Valentine

VALENTINE’S DAY IS SATURDAY FEBRUARY 14!   One of our favorite celebrations, Valentine’s Day, is right around the corner.   Our February Gold daffodils are poking their heads up and cheerful sunny weather is signaling the end of winter doldrums.  What a great occasion to invite friends over!   February is prime season for crab and oysters and, aphrodisiac qualities aside, pairing shellfish with cava is a stellar combination for Valentine’s Day.   Not a seafood fan?  Substitute marinated pork tenderloin and serve with a rosé cava for a meat-centric celebratory meal.
Here are some other ideas for your sweet:
Valor Chocolate bars with assorted flavors (We’re fans of Dark Chocolate with Orange) $3.69
Vaverite wafer cake with crumbled hazelnuts (an endearing squirrel is on the front of the box!) $3.99
Corazones Dulces Candy Valentines Hearts with love messages in Spanish. ($1.19)
Bubbly: We have a broad array of Spanish Cavas to meet every taste and budget and a couple of Argentinean sparklers as well.   From reliable Segura Viudas Brut Reserva ($7.99) to the complex and yeasty Agusti Torello Mata’s Reserva Bayanus Cava ($24.99/375 ml), stop in and check out our selection.
Gift certificates: When in doubt, give a Spanish Table gift certificate.  Available in any denomination.
HEAT, BILL BUFORD: In 2002 Bill Buford, an editor at New Yorker magazine, met Mario Batali and decided he needed to work in the kitchen at Babbo.  He not only slaved in that New York restaurant but went off on crazy sojourns apprenticing with even more eccentric individuals in Tuscany making pasta and butchering four legged animals.  Bill is extremely erudite and captures both “Molto Batali” and culinary Italy in this book.  If you watched Batali in the recent PBS series, On the Road in Spain, you will have your worst suspicions delightfully confirmed by the descriptions of Mario in this book.  We have grabbed a pile of the paperback version of the book which is on sale for only $7.99.
NEW WINES THIS WEEK
2007 Eximus Branco (Estremadura
) $6.99 Not only graceful and refreshing, Portuguese Eximus has a myriad of other appealing characteristics.  For starters, when have you tasted a blend of Fernâo Pires, Vital (reputedly a cousin of Sauvignon Blanc) and Moscatel grapes?  Secondly, Eximus is an all-around, well balanced white wine that pairs well with cheese or fish dishes.  With enticing pear aromas, it has ripe lychee, honey and melon flavors.  Lively and crisp, it has vibrant acidity with notes of citrus and plenty of length.   And finally, all of this goodness can be had for just $6.99 per bottle.    What’s not to like?
2007 Terrai Garnacha, Cariñena $6.99 The Cariñena region is one of the oldest D.O.s in Spain and is known for producing tasty quaffers that are a great value.  Terrai is made from 100% Garnacha.  Light on its feet, it has notes of dust, rich black fruit flavors and a dry finish.  Well balanced, all in all this is a great every day wine that pairs well with grilled pork or flavorful roasted vegetables.
2007 Hacienda Plata Zagal Malbec Mendoza ($9.99) We snapped up a case of Zagal after just one sip. Loaded with cherry aromas, it has rich blackberry, vanilla, and licorice flavors.   Balanced with minerals and ample acidity, it begs to be paired with red meat.
2005 Miranda (Rioja) $14.99 Wow!  Fresh aromas of pie cherry with a hint of earth and oak on the front palate segues into a mouth full of zingy, ripe bing cherry and intense plum flavors.  Miranda is 100% Tempranillo with eight months aging in America and French oak casks.   Herbal undertones compliment tar and licorice on the persistent finish.   Miranda is a great all-around Rioja that will appeal to both traditionalists and modernists.
2005 Vega Escal Priorat ($19.99) This powerfully concentrated blend of 60% carinena, 30% garnacha and 10% syrah is pure poetry.  “Ripe cherry and blackberry aromas are complicated by smoky minerals and anise. Expressive dark berry flavors show light weight but impressive purity, with brisk minerality gaining strength on the back end. Graceful and edge-free, with very good finishing clarity and cut. This is extremely easy to drink.”  90 points Stephen Tanzer
2001 LUIS CAÑAS, Reserva de la Familia (Rioja) $33.00: We routinely pay over $30 for a wine in a restaurant yet we often balk at paying that much for wines to drink at home.  “Why?” we asked ourselves after popping the cork on Reserva de la Familia last Friday night.  This is an heirloom Rioja, traditionally styled with select fruit from a great vintage.  Rich and silky, it was an elegant companion to grilled lamb chops rubbed with Miguel & Valentino garlic, sprinkled with coarse Spanish sea salt, covered with pebrella and finished with a few rosemary needles from the plant braving its way through this winter in our backyard.   93 points Wine Advocate 91 points Stephen Tanzer
2006 Colomé Malbec Estate, Salta Argentina, $26.99: We were in Salta for Thanksgiving 2006 but had to cut out a side trip to the wine region due to flight mis-connections.   (However, the colonial city of Salta is well worth the visit, if even for 2 days).  Since then, we’ve been seeking out these hard to find wines and  Colomé is one of the best we’ve found. At La Boca restaurant in Santa Fe, it’s hearty elegance paired wonderfully with rich duck breast and braised leeks with a dab of harissa pepper sauce.  A very elegant and balanced Malbec, it is now in stock at The Spanish Table for the first time.   92 points Wine Spectator   Top 100 Wines of 2008
LA CONCHA WHITE TRUFFLE SEA SALT FLAKES, $9.99: Along with lamb chops and Luis Cañas Rioja, we tossed asparagus with fideo #2 pasta, Hojiblanca extra virgin olive oil and dusted it with a new arrival: white truffle salt.  When we unpacked the ocean container from Spain last week, it was filled with the aroma of this salt which is a full 8% truffles.  The low price reflects the current exchange rate and that we direct-imported it with no middle men.  In fact, a few years ago, I drove down the coast near Alicante to visit the salt drying ponds with Rosa Bevía, the owner of this Spanish salt company.
14 PALLETS OF NEW STOCK JUST ARRIVED: We have them again: All sizes of paella pans, propane burners and cazuelas.
AGAVE NECTAR or MEXICAN VANILLA, $6.99: We tracked down a few dozen bottles of the beautiful flasks of these products.  Use the agave nectar to make the best margarita ever.
TEQUILA FLAVORED LOLLIPOP: Clear, nonalcoholic candy complete with a worm.  Can you lick this? Need we say more?
GRAINS OF PARADISE:  We have been crushing some of these round seeds in our mortar and sprinkling them over savory dishes.  Grown in Ghana, Mustapha’s grains of paradise are a wonderfully aromatic and pungent substitute for black pepper, adding exotic hints of ginger, coriander and cardamom. In Morocco they are ground and are an important ingredient in the spice blend Ras El Hanout.
RECIPE
UPSCALE GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH: March’s issue of Bon Appétit takes comfort food up a notch.  Use Manchego cheese and Jamón Serrano to make a grilled sandwich and toss in a layer of chopped Mejool dates (page 68).
 
GREAT BUYS ON SPANISH CHEESE
Our cheese monger George has negotiated fantastic savings on our most popular cheeses.
Tetilla………………………………………..was $14.99/lb now $11.99/lb
San Simon…………………………………was $21.99/lb now $15.99/lb
Mahon……………………………………….was $22.99/lb now $18.99/lb
3 Month Manchego…………………….was $20.99/lb now $16.99/lb
Aged 12 Month Manchego………….was $21.99/lb now $17.99/lb
Caña de Cabra…………………………..was $17.99/lb now $14.99/lb

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