A couple of weeks ago we decided it was time to get out the comfortable footwear and blow away the the winter cobwebs by walking to Çiftlik from Çalış Beach. And, although aimless wandering is good, we also decided to kill two birds with one stone by making our inaugural visit to Çiftlik Thursday market (Perşembe Pazarı) to get some food shopping.
After reading our Guide To Çiftlik Market, you’ll know that we quite enjoyed the experience. So much so that we decided to walk there again yesterday. Only yesterday, rather than grab a kebab in Çalış, we decided to try out the mobile food stand we saw parked up on the edge of the market. We’re dedicating this week’s Turkish Food Focus to Ümit Usta’s Çiftlik Market food stand.
And here it is. A long way from the scenes you see at the Fethiye Market food area where scores of food stands vie first for your eye contact before launching into their, “Hello, yes please, pancakes, meat, potato, spinach, kebabs, buyrun,” in the hope of gaining your custom. None of that at Çiftlik Pazarı. Ümit Usta is your only choice – and there’s not a gözleme in sight. Nor, for that matter, is there a ‘Buyrun, hello yes please,” as you walk by; just a polite ‘Hoşgeldiniz’ (welcome) as you take a seat.
And we collapsed into our seats. This time, we’d walked all the way from home so our legs had done a good few miles. And we were hungry. Head said go for a döner kebab or köfte ekmek (sandwich), stomach and heart said go for kokoreç. We had no idea of the quality of food Ümit Usta was serving. Was ordering a spicy, finely chopped lamb’s intestine sandwich a sensible move at lunchtime when it was also our first meal of the day? Well, we were about to find out because neither of us could resist and we both ordered a kokoreç half bread.
The signs were good – two staff cramped in the stand, producing half-bread after half-bread, wrapping them up and bagging them. It looks as though a lot of people order take-away sandwiches from here at lunchtime and it’s always good to know you’re not the only customer. We opened the tub of pickled chillies in preparation and waited for our kokoreç to take its turn on the mini production line so it could be delivered to its two hungry customers.
Ümit Usta knows how to serve up a good kokoreç! Fresh, crusty bread was pressed down on the griddle, soaking up meat juices in the process. The texture of the bread is an important component in the making of any good half-bread and this was just how we like it: warm and crispy on the outside, soft and light on the inside – ripe for juice absorption! And the kokoreç itself; moist and tender (not oft-used adjectives for this particular sandwich filling). It had been cut and cooked perfectly. The pickled chillies were spicy without blowing our head off. It was the perfect lunch after a good leg stretch.
And as with our Izmir döner kebab quandry, we’re now debating whether this is the best kokoreç we’ve ever eaten. We always enjoy going to Şampiyon Kokoreç – but these are two different experiences. Should we compare? Well, let’s cop out and say the kokoreç half-bread served from the Ümit Usta van is the best we’ve ever eaten from a mobile stand. We’ll be back for more!
2 kokoreç half-breads and 2 cartons of ayran cost 9.50 TL