Turkey: Celebrating Turkey Week in September

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One of the great things about DC is that they celebrate everything.  This week they decided to celebrate Turkey with their own restaurant week.  Sadly, it was not celebrating the bird, but the country would do.

We decided that would try out Ankara (www.ankaradc.net) out in Dupont Circle.  We knew it was a sign that we picked the right place when we saw signs advertising for it as we left the metro.  We knew were being pointed in the right direction (literally).

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It was a gorgeous night out and you could feel the fall air.  We sat outside on the patio and were surrounded by many others enjoying Turkish restaurant week.  One of the best things about restaurant week (as described in Brazil) is that there is a pre-set menu and you barely have to decide.  This is most likely Bridget’s favorite thing about this week.  Oh yeah and 1/2 price bottle wines, which I happily enjoyed with Bridget. (editor’s note: For once!!)

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Ankara had a wonderful eclectic selection of Turkish foods to choose from.  It was a 4 course meal that we added a delicious bottle of red wine to.  The bottle was a recommended red wine: Kavaklidere Yakut, imported from Turkey.   Other than our sommelier smelling the cork for us, it was highly enjoyed.  (Think I didn’t know what a sommelier was?  I didn’t even have to look up the spelling.  Shocks your brain.)

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I am no big wine drinker but the bottle was killed between us and I am glad we didn’t drive.  Before our appetizers were brought out we were given a basket of bazlama, a circular, leavened flatbread.  It came with some soft cheese, oil and marinated olives in a triple dish.

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For appetizers we ordered different items so we could sample as much as possible together.  The first course I ordered Haydari, a creamy mix of dill, yogurt and garlic.  Bridget ordered an interesting dish called Kopoglu.  This used what to be one of the most popular items in all their dishes, eggplant.  It was sauteed and mixed with a yogurt sauce on top.  Both were enjoyed with the bazlama.

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Haydari in front. Kopoglu in back.

For our second course we ordered what was more of an appetizer.  This time I went with a dish Bridget wouldn’t dare touch, Kasarli Mantar.  It consisted of the most earthy mushrooms I have ever eaten.  They were stuffed with kasar cheese and a Turkish butter.  They just melted in my mouth as I ate them, happily not having to share.  Bridget ordered something that reminded me of a vegetable latke, zucchini fritters with carrots, dill and potatoes.  They were delicious and went well with my Haydari.

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For our 3rd course, entrees, we ordered a couple of outstandingly tasty dishes.  Bridget went ahead and ordered something I wanted so it screwed me all up.  She went with the Tavuk Sis, marinated chicken kabobs.  Nothing about these kabobs were boring or bland.  They had so much flavor and you could tell were marinating in an amazing blend of seasonings for a long time.

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After Bridget ordered what I wanted this got me a little confused and slowed me down.  I wasn’t sure what to get so I asked for a recommendation.  Our server let me know that one of her favorites and best thing on the menu was the Ali Nazik.  Ali Nazik is smoked and spiced pureed eggplant with sauteed lamb on top.  I was very hesitant after ordering it and regretted after she walked away.  When they brought the dish out and I had my first bite and then I was then more hesitant to share with anyone else, don’t care if she is my fiancee.  The dish was incredible and the flavors were jumping all over my tongue.

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We were beyond stuffed but of course could not pass up our 4th course, dessert.  Now to me dessert is the best meal of any meal.  Two, three, four or 18 courses, dessert wins every time. Bridget went with the standard Mediterranean dessert, Baklava.  It was cooked perfectly and tasted great.  I went a little out of the box, especially for me, going with the Sutlac, a Turkish rice pudding.  You ever eat something and then realize it is totally not what you thought it would be, that’s what I got.  It was not bad; however, it was juts not up my alley.  It was a little too soupy and the consistency bothered me.  Sadly it was not my favorite dessert but being so stuffed I didn’t care and savored my entree from earlier.

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Sutlac
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Baklava

We were definitely big fans of this Turkish meal and restaurant week.  Others around us seemed to be having fun and enjoying their meals.  Including the lady who sat down as we were finishing and ordered a Grey Goose on the rocks to start and a glass of wine for dinner.  No one was going to be having as much as her later.

-Matt

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