Sibel Pinto is a Turkish chef, caterer and cooking instructor living in Paris. She also organizes cooking classes, workshops, demonstrations, tastings and leads Culinary Walks in Istanbul.
She was born and raised in Istanbul, lived in Milan for three years and moved to Paris in 2002. With a degree in marketing and finance, she left her job at a bank in Istanbul to pursuit her passion for Turkish and Sephardic cuisine. Once she moved to Paris she went to Cordon Bleu to train. She started a catering business featuring Turkish dishes and she also now teaches Turkish cooking at Cordon Bleu.
Sybil has been a fan of my Lunch with Lynn blogs and suggested we have lunch in one of her favorite Turkish restaurants. She chose Derya on rue Faubourg Saint Denis. From the outside and inside Derya looks like a typical modern day French café or restaurant but once you read the menu it becomes apparent it’s Turkish cuisine. Keeping in line with the Lunch with Lynn price tag, Derya offers a two-course lunch for 13.50€.
I asked Sibel for her menu recommendations and had lentil soup to start with followed by Mantar Delmo, a dish made with veal stuffed mushrooms topped with melted cheese accompanied with white rice. Sibel had a brique stuffed with goat cheese and Islim kebop with lamb and eggplant. Even though it was a kabob, her lamb was not served on a skewer and instead a whole lamb shank was presented on a plate topped with strips of roasted eggplant. She offered me a taste and the meat was tender and falling off the bone and the eggplant was smoky.
We spoke about many topics in getting to know each other including both be caterers and chefs, the ins and outs of the business, why we moved to Paris, family, and the similarities of our cultures and our foods (I am Syrian Sephardic Jewish).
After lunch Sibel invited me to come shopping with her for some delicacies at a Turkish gourmet shop a few doors down from the restaurant. While she was having a friendly chat with the owner, I perused the shelves packed with brightly packaged rice, nuts, beans, cheeses, cous cous, condiments and Turkish Delight. I adore Feta cheese and the shop had several varieties. The brick I chose was almost double the size and quality plus half the price I buy it for at the supermarket.
As we parted Sibel showed me two Turkish takeout places, one specializing in soup.
I walk on the same strip on rue Faubourg Saint Denis at least once a month when I get my haircut and all those times I never noticed the Turkish restaurants and food shops but now that Sibel pointed them out, I’ll be getting my monthly fix of Feta and more.
Sibel has been kind enough to share a traditional Turkish recipe which looks yummy. Save me one if you make them.
ZUCCHINI FRITTERS (10 pieces)
2 zucchini (courgettes),
50 grams feta cheese
2 Tablespoons flour
salt & pepper
3 tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs (parsley, dill, mint),
olive oil for frying
yogurt with garlic
Grate the zucchini. Sprinkle with salt and set aside for 5 minutes.
Squeeze as much liquid out of the zucchini as you can to avoid the mix from being too wet.
Add the egg, cheese, flour, chopped herbs and a pinch of pepper.
Mix well to combine.
Heat a pan with olive oil. Scoop a tablespoon of mixture and put it on the pan, flatten with the back of the spoon. Fry for a few minutes until golden, then flip and fry the other side.
Serve hot or cold with a spoon of yogurt mixed with garlic.
28 Rue Saint-Sauveur, 75002
Metro: Strasbourg-St Denis
From time to time I will post links to interesting articles about Paris and France in other publications.
Today it's a great story about the French National Library reopening after a 10 year renovation. Link is below, enjoy!
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