Paella Class

Get ready to ramp up your summer entertaining skills with our first Paella and wine class of the season.

I am teaming up with the professionally trained  and highly entertaining duo of Mike C. and Olivier Said from Kitchen On Fire to bring you this hands-on class that will teach you everything you need to know to throw a spectacular Paella party in your own home.

Located in the heart of North Berkeley, upstairs at the new Epicurious Gardens complex, Kitchen on Fire is quickly becoming the prime location for food and wine classes of every imaginable permutation.  Olivier and Mike have graciously made room in their busy schedule for this special event.  Here is what they say about the class:

Join Kevin Hogan from The Spanish Table to learn first-hand the joys of the Spanish rice dish known as Paella. Kevin will share his knowledge and experience in all things Paella-related. The class will include some hands-on participation to prepare a mixed poultry/meat/seafood Paella that will be consumed at the culmination of the class. Participants will also get a chance to make and sample some simple tapas while waiting for the Paella to cook. Kevin is the wine buyer for The Spanish Table in Berkeley and will be sharing some Paella-friendly wines as well. Come to class with an appetite for adventure and be rewarded with a plateful of Paella wisdom.

That pretty much sums it up.  The class is $65.00 per person and (since it’s me teaching the class) includes a tasting of five different Spanish wines that are appropriate to the meal. To register for this exciting event, go to the Kitchen on Fire web site https://www.kitchenonfire.com//course_class.php?class=280. They will be handling all reservations for the class. Also, this week in the San Francisco Examiner, Patricia Unterman tells the Bay Area where to find the best Paella supplies (right here, of course): http://www.examiner.com/a-732885~Unterman_tips__Paella_and_a_benefit_feast.html as well as sharing her thoughts on B-44 restaurant in San Francisco: http://www.examiner.com/a-732884~Authentic_Catalan_bistro_in_the_heart_of_S_F_.html.

East of the Caldicott tunnel, Jessica Yadegaran of the Contra Costa times shares her thoughts about off beat wines, including several of the unique and delicious wines found here at The Spanish table: http://www.contracostatimes.com/foodandwine/ci_5908251.

Meanwhile, here are some of the latest arrivals here in the wine department:

White Wines:

Laxas Albariño 2006 $17.99 The new vintage of this ripe, floral Albariño from Northwestern Spain has just arrived. Jasmine and orange blossom aromas play off of the melon and quince flavors. Laxas sounds like ‘luscious’ to me and that is the perfect word to describe this wine.

Xarmant 2006 $13.99 We just received the new vintage of this youthful, spritzy white Txakoli wine from the Basque lands. Most of the Txakoli is grown on the coast. This wine comes from vineyards in the inland hills of Alava province where the grapes get a better chance of fully ripening, thus creating a fuller, rounder wine with less of the austere minerality of the coastal Txakoli. An excellent introduction to Txakoli for those who have yet to experience this wonderfully refreshing wine.

Espadana Sauvignon Blanc 2005 $10.99 (was $14.99) This wine from the Rueda region in North central Spain is ripe with tropical fruit aromas and flavors of pineapple, guava and limes. Crisp and refreshing, this is a wonderful wine for warm weather meals. Espadaña Sauvignon Blanc is on sale right now to get you to try the Spanish version of this well known grape variety.

Red Wines:

Nekeas Tempranillo/Merlot 2005 $9.99 The new vintage of this wine is here just in time for the beginning of picnic season. This light bodied blend of Tempranillo and Merlot is gentle and bright, with fresh berry fruit character and a clean finish. If you aren’t in picnic mode just yet, try it on a weeknight with a simple pasta or rice dish.

Periquita 2004 $11.99 In Portugal, Jose Maria da Fonseca has been making Periquita since 1850. Produced in the Peninsula de Setubal region south of Lisbon, Periquita is composed of a blend of Castelão,  Aragonez and Trincadeira. After fermentation the blended wine is aged for 5 months in oak before bottling. This well-known and tasty Portuguese red wine is versatile and friendly. Pair it with a wide range of foods and flavors.

Periquita Classico 2001 $24.99 For a more mature perspective on Periquita, try the 100% Castelão version of this wine from the same producers as the regular Periquita. Aged for 10 months prior to bottling, Periquita Classico is a bold, spicy, well structured red wine that has been a favorite among wine lovers from Portugal (and elsewhere) for over a century.

Jerez Wines:

Maestro Sierra Fino $13.99 (375ml)

Maestro Sierra Amontillado $21.99 (375ml)

Maestro Sierra Oloroso $15.99 (375ml)

Maestro Sierra was founded in 1832 by Jose Antonio Sierra, who, as a master carpenter, was responsible for building barrels for all the major Sherry houses. Recognized as one of the top coopers in the area, he longed to become involved in the Sherry trade itself. As this business was dominated by the nobility, a start-up such as his was not very welcome. After many hardships he was able to establish and grow his business becoming one of the top Almacenistas (stockholders) of high quality Sherries. Poking fun at his struggle, the label depicts an allegorical fox hunt with the “Nobles” hunting the fox (Maestro Sierra).

Pilar Pla Pechovierto currently owns Maestro Sierra. Doña Pilar is a widow whose husband was a direct descendent of the Sierra family. She respected her husband’s wish that the winery remain in operation after his death and over the last thirty years she has kept the winery open, selling very limited stocks of wine to a few of the large Sherry houses. Because the wines have virtually remained unmoved due to the almost non existent business, the stocks at Maestro Sierra are some of the oldest in Jerez. The soleras at the winery are easily over 60 years old and some maybe close to 100 years old.

These are some of the finest Jerez wines I have tasted. Some of you have had a chance to try them at César in Berkeley where they are currently offering all of these wines as a tasting flight. Now you can have some to enjoy at home too.

Maestro Sierra Fino is pale straw colored, bracingly dry and nutty with a whiff of sea breeze. Serve it as an aperitif.

Maestro Sierra Amontillado is amber gold in color with a rich aroma of almonds and fresh hay. A very gentle note of raisin-like fruit character is present here. This wine pairs well with aged cheeses and curd meats.

Finally, the Maestro Sierra Oloroso is dark amber with flavors of walnuts, butterscotch and figs. Serve this wine at the end of a big meal.

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