Tag Archives: piquillo

A Blogging We Shall Go

If you were wondering who the last person in the Bay Area to get a blog is, you just found him.

Yes, I have finally joined the crowd (‘come on, all the kids are doing it’) and re-purposed this newsletter in an on-line version. The same newsletter that you now receive is also posted at www.spanishtable.wordpress.com along with an archive of previous editions that grows day by day.

If you have ever wanted to go back and find a favorite recipe, or share a wine description with friends who are not on the email list, you can now search or browse through years worth of past newsletters. You can also respond to my weekly chatter with thoughts and perspectives of your own. You can get RSS updates of new content as soon as it is posted (exciting, no?) and also link to the site from your own blog.

Of course, if none of this on-line stuff holds any allure for you, the email version will continue just as it does now.

Meanwhile, here in Berkeley we are receiving our annual but short lived allotment of fresh piquillo peppers from those intrepid folks at Happy Quail Farms.

These sweet red peppers, originally from the Navarra region in Northern Spain, are usually only found in cans and jars, but for a brief period you can experience the distinct joy of fresh piquillos grown nearby in East Palo Alto.

These thick skinned peppers need to be roasted to bring out their best flavors. It is a simple process that can be done on the barbecue grill or over a gas flame on the stove. A short video that I made a while back that illustrates the method of preparing fresh piquillos at home can be found here:

Getting back to wine, we have some new ‘house wines’ from Chile this week as well as a few new arrivals from Argentina and Portugal. Check out the new stuff below.

Viu Manent Sauvignon Blanc 2007 This bright, aromatic white wine from the Colchagua Valley in Chile is the latest of our ‘house wines’ (all priced at $6.99 per bottle with a special price of $5.99 per bottle in a full mix-n-match case of ‘house wines’). Abundant floral aroma and refreshing citrus and melon flavor. $6.99

Viu Manent Carménère 2007 This varietal wine from the Colchagua valley in Chile features the local Carménère grape in a ripe, youthful style that is a perfect match for spicy food. Dark purple color mimics dark berry fruit character with added contrast from subtle notes of jalapeño pepper. $6.99

La Guita Manzanilla Our friends at Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants are (sadly) no longer importing this delicious dry Sherry. We have a case or two left of the small 375ml size, after which there will be no more La Guita for the foreseeable future. Now is your last chance to pick up a bottle of this pale straw colored white wine that combines aromas of sea breeze and freshly mowed hay with flavors of chamomile and toasted almonds. $8.99 (375 ml)

Tiza Malbec 2005 This Argentine red wine from the prestigious Lujan de Cuyo region in Mendoza is produced from estate grown old vine Malbec. Aged in barrel for 12 months, this dark, full bodied wine has abundant ripe fruit character to balance the assertive oaky tannins. The Wine Advocate rated this wine at 90 points, describing it as “a ripe, smooth-textured, spicy wine with vibrant fruit, silky tannin, and a fruit-filled finish. $17.99

Chaminé 2007 Cortes de Cima is a small family owned winery in the Alentejo region of Portugal run by the husband and wife team of Hans and Carrie Jorgensen. Hans is originally from Denmark and Carrie is an American (and a Cal alumna to boot). They have found a home in the small town of Vidigueira where they now raise their kids and make their wines. Chaminé is a youthful, unoaked blend of 54% Aragonez (aka Tempranillo), 36% Syrah, 6% Touriga Nacional, 3 % Trincadeira and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fresh, lively fruit character blends effortlessly with soft, velvety grape skin tannins and a bit of minerality on the finish. $17.99

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

Strike

It happens every time I travel in Western Europe. Soon after arriving (sometimes even during the flight over) I discover that whatever plans I have made for a certain day will require significant alteration because of one of several varieties of huelga de trabajo (labor strike). Sometimes it’s the bus drivers or garbage collectors and other times it’s the museum ticket takers or other less than crucial service providers, but still it always comes as a surprise to me the visiting foreigner and has a way of messing up my plans. Of course it could also be a Saint’s birthday, bank holiday or other state mandated day off that brings everything to a full stop, leaving us hapless tourists to wander aimlessly in search of amusement, which helps explain why the local residents never seem too put out by the break from routine. They are used to it.

At present, truck drivers in several EU countries are staging protests over the cost of fuel. Unlike the ‘vacation surprises’ that don’t make much news over here, these current strikes are being felt far and wide. The effects are particularly noticeable in the world of imported wine. Suppliers here are running out of certain products and have no estimate on when they will receive new shipments.

