Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Uncorked: Flight Night

By: Lauren Rittermann
Capital Cooking Contributor

Jose Andres, Jaleo, sets the standard for Spanish restaurants across the country, and is now offering a little something special this Summer.  Jaleo in Bethesda and Crystal City want you to experience and celebrate the culture, cuisine, and grapes of Spain with their 11th Annual Paella Festival, Monday Night Flight Nights, and Tour of Spain program.  Recently, I had the chance to check it all out, and it was quite a delicious experience. 
Every Monday night, Jaleo in Bethesda offers a flight of Spanish wines for $25.  From 5:30-10pm guests can enjoy 4 three ounce pours along with an informational card  describing the flavor profile and background of each wine.  Jaleo Bethesda is also featuring two unique paella plates on these evenings that range from $9-$12, to pair with the wine flights.  Or you can enjoy the Paella festival in its glory with a tasting menu experience or a full size portion of their 5 unique paella combinations.  

I joined Jaleo for their Monday Night Flight Night and was able to enjoy a fabulous tasting of their carefully selected tapas.  The night I visited, the restaurant was featuring Txakoli, not a well known Spanish varietal, but one of my favorites.  A guest and I enjoyed 4 different and very delicious Txakoli's along with various small plates to pair with each wine.

Txakoli comes from Spain's Basque region, and is a clean, high acid wine with a great deal of minerality.  Each wine was paired with various small plates that were inspired from authentic dishes from the Basque and Catalon region.

We started out with Berroia 2012, a very light Txacoli from Muxika, Spain.  This was paired with lighter small plates like marinated olives, Spanish ham, and Bread with tomato and Manchego cheese.  

Our second course was served with the Ameztoi Rubentis Rose 2012.  A delicious, very light, crisp, and dry Rose.  Perfect for a gorgeous Summer night. This wine was paired with some seafood dishes including light fried calamari, tuna salad with potatoes, and delicious fried potato croquettes.  The crispness of the wine helped to cut through the fried foods and was a delicious pairing with the seafood.

We were served a gazpacho shooter as a palate cleanser and then moved on to the third wine, the Txomin Etxaniz Txakolina 2012.  This wine had a fresh, lemony and vibrant punch and went really well with the spicy shrimp in chili sauce.  A really nice combination with the buttery shellfish and spicy sauce.

The last wine was a red Txacoli.  This is a mineral driven red with medium tannins and a light refreshing finish.  I was surprised at the flavor profile of this wine and thought the food pairings were spot on.  Served with sautéed spinach with nuts and dried fruit and roasted chicken dish with a savory sauce topped with pesto.  The wine was not over powering and brought out sweet and savory notes in both dishes.  

As if that wasn't enough, we were served a delicious flan to finish our meal.  Served with homemade whipped cream, this was probably one of the most delicious flans I've had.  A perfect ending to a fantastic wine and food filled night. 
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