Fri09192014

News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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Travel in Turkey offers culinary delights

Photo Leyna Lightman/Special To The Town Crier Diners in Istanbul eat at Hotel Les Ottomans' Bistro Funfatale, which offers grilled portobello mushrooms and rib-eye steak.

 

Some people visit Turkey for the ruins. I go for the food.

Every year, I return to my native land hungry for the meatballs, kebabs, pilaf, dolmas, baklavas and boreks of my youth. The dishes all have poetic titles, like “The Priest Fainted,” a stewed eggplant entrée, or my Aunt Çolpan’s Kadin Budu Köfte, which means “Fried Lady Meatballs.” They provide a gastronomical feast for the taste buds.

OK, the awe-inspiring views, art and Istanbul nightlife beckon to me, as well.

However, a big part of the draw is Proustian, triggered by the sight of the ubiquitous tulip tea glasses balanced on swinging trays. I long for the food that fed an empire.

American newspapers report that Turkey may be turning East to cash in on relationships with its neighbors, in response to the European Union’s unwillingness to accept the country into its 27-member club. For decades, however, Turkey has been knocking at Europe’s door. The fallout from trying so hard to get cozy with Europe includes Julia Child-inspired dishes served in upscale restaurants that no longer resemble Turkish cultural heritage.

According to my book on Ottoman cookery, Turkish cuisine draws from the countries that were once under Ottoman rule, encompassing the Balkans, the Aegean, the Caucasus, Syria, Lebanon and Anatolia.

During a recent voyage to attend my brother’s big Turkish wedding at the Marmara Esma Sultan, I searched desperately for the breakfasts of my mother’s kitchen. I envisioned an elegant feast of feta and kasar cheeses, shriveled black olives, crusty bread and bowls of fruit preserves made from sour cherries, oranges and strawberries.

My first attempt was the House Café, 1 Salhane Sokak, Ortaköy, where the “Turkish breakfast, with tea” costs $12. Other menu selections included mista and Caesar salads and, yes, that American favorite, mac and cheese.

The curmudgeonly waiter served me a plate of French and Dutch hard cheeses easily found in the deli cooler at Draeger’s and some dainty artisanal bread. The blackboard menu advertised dietetic items with fresh, organic produce “to keep you fit.” I could have driven to San Francisco.

Another morning, we ventured into the posh “Kitchen” at the W Hotel in the newly renovated Akaratler district, where we were staying. Built by Sultan Abdulaziz in 1875, this neighborhood of row houses used to shelter manual laborers from the nearby Dolmabahçe Palace. Now the area includes designer shops like Marc Jacobs, and Haremlique, where you can buy thick Turkish towels for sky-high prices.

The W Kitchen listed a $25 Turkish breakfast, which also came with hard French and Dutch cheeses and artisanal breads, as well as tablespoonfuls of whipped butter to spread on them. Several large olives dominated the plate, but they were green-pitted and Kalamata varieties, more suited to salads. Although it included watermelon and cucumber and tomato chunks, this was not my mother’s breakfast, either.

When I told my mother, who was hosting wedding guests, how hard it was to get a decent breakfast, she suggested the cay bahçesi (tea garden) at the Kanlica dock. It was on the Asian side of the Bosphorus and we were on the European side, so we didn’t make it.

If we didn’t have a local guide, the Çiya Kebapçi in Kadikoy would have been too hard to find. But we made it through meandering, narrow streets – and the menu was worth it. Here, one could sample cooking from different regions of Turkey, like the casserole from Diyarbakir, the sour-cherry meatballs from Malatya and the bean dishes from Antioch and Adana. There are three different Çiya restaurants, all specializing in different food.

I hesitated to enter the kebapcis we passed, but we found tasty meatballs, or köfte, at the historic Sultanahmet köfteci (sultanahmentköftesi.com), 12 Divonyolo Caddesi. We also sampled an excellent çoban, or shepherd’s salad, and lamb shish kebabs, served with fried potatoes, all at reasonable prices. Shepherd’s salad, a staple in Turkish homes, includes chopped green peppers, onions and tomatoes. Another favorite is Turkish pizza, or lahmacun, which is thinner and less saucy than the American version.

On the way home, we saw the Besiktas fish markets, where one can buy fish sandwiches on baguettes. The vendors always take the time to arrange fish artfully, and one stall displayed small, open-mouthed whiting splayed like silver commas atop the biggest grapevine leaves I’ve ever seen. Most fish is sauteéd with butter and onions and accompanied by raki, which is called “Lion’s Milk” when mixed with water. Raki also accompanies the meze, or appetizers of cheeses and hummus or eggplant puree.

We often drank ayran, a yogurt drink, at fast-food places invariably marked by the name Palace, like Simit Palace, which serves the legendary pretzel-like bread covered in sesame seeds. These places seemed to offer cheaper food, more traditional fare eaten by the natives, not tourists.

I couldn’t leave Turkey without visiting Istiklal Street to buy pistachio lokum, or Turkish Delight, and badem ezmesi, almond paste, at the Haci Bekir pastry shop, founded in 1777.

More and more, some Turkish movers and shakers seem to have the attitude of “Who needs Europe?” At least in the culinary arena, they may have a point.

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