On the Couch with Somer Sivrioglu

Somer Sivrioglu
Somer Sivrioglu

Just back from leading a gourmet safari exploring the culinary pulse of Turkey, Some Sivrioglu took a few moments to sit down with us in Sydney to tell us more about growing up in Istanbul and more importantly where to get the best kebab and baklava in Turkey. Join Somer’s next mouth watering Turkish adventure departing 31 August 2014.

1) What were the most memorable moments of your first World Expeditions trip?
There are too many to count but 89 year old Pando, the famous Kaymak maker, flirting with the ladies on the trip saying he would propose to them if he was 10 years younger is up there, along with having an intimate cooking course at Mount Ida with chef Erhan picking up most ingredients from the mountain.

2) Did you discover any new dishes?
Of course, half of them are on the new menu and the other half on the upcoming book.

3) How do you judge a good yoghurt?
Definitely not by the look, a good yogurt should be pale in look and separate if you stick a metal spoon in it as it has live culture in it. Those shiny cream like yogurts look like that because of the chemicals in them to make it look like that.

4) What is the most surprising thing do you think people find about Turkish Food?
Abundance of fresh fruit (figs, pomegranates, sour cherries) and vegetables and how vegetarian friendly the food is.

5) On the tour you spent 5 days in Istanbul. Can you share a couple of your favourite places with us? We promise we won’t tell too many people.
Everyone that knows me would know my favourite place in Istanbul is Ciya at Kadikoy, but there were a few new finds this year. On the street level – my secret yoghurt place is Kanlica and Pando’s Kaymak shop; at the top end – Mikla’s amazing degustation menu.

6) What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten in Turkey…or anywhere for that matter?
Weirdest would be McDonald’s, as I still don’t understand how they can survive in such a proud food culture. As to daring, if you ever go to one of the offal soup shops in Dolapdere in Istanbul, Apik being my favourite, it would challenge even the most daring palate. You may say weird, I say wonderful.

7) You were born in Istanbul. What are the greatest changes you have seen there since you were a boy? Have you seen much change in the food scene?
Istanbul has always been a wonderful city of flavors and taste, I am lucky I was born and raised in one of the remaining authentic market areas that is Kadikoy, where most of those markets moved in to shopping malls, Kadikoy and Besiktas suburbs are two of the remaining areas of authentic marketplaces.

As for the restaurant scene I am happy to see the new generation of chefs are proudly embracing their own culture and produce and serving their take on Turkish food in modern restaurant settings, this was unheard of 10 years ago.

8) Where do you go in Turkey to get the best baklava? What about the best kebab?
Simple, to Gaziantep, capital of baklava and kebaps, I am planning to include this secret culinary city as an extension on the next tour so join me for the best baklava and kebap.

9) You own the award winning Efendy Restaurant in Balmain. What do you love about being a chef and restauranter in Sydney?
Really awesome produce, close-knit chef community and the variety of ethnic restaurants.

10) What is something you think most people don’t know about Turkish food?
How seafood driven it is in particular around Istanbul and Aegean regions, we had more seafood on the last trip than we had red meat.

11)  Last Meal…what would it be and where?
At a seaside fishermans den in Beykoz in September, eating Lufer on charcoal (Bosphorus bluefish variety), rucola salad and a glass of raki with friends overlooking the Bosphorus.

Images courtesy of Somer Sivrioglu from his recent tour with World Expeditions. Learn more about Somer's 2014 Turkish Delights tour and the 4 day extension to Gaziantep, home of baklava, kebap and pistachio.

Somer Sivrioglu, on the couch

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