The Hippo


Jul 23, 2019








Cool off with Mediterrano’s Shepherd’s Salad, a Mediterranean and Turkish summer dish with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, sumac, fresh herbs, green peppers and parsley with a homemade dressing. Courtesy photo.

Mediterranean cool down
Summertime dishes at Mediterrano


 Now is the perfect the time to go Mediterranean, says John Kalm, co-owner and chef of Mediterrano in Hillsborough.

“[Mediterranean] is more like summer food, instead of heavy tomato or heavy cream,” John Kalm said. “You don’t want to eat that kind of food in the summer; you want cold.”
Cold appetizers are particularly popular during the summer months, Kalm said, like meze platters with baba ghanoush (similar to hummus, a puréed smoked eggplant made with tahini, garlic, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil) and stuffed grape leaves among other appetizers. The lavash bread, a hollow bread traditional to Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries, is baked fresh and in house, served with the baba ghanoush.
“Most people go in for these appetizers and salad in summertime,” Kalm said.
Kalm prepares light salad dressing in the summer, using ingredients like fresh lemon juice and olive oil. The shepherd salad is quintessential Mediterranean, made with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and parsley and tossed in Kalm’s dressing. 
Pickled cabbage, another cool side, also comes with each of the entrées, which Kalm pickles himself.
“We make pretty much everything fresh and from scratch in our restaurant,” he said. “Even our spices actually.”
Kalm and partner Ibrahim Bilgin’s families grow and dry spices in Turkey, and when they visit, the co-owners will bring back their own families’ herbs to use in the restaurant.
Fresh and whole-food ingredients are the staple of Mediterranean cuisine, which is why experts are recommending the Mediterranean diet for a healthy lifestyle. Mayo Clinic recommends it for heart health due to its reliance on ingredients like olive oil, legumes and vegetables like cucumber and tomato, as well as fish and garbanzo beans as sources of protein.
“It’s healthy because of the spices we use, and we never use any heavy creams,” Kalm said. “Mediterranean is a more general name. It includes Greek and Turkish, and some Middle Eastern [cuisine]. … If you look at it, all these countries are pretty much neighbors of each other, so that’s why it’s multicultural.”
For example, he said, baklava is a dessert shared by most Mediterranean countries, but each culture prepares it differently. In Greece, it is made with honey; in the Middle East, walnuts are the nut of choice; and in Turkey, it’s made with pistachios and walnuts and even other dried fruits. 
“They all have their little tricks to make things,” he said.
The Hillsborough restaurant features catering, lunch and dinner menus made up with Mediterranean and Turkish dishes, like adana lamb kebab, one of Kalm’s favorite Turkish dishes.
“This is actually a very traditional Turkish dish that our family — and in the restaurant as well — are the best sellers,” he said. “It [the menu] is kind of like family, homestyle recipes.”
Kalm and his partner Bilgin opened Mediterrano last June after working in hotels in Turkey and the United States, including the Omni Mount Washington Resort.
“We both actually studied about hospitality from high school, and both studied at university for hotel management,” Kalm said. “This was actually our dream, and all our dreams came true when we opened our own restaurant.”
Between the Mediterranean menu and traditional Turkish cuisine, Kalm said that Granite Staters are excited to have a place to go to.
“We’re kind of a like a destination restaurant right now,” Kalm said. “We have guests even from Manchester through New London and Hopkinton and surrounding towns as well, not only the Hillsborough area.” 
As seen in the July 3, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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