This year we had to break a very dear tradition of mine and skip the champagne portion of Christmas Eve. Turkey, especially Istanbul, is surprisingly VERY expensive compared to the rest of Europe and doesn’t cater to non-Muslim alcoholics like ourselves. Regardless, I disguised our cheap appetizers with a holiday theme:
-Dill wreathe with pickles and olives, the holly and berries are made out of fresh tarragon and chili peppers.
-Moroccan olive penguins with cheese bellies, green onion scarves and carrot feet and beaks.
-Quail eggs on toasted bread with spicy tomato caviar.
The caviar was fun to make. I filled a tall glass with oil and put it in freezer for 20 minutes. In the mean time, I reduced tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, parsley, tarragon, hot peppers, salt and water until I had about 1 liter of intense liquid. I strained it twice, brought it to a boil and added a pack of gelatin. A syringe would have been useful at this point but alas, I live in a freaking car so I winged it and used a spoon to drip droplets of my tomato mix into the cold oil then DELICATELY scooped them out and transferred them into a bowl of cold water. The caviar looked great in real life and tasted explosive in your mouth.
Local treats. They all tasted the same.