Tag Archives: ferran adrià

Cerveza y Sidra

The weather is warm, the Labor Day weekend is upon us, Cal is back in session, everybody but you and me has run off to the dessert for Burning Man and the Bay Bridge is closing for three days. Pick the reason that best suits your purpose but it all boils down to this: it’s Beer O’Clock in Berkeley.
After years of my constant whining about the lack of beer from Spain and Portugal, the local distributors have conspired to shut me up by supplying some really great beers that I now offer to you.
This week we have brought in all the beer we could find from Spain and Portugal (and one from Argentina too!). They are conveniently stacked up tall in the middle of the store and will surely add a new and unique level of refreshment to your weekend plans.
We have a few well known major brands that will be familiar to many of you. We also now carry a  few more esoteric brews including a new version of  Barcelona’s best selling beer designed by none less than Chef Ferrán Adriá from elBulli. We also just received a unique and delicious barrel aged red ale from Argentina.  Additionally, we have re-stocked our Basque hard apple cider, now available in the oh-so-cute half bottle size as well as the traditional 750ml bottles.
Of course we continue to bring in new, interesting  wines including numerous red, white and rosado wines that will refresh your palate and awaken your appetite on a warm evening, but, as they always say to me when I visit the bodegas in Spain, “before we try the wines, would you like a beer?”

Estrella Galicia While Spain has many excellent beers, this well known (in Spain) lager from Galicia was, for many years, the only Spanish beer available here in California. Blond color, yeasty aroma and crisp flavor are just what you want after a hot day. $10.99 (6 pack)
Estrella Damm For those who have visited Barcelona, this beer will be very familiar to you and will rekindle fond memories of that Catalan metropolis. This crisp, lager style beer is now in good supply here in the USA and makes a perfect addition to a Spanish themed party or meal. $10.99 (6 pack)
Estrella Damm Inedit Celebrated chef Ferrán Adriá from elBulli teamed up with Estrella Damm to create this distinctive Spanish beer. The attractive 750 ml bottle comes with a little booklet tied to the neck explaining the concept (“The beer specifically created to pair with food.”) and offering serving suggestions (“It is recommended that Inedit is enjoyed in a white wine glass and kept in an ice bucket after serving.”). A hybrid  of a traditional lager and a Belgian style Wit beer, this cloudy amber colored brew is fairly crisp on the front end with notes of orange peel and baking spice (cloves, nutmeg and allspice) on the finish. A bit of hoppy density adds interest and will appeal to appreciators of local microbrews. $10.99 (750 ml bottle)
Barbaroja Red Ale In the Argentine town of Escobar, 50 kilometers north of Buenos Aires, Cerveceria Barba Roja makes a wide range of craft brews. They make a special barrel aged “strong” (so named due to it’s 9% ABV) red ale that we just started carrying here. Opaque, reddish brown color, aromas of black coffee and wood smoke, and bold but balanced flavors of toasted malt and caramel. A champagne style cork seals this 750 ml bottle of oh-so-food friendly red ale. This is really interesting and deserves your attention. $12.99 (750 ml)
Sagres In Portugal, this is a major brand. Sagres is served everywhere. This classic lager style brew is crisp, light, slightly fruity and perfect on a hot evening.  $7.99 (6 pack)
Sagres Bohemia This dark beer from Sagres starts off crisp and hoppy. The toasted, malty richness comes on quickly and adds a bit of black coffee-ish flavor to the beer. $7.99 (6 pack)
Super Bock Not actually a ‘bock’ beer, this popular Portuguese lager (technically a malt liquor due to the 5.6% alcohol by volume) is light blond color with clean corn flavor and light hoppy finish. Serve this cold on a hot day and taste it at its best. $7.99 (6 pack)

In northern Spain, where the cool moist climate is not always conducive to grape growing, the local drink of choice is hard apple cider. In the bars of San Sebastian they pour sidra from the bottle held high overhead in an outstretched arm into wide glass tumblers. At the local sidrerias the Sagardo (cider in Basque) streams straight from large wooden kegs and accompanies a meal of fried salt cod with peppers and onions, huge bone-in ribeye steaks and walnuts and cheese for dessert. The meal is consumed standing up to facilitate frequent trips back and forth from the barrel room. From time to time a staffer will yell “Txotx!” and everyone lines up to get another glass of cider.
Experience the Basque hard cider tradition at home with Isastegi Sidra Natural. This is not sweet apple juice. Cloudy green gold in color with yeasty apple barrel aroma and tart, fino sherry-like flavor are what you will find here. Once opened this cider oxidizes rapidly so the bottle needs to be consumed quickly (not usually a problem). We now carry the half sized bottles which are great for small groups or when cider is served as an apperitivo before moving on to other drinks (for the full-bore Isastegi experience we also carry the traditional glassware, just like they use in Spain).
$8.99 (750 ml)
$4.99 (375 ml)
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Filed under Argentina, beer, Portugal, sidra (cider), Spain

Arrivals / Departures

In the wine world (and in the rest of life, I suppose) nothing lasts forever. Wines come and wines go. Some diminish in quantity slowly and others disappear in a heart beat, but one way or another they all grow scarce before becoming extinct.