So what are wine drinkers to do in this moment of uncertainty? Fear not, I say, for we have plenty of options and choices still available. While the flood of new products is experiencing a temporary lull, we still have hundreds of wines in stock from all across Spain and Portugal (Argentina and Chile too). If your favorite brand is momentarily missing from the shelf, take this opportunity to try a neighboring wine with similar characteristics. It is just like being on a trip to Spain and realizing that you have to change you plans because the trains are not running or your favorite restaurant has abruptly closed for a month long vacation (a month? what must that be like?) leading you to try some alternate place that can often turn into a wonderful new experience.

Speaking of new experiences, this Sunday, June 29th, Berkeley will host the 3rd annual International Food Festival. The Spanish Table will be cooking up a big paella and handing out samples right here in the store starting at 1 pm. This has been one of the big hits of the festival in previous years and will be a tasty introduction to any of you that have yet to experience the fun and excitement of paella first hand.

I will be demonstrating a simple and delicious tapa recipe at 3:30 pm on the Kitchen On Fire cooking stage in the bank parking lot down the street from The Spanish Table. Here is the recipe I will be doing. Come see me on Sunday and get a taste of this quick and easy appetizer, and then take this recipe home and make this for yourself.

I’ll see you at the fiesta!

 

Olivada and Piquillo Montadito (makes about 35-40)

 

1 lb. pitted olives (green or black)

1 sml can of anchovies (55gr./2 oz. net weight)

1 clove garlic

1 sml. Jar piquillo peppers (185 gr./6.5 oz. net weight)

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 ‘baguette’ style French bread

 

Pit olives if necessary. Slice peppers into thin strips. Slice bread into 1/2 inch rounds. Finely mince garlic and combine with olives, anchovies and olive oil in a food processor. Process until mostly smooth. Add a bit more oil if it seems too chunky (it should be spreadable). Spread one teaspoon of olivada on each slice of bread, edge to edge. Garnish with one strip of pepper. Serve.

 

While we await new products, here are some ‘greatest hits’ from recent newsletters:

 

Luis Pato Espumante Bruto This is the first Portuguese sparkling wine to arrive here at The Spanish Table. Luis Pato, the celebrated and somewhat controversial wine maker works in the Beiras region of Portugal. This sparkling wine is made mostly from the Maria Gomes grape and (starting with this bottling) also includes 5% Arinto in the blend. Lean toasty aroma and tart, leesy fruit character combine with frothy effervescence to create a uniquely refreshing wine. $15.99

 

Bereziartua Apple Cider At last, it has arrived! Many of us have been waiting for years to get our hands on some genuine Basque sidra. This hard cider is unfiltered, cloudy, lightly effervescent and only barely sweet. Yeasty aroma and tart fermented apple flavor are what you want from this most ancient of drinks. In the Basque Country they drink it straight from the barrel from harvest time through the winter and then in spring and summer they drink the rest from bottles like those we have just received. When this stuff becomes wildly popular, remember, you heard it here first. $8.99

 

Raventos Perfum de Vi Blanc 2005 This wine comes from Raventos i Blanc, the makers of one of our best Cavas. This blend of 60% Macabeo and 40% Muscat from the Penedès region in Catalunya has exchanged its youthful boldness for mature spiciness. Aromas of wintergreen, allspice and green herbs add unusual complexity to this unoaked white wine, underscoring what I perceive as a bit of ginger ale-like flavor (store manager Caty says she tastes “afri-cola”) on the palate. Intriguing! $8.99

 

Nuevomundo Cabernet/Carmenere Reserve 2005 This Chilean blend of organically grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere from the Maipo Valley is dark and spicy with underlying complexity from 14 months of oak barrel ageing. The more firmly structured Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 60% of the blend and finds counterpoint in the spicy Carmenere which accounts for the other 40%. $11.99

 

Viña Catajarros Élite Rosado 2007 The Cigales region in northern Spain is, along with Navarra, the traditional home of many excellent rosado wines. This particular wine (the first 2007 rosado to arrive from Spain) is produced mostly from Tempranillo with, interestingly, 10% white Verdejo added to the blend. Vivid rose pink color and strawberry aroma blends well with watermelon fruit character and a racy jolt of acidity (from the Verdejo) that maintains the bright, refreshing quality of this wine. $12.99

 

