Pasha in the Press

Posted On: 8/23/2005

Turkish Delight

by Marisa Marsey
IS THERE A WORD or phrase in Turkish equal to amuse - bouche, French for the little taste the chef sends out with his compliments before a meal commences? The question flitted across my mind as i tucked into sheep's milk cheese sprinkled with walnuts and olive oil graciously delivered mere moments after placing my order at Pasha Ottoman Bakery & Cafe on a recent evening. Sinking deeper into the soft cushions lining wooden bench of the corner table, I quickly realized that the delectable surprise from the kitchen wasn't the only thing erasing thoughts of the congested parking lot and runaway shopping carts just beyond the door of this Chesapeake strip mall storefront. Traditional music of an ancient land, exotic yet serene, the genuine hospitality of the server in pouf pants and tunic, hair pulled back in a crimson kerchief fringed with bangles, the anticipation of still more Mediterranean flavors, tantalizing to a health - conscious xenophile, all transpired to transport me like a magic carpet.

But this is one flight with impeccable cuisine. Pretty much everything is made fresh, with mostly organic produce. Turk Plate presents many of the cold and warm appetizer options in one fell swoop, from velvety hummus and stuffed grape leaves redolent of mint to mujver, delicately fried zucchini patties, and parsley pierced red lentil fingers tasting mashed chickpeas. Delicious grilled calamari, stuffed with shrimp, crab meat, mushrooms and capers, look like tiny urbans beneath a rich draping of melted mozzarella and permesan. Luscious red tomatoes peek out from sandwiches such as rosemary chicken , a breast marinated in herbs, sweet onion and olive oil, layered with cheddar, acuka (akin to mayo spiked with red pepper), and brisk emerald green lettuce on pita. that crispy, just baked bread and those same juicy tomatoes also appear in Porta Bella, along with a large grilled portabella mushroom, roasted green peppers, invigorating red onions, fragrant basil, fresh mozzarella and spnach-artichoke spread.

There are kebabs, skewers of chicken and lamb, that associates with Turkish fare - the yogurt accompanying Lamb Akdeniz Kebab shows you what yogurt shold be (the Turks, afterall gave us the world) - as well as seafood offerings such as grilled wild salmon and shrimp casserole, served in a clay bowl with an ocean of shrimp and the briny perk of capers. In fact, Ferit Kaynak, who opened Pasha Mezze a year and a half ago with his sister Sibel Evrenosoglu