Fortunately for wine drinkers, the joy of a new discovery is matched by the familiar pleasure of a well loved favorite. Exploring new regions and grape varieties is always exciting, but so is revisiting familiar territory to see how a particular wine or producer has evolved over time.

This week we have some fine examples of new wines that are just starting on their journey in the marketplace as well as mature wines that are the last examples of their particular vintage. Check out the following selections from our ever changing collection and act fast if you want to pick up some of the end-of-vintage wines before they are gone.

Here too is a quick recipe using the best of late summer seasonal produce. This recipe comes from the famous Catalan chef Ferran Adrià by way of the increasingly (thanks to his new show on PBS) well known Asturian chef José Andrés. I’ve adapted the recipe a bit to simplify things, but you can find the original version of this recipe along with dozens more in the boxed set of recipe cards called ‘Tapas Deck’ ($14.95 at The Spanish Table) by José Andrés and Richard Wolffe.

 

Tomato and Watermelon Skewers

(Serves 6 as a tapa)

Ingredients:

6cherry tomatoes cut in half

121 inch cubes of freshly cut watermelon

1-tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

1teaspoon lemon zest

¼ cup-sherry vinegar

¼ cup-Spanish extra virgin olive oil

1-tablespoon sea salt

1-tablespoon minced parsley

12toothpicks

Directions:

For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt and parsley in a bowl and mix briefly.

Skewer each tomato half (cut side up) with a toothpick, followed by a watermelon cube on the bottom. Stand the skewers up on a plate. Pour the dressing over the skewered fruit and serve.

 

Aveleda Fonte Vinho Verde The non-vintage version of Aveleda Vinho Verde has just come in with a new look and name. Now called ‘Fonte’, this is in fact the same fresh, spritzy white wine you know and love. Light mineral foundation and abundant citrus aroma and flavor combine to create this uniquely delicious white wine that is low in alcohol and big on refreshment. $7.99

 

Dorado Alvarinho 2006 Marcial Dorado, from Galicia in Spain, makes this excellent 100% Alvarinho wine in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal. After searching in vain for the perfect Albariño vineyard in Spain, he crossed the Minho River and bought a vineyard of 70 year old Alvarinho located just above the little town of Melgaço where he also built a small gravity fed (no pumping of wine from tank to tank) winery called Quinta do Feital. The unoaked ‘Dorado’, the flagship of the winery, is rich with melon and pear aromas and flavors. Bright acidity punctuates the ripe fruit character, creating a long, lingering finish. A quantum leap in quality compared to just about any other Vinho Verde. $28.99

 

Auratus 2007 This blend of two local grapes sourced from the northern end of Portugal is a declassified Vinho Verde (officially it is a ‘Vinho Regional do Minho’) made by Marcial Dorado at Quinta do Feital from a blend of Alvarinho and Trajadura grapes, vinified without any use of oak. The lean, flinty mineral notes from the Trajadura blend effortlessly with the riper melon and citrus scented Alvarinho. This crisp, dry wine will find favor with both Spanish Albarino appreciators as well as Portuguese Vinho Verde drinkers. $17.99

 

Quinta do Infantado Reserva 2003 One of our favorite small Porto producers, Quinta do Infantado, has made their first Reserva level red wine. This dark, rich, elegant blend of traditional Douro region grapes was made from the same field blend as used in the Porto. The fruit was crushed by foot in stone lagares, fermented in tank and then aged for 18 months in oak. This small production wine (just over 500 cases, total production) is expressive and full bodied while retaining a fine balance of aromas and flavors. Dark berry fruit character rounds out brambly herb and mineral back notes. $35.99 (very limited)

 

Rioja Bordon Crianza 2001 The last five cases of this excellent, very well priced, traditionally styled Rioja wine are going fast. A few months ago Jon Bonné from The San Francisco Chronicle described the wine well. He said: “Traditionally made Rioja, in well-worn American oak casks, wears its age remarkably well. More basic Crianza wines are meant to drink young. But this one from Bodegas Franco-Espanolas (founded when 19th-century Frenchmen journeyed south to find a solution to phylloxera that devastated Bordeaux) radiates with all the beauties of aged Rioja. Hints of wood and coriander merge with dried cherries and an almost translucent softness.” $11.99

 

Finca Valpiedra Reserva 2001 We are down to the last few cases of this superlative Rioja from the picture perfect 2001 vintage. This rare single vineyard wine, fashioned from 90% Tempranillo with the balance made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Mazuelo and Graciano is dark garnet colored with smooth, well integrated oak aroma and tannins adding contrast to the silky, ripe fruit character. In the upcoming 2004 vintage (the wine is only made in the best years) the wine will get the new “vinos de pagos” designation (indicating a wine made from only estate grown fruit and made on the same property as the vineyard) and will go up significantly in price. $23.99

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Filed under Portugal, Recipes, Red Wine, Spain, White Wine