Soux Vide - Oy vey!
Having thoroughly enjoyed the cuisine of multi talented Chef Elizabeth Lee's myriad dishes on several occasions on board her and Captain Warren's gulet Turkish Delight using the sous vide method, I immediately ordered my 220V Anova cooker from Amazon and went to work.
The concept is fascinating - submerge the food in a strictly controlled temperature water bath for anywhere from 2 to 12 hours, ensuring that the food achieves the same temperature both internally and externally (unlike the conventional direct heat method, which means the outside must be very hot before the inside is sufficiently cooked.)
My first problem was getting all of the air out of the zip-lock bag used to cook the food with, involving some calisthenics on the kitchen counter. My second challenge was using the Bluetooth function from the iphone to send the recipe directly to the Anova machine - I mistakenly sent chicken tetrazzini instead of chicken kiev, so the end result was slightly messy. I'm going to devote myself to soux vide mastery this winter, but my partner Dave suggests that we keep our day jobs.
Chefs are known to be notoriously fickle characters, and chefs at sea even more so. When we took on Chef Mehmet on our 24 meter gulet Why Not during the winter of 2013, we wondered what might be behind his strong glance and firm handshake. Chef Mehmet has turned out to be one of our hardest workers with a most gentlemanly disposition. Always open to new ideas and odd requests, his signature dish is fish baked in crusted salt. In his spare time, he reads cookbooks and enjoys experimenting with new recipes. This summer, he developed a stunning watermelon sorbet which received written email accolades, and his airy crepes are legendary. When a client demanded scrambled eggs with extra large curds, Mehmet Usta didn't even blink. Equally adept on deck as he is in the galley, Chef Mehmet is a valuable asset to the crew on Why Not and to Southern Cross Blue Cruising.
It has been a while since I have so excited about a new restaurant. A group of four long-time residents of Bodrum went for dinner this week and the food and service was nothing short of impeccable.
The husband and wife team are graduates of Bilkent University and the Istanbul Culinary Institute. Set in a beautifully restored old Greek house, Malades makes a special nod to the couple's Cretan ancestry. Some of the highlights were strips of salmon in a fenugreek marinade, fava squares with carmelized onions in a pomegranite syrup, a light and flakey fish kofte and seafood kebab. The enchanting setting, the Greek music, efficient service, and a most creative menu means we'll be back. Often.
When a colleague of ours in Marmaris invited us to dinner and pulled the car up outside of La Kebab, I expected a run-of-the-mill meat meal. By the end of the evening, I was already making plans on how to return to this fabulous restaurant. Everything we ate was sheer perfection. The hummus was wafting with garlic and lemon; the haydari was made with thick, hung yogurt; the lamb shish was falling off of its skewer; the köfte had fresh pistachio ground in with its spices; and the içli köfte was a labor of love. This is not a romantic restaurant – it is very brightly lit, noisy, busy in the traditional Istanbul ”lokanta” style and full of local Turks. Service is brisk and efficient and you will need to hold on to your plate and glass lest a zealous waiter tries to replace it yet again with a clean one. I have never encountered so much flavor under one roof. Well done.
The Flat White Comes to Turkey
During our recent travels in Queensland and California, we kept coming across the ''Flat White'' coffee beverage. Turns out, the flat white has been a favorite down under since the 1970s, but has only made its North American debut (via Starbucks, of course) as of 6 January, 2015.
A flat white is not unlike a cappuccino, but with a much finer, velvety feel to the milk, as opposed to the foam of a cappuccino.
Turkish Starbucks has also introduced the flat white in Bodrum last week. No need to feel homesick, and a good reason to take a seaside stroll.
Restaurant Review - Arka Bodrum
Arka is a gem of an eatery, tucked away off of Dr. Alim Bey and Ataturk Street in central Bodrum. Partners Huseyin Peker and Huseyin Askin teamed up together, with one Huseyin bringing a Swiss pedigree in Italian cuisine to the venture, and the other Huseyin providing the local logistical day-to-day operations.
