read it. How bad could it be? The main dish was a choice of Grilled chicken leg skewered with melted string cheese, tarragon and “eriste”, flat noodles and veggies.
But since I’m a real lamb lover and still curious how many more ways they would cook it, I chose the Lamb Kebap with egg plant curry, again. Desert was crumpets with sour cherries in syrup. It was as usual, very good.
The absolute highlight of the lamb finale was one of the two best preparations. We had lunch in Cappadocchia at a lovely restaurant called “Somine”. They brought up earthen pots which had been sitting under fire in the ground for ..who knows how long.., this isn’t a cook book.
They were sealed at the top with bread dough. Then the chef invited guests to ceremoniously come to the front and using a big butcher cleaver, chop off the bread top…everyone giggled afraid of chopping off the chef’s thumb or something. They emptied four of these pots into a large serving dish and that served 12 hungry (how could that be) travelers. These were by far the most tender small luscious chunks of lamb I had ever had.
So far I’ve been in Istanbul, Kusadasi, Bodrum and Capadocchia by air, sea and roadways through the mountains and country side.. I’ve seen cattle, chickens, wild boar, peacocks and believe it or not, flamingos…unusual for this country. I have seen no sheep! I have seen no turkeys!