In the heart of Cairo, a city teeming with the vibrant tapestry of Egyptian culture, lies an unassuming culinary sanctuary that beckons adventurous palates and seeks to redefine the gastronomic landscape. EV, the newly-opened Turkish gem nestled within the luxurious confines of Dusit Thani Cairo, casts a mesmerising spell, transporting diners into a realm where culinary mastery intertwines with timeless elegance. As I stepped into this epicurean haven, my senses were immediately enraptured by a symphony of aromas, an ambiance that whispered tales of distant lands, and the promise of an unforgettable journey through the intricacies of Turkish cuisine.
EV's entrance, a gateway to enchantment, opens into a pristine all-cream lounge, where vaulted ceilings hover above like celestial clouds, framing misshapen windows that reveal a lush oasis beyond. The hyper-minimalist design, adorned with sporadic greenery and illuminated mirrors, sets the stage for an experience that effortlessly merges modernity with timeless allure. Nestled on the edge of a white-stone facade plateau, a plush circular couch entices guests to sink into its depths, providing a moment of respite before embarking on a culinary adventure like no other.
Passing through the colossal double doors, one is transported into a realm of architectural grandeur. The majestic room, adorned with the same pristine white stone as the lounge, unveils a towering straw-coloured statue of three kneeling dervishes, an ethereal embodiment of grace and strength. Towering pillars adorned with giant arches guide the eye through the expanse of the space, while wavy-circular windows create an interplay of light and shadow, revealing glimpses of verdant gardens that beckon with their lush splendour. Alcoves, nestled within the curve of the room's architecture, offer secluded retreats adorned with plush couches and inviting chairs, an oasis of tranquillity in which to savour each moment.
As my best friend, Farida, and I entered this gastronomic haven, weariness melted away, replaced by a mingling of excitement and anticipation. Having dedicated our lives to the relentless pursuit of defying expectations and societal norms, we found solace and strength in each other's unwavering support. United by a shared love for literature and an unwavering admiration for powerful women, we embarked on this culinary escapade as a celebration of our journey so far.
Guided by the affable waitress, Jean, we were greeted with a vibrant green welcome drink—a chalice brimming with basil-infused refreshment that graciously quenched our thirst. With menus in hand, meticulously crafted to showcase an extensive selection of libations and culinary delights, we delved into a world of flavours and textures that awaited our discerning palates. Jean, ever patient and attentive, stood poised, ready to guide us through this culinary odyssey as we perused the menus.
In a moment of synchronicity, we exchanged knowing glances, recognising that this was not merely a culinary exploration but a testament to our resilience and unwavering determination. Our shared experiences as young women, often dismissed for our intellect and tenacity, had forged a bond fortified by our refusal to be silenced or diminished. It was in this spirit that my best friend, with a mischievous sparkle in her eyes, decided that this was a moment to honour our journey and reward ourselves for the distance we had travelled. And so, our impromptu celebration began, a quiet affirmation of our worth and the power of female camaraderie.
To embark on this voyage of flavours, we selected an array of hot mezzes that would dance upon our palates with their artful combination of spices and textures.
Barely a moment passed before Jean reappeared, bearing a steaming hot cloth filled with sliced Pide and two pottery bowls of Paşa Ezmesi, a quintessential Turkish red pepper delight, the perfect counterpart to Syria's beloved Muhammara. As we savoured each bite of the Paşa Ezmesi-slathered Pide, a profound realisation washed over me, shimmering like the dappled sunlight filtering through the vaulted windows. In a world where leisurely outings often seem reserved for romantic entanglements, it was a revelation to bask in the company of my dear friend, to be tended to with such care and consideration, and to share intimate conversations while partaking in the act of nourishment, an act of communion as old as time itself. The joy that blossomed within us seemed to heighten the flavours, adding an intangible layer of richness to the culinary tapestry before us.
With a shared understanding and unspoken bond, we revelled in each dish, treating our taste buds to a symphony of flavours. Our first order, the Cevizli Sogan Gomme, was a dance of caramelised onions, garlic, and crushed walnuts, elevated by the fragrant rosemary and the tangy sweetness of pomegranate sauce, harmonising with the creamy freshness of the bed of yoghurt upon which it lay. The second, a platter of Visneli Yaprak Sarma, delicate vine leaves enfolding a fragrant rice pilaf infused with pine nuts, spices, and currants, was an enchanting blend of textures highlighted by the subtle acidity of the accompanying lemon slices. The Ege Salatasi, a vibrant medley of Misket cheese, sun-dried and cherry tomatoes, walnuts, currants, and pine nuts, adorned with a basil balsamic sauce, offered a refreshing interlude, a symphony of contrasting flavours that danced upon our palates. And then, the Karnuy Arik, roasted aubergine stuffed with a tantalising combination of sautéed minced beef, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, and garlic, revealed layers of complexity, as the harmony of spices mingled with the smoky notes of the roasted eggplant.