Tio Pepe The best known Fino on the planet is back with a new distributor after a brief hiatus. Gonzalez-Byass makes Tio Pepe from the Palomino Fino grape in the Jerez region of Southern Spain. This dry, nutty wine is ubiquitous in Andalucia and is a perfect accompaniment to toasted almond, olives, cured meats, cheeses and other salty foods. The price has gone down too (how often do you hear that these days), so try some for yourself and see what the fuss is all about. $16.99

 

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Filed under Argentina, Chile, Fortified Wine, Portugal, Recipes, Red Wine, rosado, sidra (cider), Spain, Sparkling Wine, White Wine

Vintage Tuna

I just tried a new product here at The Spanish Table that is so good that I am stepping away from my usual wine related patter to alert you to this new taste treat.

My new favorite product is a 2004 vintage canned tuna.

Ageing canned fish is a well respected tradition in many Spanish homes. Some people (those with great forethought and discipline) even wait over a decade before opening the tin.

Ortiz, one of the top brands of canned bonito del norte tuna packed in olive oil, have recently started marketing several reserva varieties of canned tuna that are aged on purpose before sale. These vintage dated products develop a richer, creamier texture and a nutty, delicate flavor over time.

I know, I know, many of you will be skeptical when I sing the praises of ‘old canned goods’ but this is something you need to just try for yourself. Take one small can of regular Ortiz tuna and compare it side by side with the same sized can of Ortiz Reserva de la Familia 2004 vintage tuna. I already think of Ortiz tuna as on of life’s great pleasures, so you can imagine my surprise when I tasted the vintage variety and found it to be a deliciously different version of the original.

To taste this line caught, dolphin safe tuna at its best (and to get back to my primary mission) pair it with some of the fresh white and rosado wines from this week’s selections. These warm weather wines will refresh your thirst and stimulate your appetite without emptying your wallet.

If eating tuna straight from the can with a fork seems wrong to you (it is hard to resist!) then may I suggest the following simple appetizer that I have been served at numerous wineries and informal gatherings in Spain.

Tuna and Piquillo montaditos (serves 4 as a tapa, 2 per person)

Ingredients:

2 4 oz. cans of Ortiz Reserva 2004 Bonito del Norte tuna

8 whole jarred piquillo peppers

8 ½” slices of baguette

¼ cup Spanish extra virgin olive oil

1 tblspn. flor de sal (sea salt)

8 toothpicks

Directions:

This simple preparation calls for the best quality ingredients. Open the cans of tuna and drain some, but not all, of the oil. Divide the contents of each can in fourths and fill each pepper with tuna. Top each slice of bread with a filled pepper and secure with a toothpick. Drizzle the peppers with the best olive oil you can find and sprinkle with top quality sea salt. Plate and serve. That’s all there is to it!

Paella alert-two weeks away: The ever popular and always delicious Paella class at Kitchen On Fire is back. On Friday June 13th at 6:30 pm I will be leading a bunch of enthusiastic food lovers in this hands-on class that is guaranteed to give all participants the knowledge and confidence to make this classic Spanish one-pot meal at home. Whether you want to make paella for two or for two hundred this high spirited class will reward you with a plateful of Paella wisdom. We’ll be making a few tapas and trying some wines too (hey, it’s me teaching the class, so we’ve got to try some wines, don’t you think?). Go to the Kitchen On Fire website to sign up. This will be the only class like this all summer and the class is limited to 20 participants so act now to secure your spot.

Ameztoi Rubentis 2007 This rosado Txakoli, the first of its kind, was the big hit of last summer in its inaugural vintage. Ignacio Ameztoi Aranguren, a 7th generation basque winemaker produces this wine from the fruit of his 50 acre vineyard in the Getaria region overlooking the Cantabrian Sea. Rubentis is composed of a blend of indigenous Hondarribi Zuri (white) and Hondarribi Beltza (red), creating a light pink colored wine with just a touch of residual effervescence. The refreshing grapefruit and mineral notes found in the white Ameztoi are supplemented here with a slight note of wild strawberry. We have just a few cases of this wine so act now if you wish to try it for yourself. $18.99

Gurrutxaga Rosado 2007 Following on the success of Ameztoi Rubentis, DeMaison Imports has brought yet another rosado Txakoli to our shores. Gurrutxaga Rosado is made in the little coastal village of Mendexa in the heart of the basque lands. This wine is made from 100% Hondarribi Beltza, the traditional red grape of this region. Aromas of wet limestone punctuated by bright flavors of grapefruit and tannic grape skin remind me of traditional white Txakoli, here with the addition of intriguing pale pink color and the aroma of unripe strawberry. $18.99

