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My Dinner Party Secret: Call A La Turca

The first crackle of a leaf underfoot, and I’m overcome with a mix of excitement (the holidays are coming! the holidays are coming!) and trepidation (the holidays are coming! the holidays are coming!). The excited part of me wants to throw dinner parties, have open houses, bake pies and actually buy wine-glass charms (yes, there's a whole industry around these things). The anxious part of me wants to just stick my head in the sand until January.

So last week, as some sort of trial run, Joe and I threw a dinner party with a Mediterranean bent, starting out with three spreads (roasted eggplant and tomato, hummus, feta and olive oil), followed by a rolled leg of lamb, Swiss chard with pine nuts and currants and a bulgar-and-chickpea salad.

But the most exciting part of it all was what we didn’t cook. I stopped off at A La Turca in the Tenderloin (a great Turkish spot I recommend pre- Great American Music Hall shows). There, I picked up their homemade pide bread, right as it was coming right out of the oven. The crusty, round loaves are technically a flat bread—all chewy and soft on the inside. And at $16 for a dozen they’re a deal. On the way home my car smelled like heaven as I weaved down Van Ness, trying to tear off pieces of the bread which was sitting in the back seat.

This philosophy of homecooking with a little help from a (restaurant) friend was addressed by Jessica in a story she wrote last year called “Semi-Homemade SF” (an urban riff on Sandra Lee’s Food Network show minus the bleached bottle blonde, scary fingernails and mashed potato in a box). Check it out.

And for those of you who are more ambitious than I am, there’s always Paula Wolfert’s recipe for pide from Food & Wine. This Thanksgiving, dinner rolls are out; pide is in.