Saturday Raul Perez Tasting; Rare Madeira, Sherry & Port

Saturday Wine Tasting
On Saturday, March 12 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., stop in at The Spanish Table to taste a legendary Albariño made by Raul Perez, one of Spain’s top winemakers.   Some trade veterans believe that Raul is among the handful of best winemakers in the world.   He hand makes hundreds of artisanal wines in infinitesimal quantities, so the opportunity to taste one of them is rare.  We’ll be pouring a sample of2014 Leirana Finca Genoveva Albariño, Rias Baixas ($49.00) which is 100% Albariño made from vines planted in 1862.   Aged 12 months in 4 year old foudre of 2500 liter.   The 2014 vintage has not yet been reviewed by the wine press, but the 2013 vintage scored 93 points from Stephen Tanzer/Vinous.
Rare Sherry, Port and Madeira Arrive
Lustau Emperatriz Eugenia Very Rare Oloroso, Jerez ($22.99/500 ml)  A stunning Oloroso which has not been available in our market for several years.   From a solera established in 1921 when Eugenia de Montijo (born in Granada) was the last empress of France, visited Jerez.    This Oloroso is the only bottling in the Gran Reserva series from Bodegas Lustau and it has become one of their flagship wines, with an average age of 20 years.
  Displays heady aromas of sandalwood, orange zest and smoke.  Notes of toffee, fig and nougat are viscous with a velvety texture on the palate.   Concentrated notes of dried fruit, molasses, caramelized almonds and toffee are nuanced and seamless with a hint of sweetness.  Hazelnut flavors, baking spice notes and citrus have gentle herbal notes.  The finish is dry with a briny element which adds more depth and complexity.     92 points Wine Advocate  


NV Niepoort 10 year Tawny Port, Portugal ($54.00) We’re so excited to have this revered tawny onto our shelf!   “Amazing aromas of orange and lemon peel, with hints of toffee, caramel and honey. Full-bodied and luscious, with lots of sweet fruit and a long, subtle finish that goes on and on. A benchmark for 10-year-old tawnies.”  95 points Wine Spectator
1968 D’Oliveiras Bual Madeira ($236.00)  “Balanced and plush, with concentrated buttercream, hazelnut, dried apricot and tropical fruit flavors that are still fresh and lively. Citrus zest and sea salt notes show midpalate. The finish lingers with cream, dried tarragon and Asian spice details. Drink now through 2035. 40 cases imported. ” 96 points Wine Spectator

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Filed under Albariño, Events, Madeira, Port, Portugal, Sherry, Spain, Wine

SUPERB 1994 RIOJA GRAN RESERVA

Purity and finesse from an historic Rioja property.   Firmly traditional, they produce artisanal, singular wines that are unmatched in style and grace.
  Only a handful of other producers’ wines offer the character that distinguish those of Bodegas R. Lopez Heredia.  Founded in 1877 and still family-owned, the Lopez Heredia winery has never purchased fruit.  Grapes come exclusively from one of their four vineyards; wines are aged in barrels made by their own in-house cooperage (one of Rioja’s last two remaining).   A dedication to the founder’s philosophy has been passed down through the generations, including meticulous viticulture, hand-picking of all fruit, natural wine making using native yeasts and no filtration.

1994 R. Lopez Heredia Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva Rioja($99.00)  A splurge and an experience fully worth the price.   After serving this stunner with lamb chops last week (the quintessential Rioja pairing) we immediately bought out the distributor’s remaining stock.
1994 was a superb harvest, rivaling 1964 as the best Rioja vintage of the century.   1994 Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva delivers fresh aromas of spice and dried cherry fruit.   Nuances of tobacco leaf and cigar box spice have lift and elegance.  Shows finesse, ripe tannins and precision on the lengthy finish.
“(75% tempranillo, 15% garnacha, 5% graciano and 5% mazuelo): Wild, highly perfumed aromas of candied cherry, plum, anise, cured tobacco, Asian spices and vanilla, with smoke and allspice nuances. … seamless and expansive, offering sweet red and dark berry flavors and suggestions of candied rose and spicecake. In the glass, takes on weight with no loss of vivacity. Silky tannins build on and carry through a very long, smoke- and mineral-accented finish. No way I’d have guessed that this was an 18-year-old wine.”
94 points Stephen Tanzer/Vinous  
96 points Wine Advocate
Photos by Steve Winston

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Filed under Red Wine, Rioja, Spain, Wine

Recaredo Cava & Cheese

RECAREDO CAVA ARRIVES

Established in 1924, Recaredo is a pioneer in the production of totally dry Spanish cavas, working with oak barrels and extended aging on the lees.

