Talking Turkey - Turkish Cuisine in Florida
Ethnic restaurants with Turkish flavor are springing up around the state.
The biggest cluster of Turkish food is in the south around Hollywood, where Istanbul on the Beach has been serving kebab, bean salads and more for 20 years.
The appeal could be in the savory spicing, the healthful attributes of the Mediterranean diet or an unquenchable lust for olive oil.
I think it's really that we love meze, the Turkish word for little snacks eaten at anytime of day, starting with Spanish tapas and going all around the Mediterranean in bars, cafes and coffee houses.
Casual, welcoming, refreshing, they seem small but you can make quite a feast of them.
In the latest incarnation, Turkish restaurants are outgrowing corner store locations and faded images. Six years ago, Bosphorous opened on posh Park Avenue, giving Winter Park boulevardiers a menu that goes beyond kebabs and hummus, red lentil soup and white bean salad. The Turkish-American owners and Turkish chef Halil Ertane included okra sautes and two meaty native favorites, a fried liver appetizer and Turkish pastrami. Turkey also has a place, the elegant Anatolia,?on the Sand Lake Road near Disney.
In Lakeland, Turkish cooks have drawn a crowd under the banner Cafe Zuppina. The name is Italian for little bowls of soup because Berna Nar cooked in Rome before she and her husband, Erkan, opened this place, serving her soups as well as a full Turkish menu. It's long on vegetables, from leeks and celery root to carrot slaw and zucchini pate plus lamb chops and a beef brisket that borrows its mushroom sauce from Romania.