Everything started last December, when I was travelling between my two homes; from Canada, to Turkey. When I do this trip, there are some classical Canadian products that I always bring home: Obviously maple syrup is the first one on the list, with all the related products as maple chocolate, maple biscuits, maple tea… Following these, comes the Canadian ice wine.
Ice wine is such a special product: The grapes for ice wine can be harvested only after they are frozen on vine and the harvest takes place once the temperature of the environment drops below – 8 degree Celsius. Once this difficult harvest in freezing weather is done, other challenges start in the cellar, the frozen grapes are carried to the cellar to ferment. The fermentation of ice wine takes longer than the fermentation of a table wine, because of the high sugar content. All in all, this gold liquid that comes to our glasses as ice wine is a product that takes a lot of effort and patience to be created.
To bring home this year, I’ve chosen 2 ice wines of Nova Scotia, both made from Vidal grapes. When I arrived to Turkey, I started to think of the best way to serve these ice wines. On the other hand, I had in my mind all the Turkish desserts that I was missing. Finally these two pieces came together with a brilliant idea: Why not making an international pairing and serve them together?
I didn’t lose so much time after this idea to make the pairings and enjoy these ice wines with the most delicious Turkish desserts. Here, I am delighted to share them with you:
Turkish quince dessert with kaymak paired with Estate Vidal Icewine 2016 of Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards
Quince is a widely grown fruit in Turkey, there are different varieties that you can eat fresh, or cook for making a marmalade or a delicious quince dessert. The latter is what I prefer the most.
To make the dessert of quince, the fruit is cooked in a pot with little water and sugar, or baked in the oven, with their own seeds and some cloves inside. This is the secret to render the quince red, which makes it even more appetizing. It’s generally decorated with some walnuts and served with kaymak. Kaymak is a type of creamy dairy product, the most delicious type is made from buffalo milk. It has over 60% of milk fat with a dense texture, as dense as the double cream, to give you an idea. To accompany the quince, my mom sometimes makes a compote of apples and puts it on top, to add some extra flavor to it.
The paired ice wine was the Estate Vidal Icewine 2016 of Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards, which is produced from Vidal grapes from Annapolis Valley. The color in the glass shines like a gold, with some amber reflections in it. Aromas in nose are quite intense; dried fruits, poached apple and pear, caramelized pineapple… even some floral notes, honeysuckle. On the palate, it’s very balanced with its sweetness and good acidity that keep the freshness in the glass.
It was a delicious experience to put together these flavors together. While I still believe power of local pairings, I enjoy mixing different cultures, putting together flavors that wouldn’t come closely in their natural environment. And at that moment, the human factor plays an important role and creates a new vision…
This vision, I have to say, ended up creating a very good match! The flavors of the wine was intense enough to embrace all the flavors of quince and the pungent smell of clove. Since not so much sugar was added to the dessert, it didn’t overpower the sweetness of the wine. While quince dessert was so delicious together with the freshness of kaymak, lingering mouth eel and refreshing acidity of the ice wine created a true harmony.
Baklava platter paired with Vidal Ice wine of Grand Pré Winery
When it comes to Turkish desserts, obviously the most important one is baklava. Baklava is a dessert made by baking thin layers of filo dough that are filled in between with some nuts (generally walnut or pistachio) and sweetened with a syrup.
In Turkey, there are many different types of baklava, they are generally made with the same ingredients, but proportion of ingredients and shape of the dessert change and makes a huge different in the taste.
In this platter on the photo, there are 3 types of baklava, and 1 roll of pistachio:
- Fıstıklı dolama: Roll of pistachio is basically one thin layer of filo dough, rolled with a lot of pistachio in it.
- Havuç dilimi baklava: Literally translation: “carrot sliced baklava”. It has no carrot inside, but it takes its name from the shape of baklava which looks like carrots.
- Şöbiyet: The difference of şöbiyet from baklava is having a type of a pudding inside made with milk and semolina.
- Fıstıklı baklava: This is the most common shape of baklava, this one is filled with pistachio.
Bonus of this platter was some ice cream from city of Maraş, in the Mediterranean Region of Turkey. This is a battered ice cream, with the secret ingredient of salep, flour made from tuber of wild orchid. Unlike the soft and airy texture of most ice cream, this ice cream has a very firm texture: It’s cut with a knife to serve on a plate and to eat it, you’ll need a knife and a fork as well. I added some of this ice cream to the baklava platter to balance the sweetness and give some freshness to it.
The wine that I’ve paired this platter was the Vidal ice wine of Grand Pré Winery. This tube that you see on the photo, is one of the 3 tubes present in Viva Nova gift box. To me, this was the easiest way to share some of the tastes of Nova Scotia, since as well as the ice wine, it has one tube of Pomme d’Or Apple Cream Liqueur, and one tube of Pomme d’Or Iced Cider inside.
The result of this pairing was another success, and the key was the ice cream of Maraş. Let me explain why. In most of the successful dessert wine pairings, the wine should be sweeter than the food that it’s paired with. In this case, baklava was a literally a bomb of sugar, and definitely overpowered the sweetness of the wine. However, the ice cream of Maraş on the plate saved the day, by decreasing the sweetness of the dessert and adding freshness with the acidity coming from the milk. This way, everybody enjoyed this pairing better. The acidity of the ice wine gave a freshness to the palate. Moreover, the oily texture of the wine combined very well with the butter flavors coming from baklava. All in all, although it seemed like a rule breaker pairing in the beginning, it ended up being an exceptional experience.
I have shared two of the pairings that I created, blending my Turkish roots with my Canadian experience. I hope you enjoyed it and I would be very glad if these give you some inspiration to match different cultures on your plate. Do not be afraid to bring international flavors together!
All images © 2019 by Neslihan IVIT. All rights reserved.