After the hubbub and excitement of April’s excellent Dig In! event it was nice to gather once again under the Tiki at BX Beerdepot for “Spanish Wines and Tapas.”
The weather threatened rain and even sprinkled a bit but that didn’t dampen this group of Gulpers spirits as we made our way through Spain and their delicious cuisine.
As always Coreen and LeBeau did a fantastico job bringing the topic of the day to our eyes, noses and taste buds. We had some new faces this month so let me take this moment to say, “Welcome everyone and we look forward to seeing you at future Gulp Gatherings!”
Before I get to the food and wine let me just tell those who might not know what the heck “Tapas” are. Tapa in Spanish means “top”. It is a way of serving snacks and appetizers and originated in where else? Yep, Spain! 10 points to anyone who guessed it right! In Spanish taverns and pubs they use small plates to serve snack food that will sit on “top” of a customer’s drink so they don’t have to sit at a table to nosh. They can hold the drink and food with one hand, use the other for eating, and mingle amongst their friends all at the same time! That is my kind of multi-tasking.
With no more further ado I give you the pairings:
1st course: This was a classic Tapas course, a variery of olives some of which were stuffed with jalapenos, pimento paste or almonds along with roasted and smoked almonds to munch on. This was paired with a red sangria made with red wine, (of course), fruit juice, apple slices, sparkling water and everclear. The olives were briny and spicy while the almonds were salty and crunchy. Add to them a sip, ok gulp, of refreshing and fruity sangria you have a big flavor party going on in your mouth. I thought the sangria could have been a little sweeter and then I ate an olive and some almonds and the salt and brine made the sangria sweeter to me. This is why I love pairings. Separate items come together to bring a deeper, new taste experience that alone you couldn’t have.
2nd Course: Another classic Spanish dish, gazpacho, was paired with the sangria. This cold vegetable soup is a perennial summer favorite all over the world. It is a tomato based soup with other summer veggies thrown in and pureed for a smooth refreshing meal. Coreen included cucumber, garlic, olive oil, bell peppers and onions. For an added dash of tart she used white wine vinegar. She served it in a hollowed out cucumber cup! Way to be a crafty foodie! She had small plastic cups for those who wanted seconds and ate their first bowl. This soup was cool, fresh and creamy! I am not a gazpacho fan but I was one who went back for seconds. The pairing with the sangria didn’t work really well for me. Unlike the first course the soup sucked all the sweet out of the sangria and rendered it almost flavorless. Barry suggested a gin and tonic would be have been a nice match up with the soup. The crisp quinine flavors would have maybe stood up to the soup better. For me this course was all about the soup and I want more!!! Recipe Coreen?
3rd Course: This was a surprise course because before the wine could be served Cory from BX heard what it was going to be and offered up his own home-brewed hefeweizen. The pairing for this German style wheat beer was Coreen’s interpretation of Tortilla Espanolla. This is a traditional Spanish dish made with eggs and potatoes to create a thick omelet. Coreen kicked it up a notch by adding a topping of crumbled and browned chorizo and slices of avocado. Hats off to Cory for his suggested pairing! It was awesome! The beer was full of banana, cloves and honey. I was surprised by the creaminess of it. I haven’t tasted that in a beer before. I asked Cory where all the banana flavor came from and he said it was from the yeast used in fermentation. I love it when I am having fun AND learn something. The tortilla was filled with soft shreds of potato and creamy egg and spicy chorizo. It was so very delicious. When I added the beer to the food it was the best pairing of the day. One regular Gulper said it was the best course since the bacon brownies. (That might have been me).
4th Course: This course was one of the most famous of Spanish dishes, Paella. Coreen’s version featured seafood. Tender shrimp, scallops and mussels were enveloped in creamy rice. Mike Berlyn said he loved this dish.The pairing for this course was Jaume Serra Cristalino Kava. Kava is Spain’s version of champagne. It was sparkling, with a tropical aroma. The flavor was a little musky and it was interesting to taste dates and figs. It was a refreshing sparkling beverage. Paired with the paella it was ok. I think it might have worked better if the paella was hotter, the problem was the weather was very windy and the sterno wouldn’t stay lit.
5th Course: This was a really lovely course. It was a perfect bite paired with a delicious wine. Coreen prepared a Chile Lime Shrimp in a pastry shell. It was crunchy, tangy and creamy thanks to a dollop of goat cheese. It was paired with Abadia de San Campio Albarino. I loved this wine. It smelled like honeyed apples. The flavor matched the aroma and was a little acidic. When paired with the shrimp it balanced out the acid in the shrimp and upped the sweetness of this delectable tapas. Corey offered another of his home brews to go with this course. This one was an IPA with big citrusy notes that played as well with the shrimp as the Albarino.
Now, I am sure you are as ready as I am for a small break in the food. Before we have the next course I would like to have Lebeau talk about the different designations of Spanish wine. If you remember when we did Reislings we learned that German has a very strict quality control and labeling system for their wines; well, so does Spain.
Take it away Lebeau: (please be kind to the videographer. She was drinking during this filming).
6th Course: Now that we are back to the food this next course is Bleu Cheese with bacon on crostini. Need I say more? Oh yum! This was paired with a Scala Dei, Priorat DO, Negre 2009. Made from grenache grapes this wine is deep in aroma and flavor. The nose was full of dark berries and plums. The flavor was chocolate, black cherry and mineral with a nice acidity. The pairing, in short, was delicious. John Hazard said he loved how the food transformed the wine. The smoky bacon and creamy cheese dropped the acidity and pumped up the chocolate and berries.
7th Course: Dessert! Coreen made a lovely rice pudding that was full of cinnamon, vanilla and creaminess. It was paired with the Priorat. Michelle loved this pairing. She said it amped up the creamy cinnamon flavor of the pudding. I had seconds. I think that says it all.
8th Course: Okay, my friends this final course was so simple and yet it was one of the best things I have ever tasted and by the silence and then moans of pleasure I think the rest of the group would agree. Ready? Coreen took cubes of manchego cheese and covered them with a thin layer of apple paste. The nutty, buttery, slighty tangy cheese was blessed with the sweet, thick, apple paste. This was so good the only words that fit are “Mouth Orgasm!” I was so involved enjoying this course I forgot to take a dang picture!
There you have it! A wonderful day of food, wine, friends and learning. I can’t wait to see you all on July 1st @ 4pm where we will be featuring Australian wines and BBQ!