P1060026Last time I had a dinner date with Katia, we went to Africa. The time before that, it was Malaysia. And tonight we decided to pop a little further north to Turkey.

We met at Peri Ela, a skinny slice of a restaurant in the Upper East Side. As a vegetarian whose only knowledge of Turkish food involves an inexplicable hunk of grey meat spinning in the window of a greasy restaurant at 3am, I was interested to see my options.

In fact, I ate so much that I can barely walk. We started with a dish of smoked aubergine eggplant, which we scooped up with slabs of bread, while I sipped prosecco and pomegranate cocktails (what a lush – it’s Wednesday!) The mushy, garlicky dip is the sort of food I’ll be thinking about for days (and probably be smelling on me for that long too).P1060035 P1060038

For my entrée, I went for a tomato and okra stew, while Katia enjoyed swordfish skewers. While I can’t get enough of okra, the stew was a little like a can of Heinz tomato soup dumped on top. Hmm.

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But this wasn’t going to put me off. When Katia gently refused dessert from the waitress, I hollered for a serving of baklava. Oh sweet, sticky, heart-attack inducing baklava. Such a tasty, deadly mix of pastry, nuts and oil. Delicious.P1060028

It was polka dot fest in honor of Kate Middleton

It was polka dot fest in honor of Kate Middleton

Of course the whole meal also came with lashings of gossip, and the atmosphere was perfect for it. At first I wondered if the crowd was a little old, but this place was cracking. While I might not have fallen in love with the stew, the other courses, cocktails, service and my hot date more than made up for it.

And I discovered that Turkish food is much, much more than a grey spinning hunk of meat.


Where’s (the) Wally?