Today is Epiphany. In Spain there are fabulous parades and processions on the night of the 5th, with the three kings leading their gift-laden camels through the streets and showering the crowds with candy. Afterwards there’s one last big holiday meal before everyone finally goes to bed. The next morning the kids check their shoes and everyone feasts on the round, fruit-rich, pannettone-like roscón de reyes, or Three Kings Cake. We’ve had many requests for Three Kings Cake and all I can say is… hopefully we’ll have it next year!
The beginning of January also brings resolutions, football playoffs and Saveur Magazine’s Top 100 issue of the year. This year is the Chef’s Edition, a round up of culinary professionals’ favorite tools, ingredients, restaurants and more.
San Sebastian’s Juan Mari Arzak is number 26 on the list and I can’t think of anyone more deserving. Juan Mari brought international acclaim to Basque cuisine with his experimental dishes featuring the finest local ingredients. A dinner at his three star Michelin restaurant Arzak in San Sebastian is an unforgettable experience.
Among the Chef Edition’s choice ingredients, we’re proud to have some of the best in stock. These stellar products are a must for any serious cook! Number 64 is Miguel & Valentino pine-cone smoked Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It is incredible drizzled over seafood, and adds a depth of flavor to pasta or grilled vegetable dishes. Number 76 is Aji Amarillo Chile, which is essential to many Peruvian potato or shrimp recipes. Number 82 is chef Paul Bertolli and his toothsome Fra’Mani line of cured meats. We stock the Salametto Piccante which is a Spanish-style dry chorizo made with Pimenton de la Vera. Just slice it and make one of the best boccadillos you’ve had in a long time!
El Campero Restaurant in Barbate is number 36 on the list. As a tuna aficionado, I am mad about this famous tuna-fishing village in southern Spain. We stumbled upon Barbate in 2001 and two things made a big impression: this no-frills fishing town had fresh, to-die-for tuna on every block. I only wish we had discovered El Campero Restaurant with its 50 different tuna dishes! Barbate’s flamenco scene was also amazing and worth a trip even without the tuna. Macarena de Jerez and Ezequiel Benitez from Jerez de la Frontera were performing and the flamenco peña was bursting at the seams. And incredibly, copas of Campo Viejo Rioja were only 80¢ each!
STUNNING NEW CHEESES
Bethmale Chèvre – This delicious washed-rind cheese from the Pyrenees is made exclusively with goat milk. It has a semi-firm texture with tiny eyes throughout, offering an airy delicate feel on the palate. Mildly goaty, nutty, slightly sweet and mushroomy.
Canzona Danablu – This one is for serious blue lovers! Pasteurized cows milk from Denmark. Piquant and tangy with a strong blue finish. Crumbles perfectly for salads and melts well over steaks and hamburgers. This is a stellar cheese for the price at $8.99/LB.
Torta de Oveja Caprichos de la Pastora – This limited production sheeps milk torta from Zamora is a rare and new addition to our extensive stock of Spanish Cheeses. In the same tradition as La Serena and Torta del Casar, this organic queso is packed with a meadow of flavor. Cut off the top and spoon out the über soft and gooey center. Rich, buttery, nutty, herbaceously sweet with a long piquant finish, Torta de Oveja Caprichos de la Pastora is perfectly complex; the more you enjoy, the more nuances you discover!