It takes more time for Nova Scotia to bloom, but when it does, it’s just priceless. I waited more than 6 months for nice weather to come back, and now that it’s here, I am blessed with green grass, shiny leaves on the trees and dandelions all around.
May was another month that I had the chance to try a lot of new recipes, made wine tastings and pairings at home and photograph them. I will be sharing the best ones with you in this article, also a book recommendation and the update of my vine prunings from last month.
I am tasting wine: Assyrtiko from Vassaltis winery in Santorini, 2017
A special Greek bottle that I brought from a wine store in Thessaloniki last summer. After visiting the vineyards and wineries in North Greece, and tasting different expressions of Assyrtiko, I was curious to taste it from a completely different terroir, from Santorini, where is believed to be the hometown of this grape variety.
This wine is from Vassiltis Vineyards, a boutique winery located in Santorini. It’s made of 100% Assyrtiko grapes, pressed with whole clusters and fermented in stainless steel tanks, followed by an aging on lees during six months. In the glass, this wine shined with its gold color and aromas of honeysuckle, apricot, lime, quince and flint took off. On the palate, first impression was its refreshing acidity, as I was expecting, knowing its potential to keep its acidity even in hot climates.
To pair this wine, I made a recipe that I watched at the Netflix show, Chef’s Line. Every week, this Australian show has a different cuisine, where home chefs and restaurant chefs compete over traditional recipes. In Turkish week, one of the recipes that chefs compete on was “kadayif wrapped king prawns”. The winner plate was the recipe of Chef Somer Sivrioglu. I found this recipe online, and applied step by step at home. It’s easier than I thought, I can even say that the most difficult part of the recipe was to find kadayif in Nova Scotia.
This plate was beyond my expectations, kadayif is crunchy and soaked all the butter flavors from outside and prawn flavor from inside. And the prawn inside was nicely cooked, it was still very juicy – as I wasn’t expecting from a baked shrimp. The best part was when I shared my dish from my Instagram stories (@winesofnesli) Chef Somer re-posted (and clapped with with his own gif, how cool is that!), so my dish is officially approved by the chef!
Coming together, the pairing was a memorable one, buttery flavors of the dish paired nicely with the smooth texture and the creamy aromas of the wine coming from lees aging. Moreover freshness of the wine elevated the seafood experience.
I am cooking: Pink risotto
Beetroot has been my favorite veggie lately, I love the versatility of it. I buy them fresh with their leaves and stems on it, separate them and make a different meal from each part. The leaves are super delicious by sauteing them with some onion and olive oil. The stems are also great for sauteing, but I prefer to boil and pickle them with garlic, salt and vinegar. It’s a delicious meze, and also great on the salads. When it comes to roots, you can be very creative. I used to boil them in the past, but now I am taking a step forward and try new recipes. I made some beetroot chips, it took a lot of time but it was very crispy and delicious. And this month, I made another new recipe and made a pink risotto with boiled beetroots.
To create a harmony on the plate with the wine, I paired this dish with a homemade wine from Pinot Meunier. Actually it was the color of this wine that made me inspired to cook this dish. Considered as red wine, it has a light color, but considered as rosé wine a dark color. It’s just on the limit that it could fall into both sides. It’s fruity, light and great to accompany this plate to be enjoyed.
Pinot Meunier is a variety that we know as the third grape variety used in Champagne blends for its fruitiness and roundness, but some red and rose wines are also made successfully with it. In this case, this wine was made by a home winemaker with the grapes grown locally in Nova Scotia. The bright fuchsia color of the wine definitely mesmerized me upon pour. It gave me joy. Soon after, the aromas came to my nose, simple fruits were playing the lead; raspberries, sweet cherries and lingonberries. In the palate, it is dry, with a pronounced acidity and low alcohol. Fruity and fresh would be two words to describe this wine.
I am cooking more: Meze night
One of my favorite tables to sit is the one full of small plates to share with nice people. This is a very important part of my culture, where we get to unite around the table, and simply put all what we for that meal. By the time, living in different countries, I experienced different ways to serve food, such as bringing first the starters, and followed by the main dish. This is also enjoyable, but when it comes to “meze night” we would have them all right away.
For this meze night, I prepared 4 different mezes, roasted peppers, carrot and walnut tarator, zucchini and spring onion tarator and pink hummus (hummus with beetroots). You can find the recipes and more meze ideas in my previous article.
