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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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