I have been thinking how to continue on Wines of Nesli, and waiting for some inspirations. And finally I am here with some ideas! For 2020, I’ve decided to write monthly blogs. Each month I will be sharing my wine and food highlights with you, including recipes, travels, events, books, and many more… the concept will be shaping along the way. I hope you enjoy this new approach!
The decision on what to do on New Year’s Eve is never easy, and the pressure of the magical numbers of 2 and 0 coming together twice made it even more difficult. After making careful calculations taking into account many different parameters (including amount of money to spent on food and drinks, quality of wine, atmosphere, fun, comfort, kilometers needed to be driven to arrive to destination and etc.) the best option was staying at home and designing a special Champagne dinner.
The challenge was to find a Champagne which will be suitable to the spirit of this once in a life time event. I called it a “challenge” because the international wine selection we have in Nova Scotia is limited. The alcohol sales being under monopoly, the selection consists of the choice of the liquor commission of the province and a couple of stores with liquor licences in which alcohol can be sold. (And don’t forget the 1.5 liters of wine allowance every time I travel out of country!) In my case, living more than 3 years here, I almost memorize all the wines on the shelves, and I’ve tried most of the Champagnes that are available in different occasions. Moreover, my additional wish of having the Champagne “rosé” didn’t make the selection any easier. Finally, after discarding all the bottles that I have already tried (of course I took the risk to buy the one that I haven’t tried), I went for a bottle of Bollinger Rosé.
As a main dish, to be paired with Bollinger Rosé, I’ve reinterpreted a recipe that I’ve tried 3 years ago in Northern Cyprus: grilled calamari filled with halloumi and sun dried tomatoes. The final result was not the same as I ate there, since the calamari there was a giant one with a meaty texture and it was made on the grill versus mine was with baby calamari cooked in the oven. It’s was still very delicious, though.
When the time came for the pairing and we poured the Champagne along the dish, there was not a consensus on the table. Both halloumi and sun dried tomatoes have a strong flavor and masked pretty much everything on our palate. To be honest, I also think our palates were already tired from the flavor packed appetizers that we had. Champagne couldn’t shine as it could have with a better suited pairing.
It cannot have nothing to do with my partly unsuccessful food pairing ideas, but 2020 haven’t made the best start for us the world citizens. I will not remind you all the disasters happened so far and currently happening, but we had already enough…
I had no intention to make a dry January, I never had. But in the end of 2019, I have been already in the holiday mood since mid-December, and continued a “heavy eating and high alcohol consumption” diet until beginning of 2020. It was on January 4th that I’ve realized that was too much! I normally drink only on the weekends and always moderate my consumption, but this holiday season at home didn’t allow my routine to continue. So, I’ve decided to give a break.
Apart from couple of occasions, such as cooking a nice piece of meat, or eating out in a French restaurant, it was a good experience to be dry.
I have been reading many different opinions on Dry January, but the most interesting one was the piece by Lexi Williams on Wine Spectator. The article includes the words of a dietitian who suggests that “short-term sobriety helps her clients evaluate their drinking habits.” To be honest, I was surprised to read this because this is exactly what happened to me. This evaluation reminded me the importance of moderation in alcohol, which is hard to forget but crucial to keep in mind!
I’ve received my WSET L3 certificate!
I haven’t told you before, because I wanted to make a surprise to you when I received my certificate. The sublime green pin and my certificate indicates my pass with merit arrived to me last week! I am proud of myself.
I have made this course online, through École In Vino Veritas, with the guidance of Richard Sagala, who has transmitted his wine knowledge by blending it with art and life. The course from beginning till the end was a great journey, made me travel all around the world.
One of my favorite parts of the course was the visualizing the information on paper with colors. Especially the countries that I haven’t visited; Australia, New Zealand and South Africa was the parts that I’ve challenged the most, but this technique really helped me to understand them.
