Friday, May 15, 2015

AQUA @Four Seasons Bosphorus Istanbul introduces new Spring/Summer Menu

Dear readers,

I'm back! I know it's been a while since my last post (sounds like going to confession) and I do have some legit reasons, however, I don't want to bore you with the details... but, I'm back and I hope to write more regularly!

About a month ago... April 16th to be exact, I was invited to a lovely tasting menu dinner at Aqua Restaurant at one of my favorite hotels - specifically the Four Seasons Bosphorus Istanbul! 

Since it was still pretty cool for this time of year, a small & intimate dinner for 12 was organized at the indoor section of Aqua Restaurant to taste some of the gastronomic delights that the hotel's highly talented and creative Executive Chef Sebastiano Spriveri planned on adding to Aqua's menu for the spring/summer season and he wanted our opinion of his new creations.

Aqua Restaurant/Four Seasons Bosphorus Istanbul
Executive Chef Sebastiano came to Istanbul 2 years ago and I have had many opportunities to taste his food, so I don't believe I'm exaggerating when I say he is a creative and talented chef!

I do have a tendency to ramble at times, so first I will share pics of the new menu items and then wrap up my post with some "ramblings"! But, I do want to mention that since this is a "tasting menu", the photos of the dishes you will see below are not the normal "portion sizes" that guests dining at Aqua will receive. 

So... Let's begin!! Our first dish was "Capri style mozzarella cheese in carrozza (or carriage), tomato, basil anchovy ciabatta bread with olive...

Aqua Restaurant/Four Seasons Bosphorus Istanbul
A long name for a very delicate, refreshing and appetizing starter dish!

Our 2nd course was "Country bread bruschetta, tomato, poached baby calamari with orange scented oil.

Aqua Restaurant/Four Seasons Bosphorus Istanbul
This too was a very refreshing and light dish with mild flavors to enjoy on a summer day before a main course!

The following dish was not on the tasting menu given to us and was added afterwards by Chef Sebastiano and I'll be honest, it was my favorite dish of the night!

Aqua Restaurant/Four Seasons Bosphorus Istanbul
This is a very popular dish from Sicily (where our chef is from) and was served to us on a napkin versus a plate because you are supposed to eat it with your hand. It is called "Arancini"  or rice balls stuffed with meat ragu, peas and scamorza cheese and it was absolutely heavenly and rustic. It was so so good that I could have easily eaten a couple more! I must say I prefer Sicilian dishes to all others from Italian cuisine although all regions have very good dishes, but Sicilian dishes are the closest to "homemade" "mom's" cooking you can find in Italy as far as I'm concerned! A good eggplant parmigiana or shrimp marinara from this region are my other favorites but it was the first (but definitely not the last time) I ever had an Arancini.  

Now... back to the menu... our next course was "Sorrentina style gnocchi with buffalo mozzarella cheese, eggplant. cherry tomatoes and basil.

Aqua Restaurant/Four Seasons Bosphorus Istanbul
After enjoying the lovely presentation, you will also enjoy the delicately and perfectly cooked gnocchi accompanied with eggplant to round out the taste.

No Italian meal is complete without a "pasta" dish and our next course was "lemon and black pepper linguine vongole, bottarga and zucchini with lemon zest and saffron. 

Aqua Restaurant/Four Seasons Bosphorus Istanbul
I know I'm using the word "delicate" and "refreshing" quite a bit, but that's exactly how the dishes were. Since this is Aqua's spring/summer menu, Chef Sebastiano made sure he didn't overpower the flavors with heavy sauces, etc. because summer is the time to eat light! The linguine was of course al dente and delicious! 

Usually, soup is served as the first course during a meal, but here we were served an exquisite and creamy "Asparagus soup with morel mushrooms" and fresh asparagus, which happens to be my favorite vegetable: I wish it was available year round!

Aqua Restaurant/Four Seasons Bosphorus Istanbul
Be patient readers... don't forget this is a "tasting menu" so I still have a few more dishes to share with you! We were offered two main course options.

The first one was "Milanese style fried turbot filet with zucchini, black olive and lemon confit.

Aqua Restaurant/Four Seasons Bosphorus Istanbul
I definitely do love fish, especially shellfish, however turbot is my least favorite, so I can't say I enjoyed this dish although it was perfectly cooked. 

Our second main course was "Lamb chop with eggplant, buffalo mozzarella cheese, tomato, basil and arrabbiata sauce. 

Aqua Restaurant/Four Seasons Bosphorus Istanbul
There is this big misconception that all Turks (or a vast majority) love and eat lamb! I definitely do not fall into this category! However, the perfectly cooked and rare lamb chop prepared by Chef Sebastiano is a dish I would definitely order again at Aqua! The arrabbiata sauce definitely added a nice kick for spicy food lovers (like me!). 

The final course of the night: dessert! 

Aqua Restaurant/Four Seasons Bosphorus Istanbul
We moved to Aqua's terrace for dessert so that's why you will notice a "reddish" tint in the photos because the heaters were on (it was still cool to sit outside without heaters). This dessert is "Yogurt parfait with lime, strawberry compote, basil emulsion, strawberry sorbet and crispy meringue". I unfortunately couldn't eat this dessert because I'm allergic to strawberries, but I polled the other guests and they said it was very good and there's those words again... "light and refreshing"! 

Now to my final ramblings... It was a lovely night with good cheer with old/new friends from the media world and Four Seasons Bosphorus team, accompanied with excellent food and exceptional service ... what else can you ask for?

Sibel Benli, me and Leonardo Baiocchi (left to right)
Sibel is the hotel's Director of PR and Marketing and we've shared so many wonderful moments throughout the years (so long I don't recall how long) even before she was at the Four Seasons! I met Leonardo when he was appointed the GM of the Four Seasons Bosphorus Istanbul 4 years ago and although we don't get a chance to see each other more than a couple of times annually, you would think we were old and fast friends! 

Let's not forget our fantastic Executive Chef Sebastiano Spriveri...

with Executive Chef Sebastiano Spriveri - Four Seasons Bosphorus Istanbul
Sebastiano joined the Istanbul team two years ago and I remember meeting him for the first time a short time after he came to Istanbul during an event at the hotel. My first impression was that he was very "serious and a bit distant", but it didn't take me long to realize how wrong I was! Besides being very talented and creative, he's very down to earth, accepts constructive criticism with grace and he is friendly and funny!

So, make sure to add Aqua Restaurant to the list of restaurants to visit this summer (and year round!) for an excellent meal with great service... view and the elegance and refinement that are the corner stones and guaranteed at the Four Seasons properties worldwide... but extra special at the Four Seasons Bosphorus Istanbul because you have the Bosphorus Strait as your backdrop!

Four Seasons Bosphorus Istanbul

Stay well,

Aqua Restaurant
Four Seasons Bosphorus Hotel 
Tel:(0212) 381 40 00
Reservations are recommended for lunch and dinner. 

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