Sorry to have had to take another long break between posts, but between work and getting my apartment painted, I can't believe that a month has gone by!
Although I'm still very busy and clients are waiting for their projects, I had to take a "ME" break and just write for myself! I truly do wish that one day I will have enough money to NOT work and just write posts for my blog!!! I can dream can't I???
Anyway... on to the business at hand! Last week Friday, I received an email from İlknur, who works at Kiraz PR firm and she invited me to a "tasting" at Lucca - MY ALL TIME FAVORITE cafe, restaurant and bar! I was thrilled because Lucca is my "home" and I have been a regular since it literally burst onto the scene in the lovely Bebek neighborhood in Istanbul in 2004 and hasnt looked back!
So, the tasting was scheduled for yesterday - October 16, between 5:00pm and 7:00pm and İlknur informed me that a couple of other bloggers/internet magazine editors were invited.
As usual... I arrived early - around 4:30pm... any excuse to hang out at Lucca as I have been so busy and hadn't had a chance to visit in a while! The tasting didn't start at 5:00pm as planned - most Turkish journalists are not known for being prompt, but that was just fine with me! In the meantime, Cevat Yıldırım, Lucca's head bartender offered me a sample of one of the new cocktails that are being added to the menu for the new season! Although the new menu is not out yet, all of the cocktails I've mentioned here can be ordered right now. The dishes will most likely be available at the beginning of November right after the Sacrifice of the Feast Holiday which is next week.
|Prosecco and "aperol"|
Afterwards, I caught up a bit with Cem Mirap - the owner and brainchild behind Lucca, but this time I forgot to ask him to see new photos of his precious twins!
|Me (left) and Cem Mirap (right)|
Then... we moved over to our table to start our tasting with Pelin Çakar - the smart, spirited and knowledgeable Kitchen Coordinator/chef at Lucca!
|Pelin Çakar (Lucca Kitchen Coordinator)|
We started off our tasting with some of the dishes that are currently on the menu to include grilled fresh asparagus with parmesan cheese shavings, fresh asparagus puree and fresh mozarella cheese.
|Fresh Mozzarella Cheese|
|Fresh asparagus puree|
While we were enjoying these regular treats from the menu... Cevat served us another one of his new creations... gin flavored with lemon and lemon zest....Since gin and I haven't been "friends" for over 20 years, I did taste it - it was excellent and refreshing... but didn't want to push my luck!
|Gin flavored with lemon and lemon zest|
|Smoked Salmon Salad|
As it was now time to try just a few of the new goodies (we didn't taste all as it wouldn't be possible!), Cevat prepared a wonderful red wine sangria to accompany the samplers...
|red wine sangria (yummy!)|
First up among the new delights is.... Steak Tartare!
On the more "casual" side... the next dish we tasted was mini hotdogs with a side of seasoned French fries...
|Mini hotdogs with french fries|
Since we really weren't doing a food and cocktail pairing, the next drink that Cevat prepared for us was truly decadent and wicked: Pineapple Express!
|Pineapple Express (totally wicked!)|
Now... on to the piece de résistance dish of the tasting: Duck Confit with teriyaki and ponzu sauce...
|Duck Confit with teriyaki and ponzu sauce|
I love duck and have eaten my share - both in Istanbul and in Paris! My all time favorite was the duck at D'Argent and I can defintely say that Lucca's is almost as good!!! The baby duck literally fell off the bone! Not only is the quality of the duck itself important, but also the cooking technique and Lucca has succeeded at both!
We tried one final drink before going onto dessert... Lucca's version of a Banana Daiquiri which includes of course bananas, drambuie and Havana Club rum...
I have been mentioning Cevat's name left and right since the beginning of this article and here he is below with his night team... he has many long years of experience in the business and has also worked at major 5 star international hotels in Istanbul and has also won numerous awards at competitions.. and he also makes a mean votka martini - just the way I like it - very dry with 3 olives! Of course Kemal and Mehmet are also very good bartenders.
|Kemal Soysal (left), Cevat Yıldırım (center), Mehmet Şahin (right)|
|Bitter Almond Ice Cream and Espresso|
Still on the subject of alcohol, I asked Cevat if there were going to be changes made to the wine list and he informed me that he has some new suprises that will be added to both the wine list by the bottle and by the glass. He did however tell me that Barbare wines, an up and coming Turkish wine producer using organic grapes (my favorite is Elegance which will be on the wine list by the bottle and another red wine by the glass) will be added to the repertoire.
Finally, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the casual and informal food and drink tasting at Lucca and I'm happy I have the chance to share the details on my favorite spot in the city wit my readers.
Lucca is open from noon to 2:00am on Monday and from 10:00am to 2:00am on all other days... breakfast treats are also served... Brunch on Sunday and my other favorites from their menu include Shrimp and Duck Rolls, sushi platter, grilled salmon and köfte (Turkish style meatballs). Also, the prices at Lucca are not cheap, but they are modest compared to "like" venues and sometimes their prices are even lower!
As Lucca (www.luccastyle.com) is usually very crowded, I suggest you make reservations for dinner or even the peak lunch hours. Enjoy!
Photo supplied by Lucca
Till the next time....