With a shared understanding and unspoken bond, we revelled in each dish, treating our taste buds to a symphony of flavours. Our first order, the Cevizli Sogan Gomme, was a dance of caramelised onions, garlic, and crushed walnuts, elevated by the fragrant rosemary and the tangy sweetness of pomegranate sauce, harmonising with the creamy freshness of the bed of yoghurt upon which it lay. The second, a platter of Visneli Yaprak Sarma, delicate vine leaves enfolding a fragrant rice pilaf infused with pine nuts, spices, and currants, was an enchanting blend of textures highlighted by the subtle acidity of the accompanying lemon slices. The Ege Salatasi, a vibrant medley of Misket cheese, sun-dried and cherry tomatoes, walnuts, currants, and pine nuts, adorned with a basil balsamic sauce, offered a refreshing interlude, a symphony of contrasting flavours that danced upon our palates. And then, the Karnuy Arik, roasted aubergine stuffed with a tantalising combination of sautéed minced beef, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, and garlic, revealed layers of complexity, as the harmony of spices mingled with the smoky notes of the roasted eggplant. Amidst the flurry of flavours and animated conversation, a culinary spectacle – bearing our main courses – unfolded before us. One of EV's esteemed chefs materialised, bearing a grand wooden tray, a vessel of culinary enchantment. The Dana Madalyon, glazed prime beef medallions flambeed with garlic, herbs, and spices, arrived in a mesmerising display of culinary artistry. The medallions, seared to perfection and cooked to a succulent medium-well, exuded a tenderness that rivalled even the most expertly prepared cuts of meat. Each bite yielded an explosion of flavours, as the garlic-infused juiciness mingled with the intricate blend of herbs and spices, elevating this dish to celestial heights. Paired with a side of baked baby potatoes and grilled asparagus, the Dana Madalyon offered a glimpse into the soul of Turkish cuisine, a celebration of its finest ingredients and expert craftsmanship.
And just as we thought our palates had reached the pinnacle of satisfaction, a new protagonist emerged. A dish fit for legends—the Kuzu Tandir, lamb chunks slow-cooked with an array of vegetables, tomato sauce and velvety lamb jus arrived. The lamb, infused with a melody of herbs and spices, melted effortlessly with each forkful, leaving an indelible mark on our taste buds. Its succulence, a testament to the art of slow cooking, invited us to savour each tender bite, as the richness of the meat harmonised with the comforting creaminess of the mashed potatoes. The lamb jus, a liquid symphony of flavours, brought a luxurious depth to the dish, its silky texture coating our tongues with a heavenly embrace. The Kuzu Tandir, a true masterpiece, exemplified the art of transforming humble ingredients into a sublime sensory experience, an ode to the culinary prowess of EV's chefs.
With bellies almost satiated and hearts brimming with contentment, we reclined upon the plush couch, basking in the cocoon of tranquillity that surrounded our little alcove. It was in this moment, as we lazily sprawled, that Jean, our attentive waitress, sensed our unspoken desire for dessert. She approached us with a radiant smile, her eyes shimmering with anticipation, eager to fulfil our final culinary quest.
We chose the Havuc Dilim Fistikli Baklava—a slice of pistachio-laden baklava, delicately interlaced with layers of flaky pastry, and generously stuffed with Maraş ice-cream. Within a mere blink of an eye, or so it seemed, the baklava materialised before us, as if it had descended from the heavens above. The slice, resplendent with glistening pistachios, beckoned us to embark on one last gustatory adventure.
With a knife in hand, I gently cleaved through the layers of pastry, revealing a sight that evoked sheer delight. The aroma of roasted nuts permeated the air, mingling with the sweet fragrance of the Maraş ice-cream. As I offered a portion to Farida, the anticipation on her face mirrored my own, for we knew that this final indulgence would be nothing short of extraordinary.
With each forkful, the baklava unveiled its true essence—a harmonious marriage of textures and flavours. The flaky pastry, meticulously crafted to perfection, crumbled delicately beneath our touch, revealing a medley of crushed pistachios nestled within. The Maraş ice-cream, with its velvety smoothness and gentle sweetness, provided a sublime contrast to the nutty undertones of the baklava. It was a symphony of taste, a celestial dance upon the palate that left us spellbound.
In that moment of indulgence, an epiphany unfurled within me—a revelation that transcended the confines of gastronomy. I realised that the joy of life's pleasures, the elation of savouring exquisite cuisine, need not rely on the presence of a romantic partner. Farida, my fiercely loyal and inspiring confidante, exemplified the profound bond that could be forged between women. Our shared experience at EV, the moments of tender care and deep conversation that accompanied each delectable morsel, became an embodiment of the profound emotional intimacy that transcends conventional boundaries.
In a world where dining experiences can often feel fleeting and forgettable, EV transcends expectations. Each dish served is a testament to the dedication and artistry of the culinary team, who take pride in every morsel that graces the plate. The symphony of flavours, textures, and aromas that unfold within EV's hallowed walls tell a story—an homage to the rich cultural heritage of Turkey, interwoven with the personal narratives of those who share in this culinary voyage.
From the moment one steps through its doors, EV embraces guests with an unspoken promise—one of gastronomic excellence, infused with warmth and hospitality. It is a testament to the power of cuisine to bridge gaps, forge connections, and create memories that endure. And so, blissfully sated, spirits uplifted, and with a newfound appreciation for the enchanting allure of Turkish cuisine, we bid adieu to the enchanting realm of EV. It was a farewell tinged with a touch of melancholy, yet brimming with the promise of future adventures, both culinary and otherwise.
As Farida and I strolled into the bustling streets of Cairo, hand in hand, we carried with us the indomitable spirit of EV—a testament to the power of friendship, the joy of shared experiences, and the transformative magic that lies within the confines of a single bite of baklava.