A Spanish tasting evening

Ibérico hamWe went to a Spanish food and wine evening last night at Love Saves the Day. Very interesting, with food writer Clarissa Hyman (who’s currently promoting her book The Spanish Kitchen) and Ed Cross from Boutinot. Spanish food is apparently on the up and up again, what Clarissa described as the “second food revolution that the Spanish have led” (the first brought us chillis, chocolate and potatoes).

Clarissa introduced the foods we had, a tasting board of hams, cheeses and little arbequiña olives; all absolutely beautiful. Highlight of the food was the beautiful cured Ibérico ham (pictured above) from the “pata negra” or “black-hoofed” pigs. Ibérico ham is just melt in the mouth gorgeousness, beautifully soft, earthy, dark red and heavily swirled with beautiful soft white fat. Apparently the pata negra pigs are wild rangy creatures, only a few steps short of wild boar, which feed by foraging and are then fattened on acorns before slaughter and the 2 year curing process.

The cheeses were also great, although my memory of those is pretty poor. I do remember one had a rind rolled in ash, and another was Monsieur Quixote’s favourite Manchego.

How could we get to the end of the evening and not buy something? Well, it was the beginning of my birthday weekend so we splashed out…

Spanish WinesWe got three of the wines we had tasted (not the sherries, which Carolyn couldn’t get her tastebuds around) and which we intend to take to our friends at the end of the month (that’ll be a test of willpower): Mas Macià Cava was a lovely, very dry almost powdery tasting cava. The Mocen Verdejo (a grape Ed, the wine guide, described as Spain’s answer to Sauvignon Blanc) was a lovely fresh, dry white. The big revelation for me though was the Monte Real Rioja. Apparently wine at an early age is very fruity, what Gary Vaynerchuk would describe as a”fruit bomb”. Whereas when it’s aged a bit you get much more “complex” and stewed fruit aromas, less dependent on the grape varieties. This Rioja was great, smelling of baked fruit pastries (and I’m apalling at the bouquet bit of wine tasting, freezing last night whenever Ed asked what we were all “getting on the nose”). Very rich cooked food smells, rather than the fresher fruit smells I’m used to from younger wines. I’m looking forward to trying this one again with Katie & Alex.

(Next time I go to one of these things, I’m going to take a camera and brazenly photograph the tasting plates.)

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