i've mentioned elsewhere around here that dc is a veritable mecca for tapas lovers. a paradise with streets paved in small plates. and not just the spanish variety, though those are certainly easy to find. you can also find great italian small plates in this city. great mexican ones. great american. great asian. and, of course, great mediterranean. and it's here that we may have come to my favorite cuisine. i don't know if it's the liberal use of lamb, the ubiquity of olives and lemon, or the expectation that adding either garlic or wine will make just about anything taste better. or maybe it's the really flat bread. or perhaps the honey? honestly, i don't know. it could be any of them. or all of them. or maybe some combination. no matter what the reason, however, i am a Huge Fan (with a capital HF) of good mediterranean food. which brings me to agora. only a few blocks from the dupont metro, agora does tasty mediterranean fusion with a turkish flare. what does turkish flare mean, you wonder? well, the menu's in turkish. with english explanations, of course. apart from that, it offers well-priced versions of all the mediterranean dishes any connoisseur of the cuisine loves. hummus. lamb. lots of feta. and it offers great wines as well. it's a neighborhood gem, and an awesome addition to dc's buzzing tapas scene.
for my first visit to agora (yes, first...i fully expect there will be many more to come), i was lucky enough to get to try nine different dishes on the menu. and it was here that i tried taramosalata (a spread of cured roe) for the first time. i don't know why i'd not tried it before now, but damn is it good. salty and satisfying, i could've made an entire meal out of nothing but the addictive bread and the taramosalata. it's pictured above left with the ezme: finely diced cucumber, tomato, red peppers, onions, garlic, parsley, mara, urfa, and pepper paste. both were just obscenely tasty -- i knew before, but now i'm convinced more than ever: the cradle of civilization does dips really, really well. above right are the garides: grilled large shrimp served in their shell, with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, maras, and grilled olive baguette. sound delicious? you've got a good ear.
to the left, the mücver: zucchini pancakes with shredded zucchini, mint, dill, scallions, and manchego cheese. this is the sort of dish that makes you think you could survive life as a vegetarian. that, and the below. the beet and orange salad, with red beets, lemon mashed potatoes, blood oranges, onion, and orange vinaigrette.
of course you think that. you think to yourself, "what awesome vegetable dishes! who needs meat when you can survive on great zucchini, beets, cheese, and bread?" it lasts about fifteen minutes. until an attentive, flawless server plops down the two plates below. and then that vegetarianism you've flirted with for the past quarter hour goes straight out the window. because who doesn't want to eat those two plates?
above, the turbot (kalkan): pan seared with jerusalem artichokes, capers, tomato, scallion and olive oil. i instagramed this plate before i dug in, and the resulting photo looked like it had a halo. in truth, it was a pretty angelic dish. and to the right, the lamb loin: seared with butternut squash purée, fresh mint, toasted hazelnut, and sour cherry sauce. i mentioned above that i'm a lamb addict, right? well, this certainly fed the addiction.
finally, stuffed with flavorful food, i arrived at dessert. i love dessert, these ones included. on the left is the kadayif: disks of shredded phyllo dough layered with vanilla milk pudding and topped with honey and pistachios. and on the right, the agean delight: apricots stuffed with walnuts over marscapone cheese and topped with caramel sauce and pistachios. more, please.