The musts from the oldest Xarello vines ferment in oak barrels, which give structure and greater complexity to Recaredo’s cavas.  Some of the base wine is also aged in oak barrels for a few months and this wine will be used to add greater finesse and structure to the final blending.

  Viticulture at Recaredo is based on dry farming, use of only estate fruit, and vineyards are certified organic and biodynamic.     The wines are meticulously produced, hand-riddled, and aged on the lees with cork stoppers.  They are disgorged manually, without freezing the necks of the bottles which provides the most natural product.   All cuvées are vintage-dated and have zero dosage. These sparkling wines must simply be tasted to be believed!
2010 Recaredo “Relats” Brut Nature, Gran Reserva Penedes ($33.00)  Relats means “little stories in a bottle” and with its extensive 54 months of lees aging, Relats says a ton about depth and complexity.   A blend of  54% Xarel-lo and 46% Macabeo, this is the youngest cuvee made by Recaredo.   With rich brioche aromas, hints of nuts and toast, this bone-dry cava has a fine mousse of bubbles with staying power and elegance.
2008 Recaredo Terrers Brut Nature Gran Reserva, Penedes ($41.00)  46% Xarel-lo, 40% Macabeo, 14% Parellada, aged 71 months on the lees.  Fresh aromas of yellow apple are bright and creamy on the palate. Ripe white fruit has a hint of nuts and mineral and very fine bubbles, which end in a delicate crown.  Balanced acidity with a persistent finish, showing notes of almond and anise.  “… an elegant bouquet of white flowers, pears, apples and freshly-baked brioche, fresh and elegant, subtle, with a fresh palate with tiny, almost imperceptible bubbles that only seem to add freshness and texture, with clean flavors, superb acidity and balance. A great Cava at a bargain price. Drink now-2017.”  92 points WineAdvocate
Also available from our distributor (call or e-mail to order):
2006 Recaredo “Brut de Brut” Brut Nature Gran Reserva ($60.00)
2004 Recaredo “Particular” Brut Nature Gran Reserva ($115.00)

CHEESE PLEASE
   Infinitely variable in texture, flavor and unctuousness, cheese can play the meal’s starring role or be the fill-in workhorse.   Imagine an artisanal cheese platter accompanied by dried apricots or figs, charcuterie or nuts. Served with Recaredo cava, the seductive platter is a very romantic meal.
  Everyday quick and easy recipes like pizza, lasagna or toasted cheese sandwiches can be brightened up by using a different queso.   Variety is the spice of life; try one of the following tasty Iberian cheeses.
  One of our favorite meals in a hotel room is uber simple:  a selection of great cheeses and a bottle of wine.    This strategy is essential when restaurant options are poor.  Never leave home without emergency supplies!
Recommended Artisanal Cheeses:

Garroxta:  Goat milk.  Semi-hard and luscious, delicately flavored and smooth.   Excellent with cava!
Roncal:  Sheep milk. Made from raw milk of the Lacha and Aragonesa breeds that feed in high Navarran pastures.  Aged 6 months.  Intense flavors, nutty, with hint of mushroom.
Valdeon blue cheese:  Cow and goat milk.  Sweeter than Cabrales, it is smooth, rich and caramelized.
 
Olveha Amanteigado:  Portuguese sheep milk.  A non-DOP Serra de Estrela cheese, it is made with thistle rennet.  Unctuous and soft, sweet with hints of thistle.  Slice the top off this cheese and eat the center with a spoon.
Excellent Melting Cheeses:

Young Mahon: Cow’s milk.  Aged 4 months. Has a slight piquancy, with fruity, rich and nutty flavors.
Tetilla:  Cow’s milk.  Made in Galicia, the cows graze on lush grass and the cheese is aged 15-20 days.  Mild, buttery and semi-soft.
Palhais:  Goat milk.  From Portugal, semi-soft, crumbly and tangy.   Great stuffed inside piquillo peppers and warmed.
Great picnic cheeses:

Pata Cabra:  Goat milk. A washed-rind cheese from Aragon.  Fruity and refined when young, it develops tanginess with age.
El Valle Semi Curado:  Sheep milk.  Everyone knows Manchego sheep cheese from Spain, and we carry a selection from a number of producers.  El Valle is a non D.O. sheep milk cheese that is slightly creamier than Manchego, with fresh flavors of hay, and is a touch sharp.

