Ahh, The Mediterranean

I’ve partaken in eating a significant amount of Mediterannean cuisine in the last month and I thought I’d share its intoxicating effects with you. This week I will expose some of my favorite Mediterranean foods and where they can be found so you can get a taste of the good life.

The highlights of the week are Spanikopita, Acili Ezme, Procuitto di San Daniele, and the wonderfully well known Feta Cheese. Spanakopita is a Greek pastry with a filling of spinach, feta cheese, onions, egg, and seasoning. The filling is wrapped in layers of phyllo pastry with butter and/or olive oil. Acili Ezme is chopped fresh spicy green peppers, vine ripened tomatoes, and onions with parsley. Procuitto di San Daniele is a dry-cured spiced Italian ham that is usually sliced thin and served raw. It is a traditional Italian antipasto, and my favorite! Lastly, Feta Cheese is a brined curd cheese traditionally made in Greece with goat’s and sheep milk. Feta can vary in flavor from salty to tangy and is now made in other regions.

This week’s posts will guide you to some of my favorite NYC spots where you can find the freshest Mediterranean ingredients around. Stay tuned for reviews and recipes including:

Limon
Ithaka

Greek Salad with Lemon Herb Chicken
Cavatappo

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Limon

Turkish food is one cuisine I haven’t really dabbled in, so I figured I’d try out a local BYO, for my first Turkish experience. Limon is a quaint, no frills, Turkish restaurant located in the heart Grammercy. Despite its tight quarters, Limon is quite homey and has a great selection of traditional Turkish cuisine.
Limon was recommended by a friend and had been given great reviews on Menupages. Since groups with 6 people and above are required to order the $35 prix-fixed menu, we were happily served an array of hot and cold appetizers, a full selection of entrees, and dessert. Our cold appetizers were a mix of dips and pita served on four plates which included the following:
Hummus, chickpeas with tahini, extra olive oil and lemon juice

Cacik, chilled creamy yogurt blended with chopped cucumber, mint, and dill with a touch of garlic

Smoked Eggplant Salad, smoked baby eggplant blended with red peppers, fresh herbs and extra virgin olive oil

Acili Ezme, chopped fresh spicy green peppers, vine ripened tomatoes, and onions with parsley

All of the dips were very flavorful and very authentic. The reason for our dinner was actually to say goodbye to Noa, the Israeli Soldier who staffed our Birthright Israel trip. Noa was in New York for a few months and is finally returning to Israel. We figured we’d send her off with the best of Israel in New York. Well, that actually wasn’t our intention, but even she admits that the Hummus was pretty tasty.
My favorite of the bunch were the Eggplant Salad and the Acili Ezme. I’d never had Acili Ezme before but it had a nice spicy kick and great texture which made for a perfect compliment to the seeded pita.
We were also served what would be considered a traditional Israeli salad and Turkish Zucchini Pancakes such as:
Coban Salad, fresh chopped tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, green peppers, and onion tossed in extra virgin olive oil and Turkish wine vinegar

Mucver, pan fried zucchini pancakes drizzled with homemade yogurt sauce

The Coban Salad was nicely flavored with the perfect amounts of parsely, oil, and vinegar. The acidity in the salad balanced out the saltiness of the dips and made a nice amuse bouche for the zucchini pancakes. Though I must admit, the zucchini pancakes were not my favorite. I expected them to be crisp, but instead they were quite soft, bordering mushy and bland in taste. The tangy yogurt sauce was tasty and luckily made the zucchini pancakes more tolerable.
Our group mostly ordered the Seabass and an assortment of Kebabs. The portions of the entrees were very large and seemed to be thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. I ordered the Seabass and though I liked it, it was hard not to injest a handful of bones in every bite, making it difficult to enjoy. I did taste most of the dishes and agreed that they were all very tasty. Below you can find photos of the rest of the dishes.
Levrek Izgara, grilled whole fish of mediterranean seabass drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil served with a chef salad
Chicken Adana Kebab, finely chopped chicken, seasoned with green and red peppers and parsley, grilled on a skewer served with grill vegetables and traditional turkish rice
Lamb Adana Kebab

Mixed Grill Yogurt Kebab, marinated chicken and lamb skewers over homemade tomato sauce and pita bread topped with a garlic yogurt sauce
Manti, poached tender beef dumplings
served in a garlic yogurt sauce
Kaides Guvec, baked shrimp, mushroom,
and tomato casserole topped with melted
turkish kasar cheese and served with rice
Limon turned out to be a great place to go for our group of ten. Though the $35 prix-fixed dinner was required, we were able to get a great variety of traditional Turkish cuisine, which made the price well worth it. I definitely recommend this restaurant if you’re looking to try something new in the BYO world.
Limon
238 E. 24th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue