Kazandibi is a type of traditional Turkish milk pudding, a bit like a stickier crème brulee. The name means ‘bottom of the pan’ and the dish is typified by a caramelised layer where the pudding has been left to overcook against the saucepan. The recipe for the base pudding also involves chicken breast as well as the milk, which is further proof that the Turks really love their meat. Flavour-wise, it’s sweet and vanilla-y and is often served dusted with cinnamon. The accompaniment should, if you’re a Turk, be either a glass of tea or a small cup of intense Turkish coffee, but if you’re a reckless yabancı like me you could also experiment and serve a dessert wine along with it, and I did exactly that at the weekend. From my diminishing collection I was able to dig out a Tuscan Vin Santo or ‘straw wine’, the Vin Santo Della Signora 2009 Montellori. It’s quite boozy at 15%, sweet and redolent of apricots.
This was an enjoyable dessert course, but perhaps not perfect in terms of food and wine matching, as I thought that the wine was too robust. However, I suspect that the Vin Santo would go well with aşure, another traditional Turkish pudding, so there is a potential experiment for another day. Diligent internet research has also revealed that there is a domestic dessert wine here called Safir, made from Misket grapes (a Muscat relative I presume), although I have not yet seen it here in Istanbul. Yes, there is definitely scope for further experimentation.
Situated on Yeni Çarşı Caddesi, just a few minutes’ walk from the hustle and bustle of Istiklal, this place is a great little find. It’s a small specialist wine bar, with a varied selection of local and international wines available by the glass and by the bottle. It has a relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere, aided by the muted lighting and low-key music. The walls are covered with black and white photos of somewhere that looks like China: I’m not sure why.
We visited on a Wednesday evening so we didn’t voyage too extensively through the wine list. We opted for two Turkish red wines that neither of us had seen before, an Öküzgözü/Boğazkere blend by Sevilen, and a Kalecik Karası by Pamukkale. These are Anatolian varieties of grape that are not found anywhere else outside of Turkey, and produce interesting wines that tend towards the dry and robust. I enjoy them when done well, but they are certainly a different style when compared with a typical UK supermarket bottle. Here, I got black forest fruit and pepper from the Öküzgözü/Boğazkere; the Kalecik Karası didn’t seem to have much nose but did have cherry and strawberry on the palate. Both were pretty reasonable value at 13TL for a glass.
I think I will enjoy returning here to explore the rest of the menu. I did notice that they have a fairly thorough selection of Turasan wines, which to me is a good sign as this has been my favourite brand of Turkish wine so far. Other customers were enjoying nice looking plates of cheese and meat along with their wines: another reason to return.
Location: Yeni Çarşı Caddesi No. 44 (off Istiklal, just down from Galatasaray Lisesi).
Raats Family Cabernet Franc 2009.