Overlooking the plains of La Mancha, these ancient windmills are like great white birds peering down from a nest. Strikingly visible for miles, they have guarded the Spanish countryside since the Middle Ages, the chivalrous era of Don Quixote.
Facing middle age myself and feeling more wild-eyed and quixotic every day, I’m increasingly tilting at windmills. For example, I’d love for all Americans to become healthier and happier by learning the pleasure of cooking. There are so many fantastic and easy to prepare dishes whose flavor is miles ahead of the fare in the ready-to-eat aisle at the grocery store. The first step is stock your larder with a few favorite ingredients, such as a flavorful extra virgen olive oil, piquillo peppers, Morroccan spices and preserved lemons. Then experiment! Use the preserved lemon on grilled fish. Drizzle the olive oil over grilled vegetables and taste how the flavors pop. Serve the piquillo peppers on top of grilled pork chops. Check out the recipe below that I threw together last week which turned out astonishingly wonderful!
Roast Cornish Game Hens with Petite Golden Lentils Serves 4
2 Cornish Game Hens
1 white onion
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 leaves fresh sage, chopped
2 cups Petite Golden Lentils
3-4 cups Chicken stock (optional)
Rinse and dry the game hens. Stuff with slices of lemon and orange, and brush generously with harissa. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, until juices run clear.
While the hens are cooking, roughly chop the onion. Simmer it over low heat in olive oil with the thyme and sage, until it softens and carmelizes.
Check the lentils for stones and rinse. Put them in a stock pot and cover with water or chicken stock. The liquid should be 2 inches above the level of the lentils. Simmer for 12-15 minutes until tender.
When the hens are done, stir the lentils into the onions and serve as a side dish.
Last week we wrote about the February 25, 2009 edition of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate which featured “Spain’s Top 100 Wine Values.” Here are some other great values that we have in stock.
2007 Bodegas Valtostao Legon Roble, Ribera del Duero ($13.99) “The 2007 Legon Roble is 100% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) aged for six months in French, American, and Hungarian oak. It offers up an enticing bouquet of cedar, spice box, earth notes, black cherry, and blackberry. This is followed by a smooth-textured, ripe, juicy wine with loads of fruit, an easy-going personality, and a seamless finish. It is a fine introduction to Tempranillo and the DO of Ribera del Duero. Enjoy it over the next four years.” 90 points Wine Advocate
2006 Los Cantos de Torremilanos, Ribera del Duero ($21.99) “The 2006 Los Cantos de Torremilanos is 100% Tempranillo aged for 13 months in one-third new French oak. Purple-colored, its nose reveals wood smoke, lavender, pencil lead, black cherry, and blackberry. Firm and structured on the palate with an elegant personality, this lengthy effort will evolve for another 2-3 years and drink well through 2021.” 90 points Wine Advocate
2005 Cellars Sant Rafel Solpost, Montsant ($23.99) “The 2005 Solpost is a blend of 50% Garnacha, 35% Carinena, and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 12 months in French and American oak. Dark ruby-colored, it has an enticing perfume of mineral, earth notes, cassis, and black cherry. Smooth-textured, on the palate it has outstanding depth and concentration, savory red and black fruit flavors, and a long, fruit-filled finish. It will evolve for 2-3 years and offer prime drinking from 2011 to 2020.” 91 points Wine Advocate
OTHER GREAT VALUES:
2006 Protocolo, Vina de la Tierra de Castilla ($6.99) Protocolo is a perennial Spanish Table customer favorite and the 2006 vintage is a fantastic bargain! With warm aromas of berry, this 100% Tempranillo has a depth of vibrant black cherry flavors. Low tannins are balanced by acidity and a finish of licorice notes. Perfect for a party or on a weeknight when you don’t want to break the bank.
2007 Gouguenheim Malbec, Mendoza Regularly $9.99, special price $7.99 while supplies last. We took advantage of the importer’s pre-arrival sale and ordered 5 cases of this popular Malbec. When these sell out, the price goes up. The full bodied 2007 Malbec has aromas of violet, with lush flavors of plum, black cherry, black currant and chocolate. Meaty, with ample but not overpowering tannins, it is well balanced with acidity and has a knock-out toasty finish.
WINE COLLECTOR’S CORNER
2006 Flor de Pingus, Ribera del Duero ($79.00) Limited quantities, scheduled to arrive Friday March 13! Cutting-edge winemaker Peter Sisseck transcended traditional Spanish winemaking with the release of his 1995 Pingus. Flor de Pingus is his second wine and sells for $600.00 less. Produced from extremely low-yielding vineyards and biodynamic since 2005, the 2006 Flor de Pingus is a blockbuster. “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
2005 Dulce Christina, Alicante ($21.99)“(A 50/50 blend of merlot and tempranillo.) Bright red. Spicy, lively bouquet of strawberry and raspberry preserves and minerals. Gently sweet, with sappy red berry flavors and good bracing acidity. Very fresh for a late-harvest wine, without the cloying, syrupy qualities of most. Finishes with energetic lift and mineral bite. This is delicious. 92 points Stephen Tanzer
CHEESE CORNER La Cueva Llonin: This extraordinary, limited production, cave aged cheese defies expectations. Unavailable from any domestic vendors, we special ordered it from Spain and it finally arrived today! The only soft-ripened cows’ milk cheese from Spain that I have heard of, it is creamy, complex & mushroomy. Little of this shows up outside of Asturias, Spain. La Cueva Llonin comes in 12.5 oz squares of gooey yumminess and is the perfect accompaniment on any Spanish cheese platter.
And from Egypt, we now have Buffalo Milk Feta cheese.
Come and see me at the cheese counter! George
NOW BACK IN STOCK: DIGESTIVES!