Thursday, July 23, 2009

L'ola depth

Like I outlined in my last post, L'ola is a Spanish/Mediterranean fusion restaurant. They use lots of saffron, mint, parsley, onion, and, of course, garlic...who could forget that one?

The restaurant is located in Arnavutkoy, a little town (city section) right along the Bosphorus. It almost has a view, haha...if only that darned Abracadabra restaurant wasn't in the way. If you are looking at the picture on the left, the water is about 150 ft. to the right. My friend, the cheese man is directly behind where I'm taking the photo. The cheese man speaks German, so we can interact a little bit.

The restaurant is very classy and has a beautiful interior. It sits just below a boutique hotel called Villa Denise. This hotel has about 5 rooms and has recently been popular among the American Jazz singers coming to sing in the Jazz Festival. Both establishments are owned and run by Aydin-bey, who is shown below sitting with Erol. Aydin-bey is the proud father of a Hamilton student, Zeynep. He is also into classic cars and used to be the president of Istanbul's Classic Car Association. I think he's up for re-election soon. Very cool! He told me if I do a good enough job in the kitchen, he'll give me a Rolls Royce!...pshh, I wish. Aydin-bey is extremely jovial and I am very thankful to him and his staff for putting up with me!

The restaurant interior is small, but very welcoming with a nice hardwood bar, assorted chairs made with red fabric and wood, a chandelier, and a nice assortment of classic car models, Spanish paintings, and smiley service.

The chefs downstairs work their butts off and make very good food. It is a treat to watch them make paella, bake an anniversary cake in the shape of a heart, or work magic with the deep fryer.

If you ever get a chance to come to L'ola, you must try the saffron calamari with homemade bread for dipping. You must also try the paella or paella marinara. The tapas are delicious and delightfully arranged. Any of the desserts are spectacular, especially the pistachio cream dessert. And, the apple-strawberry sangria is a treat!

I'll give you a run down of what I've learned to cook at L'ola:

1) saffron paella
2) bechamel egg croquettes
3) borek (a Turkish dish made with Yufka and different fillings)
4) focaccia bread
5) dolma (Turkish stuffed dishes including stuffed peppers, stuffed eggplant, and stuffed grape leaves)
6) creme Catalan (a creamy dessert with the flavor of lemon and oranges)
7) a pistachio cream dessert (almost like a crembroulet)
8) a vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon custard
9) cheesecake
10) a number of spinach and rice dishes
11) miscellaneous small dishes