Saturday, June 26, 2010

More pintxos and Spanish wine @ La Tienda

I have been enjoying too much Spanish wine and food lately, so any excuse to have them is good for me. This time it was dinner with Chinkee and Matt. I asked Chef Javi to prepare us some appetizers, and for main, Chuleton of course. All the wines were Spanish, from the Cava to the Albarino to all the reds.

We stared off with some Noel's Freixenet Elyssia Gran Cuvee Brut. Very light, refreshing and appropriate for some light appetizers (Chistorra and Boquerones which we had while waiting for the others) or simply just to start a meal. We had already finished our first Bottle when my wife and Chinkee and Matt arrived. We them moved on to the meal proper. We were to be served 6 dishes of different kinds of Pintxos made by the Chef:

Salmorejo (Southern Spain's version of Gazpacho)

Escalivada con Pate de Olivas

Bacalao al Ajoarriero con Gambas

Salmon Confitado con Pisto
Pist0 is a typical dish made of sauteed vegetables, typically eggplant, tomato, and anythig that is of season

Escalivada con Anchoas (we always have to have this when we eat in La Tienda)

Brocheta de Solomillo y Bacon con Arroz Cremoso, Foie Gras y Salsa de Oporto

Needless to say, ALL the dishes were great. I particularly liked the Brocheta and the Bacalao. Most of the seafood dishes we had with an 2008 Laxas Albarino that Chinkee brought, and Noels 1973 Berberana (Rioja) which was quite light and good for the some dishes as well.

We had to ask Javi to give us a 15-20 minute break before serving the Chuleton since we were all just stuffed. Matt even had to take some Alka Seltzer, since I think he had 'empacho' (I think you could translate this to over-eating)...

After that much needed break, they brought out the Chuleton. Perfectly cooked as always, with fries and a side dish of Pimientos, that Javi makes to perfection ( a recipe from his great Grand Mother).

We had the Chuleton with 2 other bottles of Rioja: 2001 Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva (Noel's Bottle) and my bottle of 2001 Bodegas Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial. I prefered the Muga with the steak, as it was a bit more firm, medium to full bodied, compared to the Ygay. Both wines were quite young, though I think the Prado Enea will age much better than the Ygay.

We also had some dessert (no picture) which was Torrijas with Helado de Arroz con Leche. Wonderful dessert which we have had several times before. This one was as good, with the Arroz con Leche Ice Cream which was delicious.

Great Dinner, thanks to Chef Javi and until the next one!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tapas at Barcino

I heard from some people that Barcino had a new Chef, and that they seemed serious about improving their food, so I decided to give it a try. I had gone several times to Barcino (at Ortigas and Fort) but was never really convinced about the food. Seems they have gone a long way from when they started serving microwaved Paella and cold Croquetas. They even have a life size cut out poster of Jaume Vinyallonga, the Chef. As he told me, he has had experience working in the 3 star Michelin restaurant Akelarre in San Sebastian, then moved back to Girona to work with the Roca brothers, ownder and Chefs of Celler de Can Roca, another 3 star Restaurant.

We decided to try their new flagship branch, at Greenbelt 2. The place is nice, with lots of Spanish decor and memorabilia. I particularly like this frame, since it's a picture of Nou Camp..hmm the owners I know for a fact are Barcelona fans just like myself.

The Menu, posted on the blackboard, was mostly tapas and Wine. They have a more extensive menu a la carte.
We started out with the martin Codax Albarino and a bottle of Spanish beer called Estrella Galicia. Being from Spain, I wonder why they chose to bring in that beer, when there are much better ones like Mahou, Voll Damm, Cruzcampo, etc..This was quite ok and refreshing, specially since it was so hot outside.

