Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Pumpkin in Turkey

Guest post from Judy Shulman

No, I am not going to talk about stuffing a turkey with pumpkin. I’m writing about a restaurant in Göreme, Turkey called Pumpkin Göreme Restaurant and Art Gallery. Dinner in this cave-strewn landscape in Cappadocia became a delightful treat.

Pumpkin Göreme Restaurant and Art Gallery
Hot Air Balloon ide are very popular in Cappadochia.

From the minute you walk into Pumpkin, you are warmly greeted and seated. Small niches filled with classic Cappadocian handicrafts such as miniature cave houses and pierced dimly illuminated gourds create a glowing ambience. An evil eye “tree” hangs above the blazing fireplace, much appreciated during our late March visit to the area.

Oguz Kaya or simply Ozie owns Pumpkin.  He previously worked as a chef with the Continental Hotels in Istanbul and Berlin. His wife hails from Göreme. Lately, Ozie says he kisses his wife ten times a day to thank her for his release from the fast-paced frenzy of hotel restaurants. In Göreme, he can take his time to create simple, fresh fare in a relaxed setting. We watched him in action, cooking and schmoozing, tending the fireplace, and moving heavy tables in and out of the small restaurant.

Oguz Kaya

A fixed-priced menu is featured, costing less than $25 per person, and includes five colorful and flavorful courses.  Local fresh bread comes first, brought to the table along with a dish of olive oil decoratively sprinkled with Turkish spices.  A comforting vegetable soup (nothing like the standard American vegetable soup) followed.  

Classic Turkish meze included tightly rolled and stuffed vine leaves, a slab of salty feta, bright red tomatoes and sweet green cucumbers along with Ozie’s version of koftas or vegetarian meatballs. Chef Ozie uses a mixture of bulgur, tomato paste and vegetables. He told us he attributes his good health and youthful looks to vegetarianism.
Meze is beautifully arranged.

Although the meze was primarily non-meat, the menu offered a choice of grilled chicken or the classic Anatolyan beef and vegetable stew. We chose different main courses in order to share the flavors. Both entrees were both visually appealing and mouth-wateringly tender.
Chicken Plate

Beef Stew

Dinner is capped off with a small plate of fruit, stiff but creamy Turkish ice cream and a tiny square of the yummiest baklava, plus tea or coffee.
The Dessert Plate

The restaurant seats about twenty, in addition to a small outdoor area for overflow during high season.  Reservations are necessary as we watched three different groups turned away. You can’t just “pop in” for dinner.  The pace is slow, and we appreciated the encouragement to relish the taste and enjoy the atmosphere.

Pumpkin Göreme Restaurant and Art Gallery
Igeridere Mah.
7/A Göreme/Nevsehir

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