Thursday, June 09, 2005

Turkey for Dinner

I was looking forward to writing about my dinner last night with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey. But as the 25 or so guests assembled around the tables at the Willard Hotel, one of the first things Turkish ambassador Logoglu declared was that the conversation would be off the record. It's a shame--you won't believe what they have planned!

Of course I am kidding. But the sad fact is it gives me not much to report. So here's what we had for dinner: wild mushroom soup (far and away, the highlight), spinach feta in phyllo triangle (isn't feta Greek?), field greens with walnut vinaigrette, roasted black angus beef tenderloin (a bit overcooked), gratin potatoes, seasonal vegetables, and caramelized pearl onion sauce. Dessert was a fine selection of Turkish pastries and vanilla ice cream. (And no, no matter what you think, it was not baklava!) They also served an exquisite 2001 Robert Mondavi Cab--not that the Turkish delegation had a drop to drink. In addition, the waiter who served Mr. Erdogan was a nice looking burly man with a bushy mustache, presumably trained in the use of firearms.

It was a hearty dinner and the off-the-record "conversation" was pleasant, even if it required the use of earpieces to hear the translator. (Mr. Erdogan also tended to keep his microphone on, so we had the bonus of occasionally hearing him slurp his soup, gulp down some water, and, in one instance, grind his steak knife across the china, sending a shiver up my spine.)

When I said farewell to the prime minister, he kindly looked at me with his sharp eyes, glanced at my necktie, lifted it for closer inspection, and said through his translator, "These are the colors of my favorite team."

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