Spain

An American shortcut to Spanish tortilla

An American shortcut to Spanish tortilla

Wherever we go, the local cuisine always seems to have a go-to item—something easily ordered, quick to prepare, widely available, and nearly foolproof. In much of the U.S., that's often a hamburger. In France, a slice of quiche and a salad. In Spain, it's the potato omelet, or tortilla española. You never know where you'll get a great tortilla. The lowliest dive bar serves tortilla and bars attached to fancy restaurants offer it. You can even get a decent one in the refrigerator cases in many supermarkets. The tortilla can be the model of simplicity—a magical amalgam of eggs, potato, onion, and olive oil. That's the first image on the right, shown with tomato-rubbed bread in La Gardunya at the back of La Boqueria market...Read More
‘New Spanish’ gives NYC accent to Iberian food

‘New Spanish’ gives NYC accent to Iberian food

Chef Jonah Miller and restaurateur Nate Adler are the combined force behind Huertas (huertasnyc.com) in New York's East Village. The restaurant skews Basque in its inspiration, but the pair's cookbook, The New Spanish, is a playful take on contemporary Spanish cooking with a pronounced NYC accent. Case in point: “Arroz al Chino” is a mashup of paella and Chinese fried rice inspired by Zhou Yulong, the Chinese restaurant in the parking garage beneath Plaza de España in Madrid. It's saffron fried rice with lots of bacon, shrimp, and pea tendrils. Covered with zigzag tracks of aioli, it's not far from the fried paella balls that many Spaniards make at home with leftovers. It's pretty clear that Miller and Adler are most at home in “Green...Read More
A Dalí-ance in Catalan gastronomy

A Dalí-ance in Catalan gastronomy

When we visited Salvador Dalí's home and studio in Port Lligat, Spain, late last year, we didn't know that the cookbook by the most surreal of Surrealist artists had been re-published in 2016. But we knew he loved to eat. Dalí and his wife and muse, Gala, spent a lot of time in their house-studio in the fishing cove of Port Lligat, about a mile away from Cadaqués near the Spanish border with France. The property began as a fisherman's shanty when Dalí bought it in 1930. Over the next 40 years, the house accreted new rooms and wings and gardens and statuary and.... Well, Dalí was prone to excess. That's a photo of the building at the top of this post. It perches above...Read More
Relicatessen: heavenly products for earthly delights

Relicatessen: heavenly products for earthly delights

Relicatessen in Barcelona solved a problem for us. When we're in Spain for any extended period, we enjoy seeking out the cookies, sweets, and other foodstuffs from the country's 38 monasteries and convents that make products for sale. Often that means placing money on a revolving window (called a retorno) and getting a box of cookies, a jar of jam, or a pot of honey in return. But we're not always in a town with a cloistered order that makes products for sale. Thank god (so to speak) that Francisco Vera opened Relicatessen (www.relicatessen.com) three years ago in stall 988 in the Mercat Sant Josep, better known as La Boqueria. Located right on La Rambla in a Modernista-style iron frame shed, the Boqueria is one...Read More

Bobal brings friends to the barbecue

Our previous posts on D.O. Utiel Requena (see here) have concentrated on wines of the indigenous Bobal grape. Finca San Blas (fincasanblas.com) in Requena makes a well-regarded 100 percent Bobal. But the bodega also has extensive vineyards planted in Merlot, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. Its 2014 Lomalta blends 40 percent Bobal with 30 percent each of Merlot and Tempranillo. The resulting wine is a world apart from the black cherry and resinous spice profile of traditional Bobal. The Bobal characteristics are largely overshadowed by the other two grapes. We had to double-check the label to make sure it wasn't an experimental bottling from Rioja, which has had a love affair with French grapes for 150 years. The nose has the pronounced hot-climate menthol of...Read More

Finca La Beata shows Bobal at its meatiest

Regular readers know we've been doing a survey of Bobal wines from the Utiel Requena region of Valencia. As we contemplated a dish to eat with the 2013 “Finca La Beata Bobal” from Dominio de la Vega (dominiodelavega.com), we faced a quandary. The sheer weight of the bottle signaled a Very Important Wine. (Empty, it clocks in at 1.2 kg/2.7 lb.) When it arrived at our door, the weather was cold and dank; now it's hot and steamy. Based on the other Bobal wines, we suspected that it would cry out for very beefy beef. But steamy summer is not the time for rabo de toro, the classic Spanish braise of oxtail. Then we remembered that Andalucían superchef Dani García used oxtail in the scrumptious...Read More

Venusto infuses Bobal charm with modern discipline

As we work our way through some exciting wines from D.O. Utiel Requena in Valencia, Spain, we were pleased to try the flagship red from Bodegas Vibe called Venusto. Early in 2015, this new winery took over the land and facilities from a previous winery heavily invested in international grapes. Winemaker Juan Carlos Garcia changed that focus immediately. His attention is riveted on Tardana, a local white grape, and Bobal, the red signature of the D.O. Judging by the 2015 Venusto, Garcia found the sweet spot with his first release. He is making an intense, spicy, well-structured Bobal that is extremely food-friendly. Fermented on the skins for four days to pick up saturated color, it pours as deep black cherry liquid with a nice viscosity...Read More

Old vine Bobal complements hearty pork paella

The Viticultores de SanJuan bodega is owned by the Valsangiacomo family (above), which represents the fifth generation of family winemaking that began in Switzerland in 1831. Built in 1960, the winery in the village of San Juan Bautista, about 60 kilometers west of Valencia, Spain. The vines range from 60 to 80 years old. Since there was always a market for blending wines and grape concentrate, traditional growers in the Utiel Requena region never had reason to rip out their old Bobal vines. Vineyards tend to be broad pieces of open acreage supporting bush-style vines grown without irrigation. As the region began to focus more on quality of grapes rather than quantity through the DOP Utiel-Requna, these ancient vines (right) proved a huge asset. The...Read More

Utiel Requena wines conjure tastes of northeast Spain

We're convinced that there is nothing like taste to evoke memories of place. A sip of wine will call back the flavor of the food, the sun on our faces, the wobbly leg of the cafe table, and the street life around us. We're just starting to taste several wines from the Utiel Requena region in the northwest corner of the autonomous region of Valencia. As we taste, we're reliving trips to Catalunya, Aragón, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands. In addition to speaking variants of Catalan, these regions feature cuisines that pair very well with the Bobal wines of Utiel Requena. We'll be enjoying them with some of our favorite dishes. As shown in this photo just below, D.O. Utiel Requena sits in the rain...Read More

Bravura Navarra wine hits all the high notes

Spain's D.O. Navarra wine district nestles just east of La Rioja like two lovers spooning in bed. With much the same soils, the same Río Ebro influence, and a millennium-long winemaking tradition, Navarra has everything to make great wines. It even has some of the oldest plots of the Garnacha grape in northern Spain. Eleven Navarra producers came through Boston last night showcasing one wine each at the terrific Spanish restaurant Taberna de Haro (999 South Beacon St., Brookline, 617-277-8272, tabernaboston.com). Chef Deborah Hansen's crew passed tapas as we tasted. Among them were the stunning deconstructed version of her salt cod saffron meatballs, albóndigas de bacalao, shown above. We tasted blends mostly dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. A few were jazzed up with Syrah,...Read More