We didn’t know much about Turkish wines – still don’t – but we managed to land on narince as a white grape that we liked. A little heftier, more mineral and less citrus than sauvignon blanc. Less heavy than chardonnay. A bit of floral scent like semillion. But at Park Fora, we were treated to a sommelier who had trained in California, at Mondavi, so we relied on him for the food-wine pairing. We weren’t disappointed.
First, the restaurant – a former palace on the river. Only in Istanbul. Perfect for events. A park in the front and the dining area on this beautiful evening, the back of the mansion, along the river.
The seafood was fresh and fabulous. Our server recommending the marinated seafood mezze. I’ll admit, it looked scary in the sauce, and I was thinking Scandinavian style pickled herring, but it was more like a ceviche in a thicker lemony sauce. Quite good. And the organic Anatolian greens – kale – lightly sauteed (?) and then served cold. The octopus salad, not quite as good as Bebek Balikci, but still delicious.
The hot mezze, the grilled octopus, was very good. I wonder if there’s a different breed of octopus they use, and whether the Black Sea or Eastern Mediterranean version is just more tender. Or maybe it’s how they prepare it.
Instead of the preferred simple and straightforward preparations for seafood, grilled or fried, where the fish flavors shine, Park Fora offered an interesting twist – a saute in a sauce of garlic, mushroom, onion, tomato and spices, topped with crushed red pepper.
How I would love to recreate this sauce, but there’s no way I could do this even if I knew (and had) all the ingredients. And did I mention it was perfect with our Turkish sauvignon blanc? It was.
To paraphrase a friend, you don’t have to drink to have fun, but a good food-wine pairing really can’t be beat.