I am baking: Torta Tres Leches and San Sebastian Cheesecake
2 first time recipes this month, first one was tres leches cake and the second San Sebastian cheesecake. Apart from both being cake, they do not seem to have a lot on common, but for they both became extremely famous in the last years and entered to most of the restaurant menus and kitchens.
Tres leches cake was a very curious cake for me, especially because it has a very long history and how it spread to different parts of the world, from South America until Europe. The interesting part of this cake, for me, was its arrival to Turkey couple of years ago and becoming very famous as an “Albanian dessert”. Some people claims that Albanian chefs who were watching Brazilian soap operas saw this dessert, and revisited it with a twist, and brought it to Turkey. The Albanian version has 3 different types of milk; cow’s, goat’s and water buffalo, while the original version uses three states of cow’s milk; whole milk, evaporated milk and condensed milk, and some even dulce de leche. To be on the original side, I used a recipe from Venezuela. It turned out nicely, but it was way too sweet to my taste. Sugar into the cake, sugar in the condensed milk, and sugar into the meringue all added up and ended up being a sugar bomb. If you are like me, not enjoying so-sweet desserts, you might want to add less sugar at least to the cake, or add some lemon zest to the cake for some freshness.
San Sebastian cheesecake, coming from a restaurant called La Viña, located in San Sebastian, takes attention with its burnt top, and creamy texture inside. The recipe for whole 26 cm cake pan calls for 1 kg of cheese cream, which I thought to be too much, but the result proved me wrong. It was worth every single gram. The burnt outside gives a different smoky flavor which is not possible to get from a regular cheesecake.
My only regret: Why I didn’t eat a piece of this cake in San Sebastian? Now, I will have to go back for it!
I am baking: Obviously BREAD!
As last month, I continued trying new bread recipes from different countries, hamburger buns, pink bread with beetroots and pita of Ramadan.
Hamburger buns: I made giant hamburger buns! It was actually not my intention to make them so big, but I just couldn’t foresee how much they could grow, and in the end I ended up with a lovely flower of buns!
Pink bread: This is a part of my “beetroot” trials, I was curious if the beetroot could actually color a bread, and the answer is yes! I am quite satisfied with the outer color of the bread, which is a nice pink, inside was a little bit more brownish, probably because I used half part whole flour.
Ramazan pidesi (Pita of Ramadan): A classic type of bread that is tradition in Turkey to be baked during the month of Ramadan. I actually tried 2 different recipes, the first one was a giant pide that raised very well. (Here is the recipe.) The result really had the flavour of my childhood, when I would go and buy a pide right out of stone oven, come home while still hot, and eat immediately with some butter on it. I went back 15 years by taking a bite of this pide.
I always try to improve my recipes with some small touches, and in the second trial I tried to separate the dough in two, to have a smaller size, but it actually changed the texture of it, and next time I will stick with the giant version.
I am reading: Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure
This month, I read the book called Wine and War written by Donald and Petie Kladstrup. As states in the title of the book, this book would interest all wine and history lovers. But make no mistake, it’s not that kind of a book that you can read laying on the couch with a glass of wine in one hand. At least for me, it was not like that. I had to read paying attention to each page, taking notes with hand and investigating further the information and the people given in the book. It consist of different stories, each story takes place different wine regions of France, such as Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace, and others, under Nazi occupation in World War 2.
Along with the historical side of the occupation, part that stroke me more was the stories of the people, who are the founders of the most famous French wine brands that we know today. They indeed suffered and struggled during those times, but stayed brave, moved as one, wisely and strategically, and made possible to bring the wine industry of France where it is today.
Keeping the vineyard at home: Update on vine prunings
Last month, I brought home some wine prunings home and put them in water to in front of my window, as I said, they only needed some sun, water and love. It didn’t take them too long when they swelled their buds, broke them and open their tiny leaves.
Moreover, at the end of this month, bud burst started in Nova Scotia, it is one of the most excited seasons for grape growers, where the vines wake up from their winter dormancy. If you are curious about how exactly happens this stage in the vineyards, take a look at my previous article, where I explained bud break, and tracked 8 days of a bud from swelling to leaf opening.
I hope everyone keep well and safe.
All images © 2020 by Neslihan IVIT. All rights reserved.