Turkish cuisine – hands up if you know much about it.
Our hosts were chef Somer and his wife, Asli, and they provided a feast of dishes for us to try. I won’t go into detail about the dishes, as Simon has written an excellent roundup here.
Just some pictures to whet your appetites like they did ours.
Delicious Turkish pide bread, with olive oil and various dipping mixes, including Baharat and Isot (dried pepper) – very spicy and raisin-y in flavour.
Soguk Mezeler (Cold mezes) included cubes of fava bean paste (with delicious chopped dill). Hamsi (Black Sea sardines, confit-style). Midye Dolma (Tasmanian mussels with rice and pinenuts).
Sicak Mezeler (Hot mezes). Pachanga Boregi (borek pastry of sun-dried beef and kashar cheese) – this was my favourite, absolutely delicious intense flavours.
Kadayifli Karides (Hervey Bay prawns wrapped in kadayifli pastry; this dish has been on the menu since the restaurant opened in 2007, by popular demand.
Koc Yumurtasi – lamb’s testicles; not my favourite, although it is a popular offal dish that is eaten in late-night restaurants around Istanbul (good for hangovers). In case you’re wondering, the ‘balls’ have a soft texture, like paté, and the taste is sort of milky, for want of a better word. To drink, we tried Raki, which is an aniseed liqueur that is mixed with water and ice.
A beautiful salad was next, Ahirdayi Salata, of chopped tomato, cucumber, red onion, walnuts and pomegranate molasses.The main was Kuzu Kuzu, a tender trio of lamb, including a tradition yoghurt soup with lamb neck. Beautifully tender, pull-apart, Bultarra Saltbush lamb....mmmm....
Desserts included burnt mastic and cinnamon pudding, a 42-layered baklava, and Keskul, a pistachio, almond and pomegranate pudding (beautiful!). The Turkish apple tea with cinnamon stick, and Turkish Delight were a very delightful way to end the meal.
Before the meal, Somer gave us some background on Turkey and its food, and the way in which Turkey’s neighbouring countries have influenced the cuisine. The traditions of the Turkish palace are also a major influence with a huge staff of chefs being an integral part of the old palace. The traditional flavours and dishes are obviously an influence at Efendy, and the care with which the food is prepared certainly comes out in the presentation and quality of the dishes.To close the evening, Somer and Asli presented a colourfully decorated glass plate clock to Simon for organising.
They also gave us a goodie bag filled with pomegranate molasses, Turkish apple tea, Isot, and Turkish Delight. To emphasise the restaurant’s quest for quality, Somer told us how he originally imported his Turkish Delight from Istanbul, as he couldn’t find any more authentic sweets. Until he discovered the famous Real Turkish Delight manufacturer right here in Sydney, which is even better than the one from Turkey. The rose-flavoured one is so gorgeous, it’s really hard to not eat the entire packet in one go...
We also got a detailed, written description of all the dishes, which I think emphasises the attention to detail that Efendy has. The evening was a wonderful example of Turkish cuisine, and it’s made me hungry for more of their tastes, the meze in particular. And the lamb’s testicles – maybe not...
Efendy Modern Turkish Restaurant is at 79 Elliot St, Balmain, NSW. Ph: 02 9810 5466. http://www.efendy.com.au
Open Breakfast Saturday and Sunday. Lunch and Dinner Wednesday to Sunday.