Istanbul Bay

Instagram Post 8/25/2019

As I was eating my way through Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge in search of candidates for my Little Levant ethnojunket, I stopped by Istanbul Bay, the Turkish café and restaurant at 8002 5th Avenue.

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Here’s their version of Karisik Pide; the Turkish word karışık (note the undotted letter I, a giveaway that you’re reading Turkish) means “mixed” and this pide is topped with a mix of Turkish sausage (sucuk, aka sujuk), savory seasoned air-dried cured beef (pastırma, root word bastırmak meaning “press”) and their spin on mozzarella cheese. A generous measure of meat and a nifty boat within a boat presentation too.

The obligatory cheese pull.

Hazar Turkish Kebab – Pide

Instagram Post 8/7/2019

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In Turkish cuisine, “pide” is one of those chameleon words whose meaning changes with context. Always describing something bread related, it can refer to a pita cousin used to wrap around meat and accoutrements, a circular, puffy, seeded (sesame and nigella) loaf traditionally earmarked for Ramadan, or this canoe-shaped dish. Think Turkish pizza if you must: it starts with soft wheat dough called yufka laden with a cargo of cheese, meats (here: chopped lamb and the Turkish sausage sucuk – multiple spellings abound of course), green peppers and onions, baked and crowned with an egg because #putaneggonit.

This one came from Hazar Turkish Kebab, 7224 5th Ave, Brooklyn, one of the stops along my Bay Ridge Little Levant ethnojunket. They offer at least six pide variations along with a raft (no pun intended) of other skillfully executed entrees and desserts. Definitely recommended.

(Okay, the pun was intended.)

Antepli Baklava

Instagram Post 6/27/2019

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A favorite stop along my Middle Eastern Bay Ridge food tour is Antepli Baklava at 7216 5th Ave, Brooklyn. They offer an assortment of savory Turkish dishes as well as desserts including baklava, künefe, and dondurma, the dense, chewy ice cream crafted from cream, salep, mastic, and sugar; you may have seen my past post about booza, a similar treat that hails from Syria. But lately, I just can’t get past the chocolate baklava.

Now, despite my sweet tooth, I’ve never been a fan of standard issue, regulation, honey drenched baklava, but this chocolate version is a cut above. Sweet but not cloying, chocolate forward, the upper flaky layers provide the crunch while the compressed substratum is the repository for restrained syrupy goodness, the two interspaced by a thin barrier of finely chopped nuts. Droolworthy.

When I was told it’s imported from Turkey, then baked on the premises, I remembered a post (and a sample too 😋) from my Instagram friend @gustasian not long ago about the same item with the same appearance and the same taste and the same story that she found in Sunnyside. I’m willing to bet they came from the same distributor too.

Pretty Pastries from Portokali

Instagram Post 8/21/2018

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Whenever I’m in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, I pay a visit to Portokali Gourmet Market at 1509 Sheepshead Bay Road. As their signage reminds us (see second photo), the name comes from the Turkish word for orange, portakal. In addition to Turkish delicacies, you’ll find a respectable assortment of Russian and near-Russian products in this medium sized well-stocked market as well: cheese, meats, olives, coffee, dried fruits and nuts in bulk, preserves and the like, candies, cookies, and fresh baked goods. My guess is that local carbnivores come in to grab a “coffee and” before they start their day.