Metro Morning‘s food guide, Suresh Doss, joins us every week to discuss one of the many great GTA eateries he’s discovered.
He talked to host Ismaila Alfa about a spot in Etobicoke that serves a wide variety of Turkish dishes.
Ismaila Alfa: What is a typical Turkish breakfast?
Suresh Doss: There are many different answers to this as Turkey is an incredibly diverse place when it comes to food, especially as a transcontinental country in western Asia and southeast Europe.
My memories, through travels in Istanbul and Anatolia, are filled with instances where breakfast can be a very elaborate spread on a table with a medley of bite sized items; various olives, vegetables, maybe some cured meats and lots of cheeses cradled with pastries and preserves.
In other instances, it can be a street breakfast where you find a trolley that is filled with bread rings known as simit; chewy bagels that are made by boiling dough, dipping it into grape molasses and then baking it.
And there are very typical Turkish breakfast dishes that you can get at restaurants like menemen, which we talked about before on this show, where eggs and tomato are cooked together in a skillet, like Shakshuka.
Ismaila Alfa: So tell me about where Galata Cafe fits into the world of Turkish breakfast?
Suresh Doss: Can I just say they present all these styles of breakfast? Galata Cafe is owned by Caglar Araz, who is the nephew of Ayse Aydemir, the owner of one of the oldest Turkish restaurants in the city, Anatolia. When Caglar came to Canada about a decade ago, he was helping Ayse in the kitchen there.
Ismaila, in the past seven years or so we have seen noticeable growth in Turkish restaurants and cafes, especially in the past two years. It has become quite trendy both in the city and in the suburbs to see Turkish style cafes. But Galata was one of the first to offer all the highlights of a Turkish cafe experience.
We can start with the pastries. Caglar bakes everything in house so you can get the simit here. If you are a fan of the chewy-style Montreal bagels, you will enjoy these. They’re dotted with sesame seeds, which are nicely toasted and add a good amount of nuttiness.
The bagels themselves are wonderfully chewy if you eat them fresh, and they’re perfect with a little smearing of butter. Then you use pieces of it to pluck some cheese, a little tomato and some herbs, some black olives if you want that sourness.
Aside from the bagel you should also try the breakfast with their pogaca bread, which is fluffier than its simit counterpart. It’s a slightly sweeter bagel that is stuffed with parsley and feta cheese. It is really wonderful. And of course you’re enjoying this with a serving of Turkish black tea which resets your palate between each bite.
Ismaila Alfa: Okay so we covered the pastries. What else should we eat at Galata?
Suresh Doss: As I was saying regarding this wave of new Turkish places in the GTA. I remember one of the dishes that really stood out to me in Anatolia and in the markets in Istanbul is Gozleme. It’s a type of food that I saw everywhere, on the street and in small restaurants. And it wasn’t something that wasn’t easy to find in Toronto until fairly recently.
Ismaila Alfa: What is Gozleme?
Suresh Doss: It is very thin stuffed flatbread, made with yufka. Filo and yufka are often used interchangeably. But there are differences. Yufka tends to be slightly thicker than filo. So you make this flatbread, and then you can stuff it with a variety of things which changes drastically from place to place in Turkey.
It can be with beef sausage, smoked seafood, mushrooms, potatoes, cheeses. I think that’s really the beauty of gozleme. There are now about five or six restaurants in the GTA serving gozleme. And they are all quite different; from the thickness of the dough or the way its cooked on the flattop. Some are folded into a square; some places will roll the gozleme after it’s cooked and slice them into discs and serve them with a side of stews
Ismaila Alfa: So are there different Gozlemes on the menu?
Suresh Doss: There are four types of gozlemes. I think you should try the sausage gozleme. So it’s essentially cheese and chunks of house-made sausage that is at the centre of the yufka, then folded,
Caglar uses butter to brush the pastry; this is an essential element as you want the leopard spotting and the crispness when you cook it on a griddle. You get this nice, salty cheese pull with the toasted yufka. There’s also a vegetarian version that I’ve never seen before. Grilled eggplants with peppers and caramelized onions, black pepper and olive oil brushed on it. It is also wonderful.
Ismaila Alfa: And if you want even more breakfast items, is the menemen worth trying?
Suresh Doss: It is also on the menu, and I highly recommend you try it. If you have leftover bread or gozleme, the pro move here is use the bread to dip into the tomato and egg stew.
Or the other option is the Turkish coffee. Caglar prides himself on his coffee presentation and if you are a fan of that bold coffee style where the grinds are still in your cup, then you will love this.