Beira:  Cow’s milk.  From Portugal, near the Serra de Estrela mountains.  Flavorful, smooth and grassy.
Upcoming Paella class on Saturday March 19, 11-1 PM.
Details:  Hot Stove

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Filed under Catalan, Cava, Cheese, Events, Food, Jamon, Paella, Spain, Wine

Spanish Pantry Essentials

Not a fan of slogging through pounding rain to the grocery store?   Or don’t have time?   By keeping a few essential Spanish ingredients on hand, it’s easy to pull together a nutritious, tasty meal in a flash and save a run to the store.
Conservas are a must.  In Spain, vegetables are picked at their peak of flavor, roasted or simmered and then packed in jars or cans.   Equally delicious are a wide range of fish and shellfish, many packed in olive oil.  The oil can and should be used in recipes.
Rice is a versatile staple to have in the pantry.    Rice simmered with chorizo and jarred, roasted red peppers is delicious and quick to prepare.   If there is chicken in the frig, make a fast and toothsome rice soup with Aneto chicken broth, Spanish garbanzo beans and a sprinkling of dried lime.   Or, make a complete paella in 30 minutes with an Aneto Paella broth.   Choose from Seafood, Squid Ink or Valencian Paella; comes in easy to store tetra paks with a one year shelf life.     
In Spain, pasta called fideo is used to make a dish called fideau.   Fideo, simmered with broth in a paella pan, can be prepared in minutes by adding jarred ingredients.   For example, toss olive-oil packed Spanish tuna with strips of piquillo pepper, the oil from tuna, capers, water and pasta.
Or use Aneto Squid Ink Paella with fideo and revel in this different take on a traditional Spanish dish.   If Mac n’ Cheese is a favorite, upscale it.  Combine chicken stock with pasta and saffron; simmer until the pasta is done, then drain and stir in Manchego cheese to melt.
Gluten intolerant?    A jar of lentils, cooked with spicy chorizo makes a hearty and simple meal.   Canned mackerel or anchovies are fantastic tossed with lentils or white beans.
 
Got a freezer?  Store packages of Bilbao Chorizo, Chistorra or Morcilla for the right moment.  Scramble choistorra with eggs.  Grill chorizo and serve with de la Estancia organic polenta from Argentina which cooks in 3 minutes.  Just add grated Mahon cheese.
NEW!  Hernán products from Mexico, made by artisan producers.    Just arrived are Mole Poblano andMole Pipián sauces.   Mole Poblano is a blend of chiles and spices, tempered by an infusion of nuts, chocolate and other ingredients. Typically served on chicken or pork.   Mole Pipián contains roasted pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and peanuts with spicy chiles and epazote and is excellent on fish.
  Hernán Mexican hot chocolate with cinnamon is now available, in powder and squares.
Brush up on Spanish with Spanish Circle on Wednesday evenings.  Held at the Seattle Public Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Level 4, Room 1.  Jan 13-March 16 at 6 p.m.   Free!   For more information call 206.684.0849.

WINES
 
2013 Narupa Alala Albarino, Rias Baixas   ($26.99)   First vintage!  Sustainably produced from a 30 year old, family-owned vineyard planted by the winemaker’s Grandfather.  The grapes are pressed by foot and fermented with native yeast.  Raised in stainless steel with no malolactic fermentation, it has extended aging of one year to develop complexity.   Fresh aromatics with a hint of tropical fruit have notes of citrus and dust.   Mineral-laden with great mouthfeel and a pleasurable weight, this is a terrific expression of Albariño.   Limited availability – only 3 cases came to the state of Washinton, and we have 6 bottles.

