Another little travel story with a recipe for a feta and tomato salad.
The best croissant I’ve ever had was not in France. Although I did have an excellent one in Nice one Sunday morning…a small cafe’, a cup of coffee, surrounded by French people drinking coffee, eating croissants, reading the Sunday paper and talking on their cell phones. A very fine Sunday morning.
The best croissant (so far) was in Turkey. Istanbul, the Hotel Berez Saray; the worst in Athens, Greece; at the Hotel Arethussa. It was truly awful! The croissants were heaped on a stainless steel serving tray. Some were flattened, some were broken, some were disfigured into a shape that made me think the baker hated his job and sought his revenge by torturing the croissants. They were not flaky but chewy and tough with the consistency of a beef jerky stick made with bread dough instead of beef. Maybe they’d been sitting in a glass case at a bodega for three days and the kitchen manager at the hotel bought them for a few euros, dumped them into a plastic garbage bag, threw them over his shoulder, jogged half a kilometer back to the hotel—just in time to dump them onto the tray for breakfast at 7am. Fortunately the bacon, scrambled eggs and fresh tomato juice were tasty-tasty.
Making a great croissant is an involved two-day process that requires skill and attention to detail. A croissant should be small, not suffering from an overly active thyroid condition like most american croissants. Small, flaky, tender with a slightly crisp outer crust and when pulled apart at the horns, a soft interior with a light buttery flavor at first bite. And they should be served warm! The croissants at the Hotel Berez Saray met all the criteria and, being in Turkey, the Feta and tomato salad from the breakfast buffet was a perfect accompaniment, along with a view of the Blue Moszue and the Old City of Istanbul.
FETA ‘MATO SALAD
½ cup cubed Feta cheese
2 small ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 bunch scallions, sliced thin (including some of the green part)
a little fresh ground black pepper
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Place all ingredients in a small bowl, toss lightly and serve immediately, or slightly chilled. Serve as an accompaniment to your favorite entree or as part of a buffet.
Serves 2 (as a side salad)