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Living the dream: Wine&Art, Octopus Carpaccio&Romesco

octopus

With the solstice and Ramadan behind us, summer is getting into a full swing here. Many people are already on their summer holiday or are busy planning for it. Mr.O and I are also pondering the idea of doing a road trip along the Aegean coast in August to mark our 5 year romance. BUT it all depends on how things will pan out, especially the winery job I’ll be taking from the next month.

What? Winery? Yes, you heard me right! I’ll be working in Chateau Kalpak Vineyards from July till the harvest. How about that! I’m so excited! Finally my dream is being realised, and what’s even more exciting is the fact that the winery is very prestigious and my absolute favourite in Turkey. It will be a precious experience and a huge leap before jumping into a WSET Diploma. I won’t give away so much at this point so keep following my journey as I live my dream.

To start off, I’ll be assisting with their International Art Festival and Workshop, which will kick off on July 2. Wine, gastronomy and art in such beautiful vineyards!

If you’re around, please come say hi, or wait with patience till I share some photos and interesting stories later.

So, that’s the most exciting news in the last week, and now I’ll present a special Octopus Carpaccio recipe that will impress your guests, even people who shy away from octopus. This also goes by Octopus Salami and it’s pretty to look at and delicious to eat.

octopus carpaccio

The plate was laid with summer flavours. The aromatic tangy peach and the sweet smoky flavours of Romesco sauce all complimented the sweet taste of octopus.

romesco

Hubby and FIL both love octopus and were very impressed with this recipe. It’s an artistic and interesting way to serve octopus, a change from the usual grilled version.

octopus

I bought two big octopuses and froze them, 4 legs in each bag, last month because my fishmonger said they won’t be available in summer as most will be sold to touristic places.

I took out one of the batches and simmered it with bay leaves, black peppercorns and red wine vinegar over the lowest heat for 40 mins as shown in this video. The idea of stuffing it in a plastic bottle was just brilliant!

octopus salami

This is what you get when you take it out of the bottle, and let me tell you, this is worth the effort and it’s actually not even as complicated as it sounds. Now that I’ve tried it, I’ll keep in mind what pattern it’ll create when putting it into the bottle.

As for the classic Catalan sauce, Romesco, I’m a sucker for roasted red peppers, but not so much for them raw. I usually char-grill a batch on the stove top and use it in various dishes from a nice simple tapas with goat cheese and muhammara (red pepper walnut dip) to pasta sauce. On this occasion, I made this sauce, thinking of making a prawn tapas.

octopus

The Romesco sauce might not be crucial in this dish but why not? It added extra colour and flavours and you can use this versatile sauce for fish, meat, sandwiches or a party dip for the whole week. Try mixing a couple of teaspoons with Turkish pepper taste (biber salca) and tahini, for example, for a quick breakfast condiment. Oh, it’s so yummy!

octopus

It’s a plate of art, don’t you think? Please make sure to drizzle a generous amount of olive oil and lemon before serving. I might try grilling the surface or serving it with a different sauce next time. As you can follow the link above for the octopus recipe, I’ll leave a quick recipe for my Romesco sauce.

Romesco Sauce

Ingredients

2 red bell peppers
1 medium tomato
½ cup blanched almonds
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 dried chili, seeded
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 TBSP sherry or red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon sea salt
fresh parsley or basil (optional)

Steps:

1. Roast in the oven or char-grill the red peppers on a gas stove until black and blistered.
2. Place them on a plate (covered to keep the steam) till cooled down, and peel the charred skin and seeds.
3.  In a food processor, add all ingredients, including nuts and olive oil, and pulse until smooth.

Tips: You can roast the garlic and nuts to add depth of flavour, and hazelnuts or cashew nuts also work well. To blanch almonds, you can either soak them overnight or drop them into boiling water for just under one minute and peel.

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