Miss. Delicious #77 : Seraser in the Old Town of Kaleici (Antalya)
Dear Steemit friends :
Every now and then, I like to go somewhere against the grain of popular opinion. Somewhere that people have told me isn't worth going to, or somewhere that is too touristy, full of people, uncultured, ugly.. the reasons go on. For my time in Turkey, one such place was Antalya.
Having experienced and seen the beauty and depth of Turkey first hand, I became curious as to why Antalya was singled out as being a notorious tourist spot with no real history and culture to experience, surely all the millions of people who visit there each year have experiences worth taking home with them?
In this edition of Miss. Delicious, we'll be venturing into the heart of the Antalya, deep in the old town district known as Kaleici. Aside from the gorgeous food that is to follow, take your time in admiring some of the surpsingly intact ancient buildings that remain in this little town.
Though evident in age, the Hadrian Gate, is a beautifully intact rustic building that oozes Roman style architecture, reminding us of the rich heritage this, and many other places in Turkey hold.
Legend says that the Queen of Sheba passed through an earlier iteration of these gates. For us, passing through this gate with four pylons and triple arches, grants us passage to the old town of Kaleici and a visit to our restaurant of choice.
Located just a few gentle minutes inside the old city, we arrive at Seraser fine dining restaurant.
It's not a grand entrance, comparable to the likes of say, The Dorchester or The Ritz, but then, Seraser isn't trying to give that kind of fine dining impression, instead, it fits in effortlessly with the local old town motifs and welcomes it's guests through a small side entrance, labelled with only a small plaque and minimalist hanging banner.
You probably wouldn't think of entering this place unless it was your intention all along, and in that vain, I really appreciate it's low profile approach. You will find that the exclusivity comes without the garish illusion of grand luxury fine dining, and surprisingly, a price tag to scorn at.
What you might not notice or even know, is that Seraser is a member of Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.
What exactly is that you might ask?
Here is the description from Wikipedia.
Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is an international gastronomic society founded in Paris in 1950. The Chaîne is based on the traditions and practices of the old French royal guild of goose roasters, whose authority gradually expanded to the roasting of all poultry, meat and game. It is dedicated to fine cuisine and promoting and developing the gastronomic values while at the same time widening its focus to table art.
Entering the restaurant, you suddenly feel like you've entered the garden of someone very important. As if you are the guest of a Royal. Indeed, the mansion house used to belong to a Royal some 300 years ago!
Being a member of a long time secret society of the gastronomic arts, Seraser has done exceptionally well in creating an environment that not only titillates the eyes, but also arouses the stomach.
Before sitting down, I recommend you take a walk around the courtyard, frame your mind and senses for the occassion. It isn't just about the food at Seraser, it's about the people, the place and the experience.
Ambient lighting with various kinds of lanterns, and lamps help with calming down and engaging relaxation mode. You will find quite a few places other than the dining tables to sit down and relax with a drink. After-all, gastronomy is as much about the food, as it is the infusion of art, culture of food through service.
It also helps that the restaurant is enriched with so much vegetation. There are plants, trees and vines absolutely everywhere.
Parts of the dining area are almost covered in lush green trees, shading the guests from the sun whilst the dim lamps create an ever so romantic atmosphere.
Further down the courtyard, you'll also find an interesting area devoid of tables and chairs. This place is decorated with some pottery, vases, and even a mini fountain. A wonderful area to waltz to when you feel a sense of claustrophobia.
Before sitting down, I was pleasantly greeted by a family of cats who seem to have made this restaurant their forever home. Unlike other ferral cats I have come cross, these are very friendly and constantly brushed themselves against my feet and legs as I walked around, and even when I sat down at my table.
The first order of the day, and a perfect way to cool down from the heat and to prepare for the food to come.
On the left, my all time favourite drink (if you ever want to buy me a drink then this is the one to get!) Pina Colada. And on the right, we have the in-house Paradise Cocktail which consists of grenadine, coconut rum, pineapple juice, and Blue Curaçao. I had a sip of this one but Tania is no doubt a better drinker than I, because I felt a rush of dizziness almost immediately after a sip!
First up, we have the Moules Mariniere. These are Steamed French Provance style mussels in fruity Sauvignon Blanc. I personally really like anything of the seafood variety, and was most impressed with the slight alcoholic tinge combined with fresh-off-the-sea rawness.
These sesame seed doughballs are complimentary and served as a perfect activator for the appetite. I actually asked for a second serving of these, because they tasted so good with the Mussels.
Grilled Jumbo Shrimps & Aegen Herbs Cream - Grilled Jumbo shrimps; Aegen herbs cream and artichoke in olive oil.
The prawns are delectable, if only a bit small in serving size. In China, we eat prawns by the kilogram, so two jumbo shrimps really felt like nothing at all - I guess it served it's purpose as an appetizer though.
Cuttlefish Alla Sicula. Opting for more variety over sheer quantity, this was the third starter we opted for. Luckily, the serving sizes are quite small so the diversity is actually very welcomed. This particular dish consists of Sauteed cuttlefish with aged sweet passito; sun dried tomato, parisienne vegetables, capers, fried soya and vegetable ravioli.
It's almost hard to believe that all of that can be summed up into such a small cup size dish.
Sea Bass Wrapped in Wine Leaves
Sticking to the nominal serving sizes of the starters, this dish which consists of Sea bass wrapped in vine leaves; pepper salad and lemon & butter sauce is actually a main course.
I've never eaten wine leaves before, let alone wrapped around Sea Bass, it kind of tastes like a mediterranean version of sushi, except replace seaweed with wine leaves, and cooked seabass with raw fish. Definitely an fusion of tastes which require every bit of the platter to make it taste whole.
Octopus with Santorini Style
Grilled octopus; fried zucchini, potato and vanilla cream sauce, this dish brings back fond memories of my visit to Santorini last year. Although my recollection of the foods I tasted there are a distant memory, I remember how fresh the seafood was, as if I was tasting the sea.
Here, I'm sure the Octopus was alive just moments before it ended up on my plate. The tough chewy texture of the meat unleashed a hint of sea every bite you take but it's grilled preparation allows you to enjoy it like you would at a nightmarket on a skewer. A perfect blend of fine preparation and analogy of local folk style food.
I highly recommend the fried zucchini. Usually it can taste a bit bland because of it's large size, but here it is strips that have so much more surface area to absorb the cream and sea like taste of octopus. It's also a completely different texture to the octopus - a crunchy fried chip like taste, except much more delicate.
And that wraps up our visit to the secret Gastronomic restaurant that is Seraser, hidden in the heart of Kaleici, the old town within Turkey's Antalya. Who said there was nothing worth visiting in Antalya? You just have to go exploring a bit more, and be willing to walk in places through the side door sometimes..
As always, if you liked my post, give it an upvote, do follow me to stay up to date with my adventures, and leave a comment to let me know what you think!
P.S. I'm currently travelling in a new location which I will reveal in the next post. With so much of Turkey left to blog about, expect to find a mixture of posts about different places for the next few!