210 - Turkish Street Eats at Pizza Pide
Mustafa Ardic used to own a bustling buffet restaurant in Istanbul before deciding to trade shores for east-end Toronto. Luckily for us, Mustafa brought with him years of restaurant experience which translates into some of the best Turkish street eats making know-how found here in the city.
Pide (PEA-day) are long, thin crusted pizza-like breads that curl up at the sides and ends -like row boats working hard to keep all of their savoury cargo on board. A handy menu behind the cash register outlines the multitude of mouth-watering choices, with colour pictures above each description to help the pide novice avoid confusion. On the hot summer day I met Mustafa and his kitchen crew, I was treated to a feta cheese pide called beyaz peynirli that’s served piping hot with fresh parsley liberally flecked on top. Accompanied by some freshly cut watermelon slices, this feta and fruit pairing was surprisingly terrific (seems Nigella Lawson beat me to this flavour combo as she features a feta and watermelon salad recipe in her cookbook).
I’m told the Karisik pide is Mustafa’s best seller; touted as “every slice is a different taste”, a party-pack of flavours goes into this concoction, including slices of sucuklu (cumin-scented Turkish sausage), pepperoni, pastrami, veggies and cheese - it’s really an all-in-one kind of pide.
For something completely different and every bit as Turkish, try the cracker thin Lahmacun. A spicy and delicious paste of ground beef, peppers, onions, tomatoes, parsley, and herbs gets slathered on a thin crust disc, baked to perfection and devoured in mere minutes! You can even wash it all down with the thirst-quencher of choice in Turkey, the ayran. A salty yoghurt beverage that’s fermented, it’s like having a mildly carbonated dairy drink that will transport you to Istanbul, even if you’re swigging it back in Leslieville.
949 Gerrard East, at Pape