Monday, 1 September 2014

Castle Kebab, Elephant and Castle

Alongside her love of noodle soup, Stealth’s favourite food remains a Turkish/ 'Lesbian'ese hybrid - although I haven't known her to turn down much that's edible, in all honesty. This is borne of two factors; firstly the convivial nature of eating; this is a cuisine where you are served lots of different dishes to share (or, in the Ewing's case, not) with those dining with you; and secondly thanks to her father, who often worked and travelled in Turkey and grew to love both the people and the cuisine. 

So much so, in fact that when Stealth’s sister revisited one of her father’s favourite haunts in Istanbul, years after he last been, they remembered him as Mr ‘Three Rice Puddings’ (a moniker I’m secretly rather jealous of).

Happily for her, Castle Kebab, a new Turkish gaff has opened a few minutes’ walk from Stealth’s flat – there is also ‘The Best Kebab’, (ever so) slightly further up the road, but Stealth considers the extra couple of hundred metres an affront, so I haven’t been able to judge the rather bold claim promised by their name.

While Castle also may also struggle to live up to its regal title from the outside, inside, past the strips lights, chilled cabinets stuffed with meat-laden skewers, and row of chairs for people waiting for their takeaway shwarma fix, is a pleasant, if rather basic, dine-in area.

Efes are icy cold and bought quickly. Stealth barely lets the froth settle on her top lip before another one is on its way. They also offer exotic fruit juices and Ayran, a carbonated yoghurt drink, which is supposed to be rather refreshing in the heat - the Ewing’s a big fan, but I still slightly fear the idea of fizzy, fermented milk and stuck to the booze.

A saucer of piuant pickles and some squares of pillowy Turkish bread turned up to to munch on before our starters; a selection of borek (cheese stuffed feta parcels); kisir (bulgur, parsley, and tomato paste); and grilled onions served with spicy turnip juice - this same juice can also be ordered as a beverage on its own; needless to say, we didn't.

Stealth particularly loved the borek; being both crispy and greasy and with a pleasingly molten Feta centre that reminded her of holidays on the Bosporus (or something). I’m not even sure I got to try the kisir – so much for this sharing lark – but it looked very pretty anyway. The onions were good; a mix of sweet and sour with a charred and smoky edge.

Stealth chose her main from one of the trio of changing stews in the window; her pick being an unassuming but brilliant mix of waxy potato chunks and lamb kofte in a thin tomatoey gravy and topped with grilled tomatoes and green chillies.

I continued with the cop shish - very similar to the standard shish kebab, but with smaller chunks of meat, meaning more surface area for all the delicious crispy crunchy bits. The lamb was superlative, tender, and juicy and smoky; while the tomato flecked bulgar and fluffy rice alongside did the job of providing ballast.

A little too much ballast perhaps, as we got half way through before downing forks, defeated. No matter as the Ewing was a very thankful recipient of the doggy bag I schlepped all the way home, even managing to transport the two pieces of baklava back without too much syrup spillage. 

With our usual over ordering and enthusiastic beer consumption I didn’t have the chance to sample even one of their Sutlac (rice pudding) let alone a trio, but something tells me we’ll be back before very long. 

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