Avinyó Vi D’Agulla 2007 Another DeMaison import (their ship recently came in… literally) is this new vintage of refreshing, spritzy white wine from the makers of Avinyó Cava. Made in the Penedès region of Catalunya, this summertime thirst quencher is composed of Petit Grain Muscat, fermented to dryness and bottled with a bit of residual effervescence. The rich Muscat scent is present here but the sweetness usually associated with this grape is only barely perceived. In its place is tart citrusy fruit character and background flintiness. $14.99

Quinta Da Aveleda Vinho Verde 2007 We just received the new vintage Vinho Verde from Aveleda in Portugal. Most Vinho Verde is non-vintage but this wine is produced each year from a blend of traditional grapes (Alvarinho, Loureiro and Trajadura) from the best parcels of Aveleda’s estate vineyards. This finely tuned Vinho Verde displays fresh citrus and light floral aromas along with bright fruit character and the spritzy effervescence that is typical of wines from this region. $8.99

Quinta da Cabriz Branco 2007 If you have wanted to try white Portuguese wines beyond Vinho Verde, this white Dão region wine will be a real treat. Quinta da Cabriz makes some excellent and well priced red wines, but their white wine is only now making it to our part of the world. Composed of 40% Encruzado, 20% Malvasia, 20% Cerceal and 20% Bical, this unoaked blend of typical Portuguese grapes is fresh and delicate with moderate acidity and white peach fruit character. $10.99

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Filed under Portugal, Spain

Big Reds

At The Spanish Table we are firm believers in eating and drinking according to the seasons. Throughout the summer we have focused our attention on the cool, refreshing white and rosado wines that go so well with summer meals as well as the bold, youthful red wines that are perfect accompaniments to meat on the grill. 

As we move into late summer we start to bring in more hearty, mature red wines as well as richer, more aromatic whites. 

This week we have some new wines that fit these descriptions perfectly. Like the first robin of spring these wines are harbingers of the season to come. It may not feel like it yet in the Bay Area, and we still have plenty of pink/white/red summertime wines, but as the season progresses we will continue to shift our focus toward these more autumnal flavors and characteristics.

Meanwhile, our friends at Happy Quail Farms have been delivering fresh Piquillo peppers to us for the first time. The search for a source for fresh Piquillos has been something of a grail quest for me over the last few years ever since trying one that our store manager (and food newsletter editor) Caty Salas grew in her yard in Oakland. I was so impressed with this homegrown version of the classic Navarra regional specialty that I made a video to commemorate the event.

Now, with access to the plump, crunchy fresh Piquillos from Happy Quail, I get to expand my repertoire of pepper recipes. Here is the recipe for a little tapa that I served to visitors last weekend.

 

Kevin’s Roasted Fresh Piquillo Peppers with Ventresca Tuna

Serves 4 as an appetizer

 

½ lb. fresh Piquillo peppers (5-6 peppers)

1- 4 0z. can Ortiz Ventresca Tuna

3 tablespoons Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 teaspoon Toro Albala PX Vinegar

1 teaspoon flat leaf parsley, minced

1 teaspoon sea salt

 

Char the peppers briefly over a flame to blister the skin. Let the peppers cool and remove the blackened skin along with the stem end and the seeds. Slice the peppers into thin strips. Drain the tuna and gently separate the pieces into big flakes. Arrange the peppers in a pile on a serving plate and top with the flaked tuna. Drizzle on the oil and vinegar. Sprinkle parsley over the top and salt to taste.

 

Cerveza:

Skol Beer $10.99 In our continuing quest for interesting beer we recently started selling some rare and tasty Argentine micro brewery ales. Based on the success of those new products, this week we are bringing in one of Brazil’s most popular beers.  This crisp, refreshing lager is said to induce sentimental nostalgia among the local Brazilian population. I like the 11.2 ounce bottles. They remind me of the diminutive cañas (small glasses of draft beer) served in Spain.

 

Vino Blanco:

Versatus 2006 $12.99 Galician white wines from the Ribeiro region have not gotten as much attention as the Albariño wines from neighboring Rías Baixas. Versatus is a D.O. Ribeiro wine composed of equal parts Treixadura, Palomino, Godello and Torrontes. The flinty, mineral element is predominant in this crisp, light bodied wine.

