Food, glorious food


It has been a treat being back in Delhi and hanging out with Meeta, Digraj and their lovely daughter Aashni. Yesterday they took us to a chaat place for lunch, where we sampled papri chaat, aloo tikki, chole batura, pakora,  gol gappa and finished off with a little dessert of ras malai and kulfi. It was all a bit heavy, but very tasty and I enjoyed my food coma afterwards as we made our way to Dilli Haat for a little browsing in the very nice weather.

Ken and I wanted to thank our hosts for their hospitality, so for dinner we took them to a place I had taken my parents many years ago (on their two day stopover in Delhi), and one that Nik had reminded me of a couple of weeks ago, Bukhara. Although a bit tourist heavy, this place serves some of the tastiest meat I have ever had in my life. In particular, a dish called raan which is a roast leg of mutton. They also have fantastic (and famous) slow cooked black dal (named appropriately enough “Dal Bukhara”), and I also sampled some chicken and fish dishes that were delicious.

Feeling happy if a bit bloated, we returned home to pass out shortly afterwards.

Heidi in France


Since Geneva is so close to France, Jonathan took me to a little town in the French Alps today, a place called Chamonix. The weather was perfect, the drive there beautiful. The town itself was not so stunning in architecture, but was in a beautiful setting with mountains all around. We had a walk around and then I ordered some heavy but yummy Swiss dish called a croute, which was kind of like a baked monte cristo with chicken and artichokes. Along with the white wine, I was feeling pretty good for the rest of our walk around the town.

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From Geneva weekend

By itself


My parents are in town for a visit, and we always have fun and manage to do something nice while they are here. This time, I scored us a very-difficult-to-get reservation at Per Se, where we went for lunch today. This easily ranks as the most expensive lunch I have ever had, but we viewed it as a rare and worthwhile experience. I have to say, the menu and extras were extraordinary. We went for the more modest 5 course meal (as opposed to the  9 course one also on offer), and I left feeling quite satisfied. More than satisfied actually, I should have stopped trying the various confections they brought out for us AFTER dessert, ranging from the macarons to various housemade chocolates and truffles and ice cream. I asked the waiter for an insulin shot at the end, but alas they were fresh out. I think the highlight of the meal for me (other than the copious desserts) was without a doubt the Côte D’agneau with merguez and lime scented yogurt.  They apparently change the menu every day, and the mind boggles at the variety of dishes and creativity that must be on offer here over a long period. This is not the kind of place I would go every week (or every month or even year), but it definitely left an impression and I could certainly see going back sometime for a special occasion (if I am in the mood to skip paying rent that month, for example).


Meze and friends


Last night Emre took Olaf and me to an absolutely amazing restaurant called “Meze“. The restaurant takes its name from the selection of small appetizer dishes served before many traditional meals here, and they have a new selection every night. Just before ordering the mains, we were led up to the counter to be shown the night’s meze and ordered the most delicious collection of them I have had yet here in Turkey. We had baba ganoush, a red pepper and tahini dish, stuffed clams, stuffed peppers, lemon seaweed, marinated mackerel, and potato pancakes, among other items. All of them were out of this world. We then moved on to the mains, which were also incredible (I had the pan roasted beef with yoghurt), finishing with dessert (banana, clotted cream, honey and almond thing) and Turkish coffee. My only regret was being so stuffed by the end of the meal, but I could not say no to anything, it was that good. Highly recommended if you should come to Istanbul.

The frisky waiter recommends…


After a somewhat late night Saturday out dancing with friends, I kept a low profile on Sunday, mostly staying in and taking care of a few things. For one, I moved from the 1st floor apartment in the building I am in to the 5th floor one (as planned when I booked the place). Then I did a little bit of work, took a brief walk around the neighborhood, and in the evening I was getting hungry so went in search of something simple. I stumbled upon this restaurant nearby named “Gani Gani”, and although it looked a little too cute inside with its “traditional” style room decor, I was too hungry to go further. I looked at the menu and ordered a kind of Turkish pizza that I had been hearing about (called Lahmacun), along with a yogurt drink (Ayran) and a water. While I was waiting for my meal to arrive, the cheerful waiter passed by with a dessert for another table. He then stopped by my table to show it to me, told me it was “special dessert, like Turkish Viagra.” I smiled a kind of queasy smile at him and nodded, not at all sure what he was implying. He then said I should try it, “maybe with girl you bring”. Was he ever reading me wrong. Anyway, I said thanks, no, perhaps some other time, and he scurried off in the direction of whatever table of undersexed (or oversexed) lovers he was to deliver it to.