2012 Carramimbre Roble, Ribera del Duero   

SALE!  Regular price $14.99, now $10.99  

We rediscovered this tasty gem last weekend, accompanied by a tapas assortment.  Versatile and nuanced, and it’s now 25% off!   (6 cases available).  90% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged four months in oak.  Offers up aromas of ripe blackberry, hints of earth and road tar, reminiscent of an old-school California Zinfandel.  Very smooth and full-bodied, it displays lifted notes of white pepper, tobacco leaf and mushroom.  Black fruit and mineral notes on the lengthy finish.   Decant for 20 minutes to fully release aromas and depth of flavors.

2012 Lagar de Robla Premium, Castilla y Leon ($10.99) 100% Mencia, aged about 18 months in oak.    Plush, with soft tannins and a hint of earth.   Round and smooth, Lagar de Robla is mineral-laden, with well-integrated notes of oak.   This is really good!   “This firm red is reserved, but shows depth and integration, with mulled plum, licorice, mineral and smoke flavors that mingle over well-integrated tannins, giving way to the juicy finish.”  91 points Wine Spectator

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Filed under Albariño, Catalan, Cheese, Chile, Fish, Food, Meat, Mencia, Paella, Recipes, Red Wine, Spain, Tempranillo, Uncategorized

New Year, New Wines; Chorizo Restocked

WE ARE OPEN REGULAR HOURS ON MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY (MONDAY, JANUARY 18)  10 AM-6 PM  
 
Our cured meats, cheeses and groceries have been restocked since the new year began.
Need Bilbao chorizo or Bomba rice for paella?   It’s here.    Looking for Morcilla, Chistorra or Cantimpalitos?  Back in stock.   
All manner of dried beans are here for making robust winter stews.  My new favorite is Zursun Dapple Grey Beans.   Creamy and ideal for soups, the bean’s mottled grey and ivory colors are reminiscent of a cowboy’s horse.

Mini wheels of 3 month aged Maese Miguel Manchego are available again.  This is a buttery and flavorful manchego cheese with tangy hints.   Slice and serve, or make into a sandwich with rustic bread.
  
New!  Smoke-dried Ñora peppers from La Vera.  Use these to make a smoky romesco sauce (see recipe below).

New Year, New Wines!

2014 Castillo de Mendoza Vitarán Cepas Viejas Blanco, Rioja ($14.99) 100% Viura produced from old-vine, estate vineyards in Rioja Alta.   Aged on the lees and in neutral French oak, 2014 Vitarán offers up aromas of tropical fruit.   Fleshy and rich on the palate with a hint of oak, it is smooth and bright, with a touch of spice.  Finishes clean and dry.   Great with Asian or spicy foods.

2012 Valdecampana Crianza, Ribera del Duero($16.99)   100% Tinto del Pais (Tempranillo) aged 12 months in oak.  A delightful sipper, this medium to full bodied red is also a stand out with hearty meals.   Delivers heavenly aromatics with well-knit flavors of marionberry and black cassis.  Very fresh and lifted, its graphite and mineral notes add complexity to this distinguished red.    Shows some grip on the lengthy finish.   Great value!
2007 Viña Cubillo Crianza Rioja ($22.99)   Bodegas R. Lopez Heredia is a benchmark producer of traditional style Rioja wines.  Family owned and operated since 1877, Maria Jose Lopez de Heredia passionately adheres to her great-grandfather’s vision of making wine only from their own vineyards, using natural yeasts, long aging in wood and no filtration at bottling.
  The Viña Cubillo vineyards average 40 years of age.  The wine is a blend of 65% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo, aged at least 3 years in barrel and 3 years in bottle before release.  Most producers would label this a Gran Reserva; and at $22.99 per bottle, it’s a steal!
  Viña Cubillo seems to get better with every vintage.  The 2007 is intensely aromatic, showing a bouquet of dried cherry fruit and iron. Bright, aromatic, and satiny on the palate, it offers up layers of dried leaves, mushroom, plum, red currant fruit and incredible length.   With cigar box spice, it is medium-bodied, dry and relatively low in alcohol (13%).
   91 points  Stephen Tanzer/Vinous, 91 points Wine Advocate: 
  “Lively smoke- and spice-accented cherry and raspberry aromas are complemented by floral oils and pipe tobacco. Sweet and seamless on the palate, offering juicy red fruit flavors that deepen with air. Shows very good energy and appealing floral character on a long, penetrating finish that’s given shape by harmonious tannins. Drinking nicely now, this fruit-driven Rioja should provide plenty of pleasure over the coming decade.”  (Vinous)
  “This could well be the best Cubillo of recent times.” (Wine Advocate)
2013 Alto Moncayo Veraton Garnacha, Campo de Borja, ($26.99)   NEW VINTAGE  The grapes for this wine come from Campo de Borja, thought to be the birthplace of Garnacha.  Veraton is made with grapes from ancient vines which are placed in open vat fermenters, then aged 17 months in 60% French, 40% American oak barrels.  Bottled unfiltered.
  “This is a blockbuster, 100% Old Vine Grenache cuvée, with a deep-purple color, great intensity, loads of blackcurrant and black cherry fruit, with licorice, lavender and touch of graphite and earth. It is full-bodied and powerful.”  92 points Wine Advocate

