Even if you've figured out that there's more to Turkish cuisine than just kebabs, it's easy to feel after a while that there's nothing new under the sun, culinarily speaking. The seeming boom in Black Sea restaurants in Istanbul has been a bit of a revelation -- I can't remember the last time I went to a Turkish restaurant where there were so many completely unfamiliar items on a menu. OK, just three or four, but still! And sometimes, if you look hard enough, even the most traditional spots can hold a few surprises.
- Tahinli pastry -- Something like a cinnamon roll with a thin coat of peanut butter between each layer. (Possibly an Armenian recipe.) At a small, nondescript take-out bakery on the shore road in Beşiktaş.
- Kaygana -- Reminiscent of a crepe, an omelette, and a potato pancake, but made with kale, leeks, and hamsi (anchovy) filets. At the Black Sea meyhane Mohti.
- Gelincik suyu (poppy juice) -- Ruby red and refreshing, if a bit of an acquired taste. Can also be served hot in a tea-like form. No narcotic properties that I could discern. At a cafe on Bozcaada.
- Kabak ezmesi (pumpkin dip) -- Creamy and just a bit smoky. At Zübeyir Ocakbaşı.
NOTE: In other food-related news, I've got a guest review of the fabulous restaurant Lokanta Maya up today on Istanbul Eats, the best website in town for people who love to eat.