Thursday, November 18, 2010

Shop the Season: Mmm...Enfes!

Rebecca offers a comprehensive guide to the sweet and savory Turkish menu found at The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park.

I stopped by the Turkish food shop, Mmm...Enfes!, a week ago and was struck by the vast assortment of mysteriously named but delicious looking food offerings. The line was so long I couldn’t wait though, so I decided to come back.

I re-visited the shop yesterday at lunch time and came prepared! I rarely encounter foods with names I don’t recognize, but Turkish is a cuisine I am not very familiar with. So I spent some time preparing my appetite by researching these Turkish delicacies. Here's what I learned (of course, the friendly owners will gladly explain each dish, when there isn’t a line 10 customers deep.)
  • Bourek  fried or baked phyllo pastry with a savory filling, generally cheese.
    • Gözleme  savoury hand made and rolled pastry. Fresh pastry is rolled out, filled and sealed, then cooked over a griddle. 
    • Gül böreği  börek variations which are rolled into small spirals and have a spicier filling than other börek.
      • Acili Ezme  a Turkish Style Tomato Dip.
      • Baklava  a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and much of central and southwest Asia.
        • Salep  a Turkish food made from the roots of several species of orchids. Traditionally, the roots are ground and sold in a powdered form, with cooks adding salep powder to hot beverages, desserts, and sometimes ice cream, as well. Classically, salep is offered as a winter beverage, made by whisking the power in with milk, sugar, and spices.

        I tried a few items: a spinach Bourek, a spinach and onion Gözleme, and a piece of Baklava. Unfortunately they’d run out of the Salep, so I’ll have to stop back for that.

        The Bourek, which was fresh grilled, was crispy on the outside and filled with spinach and crumbled cheese. It was delicious – similar in flavor to a Greek Spanikopita, but more dense in texture. 

        Next I tried a Spinach and Onion Gözleme, which looks like a huge savory pancake, rolled up and served hot off a grill. I preferred the Bourek, but both were great. This dish seems to be more popular, judging from the dozen or so customers I’ve seen ordering/eating them. (And, by the way, I couldn’t finish both in one sitting, they’re filling foods.)

        I can’t admit to being new to Baklava, but I have to say, Mmm…Enfes’s version is the moistest and most honey-laden I’ve ever tasted. I’m not sure if there is supposed to be a magic culinary balance of honey to nut to pastry, but I never think there is enough honey, so I have no complaints!

        Stop by, try some new dishes – you’ll be glad you did. Editor's note: Roughly translated from Turkish to English, 'mmm...enfes' means 'mmm...delicious'. Sounds about right!

        Booth F01 at the NW corner of the park (map)

        The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park 
        Official hours*
        Monday – Friday: 11am – 8pm
        Saturday: 10am – 9pm
        Sunday: 10am – 6pm

        *Look for special extended hours as Christmas approaches. Some shops may be open on Thanksgiving and Christmas days.

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