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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Efendy, Balmain

koc yumurtasi lambs testicles
Koc Yumurtasi
Pan-fried lamb testicles with almond garlic tarrator

"The lamb testicles... they taste a bit like sausage."

There's a moment of silence before the table erupts into a fit of giggles at the unwitting comparison.

But it is true. The testicles do taste like sausage, a little bouncy but still soft, like a well-minced chicken sausage in a taut skin. They don't have a lot of flavour, mild on the palate but texture-wise, distinctly spongey and fatty.

efendy light fitting

The lamb testicles appear midway through our Efendy Celebration Dinner ($55 p.p.), commemorating the announcement of Istanbul as the European Capital of Culture for 2010. Each year the European Union chooses a city to showcase its cultural life and cultural development. In 2010, three European cities were chosen: Istanbul in Turkey, Essen in Germany and Pécs in Hungary.

efendy menu
Menu at Efendy

Tonight's dinner at Efendy will feature a menu of dishes that are all specialties of Istanbul.

turkish breads and pastries
Turkish breads and pastries

We start with traditional breads and pastries, made by visiting Turkish cookbook author Deniz Gokturk, the mini pide boats disappearing fastest of all.

turkish pide
Mini pide boats

stuffed mussels
Midya dolma
Traditional street hawker dish of Istanbul Fish Market
- Boston Bay mussels in shell stuffed with pinenut, currant and aromatic baldo rice

Stuffed mussels are beautifully presented, the open shells beckoning us closer with their perfectly formed mounds of rice. Squeezed generously with lemon, the rice is deliciously al dente with a plump mussel hiding within.

A typical meyhane meze of roasted baby eggplant, pomegranate and charred pepper salad

If I have a favourite vegetable, it would be eggplant, and upon the first spoonful of the patlican, I resist all urges to relocate the entire bowl in front of me. The roasted baby eggplant has an incredibly smokiness, the flesh soft and yielding, heightened by ruby red pearls of pomegranate that add colour and tartness. Meyhane are gourmet pubs found in Beyoglu in Istanbul.

cig kofte
Cig Kofte Lamb and burghul

Cig kofte is a raw dish of lamb mince mixed with burghul, onions, tomato and pepper. The use of spices is said to help "cook" the meat. I find these to be quite heavy with burghul, creating more of a nutty and grainy texture, with less of a raw meat sensation. The shape of the patties is very striking, marked with finger-created cliffs and valleys.

turkish stuffed cabbage dolma
Etli dolma cabbage dolma

Cabbage dolma are elegant in size, cigars of lamb mince and rice rolled in cabbage leaves and drizzled with yoghurt and red capsicum sauce.

hakayifi karides prawns
Kadayifi Karides
Hervey Bay king prawns wrapped with shredded pastry over muhammara

The sweetness of Hervey Bay king prawns is a little lost in its cloak of deep-fried kataifi pastry, but to be honest I'm more obsessed with the muhammara beneath it, a thick spicy dip made from red capsicum, walnuts and olive oil.

efendy balmain

kuzu tandir lamb shoulder
Kuzu Tandir
Seven hour slow-roasted Bultarra Saltbush lamb shoulder, cracked wheat bulghur,
chickpeas and almond pilav, silverbeet yoghurt

Bultarra Saltbush lamb shoulder, slow-roasted for seven hours, is fall-apart tender and served with a bulghur pilaf and a ball of tangy yoghurt mixed with chopped silverbeet.

begendi eggplant
Classical palace-style dish of dried eggplant
stuffed with beef cheek sautee, smoky eggplant and kashar cheese puree

But again, I'm more interested in the begendi, a hollowed-out eggplant that holds shreds of beef cheek. It sits on a bed of more smoky eggplant puree that I scrape clean off the plate.

turkish coffee
Turkish coffee

Tiny cups of Turkish coffee are a dark slurry of caffeine. The incentive for most guests to drink these is the presence of a Turkish psychic downstairs, who will read the bottom of your coffee cup to find out your future. I don't get my fortune read but those that do report a mixed bag of accuracy!

turkish dessert ekmek kadayifi
Ekmek Kadayifi - Caramelised Turkish bread kadayif with marash ice cream
Sutlu Irmik - Semolina dessert, cinnamon and hazelnuts with sour cherry reduction
Kabak Tatlisi- Traditional baked butternut pumpkin dessert

We conclude with a trio of desserts. A plank of kabak tatlisi is the most interesting - a bright orange sweet made from baked butternut pumpkin. Sutlu irmik semolina dessert is laced with cinnamon and hazelnuts but the crowd favourite is the caramelised Turkish bread which is reminiscent of gingerbread, covered in a layer of milky marash ice cream.

And so I can finally add testicles to my list of "unusual eats".

What's the craziest thing you've eaten or seen for sale?
Efendy Restaurant | meze bar on Urbanspoon

Grab Your Fork dined at the Efendy Celebration Dinner as a guest of Efendy.

