Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Perfect Pair: García Family Wine Dinner

By:  Jennifer Duff
Capital Cooking Contributor

As part of Jaleo's 20th anniversary celebration, Jose Andres' invited guests to partake in an exclusive Garcia Family Wine Dinner.  The dinner featured various wines from different regions of Spain presented by Eduardo Garcia (pictured below) (son of the famed winemaker, Mariano Garcia) paired with a tasting menu from Jaleo DC's head chef, Chef Paul Yeck.

The dinner started off with liquid olives, little plump balls with a salty olive taste topped with orange shavings.  The liquid olives were paired with tiny cones of goat cheese with a sweet jam topped with shaved almonds.  The salty flavor of the olives was delicious when finished with the sweetness of the goat cheese cones.  This course was served with Prima, 2010 which was bright and refreshing, perfect for patio dining in the summer.  

Next, we sampled some carpaccio, shaved pork shoulder, served raw with lemon dressing and toasted pine nuts.  This was a simple and flavorful dish, similar in texture to prosciutto, but a bit more tender and gamey. 

For the third course, Chef Yeck prepared grilled softshell crab served with tomato and watermelon. Delicious and light, this course reminded me of the flavors of summer with a simple preparation that emphasized the taste of each ingredient.

Following the softshell crab, we enjoyed confit of piquillos, a type of red pepper, served with bread imported from Spain (when they tried to recreate the bread in the US, it didn't have the same flavor, go figure!). 

I have to admit, at this point, I started to hit food fatigue.  I wasn't sure I was going to make through all eight courses.  And then they served cod cheeks with samfaina.  I had never tasted cod cheeks and I was intrigued.  The lightly battered cod cheeks (which are actually cut from the top throat area of the cod) were tender and slightly sweet while the tomato and zuchini base added a depth of flavor.  It was fantastic.  

Then came my absolute favorite course of the evening -- the smoked squab with spring onions and asparagus.  The squab was rich and savory with a gamey texture and the white wine au ju added a delicious finish to the meat. This dish paired perfectly with the intensity and spicy black fruits in the Astrales Christina, 2007 made 100% of tinto fino, aka Tempranillo.  This course was absolute perfection in terms of both presentation and pairing.

In true Jaleo form and fashion, Chef also served a paella of Iberico pork ribs.  Savory and delicious, with slight hints of sweet flavorings, this rich paella was a great final dinner course.

The sweet ending to our wine tasting dinner was pan con chocolate with a rich chocolate flan flavored with hints of thyme.  The bread and the thyme was a tasty balance to the chocolate flan. 

A fantastic 20th anniversary celebration with delectable treats and delicious wine pairings.  Congratulations to Jose Andres and his team, and cheers to another 20 years of health, happiness and magnificent food!
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