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THE DARKEST HOUR IS JUST BEFORE THE DAWN

Will anyone want to remember March 2020?

Probably not…

Even if they would, it will not be full of good memories. But, I did my best and listed all the nice things related to wine and food happened to me this month. It helped me to keep my positive energy high, and keep myself safe and sound to experience more things in life in the near future. So, let me share the flip side of March with you:

I was born 32 years ago!

Happiest part of the month was the beginning, my birthday! I was born 32 years ago in a very rainy morning in Izmir. I always love to celebrate my birthdays since I was a little girl, and this, I believe, one thing that will not change no matter how old I get… (Although I really prefer to stop aging after this point of my life!)

champagne girl

As in the last 3 birthdays of mine that I celebrated in Canada, a nice bottle of Champagne accompanied me this year: Nicolas Feuillatte, Palmes d’Or Brut, from vintage 2006. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, sharing equal parts in this blend and going through all the aging together, ended up giving an elegant and creamy Champagne. The aromas of various stone fruits and brioche were the first ones to come up, and a touch of toast and roasted almonds gave only some more aromatic complexity and created different layers of flavors. On the palate it was still fresh with medium acidity, rounded with effect of malolactic fermentation together with around 8 g/l of dosage, yet it was creamy and smooth. The pairing was as delicious as the wine: Caprese skewers, grilled shrimps served with a side of beetroot salad, and linguine with lobster.

Once upon a time: Eating out at Ristorante A Mano

Situated in one of the nicest neighborhoods of Halifax, eating at Ristorante A Mano had been on my list to do for a while. Having eaten here, I asked to myself “Why I haven’t come here before?” The food was absolutely delicious. I hope to go back there, as soon as the situation goes back to normal and the restaurants are open again…

My selection was the “agnello scottadito”, seared lamb chops marinated with Dijon, fresh herbs & olive oil, demi-glace & sweet vermouth sauce, and paired it with a glass of Chianti Classico. This pairing made my taste buds very happy. But the plate that I would definitely suggest is “costa di manzo brasata” beef short ribs slow simmered with onions, root vegetables, red wine & fresh herbs. Just make sure that you have enough space for this juice piece of meat. Coming to the sweet ending, rich dessert was hard to choose from. Since it was my birthday (or better to say birth-month) I got to choose one: the profiteroles with gelato!

I am cooking: Sarma and lahmacun

This month, I had chance to cook some special food from Turkish cuisine.

You might remember sarma from my previous article, where I gave the whole recipe. This time, I’ve used a different recipe and it has a traditional and rich filling, with rice, onions, parsley, spices, pine nuts and Corinth raisins in it. The raisins give some sweetness and cut the astringency of the leaves. I paired my sarma with Sauvignon Blanc from Cloudy Bay (2017), this wine had very intense aromas of tropical and citrus fruits. The high acidity and intense flavors on the palate completed very well this particular dish.

Unlike my intense training in sarma, lahmacun was my first trial. It is basically a round and thin dough, even thinner than the one for pizza, topped with minced meat and onions, a variety of Turkish spices, tomato paste… I also put some crushed walnuts. Once it’s baked in a stone oven traditionally, it’s served with parsley and lemon.

lahmacun 3

I luckily had a bottle of Turkish wine, brought from Montreal, imported by Dieu du Vin: From Chamlica Winery, made from autochthonous variety, Papaz Karasi. The wine poured to the glass with its light garnet color and with its aromas of cherries, raspberries, prunes and a touch of spices, nutmeg… It was very elegant in the palate with its medium body, good acidity and soft tannins. This special wine complemented beautifully this table.

I am baking: Empanadas

Going back to my blog’s food session, empanadas were one the first pairings that I published. Empanadas are so fun to make, delicious to eat, and easy to freeze if any of them is left.

This time, instead of minced meat, I upped my game and made “empanadas de pino”. Pino in Chile is a type of filling made with cut meat, onion, and spices. Again, as in the other version, this one also has raisins, boiled egg and black olives in it. It’s a good idea to prepare the filling from day before, it will definitely make the things easier for the next day.

For a pairing, my selection was an aged Chilean red wine, Albis. This wine is made from blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère, coming from 2006 harvest of Maipo Valley. It was impressive how the wine was well-protected during 14 years of its life, one of the reason could be its 15 % alcohol, while another is its acidity, which helps to protect the wine as well as creating a balance between sweetness sensation created by alcohol and the tannins. It had a nice bouquet of black fruits, dry fruits with a touch of leather, some red pepper and smokiness. It was a good wine, and it literately danced harmoniously with the buttery dough and juicy filling of the empanadas.

empanada de pino

I am reading: The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well

This month, I borrowed one of the books of Meik Wiking, about hygge. First of all, it was a great timing for reading this book in particularly. I am, as most of the people around the world, under self-isolation and finding ways to make the best use of it. This book, as it talks about the hygge philosophy which involves enjoying yourself indoors, gave me ideas on how to make the time that I spent home more meaningful and joyful.

hygge book

Hygge itself is a difficult term to give definition, or translation – that’s why there’s a whole 287-page book to explain it. But some English translations include coziness, or “hominess”. The book gives all the key points of hygge, including light, togetherness, food and drink, clothing and home.

The best idea from this book, also to apply when under self-isolation, is to light a candle, keep warm with a soft blanket on your lap, make yourself a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy a good book. If you have a fireplace, it would even increase the hygge effect, according to the book.

After reading this book under the circumstances we have today, I understand better the importance of feeling yourself safe. It allowed me to take a moment and spend it in a meaningful way, and appreciate my well-being.

I am tasting wine: Château Kirwan 2015

Keeping myself at home made me spend more time around my tiny wine cellar. I decided to open every week 1 of the bottles that I have been keeping for “special occasions”. (I don’t think I can find a better time than this, to fill the definition of “special occasion”.) Having actually been and worked in Bordeaux for 2015 vintage, this bottle is very close to my heart. I know that it’s still early to drink it, that’s why I will keep another bottle of it to try in couple of years and compare my tasting notes. Currently, it had a nice ruby color, intense and complex aromas of cherries, prunes, black pepper, some leather and game, and tobacco. On the palate, it had high tannins, but they were already smooth and well integrated to the balanced profile of the wine. I made a simple dish, a nice piece of meat with bulgur rice, delicious enough to accompany the wine, but leaves floor to the wine to be the star of the table.

Online course: I obtained the certificate of Champagne MOOC

It’s a great time to attend the online courses. I found out about this great online course created by CIVC (The Comité Interprofessionel du Vin de Champagne). It’s presented by Jérémy Cukierman, MW, together with the people works in Champagne industry. The content is rich and exciting for Champagne lovers as myself.

The course has a classic version, which is free of charge for everyone and it includes all the aspects of Champagne, viticulture, winemaking, history, economy and tasting. If you want to obtain a certificate, you can decide to continue with the premium version which includes some extra content.

TAITTINGER CHAMPAGNE

Well, this was my March, if I obscure all the serious stuff happening around us currently. I was communicating with one of my colleagues from Spain recently, who explained me the situation there, and let me know that they are keeping their hopes up with the following lyrics of the song of “Mamas & Papas”:

“And the darkest hour is just before dawn…”

I hope everyone keep well and safe!

Thank you for reading!

Cheers!

Wi.Nes

All images © 2020 by Neslihan IVIT. All rights reserved.

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