The arrival of fall usually finds us heading instinctively, like a salmon swimming towards its ancestral headwaters, to Beyoğlu’s Balık Pazarı, the neighborhood’s old fish market. Autumn is quince season in Turkey and that means the appearance – for a limited time only – of one of our favorite desserts, ayva tatlısı (literally “quince dessert” in Turkish, although “quince in syrup” might be more accurate), and the market’s Sakarya Tatlıcısı, a pastry and sweets shop with old-world charm, is one of our top stops for the dessert.
The apple-like quince is one of those complicated, mysterious fruits that take on a new life when cooked. Raw, quinces are often astringent and inedible. Cooked (granted, with a generous amount of sugar), the fruit assumes a different personality, with a newfound depth of flavor and a seductive perfume. (To read the rest of this archived review, click here .)