What makes Arka different? Well, the pizzas are true, genuine, Italian style pizzas on very thin dough, unlike the horrible recent trend of chain-style, yeast-ridden, plastic sponges drowning under an entire stale pantry's worth of processed toppings. My pizza was simply fresh tomato with garlic, just as ordered.
Another neat feature at Arka is the pasta presentation. Choose your noodle, and pair it up with your sauce. Arka are thinking outside of the box - Want Penne Alfredo? Fettuccine Arrabbiata? No problem.
The warm reception, efficient service, full comprehension of special requests, proper wine menu, cold beer glasses and a daily Turkish lunch menu are also notable. Visit them at www.arkabodrum.com
Searching for Symi Shrimp
A beautiful Greek island like Symi is a magnet for summer restaurateurs who serve pricey good food for three months of the year and return to their home countries for the winter.
We were in search of ''Symi Shrimp'', a pink, stir fry of delicious, crisp, crunchy, salty baby crustaceans which has been the local food rage as of late. Trying to avoid the commercial venues along the main harbor, we ventured to a sleepy, lone taverna behind the clock tower and sat next to the lapping Aegean.
Baby-faced waiter: Yes please?
Four middle aged ladies: Rosé house wine, please.
Baby face disappears inside and returns five minutes later: Sorry...
Four middle aged polite women: OK, no problem - white house wine, please.
Baby face: Ok! (eventually brings out a small carafe of warm, cloudy, yellow vinegar)
Sound of females choking
One middle aged witch: Can we please have the fish roe starter?
Baby face: Sorry...
Another middle aged witch: Symi shrimp please ?
Baby face shuffles: Sorry....
Blonde (w)itch: Surely you have some octopus?
Baby face wrings his hands.
Girls get up to go: No offense please - Maybe some other time - thank you.
Baby face chasing us down the dock: But you have to pay!
We then relocated to the chic Manos, initially snubbed because it is very much the ''in'' place in Symi whilst we had been searching for the underdog. True to the reviews and feedback, the Manos staff were excellent with our snacks, including saganaki, tarama salata and a well done pink Symi shrimp, and the rosé was perfectly chilled. We continued with an excellent nightcap at Pantelis with a large, stuffed calamari and squid in black ink washed down with a very lethal honey-ouzu home brew.
Our colleagues who operate the boutique hotel ''Su'' in Bodrum were a bit miffed when a restaurant of the same name appeared near the Bodrum cruise port terminal last year, so we engaged in a bit of an emotional boycott of the venue until our curiosity won over.
We visited the restaurant with a writer and photographer from the exclusive magazine Monocle, which is preparing an article on gulet building for an upcoming issue.
One of the outstanding dishes was the fish kokoreç roasted on a spiced spit. This dish is normally prepared with internal sheep organs, but done with a light white fish, was fantastic with overtones of cumin, red peppers and garlic. Another highlight was the stuffed börek - chimichanga burrito style - with octopus, shrimp and calamari. I also loved the cured sea bass with lemon and vinegar.
Su is not cheap - most mezes were between 15-30 TL each. Here is the website.
Magical meals appear seemingly out of nowhere three times per day on your gulet, and it's not often that many of us have a dedicated, personal chef for a week. So what does it actually take to provision a gulet for 7 days for 12 persons?
This late night photo was taken pre-vegetables, fruit, fish, poultry and meat.
Mylos Taverna in Leros
Having been hit with repeated requests for the Northern Dodecanese Greek Island of Leros, we dug a bit deeper and it turns out that people are wanting to eat at the seaside taverna of Mylos. In addition to this humble taverna's rave reviews, including those on tripadvisor, Leros island itself is also very interesting, including the villa-cum-museum that used to belong to Mussolini, and ample art-deco architecture along the coastline.
Certainly one of the most Italian influenced of the Dodecanese Islands, Leros offers beautiful bays, ample history and a stunning crusader castle which is a wonderful hike for those inclined. Leros is easily included in a Northern Dodecanese Island Blue Cruise. Contact us for sample itineraries.
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