Happy 6th International Sherry Week everyone!

Sherry, as most of you know, is fortified wine which comes from the aptly named sherry triangle (consisting of Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María) in Andalucia, Spain.

Sherry is one of the jewels of the wine world’s crown. A remarkable wine that runs all the way from the beautiful bright straw yellow Fino to a dark and sweet Pedro Ximénez. Every occasion has a sherry that is perfectly suited to it.

I thought long and hard about how I would celebrate Sherry Week. In the end I decided what better way to celebrate it than this fantastic pairing of a beautiful sherry, Gonzalez Byass Apostoles Medium Sherry, with a favourite dish of mine from my homeland Turkish Beef Tartare, or Çi‎ǧ‎ Köfte that is what we call it in Turkey.

Gonzalez Byass Apostoles Medium Sherry is a blend of 87% Palo Cortado made out of Palomino grapes and 13% of Pedro Ximénez. It is average 30 years aged in American oak casks following the traditional Solera system.

It’s an outstanding Sherry with complexity, richness and fantastic character. It is dark amber in colour with caramel, smoke, vanilla, molasses and nuts on the nose. The mouthfeel is lively, clipped, rich and tangy with nuttiness, smokiness and length. There’s depth and consistency in the mouth, along with a playful touch of sweetness.

Once I received Gonzalez Byass Apostoles Medium Sherry, Çi‎ǧ‎ Köfte made perfect sense for the pairing.

Çi‎ǧ‎ Köfte is a dish which has a very special place in my heart. it is one of those dishes that brings me right back my childhood. The recipe that I used belongs to my grandma. She is over 80 years old and she is still queen of the kitchen in my family. Çi‎ǧ‎ Köfte, just like my grandma, is from the east part of Turkey. I haven’t been able to visit where she grew up, but I was able get a real sense of place through her food. I imagine she feels the same way as it has been over 50 years since she left where she grew up and has never been able to return.

I grew up 8 hours drive far from my grandma, so I wasn’t able to have her Çi‎ǧ‎ Köfte that often. Sometimes my mom or one of our neighbours might make it but it wasn’t quite the same. In Turkey, we have a tradition that if you cook something special, you would bring a plate to your favourite(!) neighbours. I remember perfectly, the bell rings and I see our neighbour holding a plate at the door and I am the happiest person in the world. This dish little spicy dish for a 6-year-old little girl, and my parents would warn me every time I ate it, but I loved it.

Nowadays I live in Galway, Ireland and married into a real Irish family. The local cuisine is not the spiciest cuisine but that lack of spiciness is more than made up for in the amazing quality of beef available. I always thought that this great Irish beef would be perfect in my favourite dish. When I think about it, I am actually in a very similar position to my grandma. I am not living where I was born and raised, however I am able to connect my roots with the food I cook.

At the beginning I was complained a bit there is a lack of Turkish restaurants abroad providing the real Turkish food, but then realised that I can cook whatever food I am craving for because I have the world’s best Turkish cookbook on the other end of the phone, my grandma.

It didn’t take me long to decide where I would prepare my dish. I straight away knocked at JP McMahon’s door if I can prepare my dish in one of his kitchens. Luckily for me he and his team rolled out the red carpet for me his fantasitc Cava Bodega. Cava has been a Galway culinary landmark since it was established in May 2008 by JP McMahon and, his wife, Drigín Gaffey. It was one the forefront of introducing Galway to the wealth and breath of Spanish cooking.

To have the Michelin Starred chef JP McMahon based in Galway is such a boon to the city. He has 3 restaurants in the city Aniar, Cava Bodega, and Tartare. He is also the Symposium Director of Food on the Edge, a symposium for chefs & food enthusiasts all around the world who want to create a better global network which takes place annually in Galway.

Firstly, and foremost I needed to find some top quality Irish beef. For that Martin Divilly Butchers in Westside, Galway and purchased a beef tenderloin. The beef came from Tony Fahy’s farm in Loughrea, Galway. The meat is dry aged in a cold-store for a minimum of 21 days and is just delicious. I then asked to get it minced as I need to use it in my dish. Fortunately, I already had my Isot pepper, Pul biber (aka Aleppo pepper), sundried tomato paste, sundried red pepper paste and fine grained bulgur coming from my last trip to Turkey. Sometimes it could be challenging to find some of these Turkish ingredients in Ireland.

I have never had an experience cooking in a restaurant kitchen before. Luckily for me, Brazilian sous chef Vitor Oliveira was an amazing guide and he helped me enormously in finding my way around in kitchen in Cava. It was amazing that one the dish was complete that whole team in Cava gathered together to enjoy my Çi‎ǧ‎ Köfte. Beautiful to see multicultural staff of Brazilian, Polish and Romanians enjoying my grandma’s Çi‎ǧ‎ Köfte. The whole pairing was the perfect balance of being multi-cultural as the food doesn’t have any borders.

It was absolutely an amazing experience to be able to pair Spanish Sherry and Çi‎ǧ‎ Köfte (Turkish Beef Tartare). In Turkey, we usually eat Çi‎ǧ‎ Köfte with pomegranate molasses, slice of lemon, flatbread and lots of green salad. My idea was using a traditional recipe plated in a modern way. I served Çi‎ǧ‎ Köfte with a pomegranate molasses, lemon, green herbs and flatbread.

Red fruit notes, sweetness and acidity from pomegranate molasses, citrus notes from lemon, smokiness and resinous flavours from the Isot pepper, spicy, meaty flavours and richness from Çi‎ǧ‎ Köfte paired well with Gonzalez Byass Apostoles Medium Sherry. The touch of sweetness of Sherry was balanced out the spiciness of the dish.


Çİǧ‎ Köfte (Turkish Beef Tartare)


  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 500 g fine grained bulgur wheat
  • 500 g minced beef tenderloin
  • 1 tbs sun-dried red pepper paste
  • 2 tbs sun-dried tomato paste
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 or 3 tomatoes
  • 100 g Isot pepper
  • 1 tbs Pul biber (Aleppo pepper)
  • 1 lemon
  • A bunch of fresh parsley
  • 3-4 scallions


  1. Grate the onion and tomatoes.
  2. Make a garlic paste by scraping it across the surface of the board.
  3. Mix together the grated onion, garlic paste, red pepper paste, tomato paste, olive oil, grated tomatoes, Isot pepper, pul biber, salt.
  4. Add bulgur to the mix and knead it until the bulgur becomes soft.
  5. Add the minced beef tenderloin into the mix and knead it more.
  6. Add some lemon slices while kneading and take them out once finish kneading.
  7. Adjust the saltiness and spiciness at the end.
  8. Add chopped fresh parsley and scallions.
  9. Add 2 tbs olive oil just before serving and mix it.




  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  1. Place the arils (from about 4 large pomegranates) in a sieve and strain the juice through the sieve.
  2. Heat pomegranate juice, sugar, lemon to a simmer: In a large, wide, uncovered saucepan, heat pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon juice on medium high until the sugar has dissolved and the juice simmers. Reduce heat just enough to maintain a simmer.
  3. Reduce to a syrup: Simmer for about an hour, or until the juice has a syrupy consistency.




  • 200 g all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 200 g natural yogurt
  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl, mix together with a spoon and knead for a minute.
  2. Dust a clean work surface and rolling pin with flour, then divide the dough into 6 equal-sized pieces.
  3. With your hands, pat and flatten the dough, then use a rolling pin to roll each piece, roughly 2mm thick.
  4. Place the pan on a high heat, then once hot, cook each one for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until puffed up.
  5. Brush the flatbreads all over with salted butter after taking of the pan.