Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mehmet’s Meyhane & Grill
115 Clarence St
NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9262 1800

En route from A to B, as it were, I found myself (not unexpectedly) passing cafe after cafe, the breakfast menus becoming a homogenous blur before my eyes, my five active morning neurons starting to protest.

Finding myself on Clarence St, I was pleasantly surprised to come across a breakfast menu listing items such as Sultan’s Breakfast, Menemen, Sujuk Yumurta, Cilbir and every Sydneysider’s favourite market munchie, Gozleme.

By this time I had about two neurons firing, but they decided that the Sujuk Yumurta ($8.50) was exactly what I needed, so in I went.

Sujuk (or “sucuk”) is a spicy sausage filled with ground meat (usually beef) and spices such as cumin, sumac, garlic, salt and red pepper. The sausage is then dried for several weeks. Eaten sliced, like chorizo, it is eaten at all meal times including with eggs for breakfast. Sujuk Yumurta is essentially eggs with sausages but happily, spicy sausages.

Armed with their SMH, ready to read Good Living, I was automatically given a bottle of (tap) water, and then offered some Turkish tea.

Turkish tea, or “çay”, is a black tea. It is typically prepared using two stacked kettles (çaydanlık). Water is brought to boil in the larger lower kettle and then some of the water is used to fill the smaller kettle, into which you put several spoons of loose tea leaves, producing a very strong tea. When served, the remaining water is used to dilute the tea on an individual basis, giving the drinker the choice between strong (koyu) or weak (açık).

The tea that I was given was quite mild, and I was told that there was a touch of Earl Grey in it, but this must have been a very small amount indeed, as insensitive palate though I have, Earl Grey is hard not to pick up and I didn’t notice any hints of it in my glass.

Usually when I think of Turkey I think of tea rather than coffee, but it turns out that they are a nation of tea drinkers. In 2004, they had the highest per capita tea consumption in the world (2.5kg per person) and were also one of the world’s biggest tea producers, producing 6.4% of total production. Most of the tea plantations are situated along the Black Sea region, centred around the town of Rize, whose first tea factory was built in 1947. Until 1984, tea production in Turkey was a State monopoly.

Turkish tea is always offered in little tulip-shaped glasses. You can add sugar in it but no milk, and as the gentleman at Mehmet’s taught me, your tea will be refilled until you signify that you have had your fill by laying your spoon upside down on top of the glass.

Enough about tea, onto the food!

Served with a dash of Sumac flakes on top, the sujuk was mildly spicy, enough to flavour the egg (not overcooked, still with some soft yolk evident) but not overwhelm it. The bread was fresh and soft, though given the inherent oiliness/ richness of sujuk, an extra slice of bread would not have gone astray. I also pondered about whether I should have asked for the bread to be lightly toasted, just for that bit of crunch; I think that I may ask them for this next time.

Oh, and “Meyhane” means “wine house”. A meyhane is a traditional tavern or bar in which wine and meze are served. [AP]

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