A few minutes later some food arrived at my table, but it did not seem like what I had ordered. It was a giant puffed bread and some spicy-hot mincemeat something on the side. I asked the waiter if this is what I ordered and he said,

“This appetizer. Make you hungry. Food coming later.”

And although I was pretty sure he was adding things to my order, I went with it and dug in. It was actually super delicious, and while I was eating it my lahmacun pizza came, and it was also super yummy, I have to say. Here is what they looked like:

Between the two things I was pretty full when done, and so I asked for the check and he said,

“No yet, dessert coming.”

And I just knew I was about to eat Turkish pastry Viagra whether I wanted to or not. He scurried off before I could protest (I am sure he must do this all the time) and came back a couple of minutes later with this:

I thought what the hell, I would try a few bites. It was pretty good, but way too rich for me at that point, made with a tanker’s worth of sugar and melted cheese, I had about a third of it and finally got my check. Although the waiter had indeed added on these things to the bill, the total still only amounted to about thirteen dollars, so I didn’t much care. And everything was really delicious.

Surprisingly, I was not turned into a heaving sexbeast after eating the dessert, I wonder what went wrong?

Chicken for dessert


Last night after dinner in the Nişantaşı neighborhood of Istanbul, my friends Emre and Karpat took me to a place for coffee and dessert. I pointed to something on the menu I didn’t recognize and they got all excited to order it for me to try, so we did. It came and looked like a kind of pudding, and as I put the first bite in my mouth I thought it was closest to the texture of Japanese mochi that I have had before. Then they asked me to guess what the main ingredient was.

“Rice”, I said, with some certainty. They told me that no, that was not it, and to guess again.

“Gelatin? Some sort of starchy vegetable?” Wrong again.

When they finally told me the correct answer was “chicken breast”, I was pretty surprised and maybe just a touch queasy. The dish is called “Tavuk göğsü“, and it was pretty yummy once I got over the cognitive dissonance of having chicken for dessert.

Turkey has been great all around at challenging culinary assumptions, in fact. Just last week we had a dessert made from whole (shell included) candied walnuts and baby eggplant, and it was likewise delicious.




The owner of the apartment where I am staying, Berkay, invited me out to a traditional Turkish breakfast this morning. Although many (but definitely not all) of the dishes were familiar to me, I can’t express to you how much higher quality the taste was compared to their poor relatives elsewhere. Everything was absolutely delicious.

Circassian food


Tonight I went to a really excellent restaurant called “Ficcin” serving “Circassian” food, something I had never heard of before. These people originate just to north of the country of Georgia (from a place called Abkhazia), and the food was somewhat familiar from some of my own Eastern European roots and other places, but with new and interesting twists on things. All in all a unique and fabu meal, and a super bargain at about ten dollars a head.

Food blessings


I am blessed to have friends here in San Francisco (+Bay Area) that appreciate good food, and San Francisco (+Bay Area) is blessed to have an amazing array of it.  The only negative is that one’s first choices are often completely booked. So, for example, we were unable to get a table at Beretta the other night, nor Flour + Water last night (we went close-by  to some still very yummy German place called Schmidts). And don’t even try to get into Frances, they are booked for months unless you are willing to go with only one other person at 5pm on a Tuesday. Still, tonight it is off to still more wonderful places no doubt. And I should mention that this past Sunday night Keith and Marites took me to a fantastic place called Ippuku (where they serve delicious chicken tartare believe it or not). There is absolutely amazing food in New York of course, but there is also a lot of crap. Whenever I am in San Francisco, I feel that the lowest bar is still set quite high compared to most other places. People are really conscious of what they eat, and the competition and creativity here are fierce. Now if they would just turn on the heat once in a while…

Plum Yum Yum


Bidding farewell to my friends in LA, I boarded a plane yesterday for part two of my California Dreamin’ tour: San Francisco. After some chat and catching up with my friends Keith and Marites (and their wonderful girls, Anika and Teah), we met up with Kevin for dinner at a great restaurant in Oakland called “Plum“.  We pretty much ordered everything on the menu and shared it all, and it was one of the most inventive and delicious meals I have had in a long time. One of the things that is so awesome about San Francisco is its food culture. On quality they easily compete with (and often surpass) any place in the world. And it doesn’t hurt that my friends are intense foodies, always on the lookout for great dining.