Pork Meatballs with Spicy Tomato
I’m a bit of a sucker for meatballs in any form. As an Italian American pasta and meatballs are in my blood. If theres one thing that I’m absolutely a fan of when dinning out is small sharing plates and tapas. The Spanish style meatball is a one of my favorites because of the seasonings. The mix of smoked paprika and spicy tomato is addictive. You can make these out of Pork or Lamb.
Take the pork out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before working with the meat or it won’t mix properly. Soak the bread in milk until absorbed. Mix all the ingredients together, but don’t over work.
Preheat oven to 400. Pour about 2 inch of oil into a heavy bottom sauce pan and get to 365. Form the meatballs into 1 1/2 tablespoon balls. Flash fry the albondigas ~ 1 minute. Transfer to a sheet tray and finish in the oven ~ 8 minutes or until cooked through.
1 cup of chunky tomato
1 clove garlic (fine sliced)
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs hot spanish paprika
Place the olive oil and garlic in a medium sauce pan on medium heat. Let the garlic cook ~ 1 minute then add the tomato. Season with salt and pepper to taste and then add the paprika. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
Check out the recipe for my traditional Italian Meatballs
Monday Wine: Spanish Wine Tasting
Over the course of the week, I have been drinking some inexpensive Spanish wines as a fact finding mission of sorts. I wanted to see the range, value and quality of the $20 or less Spanish wines. I know this sounds like such an arduous task…. who am I kidding? Any and all things wine related is something I’m passionate about and find fun so this was a great exercise to explore more wine of Spain. There were many surprises with the wines tasted and overall each was enjoyable.
Bodegas Beronia Rioja Reserva 2010
During the past couple of years, I’ve had several of the Beronia vintages and have always found them to be very good drinking wines with the 2010 being no expection. The wine is almost dark purple in the glass and the aroma of the wine have a lot of vanilla and fruit notes to a point of it being intoxicating. Upon tasting it was forward fruit, like blackberry, hints of vanilla and the presence of oak. I found it pretty well balanced and controlled between fruit and oak. This gave the wine a long finish and was evidence of being aged in french oak. Very solid purchase.
Bodega San Pedro Regalado – Ribera del Duero Embocadero 2010
Embocadero was a wonderfully dark purple in the glass. I tasted plum and blackberry when first noticing the aroma of the wine. There was plenty of dark red fruit and a touch of coffee on the palate. The wine was pretty well balanced being pleasantly dry and acidic. The finish was relatively long with a hint of black cherry on the backend. I think another year or 2 in the cellar would do this vintage some good but overall it was an enjoyable drinking wine.
Palacios Remondo La Montesa 2009
The wine was ruby red to dark purple in the glass. The aroma had a little left to be desired, it had ripe red berries and spice. First sip, however, was a good balance between ripe red fruit, tannin and acid. Its not a complex wine, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the glass none the less. I found the fruit to linger on the finish with just a bit of spice. Overall, this was a good and well priced bottle of wine, but I think the only let down was the aroma.
Rafael Reverte Cistum Red 2009
This wine was pretty impressive for its price point. I wasn’t expecting what I tasted from this wine as it was one of those “Ah why not” kind of purchases. Its pretty hard to find a really decent bottle of wine for under $12 let alone one made from extremely old vines (120 years old in fact). The color of this Garnacha wine was dark red and I found the aroma to be intensely jammy and very fruit forward on the first sip. There was black cherry, raspberry and spice on the palate. On the back end, mineral and tart that seemed to linger. Overall, I found this to be a good one and dare I say oddly complex for its low price.
I’ll be the first to admit I was never the biggest fan of Cava. Its always had a bad rap attached to it as being a dirt cheap, low quality, nonvintage version of French Champagne. There is some truth to some of those opinions, and mainly because a lot our exposure to Cava in the States comes from a couple very inexpensive low quality brands. I think this held me back on branching out and delving deeper into Cava in the past. Times are changing in the world of wine and Cava is no different in following the trend.
Cava is a mainly produced in Catalonia, Spain from the Macaque, Parellada and Xarel·lo grapes. Cava is blend of several types of wine, like champagne it is then given a second fermention in the bottle. The process takes nine months.Cava is classified by the amount of sugar added during fermentation; ranging from sweet, to super dry brutes nature. In addition Cava can as well white (blanco) or rosé (rosado) and aged over various amounts of time. I made a cheat sheet for this.I don’t why or when Cava started getting an unjustified stigma attached to it based on quality and price. Cava is changing in Spain. Producers want to make Cavas that can rival some of the best Champagnes. I know this is an almost insurmountable task, but by focusing on overall quality of the wine from growing organically or bio-dynfamically to dramatically increasing the aging process they are making headway. A lot of what I’ve tried recently had very similar characteristics of good quality champagne. The only thing missing is some of the fruit characteristics and that really distinct biscuit flavor.
Here are a couple that I have enjoyed recently.
Recaredo Cava Brut Nature Gramona Cava Brut Impérial Avinyó Cava Rosado Reserva
I was ignorant for being so close minded and am more than willing to try out and explore more Cava in the future. Tasting notes to follow.
Wine Monday: Grenache from Spain
The Grenache or Garnacha grape is a widely grown grape in Spain and most of the world (Burgundy, France in particular). The grape itself is known for intense red fruit flavors, lack of acidity and tannin, which is why its blended often. Although in decline in Spain in favor of temprillio and bobal vines the grenache grape has a large foothold in the Spanish wine landscape in the past and present. The main region for some of the best and most delicious grenache wines in Spain is the Priorat region.
