Tag Archive | Muhammad Ali

Dining at Uskudar, NYC’s Best Turkish Restaurant!

Uskudar Interior Shot
All Photos By Gail

Heavyweight Champion Mohammed Ali once said, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.” Promoting itself as a Taste of Istanbul in the Heart of New York City, Uskudar Turkish restaurant’s 30-year dedication to authentic and delicious dishes has earned them a reputation for serving the very best Turkish cuisine in the City. Stop in for a visit and you will soon discover that the food speaks for itself.

Olives

Uskudar’s Chef/Owner Ibrahim Ozdemir began his 40-year career in the restaurant industry baking bread in one of Istanbul’s biggest hotels. When he opened Uskudar on the upper East side in 1987, his objective was to serve dishes whose flavors could transport diners to his homeland, if only for a few hours.

Turkish Bread

Ozdemir still bakes the fluffy, chewy bread that arrives at your table hot from the oven, and he takes care that every dish he serves is as fresh and authentic as possible. Even the lamb they serve is butchered on site. Uskudar’s extensive menu offers something for every palate,  including chicken, seafood, lamb and an array of vegetarian dishes. The narrow space is warm and cosy, with exposed brick, and back & white photographs of Istanbul landmarks adorning the walls. With the attentive, friendly service, you will feel at home right away.

I dined at Uskudar with a friend who had been there many times before, and she had been talking to me about the restaurant for weeks before we were able to finally a make date. There were so many dishes that she wanted me to try that we ended up ordering way more food than two people could possibly eat, but it was worth it.

Mucver and Borek

Two must-try appetizers are the Mucver — shredded zucchini fritters fried to a golden brown crispiness on the outside, but moist on the inside —  and Borek — crispy pan-fried phyllo rolls, stuffed with crumbled feta and spinach. Both taste great topped with a little dollop of tangy homemade yogurt.

Meze Platter
Mediterranen Meze Platter

An excellent way to sample many different tastes is to opt for the Mediterranean Meze Platter, featuring generous portions of assorted vegetarian appetizers including Yalanci Dolma (Grape leaves stuffed with rice, black currants, onions, pine nuts), Spinach Tarator (Spinach dip made with  labne — a strained-yogurt cheese — with garlic, and minced walnuts), Hummus (traditional Chickpea dip with tahini, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice), Fasulye Pilaki (White Kidney Beans with scallions, tomato, garlic), Ezme (Tomato, onion, parsley, and walnut spread), and Patlican (Smoky eggplant dip with garlic, yogurt, herbs). Two hungry diners could easily make a satisfying meal from this selection of exotic and flavorful dips, accompanied by a basket (or two) of fresh bread and a generous pour from the wine list. If you are dining with a group, the Meze Platter can easily serve as an appetizer for three to four people. It’s huge!

Chicken Yogurt and Rice
Chicken Yogurt and Rice Pilaf

For an entree, I wanted to try a dish that I had not tasted before, but which had familiar ingredients, so I chose the Chicken Yogurt, which is chunks of chicken breast baked with sautéed pita and yogurt in a little casserole dish. Like all entrees, it comes with a side of your choice of rice or vegetables, and I chose the fluffy rice pilaf.

Chicken Yogurt Close Up

Here’s a close-up shot, where you see that a few colorful peppers and tomatoes have been added for flavor and texture. The chicken in this dish is absolutely succulent, and perfectly season. The sautéed pita maintained the consistency of a firm noodle, and the yogurt blended with the natural juice of the chicken to create a light sauce. This dish was excellent, and it would also be a good choice for a non-adventurous diner (we all know them) who had not tried Turkish food before.

Vegetable Casserole

My dining companion wanted to try the Vegetable Casserole, because although she eats meat, it was one of the few dishes she had not tried before. This dish is very simple,  comprised of a variety of vegetables such as carrots zucchini, potatoes and onions stewed in a tomato sauce, and served with a side of rice or vegetables. My friend asked if she could have a bit of both rice and vegetables as her side, and they were happy to accommodate her.

I will admit that after enjoying so many delicious appetizers, I purposely ate only about half my entree (taking the leftovers home), because I knew what was coming up next: Dessert!

