Ask the Critics: Where Can I Drink Salep in New York City?
Cold nights need warm beverages
Leslie B. asks: Is there anywhere in New York where I can drink salep?
Dear Leslie: I must confess that before I received your question, I knew very little about salep, except that it was used to thicken Turkish ice creams, giving them a chewy, almost elastic quality. But then I discovered that the powder made from dried, ground orchid bulbs is combined with hot milk and spices for a frothy drink in Turkey, sahlab -- perfect for the cold weather that's now upon us. While a few places sell salep in custard or pudding form, it was tricky locating sources that sell the hot drink. But I've found a few spots that can help you get your salep fix.
Horus (93 Avenue B, 212-777-9199) and Horus Café on A (293 East 10th Street, 212-228-4774) both sell salep in beverage form, listing it on the menu as "Horus tea" made with nuts, coconut, and milk. I haven't sampled it, so I'm not sure just how authentic it is, but it's worth a shot, for sure.
Shopkeepers at Güllüoglu (982 Second Avenue, 212-813-0500) also assured me that they would offer it on their menu in the upcoming weeks, although it's not currently available. But at least it's something to look forward to this winter, instead of, say, snow.
And finally, if you're willing to put in a little elbow grease and make the drink yourself, you can find the mix at Sunny Grocery (45-26 43rd Avenue, Sunnyside, 718-937-6256), a great Turkish grocery store (another excellent Turkish grocery nearby is Turkiyem Market at 46-31 Skillman Avenue, although I was told salep wasn't available). And, really, when it's cold outside, the idea of cozying up in bed with a warm cuppa sounds more fun than going out to a café, doesn't it?
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