I raised a puzzled eyebrow at my cousin Luls as she wailed at her 9-year old daughter. First, she orders Lisa a cup of bitter coffee that no 4th grader in their right mind would ingest. Then she demands that my little pink shoe'd niece discreetly stir in the sugar without upsetting the coffee residue at the bottom. All so that we could turn over the cups after our meal and have the waiters read out our fortune. Supposedly a well-known Turkish coffee tradition that I've been in the dark about until I'd bought my touristy cousin and her daughter for dinner at the Köşebaşı at JBR.
Ummm... Luls, I'm not so sure about this. Can we just have our coffee and leave?
No! This is tradition in Turkey, the servers always read out your fortune from the coffee grounds at the bottom of the cup!
But I don't see a Turkish server here, they all seem either Filipino or Indian.
Without the assistance of a Turkish server to read our fortunes, my cousin stubbornly decided to tip over the cups herself in an attempt to show me how the tradition was practised. The result - a brown sludgey mess. If my fortune looks like that, I'd rather not have it read at all.
Anyhow, even if I didn't end up walking away knowing my futures in 2020, I did roll out having had some of my favorite foods at Köşebaşı. I'd first sampled this restaurant on new years eve, and since the time I bit into those tender chicken kabab cubes (Tavuk Sis) rubbed with spices, served up alongside a bowl of eggplant rice - and my own extra sprinkling of sumac - I was hooked.
I think at the time I rated the chicken kababs even higher than some of the best Iranian places I've tried in Dubai, sort of like the Oscars of Kababs...but this time, the chicken was just good. Not worthy of an Oscar, but still very, very good.
Other eats that prompted some major face-stuffing action...
Warm freshly poofed triangular bread pockets studded with sesame seeds (I'm sure there is a more technical Turkish word to describe these, but till someone enlightens me, poofed triangular bread pockets they are.)
The best way to eat them is to de-poof, rip off a piece, and dunk it into a bowl of Kosebasi's hummous, that I've found to be a notch more unique compared to a lot of other places churning out hummous in the city. Or I'd go with one of the many other dips that can be picked off the platter, like Kisir, a salad of bulgar wheat reddened with some sweet-tart pomegranate juice...
...or this intensely creamy yogurt with thick strands of parsley. I could totally see one end of a gigantic hose attached to a tank of this parsley yogurt, and myself happily poised at the other end...turn the yogurt faucet and the thick sour creamy gloop comes rushing through the hose straight into my mouth. To be added to the list of practical kitchen gadgets that I shall design someday.
And here we have my all-time favorite dip-which-is-not-really-a-dip - sundried tomatoes and walnuts marinating in garlicky olive oil.
The tomatoes get plumper by the minute as they suck up the oil and combine it with their own sweet tomatoey juices. A dip that's so good that you can eat it plain - no bread or anything else needed to distract attention the sweet sour nutty flavors mixing about on the plate. I officially put this dip on...*DRUMROLL* my list of Best Seven of 2011!! umm...remember that one?
As with most things in my life, I guess I'd sort of forgotten about the 'Best of' list that I had started compiling here at the start of the new year...but the sundried tomatoes just resurfaced that happy memory and The List has been resurrected from the dust of lazy weeks past. With my Köşebaşı sundried tomatoes squished right in the center there.
Switching to some menu choices where I've had mixed reactions, here's the sampler plate of pidette, the Turkish version of pizza in bite sized form, from the hot appetizers section...
...the ground meat on crispy pizzette one and the cheese boat are my two picks. The spinach pocket, not so thrilling.
The impossible to pronounce Ilik Tavluku Salata had some juicy, super salty cubes of chicken (in my world, super salty = gooood.), but oh Kosebasi, me wants crunchy fresh-tasting lettuce leaves, not mayo and oil-logged soggy patches that bleed out onto the smokey chicken goodness.
The doner kabab. This was a hit the first time I ordered it on a previous visit, but a terrible miss this time around. The strips of lamb and beef had an intensely smokey, meaty doner kabab flavor [good], but somewhere along the way those strips of lamb and beef had an identity crisis and ended up being more like packaged jerky than kabab [BAD]. Dry, dry, DRY. That said, I still munched on them anyway because I'm a sucker for all things smokey and meaty.
One other dish that we didn't venture to order this time around, but that's definitely among my top picks, is the icli kofte - meatballs stuffed with spices and other yummy things that deserve to be part of any appetizers order when you have more than just two hungry women + one fourth grader at the dinner table.
Talking about having a fourth grader at the dinner table, always helps to have a super cute kid at a restaurant with you. The servers will usually grin and wave goodbye like they're your best friends...even if you've wrecked their table cloth by spilling coffee grounds all over.
(PS. The Köşebaşı bill did emerge later from the dark recesses of my purse. Turns out, poofy bread is called ballon bread...balloon bread...couldn't have described it better.)
The Walk at the Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai, UAE
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