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  • Writer's pictureKay Redrup


Unless you have the privilege of entering the Turkish Airline lounge at Istanbul airport or/and travel business class this blog will not help you at all to ascertain what is on offer. Sorry, about that.

I was travelling from Istanbul to Bangkok and the first stop was the lounge. Turgut, is the chef at business class specialising on the mezzes. They had recently changed part of their selection to incorporate seasonal vegetables and have outdone themselves, or rather Turgut has (he's a keeper, TK).

My selection were the green beans, a spinach number, courgettes with rice, green beans with pommegranate, aubergine with yoghurt, beetroot salad and stuffed aubergine. Outstanding, and possibly the least tried was the courgette. Incredible balance of flavour, the pommegranate and green beans were delicious with just the right choice of ingredients, my old time favourite is the beetroot. The recently addition of stuffed aubergine, tomato and grape leaves were on the ok side. But the rest. Well, oustanding!

My second plate was a smaller sample of : roasted vegetables (I just tried the mushrooms and a yellow pepper), stuffed grape leaves, stuffed tomato, butter beans in a yoghurt sauce, aubergine in tomato, The roasted vegetables were knockout. The butter beans, clever and delicious and of course the aubergine tasting so good.

On the aircraft we were met with a trolley of goodies. I went for my firm favorites fearing I had stuffed myself with too much mezzos at the lounge and would not do my evening meal justice. I had a large prawn, smoked salmon, and squid. The squid was a little rubbery but at that altitude a lot can be forgiven, the rest was delicious including the avocado soup.

I opted for the lamb chops and they were melt-in-the-mouth soft. Kudos for getting that done well and also the quality of the meat was evident.

And when dawn broke it was time for breakfast.

Breakfast was strange. I'm not sure why I got what I got but that's what happened. I enjoyed my first course because I'm a lover of smoked salmon, It came with a prawn (always welcome) and celeriac salad in yoghurt. I do feel it should have been celeriac in mayonnaise since there was enough acidity in the lemon that I sprinkled over my salmon and the caper berry to the side. I didn't spend time nor calories on the other items thought.

The next course was sold as a Caesar salad and was everything a Caesar salad isn't. I'm sure there was a typo on the menu card. It looked beautiful, like a little garden of produce but, for me, held no balance of flavour and was just weird. I picked at it a little but liked nothing. Boiled chicken sat on a yoghurt base and was covered in another yoghurt curry base (yoghurt on yoghurt?) topped with candied dried apricots, raisins, tomatoes and sprinkled with dried coconut flakes. A bit of bitter radish to balance the unbalanceable. Were they aiming for Coronation chicken as opposed to Caesar salad? I'm not sure but, apart from the visual, I didn't care for it.

What I would really like to say is promote Turgut as head of everything. He should design the menus and oversee the cooking. That star in the business class lounge has a natural palate that no training can bestow.

Should Turkish Airlines wish to put together their own book of mezzes I would be willing to give my services free for the translations (provided I get a mention) and only if Turgut is the one writing the recipes. Imagine giving a small gift book of mezzes to those that can help promote Turkish Airlines and Turkish food. Or, put it up for sale. It's worth the price. Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi if you are looking for someone for your kitchen can I suggest Turgut. (Apologies for the bad photo but this was after several glasses of fizz).

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