Neighborhood Kitchens Visits Oleana
By Margarita Martinez
Executive chef and owner Ana Sortun started Oleana in 2001 and Chef de Cuisine Cassie Piuma began working there two years later, after falling in love with Ana's food as a customer. The excitement of Ana and Cassie is palpable when they talk about the flavors of Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Armenia. It's as if they found a new creative freedom working with the spices and herbs of the Eastern Mediterranean. They now take trips together to discover inspiration for their dishes. These trips also influence what Ana’s husband, Chris Kurth, plants at his farm, Siena Farms.
After visiting the farm, we returned to the Oleana kitchen to cook with the farm-fresh ingredients. Oleana's kitchen is run by women, a rare occurrence in restaurants. Clad in cut-off pants and polka-dotted socks, Chef Cassie guided me through some of Oleana's signature plates. Vegetables and herbs take center stage at Oleana. The meat, fish, and seafood are almost an accompaniment to the vegetable dishes. One dish we made was Cacik, a perfect yogurt dish for summer that gets its flavor and texture from some of the same fresh vegetables and herbs I enjoyed at Siena Farms. We also prepared a tasty carrot and fennel saganaki with a delicate grilled octopus. Also, I love spicy peppers, so imagine my delight in learning how to fry up the Turkish street food of fried mussels and tarator sauce (if my husband is reading this, please note that I want a Vitamix blender for my birthday!). Desserts did not make our episode, but when we took breaks I got to feast on the scraps of cake used in Pastry Chef Maura Kilpatrick's famous Baked Alaska while the pastry chefs were preparing for the evening.
****Watch Neighborhood Kitchens online to find out more about Oleana, Siena Farms and Cambridge.
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About Neighborhood KitchensBuilding on a 34-year history of producing Latino and multicultural programming, WGBH’s award winning La Plaza team has a new offering — Neighborhood Kitchens, a series about the exploration of culture through food. Every week the show offers a unique window into immigrant communities in New England.
Saturdays at 4pm and Sundays at 6:30pm on WGBH 2
Fridays at 7:30pm on WGBH 44
Margarita grew up in the Bronx and Ossining, NY with a Puerto Rican father and a Franco-American mother. From making her first empanada as a teenager visiting Argentina to her lifelong search for authentic Mexican food in the Northeast, Margarita has always had an insatiable appetite for Latin American food. Margarita is also passionate about acting and music. She graduated from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU with a BFA in Drama.
On the GoIn each episode, host Margarita Martínez visits a different ethnic restaurant and learns three delicious recipes from the chef. She also explores the restaurant’s neighborhood, discovering hidden gems along the way. Join her as she learns about new ingredients, new cultures, and new neighborhoods. ¡Hasta pronto!
Watch: Full Episodes
Find a Neigbhorhood Kitchen
Margarita's Neighborhood Visits
»Boston's South End:
Orinoco and Teranga
»Boston's Back Bay: Casa Romero
»Boston's North End: Taranta
»Boston's Beacon Hill: Scampo
»Cambridge: Muqueca and Oleana
»Boston: Bristol Lounge
»Somerville: Dosa Temple
»Lawrence: Cafe Azteca
»Lowell: Simply Khmer
»Fresh from the Fish Market
»Jamaica Plain: Tres Gatos
»Dorchester: Pho Le
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