Mains, Recipes, Turkish, wine
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Cauliflower Steak with Thracian Wine

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Winter is almost over as the temperature is heading for the 20 range and the daylight saving will start in started a couple of days ago. For some reason, WordPress is working again so I’m going to cram blog! I couldn’t because of the unbelievable nation-wide power outage yesterday, but it’s more to do with my personal affairs happening all at once lately, which makes it very difficult to sit down and write. Amid all this, I find it important to continue writing and let things off my chest. Some of you might have detected some sort of change in my voice as if molten lava boiling its way through a tiny crack. Well, I’m dramatising it a bit but I think there will be quite a huge change with my life soon but until it really happens, I’ll keep silent not to stir up the good karma, however, I’ll try my best to keep you informed and inspired just about everything I come across, culture, food, history, and my observations and random thoughts, which might show another side of mysterious life in Istanbul.

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Last week Two weeks ago I attended a public lecture ‘Viticulture and Production on the Western Coast of Asia Minor in Ancient Times’, as part of Food, Spirits and Gastronomic Traditions in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was held at the Greek Cultural Centre and you can do the ‘Spot Me’ in these photos. One of those with closed eyes, deeply in thought or asleep, whichever you think, is me. It was only during the second part though, when people started to leave, and I won’t say why to respect the people concerned.

The first part was really great, presented by Professor Ersin Doğer, who guided us through the ancient vineyards along the Aegean coast and it was particularly interesting to see how these vineyards have been revived by the wine makers, such as LA Wines, which is based in the ancient Smyrna and I’m a fan of. I really enjoyed his lecture and his sense of humor, throwing anecdotes and satires here and there, commenting on how civilization has moved from the East to the West along with the vineyards, how Greeks used to mix wine with seawater and how wine is the only liquid that doesn’t go bad left in the air, the religious tension surrounding ‘fermented drink’ and ‘distilled drink’, raki,  etc. As I love reading about food history, it was fun to listen to all his stories.

He also related different types of amphorae, closed, open, big and small, etc., with viticulture. What I learned new from the lecture was how the population exchange between Greece and Turkey impacted on the continuity of wine production and how the vine growers were relocated by an organised project to Macedonia and Thessaloniki, refugees carrying vine stalks with them. It is said that so much wine was exported to France and Europe in the late 18 and early 19th century, not to mention during the Roman times, from Izmir.

I’ve been paying more attention to Thracian wines since I experienced Chateau Nuzun at Cheese and Cheers at Four Seasons Hotel. Now you can’t say use the word ‘wine’ freely for any events so I won’t go into details about my experience and special encounter with a Turkish wine blogger whose name I can say for privacy. We shared our love for wine and frustration for the prohibition, which is another setback for the new generation wine makers who are putting a lot of effort into bringing Turkey back on the world wine map. I was very impressed with their wines, which triggered my interest in the wineries in that area. What is special about the wineries in East Thrace including Tekirdağ, Kırklareli and Çanakkale where my all time favourite winery Sulva is located is that the wine makers are genuinely passionate about wine, which proves itself that good people make good wine. Çanakkale is Mr.O’s hometown, horray!, and his friend brings me a case for a gift every now and again. By the way, my Babakale knife finally arrived over a week ago and Mr.O and I often have a sword fight over a cheese platter with my Opinel knife.

Another to-go wines I’ve been enjoying is Barbare Syrah & Grenache & Mourvèdre and this is what I drank with this gourmet vegetarian steak with slices of prosciutto as a flavour and pleasure enhancer, for lunch. I feel that sometimes a slice of good prosciutto or Spanish jambon satisfy my gustatory sensor than a slab of steak. Their Cabernet&Merlot 2010, which I always have around is also excellent to pair with meat dishes. This organic certified winery is thriving to bring the flavour of ChâteauneufduPape under the supervision of Xavier Vignon, French oenologist. Hopefully, I will give you more information when I go on the Thrace Wine Route as soon as more buds and baby leaves break in the vineyards.

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The cauliflower was cooked with turmeric, cracked peppercorns, dried thyme and a touch of cayenne pepper, simple as it should be. It was then layered with my favourite goat cheese, Kecheese, some rocket leaves, and drizzled generously with balsamic mayonnaise. No matter what kind, a steak always needs a glass of wine so I poured myself a glass of the wine left over from the previous evening.

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This method of cooking cauliflower gave the humble vegetable, often cooked too bland and squashy, nice crunchiness and flavours, which went very well with this fruity, spicy and earthy GMS.

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I will be going to Çannakale this weekend with Mr.O’s parents and I’m thinking of stopping by one of the vineyards in Tekirdağ if we have enough time, just for a quick look. It will be my first trip with them alone and I’ll need to study some more Turkish words for the next two days.

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