Warning: Food Post

Trip Start Sep 07, 2006
Trip End Sep 17, 2006

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Flag of Turkey  ,
Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Today's only blog-worthy event was dinner. And oh, what a dinner it was! Initially it was supposed to be a cosy tete-a-tete with my father's friend Akyus and his wife. We'd dine in a restaurant on top of the hill near the hotel, and exchange stories of corruption, cats and grandchildren. However plans changed with an invitation to dine with the Finance Minister, Mr. Ali Baba (I'm not joking. OK, its Babacan, but still.) at the Trilye restaurant, listed in the free Ankara guidebook as one of the top 10 restaurants in Ankara. My father cursed. I silently sang with joy at this freeloading opportunity. Usually, while on holiday, I share my room with roaches and rats, surviving on MSG-laden roadside food, so you must understand, this doesn't happen every day.

The restaurant was very cosy, with gas lamps for the garden outdoor
tables, and low lighting indoors. Ali Baba was very young (39!!), rosy-cheeked and looked as if he'd just stepped off the set of the Sopranos. I half expected him to break into Italian-accented English. Apart from being Finance Minister, his other portfolio is lead negotiator in the talks for Turkey's accession to the EU.

Drinks: Finally tried Turkish Raki (from the Arabic arak), a strong liquor made from plums, grapes or figs, depending, but always flavored with aniseed. Didn't really like it; normally things that taste medicinal appeal to me, but this one just tasted like...mouthwash. Switch to white wine!

First came cold meze (like tapas), the equivalent of Chinese 8 Treasures or 16 Beatitudes or whatever. Shrimp, Octopus (resembled pig intestine in a good way), Seaweed, Broccoli and fish (marinated and tangy, but rubbery=bad).

Next, appetizer. IMHO this was the best: squid lightly battered (oh so lightly!) and cooked to PERFECTION. Texture, seasoning perfect. Some sort of tartar sauce on the side as well.

Next, appetizer 2: Turkish equivalent of Butter Prawn.

Next, main course: Grilled Seabass with salad in olive oil. The seabass was so fresh that no sauce was needed. The olive oil was so light you could barely taste it. The fattier parts of the seabass were heaven. I left the lean bits untouched, my husband is going to have a tumour on his face at this rate.

Finally, dessert: a single profiterole on the center of the plate, enveloped in peanut-butter and chocolate sauce.

To my left was a Dutch man with UNCTAD based in Geneva. Across the table were two Turks, conference organizers. To my right was the entrance to the kitchen where earnestly solemn waiters bustled, hovered and constantly eyed our glasses. Conversation centered around life in Geneva (no one seems to have anything very positive on this one), Turkish places of interest and the merits of Ethiopian vs. Turkish coffee. Everyone very surprised to find out I was chinese (including the Dutch man who has known my father for years). Dinner ended when Ali Baba rose to his feet (followed by his bodyguard who had not eaten but had been standing vigil in some corner occasionally mumbling into his mouthpiece), everyone else rose too and bade him farewell. His manners were impeccable. English 4/10, manners 8.5/10, Capability of pushing Turkey into EU ????
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