SMOKED ROMESCO SAUCE
Romesco is a Catalan sauce of tomatoes, red ñora peppers, garlic, vinegar and hazelnuts or almonds with stale bread as a thickener.  It is one of those sauces of infinite variation with every cook having different proportions and variations on the ingredients.
4-5                     Smoked Ñora peppers, re-hydrated with boiling water
2 tablespoon      Olive oil for frying
1 slice (½ cup)    Stale Bread
1 clove                Garlic, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon         Coarse sea salt
¼ cup                 Marcona Almonds and/or hazelnuts and/or pine nuts.   (In a pinch, walnuts can even be used.)
1                        Fresh Tomato, peeled and seeded, or grated.  (Or roasting the tomato first, which adds depth).
1 tablespoon      Red Wine vinegar or sherry vinegar (optional)
4 tablespoon      Reserved liquid from ñoras
2 tablespoons    Extra Virgin Olive Oil  (if needed)
Cover ñoras with water and bring to a boil.  Allow to steep for half an hour. Reserving the liquid, remove stems and seeds saving flesh and skin.
Fry nuts in olive oil until brown, remove with slotted spoon. Fry bread in olive oil adding more if needed.
Put garlic and salt in a mortar and blend together with a pestle or put them in food processor and give it a couple of bursts.
Add cooled nuts with bread and grind. Add ñora and blend in.
If using tomato, blend it in now.
Season with a splash of vinegar.  If serving with vegetables, go a little heavier on the vinegar.  If using with fish, use a lighter hand or omit.   If too thick, add a splash of extra virgin olive oil.
As with all sauces, running this sauce through a food mill gives a smoother, more sophisticated product.
Serve with baked or grilled seafood.  Delicious with halibut or prawns!

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Filed under Catalan, Cheese, Chile, Food, Garnacha, Meat, Recipes, Red Wine, Ribera del Duero, Rioja, Spain, Tempranillo, Uncategorized

Iberian Comfort Foods, New Wines

IBERIAN COMFORT FOOD INGREDIENTS
  Chicken, simply roasted with just a few sprinkles of salt and herbs, is one of life’s great comfort foods.  Make it immeasurably better by serving it with a glass of Rioja, particularly 2007 Viña Cubillo Crianza!
  Shiitake mushrooms are superb, and in season now.   I’ve been sautéing them in garlic, fresh thyme and fino sherry, and tossing them with everything from lentils to pasta.   For a superb comfort food dish, however, combine shiitakes, chorizo and Madeira with chicken.
See The Spanish Table’s recipe below. 
New!  Basque Meat Marinade.   Basque Norte Restaurant in Chico, CA created this popular sauce in 1975 and has been serving it ever since.   Now made commercially for them by Mooney Farms in Chico, the restaurant immerses their steaks in the marinade for 10 minutes, then cooks them on a hot grill.   For more intense flavor, the meat can be marinated longer, even overnight.  Also excellent on chicken, pork or lamb.   Try it!
New Supplier, better flavor!  Medjool dates from California.  Naturally processed with no added sugar, these dates have a caramel flavor with a balanced, not overwhelming, sweetness.   Excellent for snacking or serving with cheese; also used in North African tagine recipes.
Dried limes are back in stock:  A relatively new ingredient on our shores, dried limes are a staple of Iranian and Persian Gulf cuisines.  With a sour and musky-fermented flavor, they are made by boiling fresh limes in a salt and water brine, then drying them in the sun.  They can be used whole, in soups or stews (poke the limes with a knife so the liquid can seep through and absorb the maximum flavor).
  Or break up the lime and make a seasoning powder, using a spice grinder.  It is excellent sprinkled on seafood, meat and especially lentils to punch up the flavor.