I opted for the following tapas:

Surtido de Pintxos (Bacalao, Chistorra, Salmon and Morcilla with Shitake mushrooms)

Croquetas and Butifarra Blanca

Montadito de Morcilla y Huevo

Alcachofas con Jamon (Artichokes with Jamon Serrano)

Over all, I could say that the tapas are decent, They do have a wide selection of tapas and more sit down type of dishes (paella, solomillo, etc..) which I did not have the chance to try. I must say that the food has really improved with the Chef Jaume. I will definitely be back soon to try out more of the Tapas and Pintxos they have available.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

All Spanish Wines and Tapas Dinner at Rene's House

Dinner Saturday night was at Rene's house. I had spoken to him about another all tapas (since I had brought back some goodies from my last trip) and he offered his house, so we planned it accordingly. Theme was all tapas, all Spanish wines and as main course, Aimee (Rene's better half) would prepare a light pasta and some short ribs.

I arrived quite early, since I had to prepare some of the tapas/cold cuts, plus do some minor cooking. My wife would come about 30 minutes after me, since she had to do some last minute stuff at home.

As the others arrived, Rene already had opened my bottle of 2005 Gramona III Lustros Brut Nature Gran Reserva Cava, a bottle given to me by my Aunt. This was a vintage Cava, quite refreshing although as pointed our by Noel, this would be much better with a few more years in the bottle. As I was finishing the cooking, I was able to Join the rest (as Aaron arrived also) for the tapas proper, and another bottle of Cava, Aaron's 2005 Freixenet Meritum Gran Reserva Cava. A New line of Freixenet that Aaron was sampling for his company. This was also very easy to drink, fresh Cava, pairing well with many of the Tapas.

We then had the appetizers (Tapas) proper, served with the Cava, a bottle of Vionta Albarino of Aaron and Noel's 1987 Lopez de Heredia ViƱa Tondonia Blanco Reserva. The Tondonia was a wine that I had been wanting to try for the longest time. It was drinking very well for an 87 white, and I particularly enjoyed this with some of the tapas and the pasta dish the Aimee served later on. I will definitely stock up on this on my next trip.

The Tapas...

Salchichon Iberico

Lower right, Habitas salteadas con Jamon (baby beans with Jamon Serrano), Berberechos and Almejas en salsa Espinaler and Pate.

A closer look at the Almejas, Pate and the 3 different kinds of Colc cuts we had: Fuet, Chorizo Iberico and Fuet Iberico.

Burifarritas (small sausages) with Morcilla de Cebollas. One of my favorites of the night, together with the Habitas Salteadas.

As we moved to the table for dinner proper, all the wines were lined up, ready to be opened.

And food was served: a refreshingly and light Spaghettini with Lemon, Orange, Olive Oil and Caviar dressing and fork tender Beef Short Ribs, cooked for 24 hours.

I had double servings of both! Loved the light refreshing pasta and the fork tender Short Ribs with the Tick and hearty sauce. With the Beef, we had the Aaron's bottle of 2004 Clos Mogador Priorat. This waws decanted for almost 2.5 hours. On the nose, this wine had notes of bloody, raw meat, game...feral as Noel said. This was a very full bodied wine, with lots of peppery notes to my taste. I think this was a good paring with the Beef Short Ribs, which had a very rich sauce.

For dessert, a Strawberry Ice Cream Cake with Oreo. I normally dont eat too much dessert, but this was devoured over some good Nespresso coffee.

Our next 2 wines, which we both had at the dinner table: Rene's 1978 Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial and Noel's 1995 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 890. I am a big fan of these 2 wineries, so obviously I was excited to try both of them. The Murrieta, still surprisingly fresh and drinking very young, for a 32 year old wine. Could probably last another 3-5 years more in the bottle.
The Rioja Alta, on the other hand, was my wine of the night. Very elegant with lots of finesse and balance. Lots of Aromas, sweet ones like cherry and slight hints of coffee. Loved this wine.

Last was my bottle of 1991 Beronia Gran Reserva. One that had been spared already twice so we really had to open this one. Medium bodied, light, well balanced wine. We had this wine way after dinner, in the garden over more stories and some left over Jamon Serrano.