79 Elliott Street, Balmain, Sydney
(corner of Darling Street)
Tel: +61 (02) 9810 5466

Opening hours:
Monday to Wednesday 5pm - 11.30pm
Thursday to Saturday 11am - 11.30pm
Sunday 11am - 5pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
18 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/02/2010 12:15:00 am


  • At 9/02/2010 12:32 am, Anonymous penny aka jeroxie said…

    Not tried a lamb testicles but I did have a scorpion once.. but it didn't taste like sausage of course. It tasted like crisp or deep fried prawn head.

  • At 9/02/2010 4:05 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Good to see more nose to tail eating like lambs testicles making its way to Australia - even if they do taste like sausage!

  • At 9/02/2010 8:42 am, Anonymous Groucho said…

    When I was a boy growing up on a sheep farm the dogs got the 'oysters'. It's good to see them put to good use.

  • At 9/02/2010 10:32 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Okay, so maybe I'm thinking in this way because the course I'm tutoring for has a reading this week about vaginal examinations, but why do no cultures eat Lady Parts? Would they taste like sausage, too, do you think?

    Quite aside from such musings, that smoky pepper and pomegranate salad looks divine.

  • At 9/02/2010 10:42 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    DUDE I applaud you for having balls to eat that plate (I'm so punny).

    Those desserts are looking heavenly and that slow-cooked lamb.. omnomnom

  • At 9/02/2010 11:01 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Haha umm I don't know if 'spongy' is the most appealing sounding texture, but I'm always willing to try anything at least once! Everything looks lovely though :)

  • At 9/02/2010 11:01 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    Lol at Hannah's comment. Don't we eat breasts from many birds? A lamb's testicle is so much more exciting than a lambs vagina. I quite liked it when I tried it at Efendy earlier this year. Such great food!

  • At 9/02/2010 11:21 am, Blogger Phuoc'n Delicious said…

    Good to see that you tried it, it's not that bad.. But I would have to agree with Hannah about the lady bits, not THAT I won't touch lol

  • At 9/02/2010 11:41 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Have I told you that I am loving your blog with the larger size photos!! I love gawking at them since I am not able to dine out often at the moment. Another brilliant review.

  • At 9/02/2010 12:21 pm, Blogger Sara @ Belly Rumbles said…

    It's funny I am not a fan of lamb but I do like lambs' brains, so would be willing to try the testicles.

    All the food looked absolutely delicious (even the lamb :p)

  • At 9/02/2010 5:48 pm, Anonymous Forager @ The Gourmet Forager said…

    Had chicken testicles before. They are surprisingly big. In fact, if they were outside the poor chicken, they'd drag on the ground..

  • At 9/02/2010 8:47 pm, Anonymous Mark @ Cafe Campana said…

    Mmmm the lambs testicles are fun. I had to eat them when I went there. All those meze looks sooo good. I think I could have a whole meal of just meze.

  • At 9/02/2010 9:48 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Booooo I still haven't tried testicles yeettt!!! Been wanting to go for so long now as well haha

  • At 9/02/2010 10:07 pm, Anonymous Trissa said…

    I don't think I would ever see the word testicles in a food blog but yes, it seems the mere mention causes giggles among many! I love the review of Efendy - this place is just down the road from where I live and I will visit soon after this review.

  • At 9/04/2010 2:54 pm, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    I don't feel I've eaten anything that adventurous - definitely not testicles! - but elements of Chinese fare can sometimes be considered more exotic than most =)

  • At 9/06/2010 2:32 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Penny - I'd love to try scorpion. I presume it was deep-fried. Mmm.... tasty.

    Hi Gourmet Chick - I'm a big fan of nose-to-tail and there should definitely be more of it :)

    Hi Groucho - Ha, yes, I agree, oysters should be on more plates around Australia!

    Hi Hannah - Wow, I never thought about that, but now the mind boggles.

    The pomegranate salad was awesome. I must try to recreate this sometime.

    Hi Margaret - lol. I do like a pun! And slow-cooked anything is always good :)

    Hi Stephcookie - Haha, it was hard to describe the texture and wheee.... I'm holding you to that :)

    Hi John - Ha, who would've thought I'd end up writing a post with comments about testicles and vaginas. lol. I'm glad I finally got to try the testicles though.

    Hi Phuoc'n Delicious - lol. The testicles were fine - I'd certainly eat them again. And ha, ow the hunt begins for lady parts? lol

    Hi Ellie - Aww thanks, glad you're enjoying the bigger photos :) Hope you're up and about again soon.

    Hi Sara - Actually the testicles did remind me a little of brains, but more-so in flavour. And lol, perhaps it's worth venturing for a little variety? :)

    Hi Forager - Wow, now that's a mental picture I wasn't expecting! lol

  • At 9/06/2010 2:35 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Mark - I agree, mezze are always super tasty :) Glad to hear you enjoyed the testicles too.

    Hi FFichiban - You will have to get there soon - the testicles are available on their menu :)

    Hi Trissa - haha, actually it featured when a few food bloggers when to a dinner at Efendy not that long ago. It's a cute restaurant - and neighbourhood eats are always good, especially if you can simply walk home!

    Hi Mademoiselle Delicieuse - That's very true. A lot of people don't eat chicken feet or intestines. I'm always keen to try new things :)

  • At 9/10/2010 1:52 pm, Blogger Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said…

    Craziest thing I've eaten? I still can't believe I ate crocodile!


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