NOTABLE WINES
2013 Barco del Corneta Verdejo, Castilla y Leon $29.99) ORGANIC  100% Verdejo, made from organically grown grapes.   Barrel fermented using local yeasts and aged on its lees for 8 months.  With aromas of citrus and toast, this a creamy white wine. Rich, generous and weighty with concentrated and nuanced fruit flavors, this is a perfect winter white.  The finish is refreshing and lifted, leaving a clean citrus note on the palate.
2013 La Cartuja Priorat ($15.99)  ” (70% garnacha and 30% carinena; aged for six months in French oak): Bright violet color. A highly perfumed bouquet evokes dark berries and fresh flowers, with a spicy nuance gaining strength with air. Juicy and energetic on the palate, showing a silky texture and juicy blackberry and cassis flavors. The smooth, smoky finish shows very good clarity and a whisper of fine-grained tannins.”      90 points Stephen Tanzer
 
2011 Herdade de Rocim Mariana, Alentejano ($16.99)  My trip to Portugal last July revealed the explosion of talented winemakers and profusion of superb wines coming out of this country right now.  Herdade de Rocim fits squarely in this realm, producing excellent wines in the value-driven Alentejo region.   A blend of 30% Aragonez, 20% Syrah, 15% Alicante Bouschet and 15% Trincadeira, this is a medium-bodied red that delivers an intensity of bright red fruit.   With aromas of violets,dusty graphite notes, 2011 Mariana is precise, with a satiny finish.  Tasty!  91 points Wine Enthusist.

2011 Viña Almate, Castilla y Leon ($20.99) Natural winemaker Alfredo Maestro seeks out neglected, high altitude vineyards around Castilla y León and works them organically, using indigenous yeasts. In the cellar, Alfredo eschews all winemaking additives, including sulfur, so that his wines simply offer up a purity of fruit and a sense of place.   2011 Viña Almate is 100% tinto fino (Tempranillo), 75% from Ribera del Duero and 25% from just outside Ribera’s boundary.   Aged in neutral French oak for 2-4 months, the wine is unfined and unfiltered.   Aromas of smoke and dust are balanced by lifted black currant and marionberry fruit.   Earthy mushroom nuances have savory notes of wild herbs.  Fresh, precise and mineral driven, it has excellent structure with fine grained tannins.  This is a wine with character; savor it with jamon serrano.

CHICKEN AND SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS COOKED IN CATAPLANA
In this case, you are using the enclosed environment of the Cataplana to make a stew. (Cataplanas are available at The Spanish Table; their shell-like form clamps shut and holds in the moisture as ingredients cook).   That means you will have to be a little patient while is stews, hidden out of sight, under the lid.  While it stews away is a good time to sip some of the Madeira and a good excuse to buy something a little better than Rainwater Madeira.  A 5 year old Bual or a Malmsey would be a good selection.
Serves 2
¼ cup Olive Oil
1 choriço (or Spanish chorizo), diced
1 Yellow Onion, chopped
1 Potato, diced
1 Bay Leaf
½  pound Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced
½ pound Chicken breast, cut into strips
½ teaspoon Sea Salt
½ cup Madeira
½ cup Half-and-half
Heat oil in a large Cataplana.  Cook choriço until just starts to brown. Stir in onions and potato and cook until onions are limp. Stir in mushrooms and cook until soften. Stir in chicken and salt. Pour in Madeira, clamp down cover and cook twenty minutes. Open cataplana and stir in half-and-half just before serving.

