January 26, 2011

Cliffside Park, NJ. October, 2007

A Turkish meze plate in New Jersey? Yes, at Dayin Yeri, a big party to honor Nick’s big birthday. A beautiful Sunday afternoon, a restaurant he’d frequented since our vacation in Istanbul, a menu selected for this special party from memories of our vacation meals. Hummus, two takes on eggplant salad, cacik (yogurt, cucumber, garlic, mint) and, of course, acili ezme. I say “of course” because our daily consumption of this spicy red pepper salad/relish was so central to our stay, it became Nick’s Istanbul nickname. (He still sometimes signs emails to me with AE.) Trying to find examples of it and recipes for it back home indicated one thing: Lots of people call lots of things acili ezme. Some restaurants serve a muhammarah (walnuts, pomegranate, hot pepper) and call it AE. Online and cookbook searches turned up many tomato variations but nothing like we remembered...until the Turkish husband of an old acquaintance provided a recipe that was just within tweaking distance of the real thing: tomato, onion, peppers, parsley, paprika, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, pomegranate syrup, red pepper paste. Of course, if you really want the genuine article, you have to go to Istanbul. Or Cliffside Park.


  1. . . . or the taxi we once shared with a driver carrying on about how "they will give you a meze."

  2. "Meze" is of course the evil cousin to "Tapas", a favored ploy of disreputable restauranteurs whereby a few pennies worth of food can be sold for the price of an entree.