Ramadan Celebrations

It is with immeasurable sadness and compassion regarding the continued attacks on Turkey, that we send prayers to all those suffering and choose to forge ahead with open hearts and minds. We desire to learn and share our personal experiences during the holy month of Ramadan which ends today, July 5, 2016.

Ramadan each year corresponds as closely as possible to the month Muhammad, the founder of Islam, received the Qu’ran from God. During this most sacred time of year, Muslims all over the world fast during daylight hours, observing with no food or liquids, from sunrise to sunset for the entire month. Ramadan is a time for reflection and prayer, allowing the devout to contemplate their relationship to God and focus on positive attributes of the human experience. It is not only an introspective time, but also quite festive, with Iftar (breaking of the daily fast), welcoming a spirit of celebration among family and friends.


We were fortunate to partake in an Iftar celebration at Orkide in Gaziantep, Turkey. The restaurant and patisserie is committed to perfecting their craft, as evidenced through a vast array of awe-inspiring fresh pastries, sweets, baklava and colorful puddings.


Led to beautifully set tables, we could barely control our excitement as we began the memorable experience of a traditional Iftar dinner. A wide variety of meze (appetizers and salads) are laid out and we joyfully united with the Muslim patrons prior to sunset, awaiting the evening prayer call which signals the beginning of the meal just as the sun dips below its horizon.


The Turkish table, especially in Gaziantep, is renowned for its meze, and we were dazzled by small plates of herb based salads, the freshest vegetables, olives, cheese, pickled dishes, savory stuffed pastries called borek, nuts, dried and stewed fruits, a rich clotted cream called kaymak and some of the freshest breads we have ever tasted.  Orkide is at the top of their game in this arena offering soup, refreshing greens and a full table top of traditional starters to the delight of guests.


Another uniquely Turkish dish we have fallen deeply in love with is the cig kofte (pictured above), a bulgur, herb and spice mix formed into distinct peaked portions that diners douse with fresh lemon juice and roll in lettuce leaves, before biting into each spicy, refreshing packet.


The main course changes nightly, but is always hearty and followed by their delectable sweets assortment.

We are huge fans of Orkide for their extensive talents showcasing Turkish cuisine, along with an infinite willingness to open their arms to those of us hungry to learn about their abundant table of delicacies. Thank you to the Turkish people and Orkide for sharing with us the heart of Ramadan celebrations and the true nature and generosity of the religion that encourages the best qualities of mankind through love, hospitality and a spirituality that nourishes in every way.

Orkide Pastanesi – Four locations in Gaziantep, please visit the web site to find the location most easily accessible to you.

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Celebrating Ramadan Together


Last night we gathered together in Anaheim’s Little Arabia to celebrate Iftar, the breaking of the daily fast that begins at sunset during the month of Ramadan.  Muslims from all over the world observe Ramadan, to purify the soul and reconnect with God.  This year’s Ramadan runs from June 17 through July 17, 2015.


We met at the Olive Tree Restaurant on the recommendation of Faye Levy.  The small establishment expands into outdoor dining areas to accommodate the crowds that make reservations and line up at 8 PM to partake in the abundant feast.


It is common to break the fast with fresh or dried dates and a plate full of plump medjools await at the entrance.


Apricot nectar and jellab, a sweet beverage of grape molasses, dates and rosewater are iced and ready to refresh.


The buffet consists of an expanded appetizer section that overwhelms with its variety of flavors and Middle Eastern delights, followed by an entree table laden with meat, chicken, fish, potato and rice dishes.


Lebneh with walnuts provides a thick, rich, smooth, creamy texture and tang that goes with absolutely everything.  We can’t get enough.


The baba ghanouj is well balanced eggplant smokiness blended with spiced tahini.


And yogurt is served topped with fried zucchini, a lovely touch.


The chickpea based falafel is accompanied with tahini and pita bread.


Fatayer sabanekh, or spinach pies are just the beginning as there are also meat pies, potato pies and musakhan roll, a Palestinian chicken, onion and sumac stuffed roll, all overflowing the appetizer table.


Sigara Boregi are Turkish cheese cigars that crunch on the outside while the warm feta inside melts in your mouth.


Traditional greens of stuffed grape leaves and fattoush salad are also present on the enormous mezze table.


Owner of the Olive Tree Resautant, Yusuf Abdo has a remarkable way with rice and shows off his culinary expertise repeatedly.


Mujadarah is one of the most fragrant and flavor filled middle east rice dishes filled with lentils, spices and those heavenly caramelized onions all commingling into an amalgamation of homestyle goodness.


The yellow rice and spicy basmati with raisins and toasted almonds were perfect with everything, especially the dish of the house, lamb shank kabsa.


Sayadiat samak, spiced rice topped with fried fish and shrimp completed the overflowing buffet tables.


Iftar is not complete without a sweet and the cheese filled fried pastries soaked in syrup called atayef are about as traditional and delicious as you can get.


The festive atmosphere, plentiful all you can eat buffet, $23 price tag and charming staff all combine to make this an evening celebration everyone can enjoy.

Olive Tree Restaurant, 512 S Brookhurst Street, Anaheim, CA 92804
Phone – 714-535-2878





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