 

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Filed under Alentejo, Basque, Cataplana, Food, Madeira, Portugal, Recipes, Red Wine, Uncategorized, Verdejo

A tribute to Penelope Casas

Penelope Casas & Steve Winston at The Spanish Table

Penelope Casas & Steve Winston at The Spanish Table

When Penelope Casas passed away earlier this month it marked the end of an era. She and I were almost the same age and shared an enthusiasm for Spanish cooking, then almost unknown. Before The Spanish Table was even a year old, before we had any customers, Penelope published her fourth book, ¡Delicioso! and came to our store one evening for a signing. She was gracious, lovely and enthusiastic about our new business. For us it was an exciting night that recharged our entrepreneurial batteries. We miss her. ~ Steve Winston, Founder, The Spanish Table

Penelope’s first cookbook The Foods & Wines of Spain completely transformed the way we cook.   Her recipes were authentic, coming from Spain’s local cooks and restaurants, revealing the secrets behind  Spain’s dazzling cuisine.    This book was also a great travel guide, as naturally Casas credited each restaurant for their recipes.  We compiled a list of “Penelope” restaurants and always sought them out on our travels, often driving miles out of our way to eat at these establishments.  ~ Sharon Baden

We have three books in stock by Penelope Casas:

The Foods & Wines of Spain ($37.50)
The first, and one of the very best around, ever. Some would say it’s all you need.
Paella! Spectacular Rice Dishes from Spain ($35.00)
Some of these recipes are not traditional paellas, but every dish  I’ve tried has been fantastic!  One of our absolute go-to’s.
Tapas: Revised Edition ($30.00)
The original 1985 version of this book was one of our first tapas cookbooks. Our tattered, stained and crumpled copy has delighted many part guests at our house.  It’s the ultimate book for making small plates – many recipes only have a few ingredients.
Black Fire Rice
Arroz negro al fuego

Inspired by a recipe in Penelope Casas’ paella cookbook, here is our take on her arroz negro. A superb and striking paella, black as midnight and infused with deep sea flavors, arroz negro gets its pitch black color and wonderful depth of flavor from squid ink. Spiked with red chili peppers and spicy pimentón, this version has a kick to it, lifting the marine flavors to new heights. The spectacle of a dish of black rice creeping with tentacles is exciting and mildly alarming, making it the perfect Halloween or Day of the Dead feast.  Serve with aioli.

Ingredients:
2 oz black cod or halibut
¼ to ½ lb cleaned squid, tubes and tentacles
2 large shrimp
sea salt
olive oil, enough to coat pan
1 cup clam juice
5 threads saffron
¼ onion, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
¼ bell pepper, finely chopped
½ red chili pepper, finely chopped
½ small tomato
a splash of Madeira
½ cup Valencia or ⅓ cup Bomba rice
1 tsp spicy pimentón
1 x 4 gram packet squid ink
1 artichoke heart, quartered
1 piquillo pepper, sliced, to garnish
1 tsp chopped parsley, to garnish
a lemon wedge, to serve

Cut the black cod or halibut into bite sized chunks. Slice the squid tubes into ½ inch rings, leave tentacles whole. Sprinkle all the seafood with a little salt.  Heat your paella pan over medium high and coat lightly with olive oil. Sauté the seafood for a minute or two until they release some juice. Dump contents of pan into a bowl and reserve.

Pour clam juice into a pot and bring to a quick boil. Lower heat to keep warm. In a skillet briefly toast the saffron until aromatic, a minute or two. Then crumble into clam juice. Keep warm and covered.

Place paella pan over medium-low heat and coat generously with olive oil. Add your sofrito (onions, garlic, bell peppers, and chili peppers) and sweat gently until soft, about 15-20 minutes. Grate in the tomato halves over the pan and discard skin; this is easy as it will naturally remain in your hand as you grate. Stir well and cook down the mixture until almost jammy, about 10 minutes.

Add a splash of Madeira and stir until evaporated. Add rice and stir well to coat. Add pimentón and stir. Add clam juice and squid ink; stir for a minute or two. Return seafood to pan along with artichoke hearts and distribute evenly. Cook paella for about 15 minutes , without stirring, and then test rice for doneness. Cook a few minutes more if necessary, erring on the side of underdone rice. Allow to rest for 10 minutes then serve or return the pan to the heat for five minutes or so to make the crust (socarrat) . Garnish with piquillo pepper strips and parsley; serve with lemon wedges and aioli. ~ Rachel Adams

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Filed under Books, Paella, Pinchos, Spain, tapas, Travel, Uncategorized