Local Produce

Wherever you are there you will be. So if you be there then you should eat whatever is local.
When in the Costa del Sol in Spain nothing is more local than seafood paella with a chilled Rioja. If you’re not chilling your red wine in the summer then you need to start.
These be some photos of the paella I made Saturday night with tiny clams, Galatia mussels, calamari, and shrimp.

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Café Culture

If there is one thing that I could import from Europe if would be the café culture. If you can believe it, what’s happening in this photo is illegal in my country.

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Why is it illegal – because it’s 8:45 am and I’m the only one drinking coffee. And before you judge, none of these men are getting “loaded”, they are meeting in a café for a small glass of wine and a beer. Yes, a morning verre de vin blanc et une petite pression of Heinekin. They were also hilarious [at least my limited French vocab thought they were]. In fact, I think the reason that I’m sitting alone at this table is because I’m the only guy drinking coffee. Although as my friend Rob notes, one of the men may be giving a “thumbs u to the Canadian for drinking coffee this late in the day”.

I asked brother-in-spain why we didn’t have places in North America that served half pints and small glasses of wine for 2euro – and he pointed out that if there was a place serving $2 beer then we probably wouldn’t want to sit there because it would be full of people trying to get “loaded” for cheap.

I’m not saying I need a beer or a glass of wine in the morning [I actually don't need or want one] but it’s clear that there is a big cultural gap – café cultural.


Location, location, location

It appears that the real estate axiom “location, location, location” applies to the world of beverages. Normally I would never be interested in a white beer with lemon. However, package that up as bierre blanc avec une pointe d’agrumes – serve it to me in a jardin on the French Riviera and suddenly it’s ma boisson préférée dans le monde. Also I am on vacation – that helps.

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Summer wines

Drinking rosé this summer? We do in France.

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Watch your back

“Expect the unexpected” is perhaps the most absurd saying in the English language. If you start expecting then it ceases to be unexpected.

“Things are going just a little too well” is perhaps the most paranoid phrase. Then again being paranoid is only good thinking if everyone is out to get you.

So I combined the two sayings this week during my visit to Bodegas Lagar Blanco in the hills outside Montilla.

I was enjoying the best winery tour of my life thanks to the conversations with Miguel Cruz Marques and his son Miguel. Best tour ever!

I was enjoying myself so much that I almost forgot the suddenly eerily applicable warning by Edgar Allan Poe in his tale The Cask of Amontillado – where the ironically named Fortunato is distracted by his companion by a delicious amontillado and cemented into a wall. Note that in my photo of the casks I have one eye on my companion, Brother-in-Spain, and one eye on the cask.

I don’t expect he is out to get me – but then again I’m sure Fortunato wasn’t expecting the unexpected.

More on my visit to Bodegas Lagar Blanco in my next post.

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Emilio Lustau – friend of the little guy

Emilio Lustau is arguably the most distinguished producer of fine sherry in all of Spain. Which is why his backing of some of the smaller artisanal producers in and around Jerez interests me so much. Not everybody at the top looks after the little guy. Let me explain.

Lustau has searched out artisanal sherry makers, buys a share in their solera, and then markets and distributes their sherry. The Oloroso we purchased at the Lustau Bodegas is part of the Almacenista series – almacenista meaning storehouse or cooperative. The maker of the “Pata de Gallina” [Hen's Foot] is Juan Garcia Jarana – a motorcycle mechanic by day and an artisan of the solera system at night. He only has 38 barrels in his solera, making a bottle of his Oloroso a rare treat.

We served this Oloroso with sheep cheese and anchovies on toast. Well done Juan Garcia Jarana. Well done Emilio.

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Oh Sherry

The funniest songs can get stuck in your head. Like Oh Sherry, by Steve Perry, while I walked around the city of Jerez in 40 degree weather today. Stupid song – especially considering I had the best Bodegas tour of my life at Emilio Lustau today and should have written a song about that. Thanks Ana for our private tour.
Later in the day Brother-in-Spain and I visited Domecq and I completed my 80’s flashback and got my photo with the Bo Derek cask! For the record, Bodegas Lustau was also a 10.

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