 

Santiago Ruiz 2006 $17.99 The newest vintage of this bright, aromatic white wine from Galicia is a blend of estate grown Albariño, Treixadura and Loureiro, vinified completely in stainless steel. Pale lemon color with aromas of citrus blossom and tropical fruits. Crisp acidity and background minerality add balance to the wine and maintain the refreshing quality that makes this such a perfect wine for pairing with light appetizers and seafood.

 

Do Ferreiro 2006 $24.99 The new 2006 vintage of this 100% Albariño wine reminds us of why this producer retains almost cult status among Spanish white wine appreciators. The various components of this wine (color, texture, aroma, flavor) are precise and balanced. The gently perfumed floral aspect never overwhelms the citrusy fruit character which in turn balances the firm minerality. An excellent wine for a special meal.

 

Vino Tinto:

Vina Herminia Tempranillo 2005 $11.99 Located in the Rioja Baja subzone of D.O.C. Rioja, at the southeastern end of the region, Viña Herminia belongs to the Luis Caballero group of companies, also owners of Lustau in Jerez. This wine is 100% Tempranillo sourced from a combination of estate grown fruit as well as fruit purchased from the local coop. Temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel (no oak barrels) helps retain the fresh berry fruit character of the wine. Dark garnet colored, Viña Herminia displays ripe berry aroma and abundant, youthful fruit character.

 

Convento Oreja Roble 2005 $15.99 This young Ribera del Duero region wine, fashioned from the local Tinto del País grape and aged for 4 months in oak is structured and ripe while retaining a certain youthfulness. Dark berry aromas and flavors with gentle tannins and background minerality.

 

Corpus del Muni Roble 2005 $17.99 A blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Garnacha produced just outside of Toledo in central Spain. Dark garnet color with aromas of berries and spicy oak. Black cherry fruit character with earthy tannins. A few months of barrel age lends complexity to the blend without stripping the final product of its youthful demeanor.

 

Termes 2005 $26.99 The Toro region wines from Bodegas Numanthia Termes have become very popular among our customers who appreciate concentrated, powerful red wines. The more exclusive Numanthia and Termanthia (the latter rated a perfect score of 100 by The Wine Advocate in the 2004 vintage) have already sold out in their previous vintage, but the newest release is this, the youngest of their wines. Sourced from small plots of old vine Tinto de Toro and aged in oak for 16 months before bottling, this rich, structured, tannic red allows those of us on a budget to taste at least something from this highly rated producer. Give this one lots of air and serve with wild boar or grilled buffalo steak.

 

Alonso del Yerro 2005 $35.99  This wine is made from 100% Tempranillo sourced from the family owned 65 acre vineyard. Aged for 12 months in oak before bottling, this wine captures the essence of the Ribera del Duero region. Dark garnet color, rich fruit character and firmly tannic structure are what one looks for in wines from this region. Alonso del Yerro expresses all of these attributes in a finely balanced offering that possesses both elegance (not a common descriptor in this region) and precision.

 

Mas de Can Blau 2004 $42.99 We love the inky dark, juicy, ripe Can Blau from D.O. Montsant and so do you. It is so popular that we have trouble keeping it in stock. Now this producer has released a more mature version produced from the fruit of their oldest vineyards and aged for 20 months in oak before bottling. This is a big, powerful red that will age well for years to come. Mas de Can Blau has been well reviewed by both Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. Both publications awarded the wine 92 Points.

Josh Raynolds (IWC) wrote: “Deep, saturated red. Explosively perfumed nose features exotic scents of blackberry, cassis, cola, sandalwood, patchouli and smoked meat. Broad, deep and remarkably sweet, with lush dark fruit flavors showing remarkable depth and purity. Intense mineral accents and firm tannins add structure and precision.

Jay Miller (WA) said: “The 2004 Mas de Can Blau, the first vintage of this cuvee, comes from the estate’s oldest Cariñena, Garnacha, and Syrah vines. It received malolactic fermentation in barrel, was aged for 20 months in new French oak, and bottled unfiltered. Dark ruby/purple-colored, it offers a flamboyant nose of pain grille, scorched earth, tar, and kirsch. Full-bodied with a supple texture, the wine has layers of sweet fruit, nicely integrated oak, tannin, and acidity, in its racy personality. Drink this outgoing wine over the next 8-10 years.”

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