The Priorate region of Catalonia, Spain is an ideal because of its climate, terraces and soil. The very best garnacha of the region come from a mix very old extremely low-yielding vines and new vines. This directly translates to the wine having properties not comely known in the grape like a deep dark red color, dense, high fruit concentration, tannin, notes of blackberry, fig and tar.
Clos Erasmus and Laurel
Close Erasmus and Laurel wines are from one of my favorite vineyards and producers of Garnacha in all of Spain. Vintage after vintage winemakers Daphne Glorian and Ester Nin make some of the most complex and deep wines in the region. Aged anywhere from 18-20 months in 2/3 new French oak barrels the Clos Erasmus vintage typically exhibit ripe cherries, red fruit and balsamic on the nose, a great balance of acid and mineral on the palate and wonderful finish. There is a lot of care and thought put into this wine and it shows in glass.
The Laurel vintage is aged between 16 and 18 months in French Oak. This vintage shares many of the same characteristics and quality of its more expensive sibling. This weekend I opened a 2009 vintage (for the sake of science) to pair with some tapas. After decanting the wine and throughout the evening it drank better and better. It was highly concentrated with cherry, blackberry aromas, a palate of raspberry, spice and tannin. Probably should have gotten another bottle….. or two.
The Costers de Vinyes Velles vintage uses grapes from some of their oldest vines dating from 80-105 years. The wine is aged 16 months in new French oak after a 28-35 day maceration period. Bold from start to finish, there is initially a deep aroma of ripe fruits like cherry and raspberry and spice, to a well balanced palate full bodied and silky and almost endless finish.Salanques vintage from Mas Doix is a much newer wine in comparison. The vines range from 15 to 90 years in age, the maceration period is 21-28 days long and the wine is aged 12 months in 50% new French oak. The aroma of wine has lots of dark fruit and spice. I found the 2010 to be nicely full bodied with nice tannin and acidity, but not as complex as some of their other vintages. Save a bottle or two when grilling season starts again because it will pair perfectly with grilled meats.
Monday Wine Posts: I love Spanish Tempranillo
I have about as much passion for wine as I do with food. Similarly, the sheer volume of vineyards, varietals, regions and countries producing amazing wine is enough to make your head spin. For the next couple weeks I’m going to be drinking exclusively Spanish wine and making a weekly post each Monday on wine. Without a doubt I have always found the Tempranillo based wines to be well balanced between fruit and tannin, with an indescribably addictive nose, dark ruby red in color and extremely well priced.
Traveling extensively in Napa Valley, tasting my way from downtown Napa to Calistoga I would often find myself thinking during tastings that much of what some of these vineyards (Del Dotto in particular) were trying to accomplish with their cabs was identical to most characteristics of my favorite Riojas. Price point for price point the wines of Spain are just so undervalued. Yes there are extremely expensive wines (one of them listed below is an all time favorite wine), but you can find remarkably well drinking daily wines. The Tempranillo wines tend to have seductive aromas of blackberry, cherry, minerals, and oak. Rich, highly complex flavors of fruits and licorice, with an almost endless finish.
The single best thing about Tempranillo is that it pairs remarkably well with all kinds of food. Drink it along side a steak, roasted meats or grilled meats like pork and lamb, roasted vegetables or pair it with cheese and cured meats.
Some of my favorites Tempranillo from various price points:
Bodegas El Nido – Clio
Bodegas El Nido – El Nido
Bodega Numanthia-Termes Numanthia Toro
Dominio de Pingus – Pingus Ribera del Duero
Bodegas Muga – Rioja Reserva
Bodegas Alto Moncayo – Veraton Campo de Borja
Bodegas Alto Moncayo- Aquilon Campo de Borja
Marqués de Murrieta Castillo Ygay – Gran Reserva Especial
The next time you're buying wine do yourself a favor and buy a bottle of Spanish wine. Look for Reserva or Gran
Reserva on the label as those are aged in oak longer.
“Patatas Bravas” and Roasted Brussel Sprouts
This might actually be my first failure in terms of plating but I am going to figure out how to make this dish work. Although there were too many ugly colors on one plate, the flavor was great. Today, I was in the mood for patatas bravas but lacked potatoes and the will to venture to Whole Foods Market. Instead I had ready homemade gnocchi and fresh brussel sprouts, which I absolutely love roasted to the point of borderline charred. So this is my take on this a tapas classic.
1 cup brussel sprouts
1 cup gnocchi
3 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic (smashed)
1 tsp spanish paprika
1 tbs sherry vinegar
1/4 cup garlic aioli
Clean, peal off the first layer of leaf off the brussel sprouts, trim the stem and then cut in half. Preheat oven to 400. Toss the brussels in a bowl with 1 tbs olive oil, salt and pepper. Preheat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbs of olive oil, the brussels (face down) and the garlic. Place in oven and toss the pan every 5 minutes until cooked (20 minutes).
Boil the gnocchi, drain and add to a bowl with 1 tsp of olive oil. Preheat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add the gnocchi to the pan and brown each side. Toss the gnocchi with salt, pepper and sprinkle with smoked paprika.
Toss the brussel sprouts with sherry vinegar then plate with garlic aioli and the gnocchi.
Unfortunately, there really is not anything visually appealing about roasted brussel sprouts with gnocchi but I will definitely revisit this dish at some point to make aesthetic improvements.