Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pre Christmas lunch at La Tienda

I had asked the guys if they were free for a Christmas dinner on December 18 in Je Suis Gourmand. Everybody confirmed their attendance and emails started going back and forth regarding what menu and wines we would have for said lunch. It was Jojo who suggested that we have a lunch to plan for the December 18 lunch, so we all of course agreed to Lunch at La Tienda. Obvioulsy, during this lunch, we did not plan or all about our JSG lunch, but we had a lot of fun, which is all that counts.

I got there quite early since I was planning the menu with Chef Javi. We would have the usual (a meal there cannot be the same without our 'usual' dishes) and some new ones. Naturally the theme of the lunch was Spanish so mostly everybody brought Spanish wine.

As the first people Started to arrive, we decided to open the bubbly, Rosado and whites while waiting for the others. Aaron brought a bottle of Cava Freixenet Reserva real, a NV bubbly from one of the biggest Cava Manufacturers in Spain. I found this Cava fresh, with hints of lemon and very elegant.

As some platters of chorizo curado were served, JayL popped open his bottle of Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana, by bodegas Hidalgo. Sherry specially this type, is an acquired taste, but I have also loearned how to enjoy this, spacially with some cured Chorizo and Olives. This particular sherry was dark in color and dry, aged for about 12 years in Oak Barrels.

By that time, everybody had arrived already and we were ready to starting with the Tapas. We had so much wine that we did not even know where to start nor what to open. As food started arriving, more whites were open.

Our appetizers: Escalivada (a meal is not a meal in La Tienda without this), Gambas a la Plancha, Brandada de Bacalao, Huevos estrellados 'a la casa Lucio' and Calamares a la Plancha con Cebolla.

All dishes were perfectly executed and so flavorful. The highlight for me was the 'Brandada de Bacalao', a puree of cod fish on bread, topped with a shrimp. a bonus dish was the Huevos Estrellados, a very typical dish in Madrid made famous by Lucio, the owner of the restaurant Casa Lucio. I must say, Javi's version is excellent and very close to the one in casa Lucio.

As for wines, we continued pouring mainly whites and few reds that were already opened. For whites we had a Naia 2008, Pazo Pineiro de Lusco (Albarino) and a Rubaiyat Koshu Barrel aged Japanese White Wine.

The 2008 Naia was a bottle I brought back from one of my trips to Spain. It is 100% Verdejo, from the Rueda Region is Spain. Very refreshing, crisp with a slight citrus/zesty taste. I was quite surprised by this wine and how I liked it. A lot of people seemed to like it also. I will definitely stock up on this wine on my next trip. Keichi's Japanese wine (Rubaiyat Koshu Barrel aged) was a first fro me, since I had not tried any kind of Japanese wine (aside from Sake). I was also surprised and enjoyed this wine, made from Koshu, which is a grape grown in Japan. Aaron's Albarino, a sample that was sent to him by a supplier. The 2005 Pazo Piniero de Lusco Albarino is a selection of grapes from the oldest and steepest section of the vineyard to provide superior terroir character. It was also good, although it lacked the acidity and freshness that Laxas or Martin Codax have. It was a great match though for the Gambas a la Plancha.

Then came the main courses, plus of course the reds. My Bottle was a 2004 Mauro VS, a relatively new maker in the Castilla y Leon region, made by the same makers of Vega Sicilia. It is actually a Ribera del Duero but the vineyards are just about 10 miles out of the region, so technically it cannot be a D.O. Ribera del Duero. This was decanted for about 1.5 hours before serving. Although quite young, shows great potential. It is very modern, deep dark purple color and subtle. It is made of 100% tempranillo, but is still quite full bodied.I would like to try an older vintage of this same wine, maybe a 99 or 2000.

Rene's bottle, a Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva 2001 was also on the table. Initially, we thought this would need decanting, but after a few sips from Jay and Rene, they decided to just leave the bottle open 1 hour before serving. This a very classy elegant wine, made of 80 Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha, mazuelo and Graciano. I have tried several of the Muga wines, and this one is good, although i prefer the Torre Muga or the Reserva Especial, since they are a bit more full bodied and modern, compared to the classic Prado Enea. There were other bottles that were not opened (Noel's Mauro 2005, Greg's Tres Picos from Borsao) and wines I didnt have the chance to try (Aaron's Honoris Valdubon). I've been wanting to try this wine but both dinners were this wine was available, I just did not get the chance to try it.

Then the food was served. of course we had the 'usual' dishes: Paella De Verduras con Arroz Basmati, Besugo al Horno and Chuleton. All the food was as always perfect, but I must say the paella this time was better and tastier. I wonder if Chef Javi added something new? The Besugo was spot on and the Chuleton was perfectly cooked, charred outside and rare inside. A generous serving of fries made up the plate of Chuleton.

We had 2 more bottles of Red, care of Jojo: 1990 Protos Gran Reserva and a 2005 Dominio de Atauta, both from Ribera del Duero. Protos is a classic Ribera, very classic and elegant wine, while the Dominio de Atauta is a bit more modern, although in some cases they use 100 year old vines. Both very good and good pairing with our food.

Javi then came out of the kitchen just to make sure that everything was in order and that we were enjoying. he definitely noticed that we were enjoying everything since mostly everything was wiped out.

We had no space for dessert, but we still had some space for dessert wine. We opened my bottle of Bodegas Toro Alabala Pedro Ximenez Reserva 1982. This was quite an aged PX, not as sweet as many of the younger ones I've tried. Still like most Px, hints of molasses, thick, viscous and very dark.

Finally, our group picture before everyone started to go their own way..as usual some stayed, to drink more, to drink coffee and to have more laughs. Great lunch and I can't wait for our next Christmas Lunch!


Aaron said...

"It was Jojo who suggested that we have a lunch to plan for the December 18 lunch, so we all of course agreed to Lunch at La Tienda."

I love that line. We had to have a wine lunch to plan another wine lunch. 'Nuff said

Miguel said...

and at the end we hardly did any planning.....

Noel said...

We were supposed to plan something?

Keiichi said...

we didn't discussed about 18th lunch at all did we?

Liked the bacalao on bread, the new calamari tapas and Chuleton. It's the best meal I had at the restaurant.

Miguel said...

Noel---hahaha...we might end up having another lunch to plan the other lunch hahaha..

Miguel said...

Keichi - Yes you are correct...we did not discuss anything about our lunch :)

Glad you liked the food..

Jay said...

As a matter of fact, we ended up planning ANOTHER pre-Christmas event. Dinner this time.

Alicia said...

Hello again Miguel,

Pre Christmas, Christmas and don't forget to plan a Post Christmas/New Year lunch as well! There are never enough holidays nor excuses to spend time over good food and wine with friends!

Are the Brandada de Bacalao and the Huevos Estrellado on the menu? Would anyone be able to order this or was it something prepared especially for your group?



Miguel said...

Good idea Alicia...a post Christmas lunch/dinner is in order...hahaha

Most of the appetizers are not on the regular menu...I normally pre-order these and plan with the Chef a few days in advance.

Gourmet Traveller said...

Love both Protos & Muga. Have you tried Martin Berdugo (Ribera del Duero)? Looks like you guys had a feast.