Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Special Dinner at La Tienda

I had planned a special dinner in La Tienda with a group of friends...the reason?...of course to eat good food and drink good Vino. So with the help of N, we planned the menu for the dinner. Aside from our 'favorite' dishes that we always order, I wanted them to try a special dish that I enjoy: Kokotxas al Pil-Pil. Translated, Kokotxas is the delicate pendulums of flesh growing in the throat of the fish. In Spain, it's typical to have Kokotxas de Bacalao al Pil-Pil. Here, since its hard to find fresh Bacalao, Chef Javi decided to use Lapu Lapu. It took him almost one month to collect all the kokotxas of the Lapu Lapu, plus eventually harassing the supplier to give him some more.

As soon as everybody arrived, we started the night with a bottle of Cava that Jay brought, a Freixenet Cordon Rosado Brut. They also served us as an appetizer, Chorizo Cocido, which is Chorizo Bilbao but boiled instead of fried. The Cava was very refreshing and went down very well. By that time, I knew I was going to enjoy the dinner....

Moving on, they served us the appetizers: Boquerones, Escalivada and Pulpo a la Gallega. For the wines, we thought this would go perfect with Spanish AlbariƱo, a typical fresh and crisp wine from Galicia. N brought a bottle of Laxas and I brought a bottle of Pazo de San Mauro, which I got from Barcino. I enjoyed most the Boquerones and escalivada with the white wine, a perfect combination.

For main course, I had initially asked for Paella de Verduras and Fideuada, which is a noodle Paella. Unfortunately the noodles were not available so I decided to order a Paella Negra instead. With that, they served us the Besugo al Horno, Chuleton and Kokotxas al Pil Pil. A usual the Paella was perfectly done with Basmati rice. Just the right moisture. Such a simple but great dish. The Paella Negra was also done with Basmati Rice. and had a combination of Seafood and vegetables.

The Kokotxas were done al Pil Pil, which means slight simmered in olive oil and a little garlic. After 3-4 minutes, the clay pot is 'shaken' continuously to create an emulsion that looks very much like a mayonnaise. The fat of the fish together with the garlic is what causes the oil to emulsify. They were quite tasty and felt like gelatin in your mouth. This was also perfect with the AlbariƱo wine.

As they served the Chuleton, we started with the red wines. For starters, we tried my bottle of 00 Venus La Universal (decanted for about 2 hours)- from the Montsant region in Tarrgona, Catalunya. It was a peppery, spicy wine typical from the region. Next was a 01 Finca Dofi Priorato, 2nd label of the L'Ermita made by Alvaro Palacios. J had brought several bottles of wine and asked me to choose which one to open. My first choice was the 95 Dalmau Reserva - first label of Marques de Murrieta. I had been to Marques de Murrieta some 5 years ago and remember enjoying all the wines specially the Dalmau. It was a medium bodied very elegant wine.

We then decided to open the other bottle of J, the 82 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva. I had also visited this winery during my La Rioja trip and tried several vintages but never the 82. I could not even believe that someone from here could have wines like this, so this was a special treat for all of us to try. Last wine we tried was again from La Rioja - Johnny's bottle 01 Beronia Gran Reserva. I first tried this wine with N in another La Tienda dinner and I really enjoyed it. 01 was a good year for La Rioja and this wine was not an exception. Very typical which we all enjoyed. We also had the 2000 Grans Muralles, a Torres wine from D.O. Conca de Barbera, in the Southern Region of Catalunya. Quite different from the other Catalunya wines we had but very enjoyable also.

For Dessert, Javi served us Torrijas, a typical dish served during Mardi Gras. It is bread soaked in milk and wine then fried in Olive Oil. It was served with a special home made Chhese Ice Cream and black Olives. Perfect way to end our meal. We had some espressos and a shot of Cardenal Mendoza, courtesy of JayL.

It was a great dinner that I truly enjoyed. Thank you Chef Javi for preparing such a great meal. It was also nice to meet Jojo, Jay and Johnny. We should do this again soon, maybe tring other typical dishes from San Sebastian, which is where the Chef was born...


Noel said...

Fantastic dinner! I loved that I was able to have a dish I've never before had (the kokotxas). Obviously, I liked it a lot! Of xcourse, everything else was great as usual. Chef Javi gained many fans that night, I'm sure.

This morning, I got calls from two other friends who read my notes asking if they can join next time. Ha ha!

Enjoy your trip and make sure to fill us all in on those LV restaurants you try out.


Miguel said...

Cool...lets organize another one when i get back.