A Grand Turkish Meal

Happy Fourth of July! Wishing you all a safe celebration.

I have a few days until I begin culinary school. I’m super excited to start this new journey. From next week, I’ll be highlighting my weekly posts on dishes I’ll be making in my classes. If time permits, I’ll post additional blogs about new restaurants I’ve dined at or exciting dishes I’ve made.

This week, I’d like to share about Turkish cuisine- one of my top five faves. I’m so happy to say that Istanbul Hawai’i has finally opened their restaurant! I remember ordering a lamb-beef doner from their food trucks at Night Market years ago. I would always get excited whenever I saw their food truck. This is a long time coming and I’m so ecstatic to have finally dined at their restaurant.

My friend and I were so excited. The restaurant was packed! We had a late reservation. There were reservations all through the evening. It was busy the entire time we were there. Even near closing, the place was filled. I was so happy to see how busy it was. It shows that the food is spectacular and that business is a success.

The menu was pretty overwhelming. A lot of dishes were very foreign to both my friend and I. I’ve been to Turkey twice; had authentic Turkish food there. I’ve also had Turkish food in Japan as well. My experiences eating Turkish food in its native country to Japan, and at home, have all been very different.

We used our helpful friend, Yelp, for suggestions on what to order. We honestly didn’t have a clue on where to start. We also took my friend’s friend’s suggestions and ordered what she thought was really delicious. Great recommendations! We shared the meze platter, which seemed like a popular dish. The meze platter (top right image) contained the following: fresh pita bread to accompany the three hearty dips: hummus, muhammara, and babaganush. I liked all three dips equally. They were fantastic! I’ve only had hummus before. The muhammara was made with roasted red peppers (not spicy). I’ve heard of babaganush before, but never had it. I didn’t know it was made with eggplant. It was delicious! The other dishes on the platter were: su borek, spanakopita, and peynir and karpuz. The su borek and spanakopita were pies, very similar to each other, but tasted completely different. The peynir and karpuz dish was very interesting. It was watermelon with feta cheese and Turkish olives, drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Not my favorite on the platter because I’m not a huge fan of watermelon, but it was very fascinating to try. The balsamic vinegar made it easier to eat. We ordered the iskender doner dish (bottom right corner image), which was lamb/beef combo with rice pilaf, and a refreshing toss salad, with my fave, tzatziki sauce- whoo hoo! We had to order more pita bread at this point to eat with the tzatziki sauce. So, so good! We chowed down our delicious dishes with some very refreshing drinks: a caffeine-free organic hibiscus lychee iced tea (bottom left image) and a saffron lilikoi sorbet with prosecco. My friend ordered the latter and welcomed me to try it. I am getting that drink next time! Last, but not least, dessert. We saw a lot of images on Yelp of the hatay kunefe dish (top left image). From the looks of it, you wouldn’t think it’s a dessert. It looks like crispy noodles. It’s actually shredded phillo, which is a like a flaky pastry. Underneath the phillo, is glorious cheese, mixed with a honey syrup. Oh, goodness gracious! The shredded phillo is topped with crumbled Turkish pistachio and kaytay, which is a kind of thick whipped cream. Hatay kunefe is a small dish, but don’t let that fool you. It is super filling and rich!

What a meal! Everything was beyond fabulous! I can’t wait to dine there again to try more dishes. I love lamb! Istanbul Hawai’i is the perfect place to go, as there are a lot of lamb dishes on the menu, for both lunch and dinner.

To the land of the free… Happy Independence Day!

Stay safe!

FS x

Easter Genesis

Happy Easter and Resurrection Day! May your Easter weekend be filled with love, peace, happiness, and many blessings, today and always.

Did you know that pink is one of the colors of Easter? My favorite color as well. According to a Southern Living article (2019), pink represents hope and brand new beginnings. Perfect for the my mindset this Easter and spring season.

This year, I’ve added spring to my favorite seasons. I had an “aha” moment. We are generously given so many opportunities to “start over” and live a new life every day. Leave the past behind and continue moving forward as we learn from our mistakes and make better choices the next day. We proceed with perseverance and stay the course on this journey of life. Literally, we have a fresh pristine start every single day. Others believe that every January 1st is a fresh start as we ring in the new year. Furthermore, some believe that the new year truly begins on the Lunar New Year, which varies from year to year. A new year can also begin during the spring season and on Easter Day.

I’ve been reminded to be kind to myself and take things day by day. As New Year’s Day 2021 approached, many of us hoped and wished for a better year as the clock struck midnight. Lunar New Year came and we had those same wishes for the Year of the Ox. Now that spring has begun, I’ve learned to appreciate new life, more sunshine, and fresh beginnings. And today, on Easter Day, it feels like a new dawn all over again.

2020 was a tough year for many of us. Just the same, some of us still feel like we’re living in 2020, a year later. Still feels like Groundhog Day in some sense. I’ve experienced periods of that this year. We’re 1/3 into 2021. The year is far from over yet. I’m still believing for an exceedingly superb year. Let the rebirth begin!

