Wish list for 2017
Aylin Öney Tan - firstname.lastname@example.orgPersonally, I’m fed up with my New Year’s resolutions. I do not have the discipline to keep them. It might be that my resolutions prove to be the mundane, unrealistic ones: abstaining from alcohol, regular exercise, losing weight and stopping procrastinating. I decided to forget about these unkept promises in the hopes that they would naturally become true without the pressure of sworn statements. But I do have a personal food forecast for the forthcoming year that can also be interpreted as a wish list.
This year will be a year of incredible India for me. I still recall the wonderful street food and shopping tour in New Delhi, with my F&B expert friend Bikramjit Ray; the delicate ephemeral buffalo milk sweet “daulaat ki chaat” still remains with me, and I use my little pressure cooker to make the softest silky dal bought in Chandni Chowk. I also remember the idle moments with my food researcher friend and PR consultant Caroline Rowe over a drink at Hauz Khas Village, or challenging our limits in eating hot food. And above all, how I can forget the amazing tasting dinner of chef Manish Mehrotra at Indian Accent. My brief stay in Delhi was a revelation. I’ve wanted to go back ever since, and now is the time. The first edition of the Tasting India Symposium is going to take place in New Delhi at the end of February and beginning of March. I’ve already secured my place.
It seems that I have to work hard before I leave for Delhi; after determining the gastronomic assets of the region, my consultancy for DOKAP-East Black Sea Development Agency has to be presented with a well-documented report no later than mid-February. I can predict that Black Sea region tastes will be the new discovery of Turkish chefs; there are already hints of it, and I’m hearing some top chefs have already hit the road to uncover the hidden culinary secrets behind the treacherous mountains of this sadly underrated region. The cuisine of the region is definitely beyond hamsi, the ubiquitous fresh anchovies, or the usual corn, black cabbage and beans, and the range of local produce is astonishingly diverse; hazelnuts, kiwis, blueberries and tangerines, not to mention the endless tea plantations and the amazing honey, butter, bread and so on.
As March will start with the warmth of Delhi, it will end in deep snow in Val Cenis, France. Our annual meeting of the Ski Club International des Journalistes (SCIJ) will be held in Val Cenis. I cannot wait to explore both the slopes and the local tastes there. My destiny may bring me back to France later in the year, but I have to go back to that skipped resolutions page and stop procrastinating and send an abstract to the Third International Conference on Food History and Cultures to take place on June 1-2 in Tours. We’ll see how it goes!
My other prediction is that unavoidably coffee will continue to be a part of my life. Not that I try to abstain from coffee, but the more I try to stay away from the topic, a project comes along to draw me into coffee matters again and again. This year it could be Africa for me, as it shows in my coffee fortune reading, I vaguely see the possibility of a panel on coffee at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. If this happens, it will be an African dream come true for me – of course if I can manage to contribute to the International Conference for Research, Innovation and Development for Africa, in relation to coffee. The world is becoming more and more interested in African coffee, and Turkish coffee brands are getting more and more diverse; some have already started going back to the original taste of Turkish coffee, which was of course from Africa, including beans from the homeland of coffee. I can also predict that Turkish coffee as a new trend will attract international attention; all the celebrity chefs attending the recent Gastromasa conference returned with a Turkish coffee machine by Okka. Now that is a sign!
As for myself, after having my latest taste in coffee matters in Africa in June, I’ll steer my interest toward tea, and just like my country once did, I’ll wean myself from coffee to switch to tea topics. Hopefully, that will happen in July, on the first weekend, to be precise. Again, it is a matter of whether or not to procrastinate, as it is time to make a comeback to presenting at the Oxford Symposium for Food and Cookery.
My other two wishes include two distant corners of Turkey. One is doing a sustainable civil society project with Syrian refugees in Gaziantep. It’s an ambitious one modeling projects for Kamal Mouzawak in Lebanon and Massimo Bottura in Milan and Rio, and eventually having both of them cooking with Syrian women. Another one is about Thrace; I’ve become a regular embedded journalist in the Thrace Wine Competition now, so I’ll continue to attend to this one, but there is more to Thrace than wineries. The newly launched Thrace Tourism Route deserves much attention, especially the amazing food in Edirne. One promise to be kept for me is the one I gave to Mayor Recep Gürkan and Gov. Günay Özdemir on the middle of the Meriç Bridge over the Maritsa River. It’s one I hope to keep, as Edirne surely deserves a good food book…
Fork of the Week
As I’ll be looking forward to my trip to India to satisfy my hunger for Indian food in Turkey, the ideal address is Dubb at the top of the Hilton Hotel. Combining casual/fine-dining setting with unmatched views over the Bosphorus, Dubb offers authentic tastes in a serene atmosphere. I was almost licking the plate after the murgh makhani/butter chicken, evidence of how much I missed the flavors of India. The Dal Makhani was also wonderfully smooth, and the refreshing Kachumbar Salad was a good contrast.
Cork of the Week
Even if one is trying to abstain from drinking as part of New Year’s resolutions, an occasional beer is permissible. After all, January cannot be that dry; opt for the Bomonti Red Ale for a twist, as it fits into the winter spirit and goes wonderfully with that butter chicken I devoured, boasting a deeper flavor than your regular pale ale.