I am tasting wine: #WinesBehindTheWindow
Since last August, I have been sharing the wines that I’ve tasted for my WSET education on Instagram, with some of my tasting notes and anecdotes. For a lovely background, my orchids are collaborating with me. I have some final bottles to share from last year, and I will be continuing with some new wines and new flowers. (You can follow them here, or from #winesbehindthewindow hashtag)
I am eating: 2 new (for me) spots in Halifax
I got the chance to try 2 places in Halifax that I haven’t been before.
First one is Lot Six. It’s a bar and restaurant, famous with its original and impressive cocktails. We went there to catch the “happy hour” where you can get a dozen of daily oysters from Nova Scotia, or a selection from other Atlantic provinces, for $20. The only thing left to do was to choose a cocktail to go with the oysters. It was a happy hour indeed.
Second place would be like a dream come true for many people: A bar for desserts and cocktails! The Middle Spoon Desserterie & Bar.
As we arrived, we received the menu – I checked the cocktails, they all looked quite good and I’ve made a selection. Only after that I’ve realized that I was checking only the first page of the cocktail menu! There were pages and pages coming after that, with different cocktails, listed according to their sweetness levels and characteristics, such as savoury, fresh or strong. That completely changed my plans and I chose a different cocktail, to pair with the desserts. If you are a raspberry lover like me, I’d definitely recommend “Black Forest” cocktail, it had a very nice and natural flavor of raspberry with a boost of chocolate.
Not only eating: Going deep into food history!
One of my goals of 2020 is to learn more about food history. I am very curious about how different cuisines were formed, and the dishes were created. I am starting with my hometown, Izmir. Throughout history, Izmir has been home for many different communities and nations. This, naturally, reflected to its cuisine.
One very important item from Izmir cuisine is “boyoz”. The story of boyoz is as impressive as its taste. It’s a heritage that came from the Jewish community in Izmir, who brought and nurtured the Sephardic Cuisine, starting from the Ottoman Empire period.
This video made by by Isa Turan on YouTube gives a great overview of this delicious pastry.
I am cooking: Menemen and Tortilla de Papas
I am definitely a fan of menemen, not a very fancy dish for Turkish people, but it’s one of the fundamentals of all the kitchens – you can eat it in breakfast, lunch or dinner. The same with tortilla de patatas for Spain, maybe not for the breakfast, but definitely for any other time of the day.
Although being such a simple dish with couple of ingredients, even until today, it causes huge discussions among Turkish people, whether to put onion in it or not. I remember Spanish people were having the same discussion over tortilla de patatas. Therefore, these two egg dishes from different countries have more things in common that I’ve thought!
My answer to both of these discussions are “with onion, of course”!
Menemen has onion, green peppers, tomato and tomato paste as base, while the classic tortilla de patatas has onion and potatoes. Tortilla needs some more kitchen skills, since it’s not very easy to give its shape, but after learning it from local people in Spain and with some practice at home, now I can make them quite pretty looking. Here are some photos from my dishes:
I am reading: Veuve Clicquot: The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It, written by Tilar J. Mazzeo
The story of the Champenoise woman that I admire the most. The book tells the biography of Veuve Clicquot, starting from very beginning of her life. Although it is business centered, it also includes her personal life; how she started to be passionate on champagne making, how she got married and became widow. Along the difficulties brought by becoming a widow, it explains how Veuve Clicquot took a huge risk, sacrificed from her own life to build this champagne company, which is now one of the strongest brands in wine world.
I haven’t quite came to the end of the book yet, but I would recommend this book to all the people in wine business, to have inspiration, and all the champagne lovers who would like to go deeper in the history of this product. It definitely does a huge difference on how I perceive this product after reading all the work and effort being down since centuries.
And finally, I have been enjoying so much the “archive” feature of Instagram, it’s lovely to see what I been doing, which wines I have been tasting, in which part of the world I was on exactly the same day, years ago. I am finishing this month’s blog by a post that I’ve prepared 4 years ago, with the wise words of the dear Paolo Coelho.
Thank you for reading!
All images © 2020 by Neslihan IVIT. All rights reserved.