One of the traditional dishes eaten during the Easter holiday is lamb, which is this week’s featured dish. According to Waring (2018), the people of Egypt experienced horrendous sickness and mourned the deaths of their firstborn sons. Therefore, the Hebrew community covered their doors with the sacrificed lamb’s blood so that God would “pass over” their homes. Hence, the meaning of Passover. As Christianity emerged, those newly converted passed on the tradition of eating lamb. Christians also refer to Jesus as the “Lamb of God, as He sacrificed himself to die for all of humanity. John 1:29 in the New American Standard Bible states, “behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

Lamb is my ultimate favorite red meat. I love its gamey and distinctive taste. It’s unlike other types of meat, which makes it so unique, delicious, and special.

Cheers to a wonderful Easter season. Continue believing and hoping for all good things. That is my prayer every day for this world.

In peace,

FS x

References

New American Standard Bible. (2020). Bible Gateway. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john+1.29&version=NASB

Southern Living. (2019). The real meanings behind the colors of Easter. https://www.southernliving.com/easter/easter-colors

Waring, O. (2018). Why do we eat lamb at Easter? https://metro.co.uk/2018/03/29/eat-lamb-easter-7426513/

Eight of 20 Things 2020 Has Taught and Reminded Me + A Lot of Meat

We’re nearing the halfway mark of the lessons 2020 has taught and reminded me. It’s been very exciting to share each fact everyday. I’ve been working on this list ever since I came up with the idea, during the end of spring/early summer, and have been reflecting and recognizing what meaningful lessons the year had shown me. It’s been such an eye-opening experience.

The eighth lesson is:

8. Hugging mends the soul.

One of the things I’ve missed this year is hugging. Hugging my family, friends, co-workers, new people I meet… We love to hug in Hawai’i. The COVID virus has caused a lot of physical separation and distance amongst us all. We’ve gotten creative. In lieu of hugging, we’ve fist-bumped and elbow-bumped one another. However, there’s nothing like receiving a huge, warm hug. Humans need physical touch. It’s how we were built. Hugging brings people closer; it makes us feel loved and essentially, better… It’s healing. It really mends the soul. I always loved giving and receiving hugs. When it’s safe to be in close contact with people again, I will treasure my hugs more than ever. I’m looking forward to that day when we’ll feel safe and free to embrace one another in our arms again without having to worry about a deadly virus in the air. It’ll be so special.

I was searching the Internet about research done on hugging. I was happy to find various articles on the affects of hugging. I found this article from Time: https://time.com/5413957/hugs-are-good-for-you/

Last summer, my family threw a surprise birthday party for my aunt. We held the celebration at 3660 On The Rise. It’s a beautiful restaurant, with several private rooms, which we were blessed to reserve. Customer service was excellent. Everything went very smoothly. Can we talk about the food? OH MY! It was absolutely delish! It was buffet style. We had ordered a variety of meats, like lamb, chicken, salmon, and pot roast. My favorite of all the meat selections was the lamb. Hands down! One of the best lambs I’ve ever eaten in a long time. I was most excited about that being on the menu and made sure I had my fair share of it. Yum!

3360 On The Rise
3360 Waialae Ave.
Honolulu, 96816
808-737-1177
https://3660ontherise.com/

Until tomorrow! Aloha!

FS x

Night Market din din

The other weekend was Honolulu Night Market. It’s a quarterly community event that takes place in the Kaka’ako area. They have various food vendors, shopping vendors, and entertainment. It’s an awesome time out!

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There’s a unique theme with every event. June’s event was entitled “Home,” in relevance to the Hõkūle’a returning home that day, after being at sea, traveling the world for three years.

I was so excited to finally try Turkish food from Istanbul Restaurant food stand. They’re in the making of opening a restaurant and bar soon. I can’t wait until they open!

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The döner plate. Slices of lamb, with rice and salad, and a tzatziki yogurt sauce. Yummy! Tummy was happy!

https://www.facebook.com/pg/istanbulhawaii/photos/?ref=page_internal

I grew my love for Turkish food when I had traveled to Turkey many years ago. It has become my top five favorites! That yogurt sauce is what makes it SO BOMB! Whenever I have red meats and pork chops, I always make a yogurt sauce to pour over. I have a thing for yogurt.

I can’t wait to try more of Istanbul’s food. I’m so happy that we have a Turkish joint on the island!

I was craving dessert and was eyeing the chocolate-banana scone from 9Bar Hnl. I had to try it, and it was soo good! This place is a physical joint at Salt (see map above). They have “real food,” coffee, and baked goods. Great place to chill!

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http://9barhnl.com//

http://www.saltatkakaako.com/stores/9bar-hnl/

Check out Night Market. Next event will probably be in September.

http://www.honolulunightmarket.com/

The weekend is almost here! Yay!