Exploring World Flavors

Exploring World Flavors:  Eating at home more often means constantly stretching our repertoire.  This week we rubbed Porqué Pig Rub spice mix on pork chops and wow, did that bring them up to a New Mexican level of spiciness!   Farro cooked in chicken stock with mushrooms sauteed in Picual Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a heaping spoonful of Miguel & Valentino chopped garlic was a fantastic side dish.  Last week, we jazzed up Zürsun red lentils by stirring in a tablespoon of Mustapha’s White Meat Seasoning.  We have many, many ingredients that will enliven your palate from Le Moulins Mahoub Tunisian Couscous & Pasta sauces to Matiz Spanish Smoked Sea Salt.
Last week’s mention of Roasted Cauliflower in Tahini from the cookbook Olives & Oranges brought several requests for the recipe so here it is.  (4 to 6 servings)
1 large head cauliflower, broken into florets
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or more to taste
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon tahini paste
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Heat oven to 400 degrees with rack in the center. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Toss cauliflower with oil, 1 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on baking sheet and roast, stirring and turning over once or twice, until cauliflower is tender and crispy brown in spots, about 45 minutes.
While cauliflower is roasting, puree tahini paste, water, lemon juice, garlic and remaining salt. Transfer to a large bowl.
Remove cauliflower from oven, immediately add to bowl with tahini sauce, and toss with sauce and parsley. Season with more salt to taste if necessary and serve warm, or let stand at room temperature for several hours before serving.
♥ This Valentine’s Day Cocoon at Home:
Light some Candles, Put on a Spanish Guitar CD.
Slice a Chorizo; Lay out an Iberian Cheese Plate.
Stuff Two Piquillo Peppers with Dungeness Crab.
Toss a Lobster into the Paella.
Twist Open a Valor Bonbon.
Read Aloud from a Book of Spanish Love Poems.
Or pop the cork on a Malbec and Tango ‘til the steaks are grilled!
♥  Valentine’s Day Wines
Spanish Wines are smooth, supple and affordable.  Ask us to help you pick out a sparkling Cava, lush white or memorable red.  Drink it at home with a special menu or pay corkage in a romantic restaurant.  You Only Live Once, Live Well!
2006 Alto Almanzora Este (Almeria) $9.99 New vintage!   A blend of carefully chosen varietals, Este displays fruitiness, structure and balance.  Made from a mix of Tempranillo, Monastrell, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot grapes, it is easy drinking and pairs well with a large variety of foods, from hearty winter meals to roasted vegetables.   90 points Wine Advocate
2006 Dão Cabriz Seleccionada (Portugal) $9.99 A blend of the indigenous Portuguese grapes Alfrocheiro, Tinta-Roriz and Touriga Nacional, it has been aged 6 months in French oak.   Subtle layers of black fruit and kirsch are balanced by lively acidity.  Dry and smooth, this red wine is best served with a goat cheese such as Portuguese Cabra Quinta.  Commended, Decanter World Wine Awards
2007 Ben Marco Malbec (Mendoza) $21.99: We fell in love with this wine in Santa Fe at Spanish Tapa restaurant La Boca.  Made of 90% Malbec and 10% Bonarda, Ben Marcos is perfect for people who like big, ripe-fruit, jammy styles of wine.   Aged for 11 months in oak, it has soft tannins and paired wonderfully with roast duck. 
2004 Martino Old Vines Malbec, (Mendoza) $17.99: It’s rare to find an old-vine Argentinean Malbec, never mind one produced from a vineyard planted in 1926 with ungrafted clones brought directly from France.  Only two wines are made at this 18.5 acre estate.  Unfiltered and aged in new French Oak, Martino is extremely elegant with lush blue fruit flavors, vanilla notes and a hint of chocolate on the lingering finish.  Unfortunately, the distributor only had a few bottles left but we snapped them up.  Grab one while they last!  
2007 Conreria d’Scala Dei Les Brugueres (Priorat) $29.99 One of the few white wines from Priorat. “100% Garnacha Blanca, from vines reportedly over 100 years of age.  Greenish-gold color. Impressively perfumed nose offers an exotic array of melon, pit fruits and herbs. A subtle smokiness becomes more pronounced with air, adding depth to the already rich expression that the fruit displays. Floral honey and botanical herb notes linger on the long, sappy finish, which is given a kick by subtle minerality. This should be drunk on the young side, preferably with strong foods.”  90 points Stephen Tanzer
2006 Mas D’En Compte Tinto, (Priorat) $40.00 “A blend of 50% garnacha, 40% carinena and 10% cabernet sauvignon. Bright ruby. Vibrant raspberry and cherry aromas are energized by blood orange and baking spices. Fresh red fruit flavors are complicated by an exotic lavender pastille quality and given lift by juicy acidity. An elegant, precise wine that finishes with excellent tangy cut and persistence. Nothing overdone here.”  91 points Stephen Tanzer
Sweet Wine for Your Sweetie:
Santa Julia Tardío 2007 Late Harvest Torrontés (Mendoza) $12.99/500ml: We have been lapping up dry white wines made from Torrontés with salads and seafoods.  Now we have a sweet, late harvest wine.  From one of our favorite producers, it has fantastic aromas of peach, flavors of honey and a light body…as a rule of thumb, if you are going to serve it with dessert; a wine needs to be sweeter than the food.
2006 Flor de Pingus (Ribera del Duero)
$79.00 arrives in early March.   Limited quantities will be available, give us a call or e-mail to pre order.  Warm blackberry flavors with notes of herbs and licorice and a persistent spicy finish – one of the best crafted wines I’ve tasted.  “Strong floral and mineral scents complicate blackberry and cherry on the nose. Vibrant red berry and cherry flavors are given support by dusty tannins and become sweeter with air. Very fresh and precise, with excellent mineral snap and thrust. I like this wine’s delicate touch, and the finish is clean and very long. Given the tariff for its big brother, this is almost a bargain.”  93 points Stephen Tanzer
Aragones: One of the lesser known cheeses of Spain.  Mild, buttery and grassy, it has a dense creamy texture. Bright and herbaceously sweet, this washed rind cows’ milk cheese has a soft texture.  Pair this gooey cows’ milk cheese with a nutty Basque sheep’s milk cheese and a savory goat cheese on your next platter.                     
Azkorria Ossau Iraty: This award winning, classic Basque cheese is made from raw sheep’s milk by a small artisanal producer in the Pyrenees Mountains. The slightly dry flavor gives way to a creamy, buttery quality. The flavors hint of subtly mingling herbs and opens to slightly nutty undertones.


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