We ended past 1 AM. It was a great dinner, with good company and fantastic wines. Thanks Rene and Aimee for hosting!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Restaurante Manairo, Barcelona

On my last trip to Barcelona, I was told by my Aunt that I had to try this place called Manairo. It has been existing for many years, and has been recently awarded with a Michelin Star. The Chef, Jordi Herrera bases his concept on the use of the highest quality ingredients, make use the of the Gastronomic culture of Catalunya. The Cuisine here is modern Catalan, not forgetting basic classic cooking techniques.

We start off with a glass of fino and some olives. After finishing off 2 glasses each, the show begins:

Amuse Bouche: Pate de Sardinas a la Brasa and Xoff the Pan con Tomate (Pate of Grilled Sardines and Pan con Tomate)

Next was Croqueta de Pollo asado con aceite de Picada, which I forgot to take a photo of. The Croquetas was like those home made ones, very crispy but very moist inside. In lieu of the photo of the Croqueta, here is a picture of the stand that holds their wine you can see very creative. This was made of metal bars used for construction.

After a quick break, Pizza de Gorgonzola con tomate Trufado, very tasty, with a strong Truffle scent.

Then, Calamares de Huevos Fritos con Patata, the Calamares were actually outside the batter. Inside the batter was egg yolk. Quite tasty and creative.

Arroz de Cordero y Queso Manchego, another one of those very tasty dishes, What I like about this restaurant is it is creative, but they are actually tasty too.

Rape con Estofado de Sepia y "Cap i Pota". - Again I have no picture of this.I must have been on my third or fourth glass of wine already here...

Solomillo de Buey al Fackir Coock (Al Clavo Ardiente) Beef Tenderloin a la Fackir, a more middle Eastern taste in this dish which was quite good.

For the wine, the Sommelier recommended a 2004 Finca Allende, a medium bodied Rioja, bold fruity wine, which paired very well with the Beef Tenderloin. Wine service was very good, one of the best I've experienced in Spain. From the glasses, to the Sommelier was perfect.

For dessert, Kaipirina and Toriija de Helado de Queso and Petit Fours. Again no picture of the Kaipirina, but the Torrija was one of the best I've had, close to the one that Chef Javi makes for us in la Tienda.

Over all a great experience, great tasting food and value for money. I would definitely come back if I had the chance.

More to come soon..

De Tapas por Madrid

I know it's been quite a while I have not posted anything on my blog. It's just been a very busy hectic month, with travelling involved so not much time for this. I'm back and I'm hoping I can update my blog in the next couple of weeks, so here goes...

I just came back from a 2 week hectic European trip and I will start this post with an afternoon of tapas in Madrid after a late night Dinner in L'Albufera, a well classic place serving authentic Paella Valeciana which I will blog about some other time.

We started the afternoon with a walk to Plaza Santa Ana, very near our Hotel. Plaza Sta. Ana is know to have many tapas bars in the main plaza and many old Restaurants/Bars on the side streets. We decided on one called Bar Santa Ana (there were like 20 to choose from ) so we ordered some wine, Beer, a platter of Pintxos and some chips.

Platter was a selection of their best sellers, including Jamon, Queso de Burgos, Lomo Iberico and Chorizo. Great way to start our afternoon (this was around 6:30 PM) and I must say, the Plaza was packed with locals just sipping wine and munching on really gotta love the Spanish way of living..

After about 1 hour, we decided to walk a bit (after quite a few glasses of wine) and ended up in Paseo Castellana (a bar recommended by my aunt) in a place called Terraza Bar Espejo. This place has been open for ages, right in one of the side streets of Paseo Castellana, one of the oldest and most important streets in Madrid. A nice open area (Terraza), with again lots of people having cocktails, listening to a pianist gotta love this life of theirs...

Again, we ordered some wine and beers, and more Tapas....

Tosta de Sobrassada de Mallorca con Queso Fundido

Surtido de Tapas (Pintxos)

Chorizo a la Sidra.

We had other dishes which I failed to Photograph (maybe too much wine??)....but trust me all of them were exquisite.

More posts of my trip coming up soon.....