Uskudar Dessert Menu

Uskudar makes all of their authentic Turkish desserts on premises, and while they may have unfamiliar names, you will surely recognize Baklava, a pastry made with many layers of flakey filo dough, baked with nuts and honey syrup. There are also Turkish versions of Flan, Chocolate Pudding, and Rice Pudding on the menu.

Turkish Dessert Trio
Trio of Desserts

Since my friend is a regular customer, she asked our server if the kitchen could put together smaller servings of three of her favorite desserts for us to share. Again, they were happy to do so. Here’s what we ate.

Baklava

This is the Baklava, which is studded with chopped pistachio nuts, gooey with honey, and very rich. One tiny piece was plenty after such a large meal.

Kadayif

This dessert is called Kadayif, which is a pastry that’s very similar to Baklava, except is it make with shredded wheat.

Kayisi 2

Last but not least, you must try the Kayisi: Pouched Apricots stuffed with a whole Almond, and topped with sweet Whipped Cream and finely chopped Pistachios. This sweet treat is simply divine, and I will order it every time I come back to Uskudar. Amazing.

While menu prices are very reasonable, Uskudar also offers a three-course price fixe lunch for just $19, and a three-course ‘early bird’ dinner (served 4 – 7 PM) for a mere $27 — which are unbelievable bargain prices for Manhattan restaurant dining. Whether Turkish cuisine is your favorite, or you’re just in the mood for trying something new, be sure to put Uskudar on your radar to enjoy an unforgettable culinary experience.

Uskudar is Located at 1405 2nd Avenue (Between 73rd & 74th Streets), Just One Block from the 72nd Street Q Stop, In NYC. Uskudar also offers outside catering, and they can host private parties, or small corporate events. Visit Their Website at This Link for More Information!

Kanye West As Saint Sebastian

Kanye Saint Sebastian
Photo By Gail

Kanye West is a person who embodies everything that is pathetic and sad about pop culture. The fact that he is married to a Kardashian sister and worships Dump makes him even more repugnant to me.  I don’t really see how he has fans, but there is no accounting for taste. This mural by street artist SacSix  (part of his #sidewalksandicons series) portrays West as Saint Sebastian. More importantly, it is a take on the famous cover of Esquire magazine from April, 1968 that portrayed prizefighter Muhammad Ali as the famous martyr, which makes it even more polarizing. The mural is excellent, but Kanye is a pathetic loser whose only talent is for shameless self promotion. Yawn City. Please stop making this man famous.

Morrison Hotel Gallery Celebrates The 50th Anniversary of The Beatles Arrival in New York

The Beatles at Airport
All Photos of the Exhibit By Gail (Click on Any Image to Enlarge)

On Thursday, February 6th, one of our favorite venues, the Morrison Hotel Gallery on Prince Street launched a truly exceptional photography show celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first arrival in the States in 1964.

The Beatles, Abbey Road Studio,
The Beatles at Abbey Road Studio, England 1963 By Terry O’Neill

This exhibit was curated by Julian Lennon, who personally selected 50 photographs of his late father, John Lennon, and his band mates Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison to honor the 50th Anniversary celebration, which has been marked by a variety of events this week including the Fest for Beatles Fans going on it NYC this weekend. Twenty-five photos are on exhibit at MHG’s New York space with an additional twenty-five on display at its sister gallery in Los Angeles.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the Opening Reception (Keep in mind that the quality of these original photographs  is vastly superior to my representations).

Ringo Starr
Ringo at His Kit

Paul and George on the Beach
Paul and George on the Beach By Curt Gunther (1964)

Brian Epstein and The Beatles
Brian Epstein and The Beatles By Curt Gunther (1964)

The Beatles with Cassius Clay
The Beatles with Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) in the Ring By Charles Trainor (1964)

The Beatles with Stripped Umbrellas
The Beatles in Scotland By Robert Whitaker (1964)

Paul and John with Ed Sullivan
The Beatles and Ed Sullivan Back Stage By Charles Trainor (1964)

The Beatles at Airport
The Beatles Arrive in NYC By Ken Regan (1964)

Pattie Boyd Signature

Pattie Boyd, former wife of George Harrison and muse who inspired songs like “Something” and “For You Blue” was at the reception and graciously signed my copy of her book.

Needless to say, but you can see I am about to, This exhibit is not to be missed for any Beatles Fan.

The Morrison Hotel Gallery is now Located in its New Space at 116 Prince Street, Second Floor NYC.

The Beatles Logo