Your taste buds go on a colourful, tasty voyage along the Mediterranean coast at Azulia, GRT Grand. Cuisines from across 10 countries of the region including Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Greece and Spain find a place on the weekend lunch menu here.
Chef Ethem Aydemir is strongly in favour of the weekend set menu on offer - `The food must be fresh and served hot`, he emphasises!
The wine glass shaped menu card displays an amazing collection of 71 dishes served with wine, Turkish tea and coffee. Guiding us through the menu while we sip at our steaming soups, Mahluta - a cumin-flavoured lentil soup and Sehriyeli Tavuk corbasi - chicken soup with vermicelli and oregano, Chef Ethem talks about the importance of using authentic ingredients to retain the
original taste. Over 90 percent of the ingredients used at Azulia are imported, he adds with obvious pride. The soup is
served with bread wedges flavoured with Zatar, a tangy, nutty Middle Eastern condiment.
This is followed by a selection of hot and cold mezze - the vegetarian ones served include Bourak bel jibneh - baked cigar rolls of cheese infused with herbs; Fatayer - a baked delicacy stuffed with spinach, pomegranate and olive oil mixture; falafel - the chickpea starter coated generously with toasted sesame seeds; and kebbe laktine - walnuts and spice stuffed in
a sweet exterior of bulgur wheat and yellow pumpkin.
The Soujok â€“ homemade, juicy and spicy sausages mixed with garlic and jawaneh - deep fried chicken wings are the
non-vegetarian mezze we sample.
Pizza margarita with tomato, mozeralla, oregano and basil on a zatar-spiced, ultra-thin crust comes in with the mezze for that taste of Italy.
The mezze is served with a variety of dips - the hummus; mutabal - charcoal-grilled aubergine blended with tahina and olive oil and pembe sultan - a pink dip of cheese blended with beetroots and olive oil.
The Yaprak Dolma, a vine leaf roll stuffed with caramelised onions, sushi rice and seasoning, is another Middle Eastern
speciality we`re introduced to.
My colleague is thrilled to see a mention of rocket leaves on the menu and Chef Ethem is happy to bring in a Gevurdagi salad made of freshly chopped rocket leaves, tomatoes, cucumber and pomegranate served with balsamic vinegar.
We`re in for a surprise when a deliciously smooth and creamy mango sorbet makes its way to our table even before the main course.
Main course comprises the Anatolian Moussaka - a flavourful casserole of aubergine, potatoes, chickpeas and carrots, baked
with plum tomato and topped with bechamel cheesy sauce and huta batir zalza - basa fish, the delicate crusty outer of which
is contrasted by the soft insides, and is served with garlic and lemon bandage and roasted zucchini and peppers on the side.
Stuffed to the hilt but eager to try, we await dessert, and cannot help but dig eagerly into the baklava â€“ a Turkish sweet made of crisp pastry sheets layered with diced nuts and baked with clarified butter and served with aromatic honey. The hot souffle has a
delicately baked outer crust which yields to the touch and oozes out a molten lava of bitter-dark chocolate. There is also gateaux fromage, cheese cake served with raspberry compote.
A four-course kids menu and a first hand demonstration of dishes in the kitchen are thrown into this weekend lunch package