The arrival of fall always finds us heading instinctively, like salmon swimming towards their ancestral headwaters, to the Balık Pazarı, Beyoğlu’s historic 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 meaning “quince dessert,” although “quince in syrup” might be more accurate). Nestled in the fish market is Sakarya Tatlıcısı, a pastry and sweets shop with old-world charm that is one of our top stops for this 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 – with a generous amount of sugar – the fruit assumes a different personality, with a newfound depth of flavor and a seductive perfume. To make ayva tatlısı, large quinces are halved, stewed and then baked until they turn meltingly soft and are coated in a thick and sticky reddish glaze; the color is the result of a chemical reaction that is yet another of the fruit’s mysteries.
The rest of this previously featured review can be found on CulinaryBackstreets.com, here .