Having a close Turkish friend means I get to indulge in many parts of delicious Turkish cuisine, from Turkish coffee to Turkish Kitchen on Shattuck Avenue. Recently, my friend introduced me to Turkish breakfast at Sweet Leaf Cafe.
At the cafe, we ate freshly baked simit paired with an assortment of vegetables that included tomatoes, cucumbers and olives. Turkish cheese and cream cheese also came with the dish, which balanced the fresh vegetable tastes with more filling and creamier textures and flavors.
Simit is a circular bread covered with sesame seeds typically eaten in the Middle East for breakfast with tea and cheese. The bread’s characteristics vary from region to region, and the ones from Turkey are typically made with molasses. The ones at Sweet Leaf were dense and had a perfect buttery taste, but the sesame seeds kept falling off as I ate the pastry. The simit’s size was similar to that of a pretzel and reminded me of a bagel-pretzel combination because of its size and density.
The light, fresh and crispy vegetables balanced the heavier cream cheese and Beyaz peynir white cheese as well as the denser and chewier simit. Even though the combination seemed fresh enough to open up the palate, the dish was still surprisingly filling.
I also tried a cheese-filled pogaca, a soft and buttery breakfast roll that has a similar taste to focaccia. The pastry was freshly baked and steaming hot. This pastry tasted much heavier compared to the previous bread because of the cheese filling. But it was exactly what I expected — feta or goat cheese stuffed in bread. Sweet Leaf’s pogaca is popular among the Turkish community of Berkeley, according to a Sweet Leaf employee, as they sell out within hours of being baked.
So far, all the Turkish cuisine exposure I have gotten has been incredible. Turkish coffee, breakfast and lunch or dinner at Turkish Kitchen all taste amazing, and many times, the dishes and drinks are so unique and different that there are no close substitutes. I will definitely be returning to Sweet Leaf for Turkish breakfast as I look for more Turkish cuisine around the Berkeley area.
Sweet Leaf only offers Turkish breakfasts on Saturdays, so if you’re interested in spicing it up over the weekend, head on over!
Contact Annie Chang at [email protected].