Saturday, October 26, 2013

Uncorked: The Ebro River Valley

By: Lauren Rittermann
Capital Cooking Contributor

The popular Tapas restaurant , Jaleo, continued their quarterly Tour of Spain Wine Dinner series with a wine dinner focused on the area of Ebro River Vallery. Sommelier Jordi Paronella, and Jaleo and Chef Ramon Martinez worked closely together to pair wines and Spanish cuisine while leading guests on an educational tour through the country.  I thought overall the dinner was great, but I especially loved learning about the Ebro River Valley in Spain, and tasting various wines from the region.  It was fun to try the wines with different cuisine to see what worked well and didn't work well together.  It was informative, fun, and the service was great.

The dinner started out with  a variety of cured meats including Jamon Iberico, Jamon Serrano and Chorizo Iberico along with a slightly airy goats milk cheese.  This course was paired with a fruity yet dry Rose of Garnacha from Camp de Borja.

The second course came in 2 parts. The first was an artichoke salad with capers, tomatoes, shallots, and green olives tossed in a garlic dressing.

The second part was a Prosciutto wrapped trout stuffed with a Spanish style salsa verde.

Both dishes had loads of flavor and paired nicely with a 1998 white Rioja; Vina Tondonia Reserva, which had a oxidative note, but still enough acidity to hold up to the food.  It was a really nice pairing with both of the dishes.

The third course also consisted of 2 small dishes.  The first was spicy chorizo on top of a bed of olive oil mashed potatoes.  The chorizo had a nice flavor and spiciness, and the mashed potatoes felt like velvet.  The two components were really nice together.

And the second part of this course was easily the best dish of the night in my opinion.  Seared piquillo peppers stuffed with goat cheese and mushrooms.  An outstanding dish of varying flavors.

Both of these dishes were paired with a full bodied Garnacha; Alto Moncayo Veraton 2010 from Campo de Borja.  The wine was a favorite amongst the guests, but I was not a fan of it's heaviness nor it's 16% alcohol content.  I found it to be hot and heavy, and made the spice in the chorizo even spicier.  With that said, I had no trouble finishing it.

The fourth course was a chicken leg stewed in Rioja wine on top of a bean puree.  The chicken was extremely tender, and I loved the flavor of the Rioja wine reduction.  This dish was paired with an earthier Tempranillo; Finca Allende Tinto from Rioja.  I really liked the complexity of this wine and thought the earthiness and spiciness complemented the rustic chicken dish.  This was my favorite pairing of the night.

The dinner finished with two lovely desserts.  The first was pears poached in red wine with vanilla ice cream and the second was a red wine sorbet in a fresh fruit and Moscatel gelee.

Both of these desserts were paired with a sweet dessert wine from Navarro, Spain; Ochoa Moscatel, and both were outstanding.  They were fresh, and prepared perfectly.  It was a wonderful way to end a heavy multi-course meal.

The entire night was fun and educational, and the chefs and sommelier did a fantastic job working together to make this an educational and delicious dinner.
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