Cka Ka Qellu – Part 2

Instagram Post 3/15/2019

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More deliciousness from our visit to Çka Ka Qëllu, 2321 Hughes Ave, Bronx, a couple of weeks ago.

[1] I expected the Mantia në tavë (literally, mantia in a tava, a clay casserole) to be similar to their thin-skinned dumpling cousins called manti from neighboring countries, but was surprised by a drier, sturdier, baked pastry dough encasing the filling; they seemed more like goshtgizhda, the Central Asian meat pies I wrote about a few days ago. These crisp bottomed bites were rescued by a much welcomed creamy sauce. Filled with ground veal (of course) and drenched with yogurt (of course), they were delightful.

[2] The Mantia served in their tava of creamy lava.

[3] Not to neglect our appetizers, each different in nature and temperature (from top moving clockwise): Tarator, a cold yogurt dip with minced garlic and cucumber; delicious warm Sausage Dip made from Albanian veal sausage; Ajavar (you may have seen ajvar), room temp, a savory roasted red pepper spread.

[4] And marvelous pillowy bread called Samun (sounds a little like salmon), so fresh and hot out of the oven that we literally couldn’t tear it barehanded. I’m usually unimpressed by bread but this was amazing; it was perfect with the dips.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, I’m going back to Çka Ka Qëllu, 2321 Hughes Ave, Bronx. Gotta finish off the rest of the menu!

Cka Ka Qellu – Part 1

Instagram Post 3/14/2019

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I had been clamoring to go to Çka Ka Qëllu ever since my friend Dave Cook wrote about it in his popular blog,, last November. I finally got the chance a couple of weeks ago when Dave and I and two other friends got together for lunch at this Albanian gem tucked away in Belmont’s Little Italy.

[1] Ground veal and creamy yogurt have starring roles in this cuisine, at least what we tried of it. That’s code for “must do a return visit posthaste” because everything we tasted was delicious and in many cases a little surprising. Case in point was this Qofte Sharri, ground veal mixed with kacamak (cornmeal) oozing melted kashkaval cheese; the pleasant surprise came in the form of a touch of spiciness, unusual for this cuisine.

[2] Fasule. This thick, creamy, long simmered soup/stew of white beans and onions featured a chunk of smoked meat that infused the dish with its rich flavor. In retrospect, I think it might have been a good idea to cut it up into bits and stir it back in for the occasional unexpected nibble.

[3] A further surprise (because I had no idea what to expect) was this wedge of Fli, savory layered crêpes in the Brumat (Savory Dishes) section of the menu. According to the Albanian dictionary, brumat means dough – sounds about right; here, it seemed to be a repository for items that are not really appetizers, not really mains and not really sides, but all dough based in one way or another. A bit of cheese and pickled green tomato kept the fli company on its plank (which matched the table which matched the fli). I was told that it takes six to seven hours to prepare this dish; it took a tiny fraction of that to consume it.

Interested? More tomorrow!

Çka Ka Qëllu is located at 2321 Hughes Ave, Bronx.

Home Cookin’ – Albanian Sudzuk Soup

Instagram Post 8/29/2018

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I haven’t posted much home cooking lately, so here’s another experiment pursued with my customary reckless abandon and utter disregard for recipes: Albanian Sudzuk Soup. (Although they probably don’t really make this in Albania. But you never know….) Hot Albanian sudzuk (so many spellings for sujuk!), a dry, spicy sausage, was the basis for this soup; leeks and potatoes figured in prominently along with dried mushrooms and a few herbs and spices, the most significant of which was dill. Added a little heavy cream at the end to round it out.