Saturday, October 5, 2013

Cooking with Muso at Ocak Restaurant

I was welcomed into the home of Ethem and Muso at Ocak Restaurant and Guesthouse in Goreme. I made the journey to explore the Cappadocia area and was welcomed into the home of a wonderful Turkish family. I loved them as soon as I met them. Ethem explained his home had been in his family for 5 generations. I had read the reviews on and new that I was going to enjoy my stay.  Etham greeted me at the bus station and we jumped on an ATV to his guesthouse. Muso was there to greet me and show me my room and offer me breakfast. The food was fantastic. A Turkish breakfast that I looked forward to each morning. I tasted my first golzeme...which was a delicious thin bread filled with potatoes and herbs or cheese and herbs. As I watched Muso preparing the vegetables for the day, I asked if I would be able to cook with her. "Of course, no problem" she responded with a smile on her face.
I helped her prepare vegetables for the pottery kebabs and realized I am not good at peeling garlic or tomatoes. But I worked my way through it. When I finished chopping all of the hot peppers, red peppers, green peppers, tomatoes and garlic. She took me to the kitchen where we added the lamb to the mixture.
We added a few spices (salt, pepper, paprika and a special herb mix). Everything was mixed together and then placed in a ceramic jar.
The jars were topped off with a little bit of purified water and a small pat of butter. Then the lid was placed on the jar and I carried it to the fire pit (tandoor) to cook. It cooked for about 2 hours and then was ready to eat. The meat is very tender and delicious. It tasted great on the cold evening!

favorite dish that Muso cooked was acili, a spicy red sauce. It is a delicious, spicy sauce that is only made at the end of the tomato season. I watched as she cleaned and chopped vegetables and eventually joined her with chopping. Afterwards everything was put into a food processor and chopped down further. Muso cooks like my grandmother, by taste. The acili was made of hot peppers, green peppers, red peppers, tomatoes (skins removed), garlic, olive oil, a little sugar and salt. The peppers and oil were added first and cooked and then the tomatoes were added with sugar and salt. She cooked all of this on a huge pit over a fire in the courtyard.
The smell was enticing. As I sat writing my blog, Muso brought me a beer, a basket of bread and fresh hot acili sauce. I was in heaven! I ate so much bread that I was full when it was time for dinner. I decided to have a salad and lentil soup. Another perfect meal!

I told Etham and Muso they should offer a weekly cooking class. He showed me how they could cook an entire lamb in a tandoor he had built himself. Ah, if only we could do that during my stay but it is a 2 day process and is too much food for the few of us staying here.

Well, I have to go. I see a huge bowl of vegetables and want to help Muso on my last day! She is making homemade cake and stuffed peppers tonight. Perfect meal before a bus trip!

I went for an evening walk with Kitmir and the neighbor Abo and his 2 dogs. I completely lost track of time and we hiked further than I had realized. I missed my bus! Abo was nice enough to walk with me to the bus station and change my ticket for the next night. Stupid me! But Ethem and Muso were excited that I stayed an additional night.

I spent my final day relaxing, hiking the area and helping Muso cook. I was not missing my bus again. It became a joke around the neighborhood that I would be staying another week. I made them promise to get me to the bus on time. Muso packed me a can of Acili and stuffed peppers for the road trip. Ethem and the neighbor walked me down to the bus stop. They did not need to do that but it was very sweet. They even carried my bags and waved goodbye as my bus pulled away. I was sad to leave and promised that if my mother and I had time, I would bring her down to meet them in Goreme.

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