In Search of Paella in Spain – Part 1

You probably knew that paella was invented in Spain, but did you know that it originates from the city of Valencia?  Also did you know that sausage, chorizo, is not an ingredient in traditional paella?  Did you know that there are many different styles of paella; with some using seafood, rabbit, rice or noodles?

Come along and read about my experience with paella freshly made today for me, and others, at a conference I am attending in Castellon de la Plana, just a short train ride from Valencia.

Two paellas were made today; one vegetarian, and the other a mixture of two types of meat.  The meat one I was told is traditionally / commonly made with chicken and rabbit.  A very large paella pan was heated over a wood fire.  Vegetables and the meat were cooked in the pan, and spices added.  After a while rice was added followed by broth, then the whole dish simmered until the liquid was absorbed by the rice.  I did not get to see all the spices that were added, but saffron is always one of the ingredients to the best of my knowledge.  Before this trip I had never eaten rabbit, but now I will have had rabbit in two different dishes.  It does taste like chicken, but has a finer texture than chicken.

I sat with a lady from Valencia who told me that this paella was quite good.  I am not too sure I agree.  I think it needed a bit more flavour for me, so in Part 2, I will hunt for the ultimate paella when I am in Valencia.  In the meantime, check out the pictures of the cooking process for this paella, and think about relaxing in Spain with a glass of Tempranillo from Rioja.  Enjoy.

Paella - cooking the rabbit and chicken

Paella – cooking the rabbit and chicken

Paella - the veggie version getting stirred

Paella – the veggie version getting stirred

 

Paella - ready to add the rice and broth

Paella – ready to add the rice and broth

Paella - finished cooking

Paella – finished cooking

Paella - enroute to my stomach

Paella – enroute to my stomach

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Wines from Spain Spill into Consumer Glasses April 4th and 5th

Wines from SpainDo you love Spanish wine, or want to learn about Spanish wine?  There is of course Tempranillo, but there is also other grapes like Mencia you may not have heard of, or what about Spanish sparkling wine?  There is a chance for you on April 4 and 5 through BC Liquor Stores to try and learn a bit about Spanish wines.  The details are below.

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Vancouver, BC – Two FREE consumer tasting events kick off a province-wide Signature Store promotion at BC Liquor Stores Cambie Kitchen this month:

Dates: Friday, April 4 and Saturday, April 5, 2014
Time: Drop-in any time between 3 and 6pm
Location: Cambie and 39th Signature Store
5555 Cambie Street, Vancouver

The event will feature live Flamenco music by Canadian fusion guitarist Dave Martone with mouthwatering visuals of Spanish wines, their regions and their cultures. Accredited wine professionals will pour samples for visiting shoppers with descriptions of the wines and the foods that go with them. Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper wine event without delectable foods to accompany the wines so Vancouver caterer Christine Moulson of Little House will be on hand with the finest in Spanish flavours to nibble on in between sips for all who come out for the fun. As an added bonus, all who arrive to taste wines will take with them a little something. (No purchase necessary.)

Seven wines take part in the promotion, winding consumers through a virtual tour of Spain’s booming wine regions and their various styles:
Cava PARES BALTA – BRUT ORGANIC $19.99 <Karl: a must try>
Jumilla LAS HERMANAS ORGANIC MONASTRELL $15.95
Ribera del Duero TORRES CELESTE $24.99
Toro ELIAS MORA $19.99
Monsant MALONDRO BESLLUM $19.99
Bierzo LOSADA MENCIA $24.99 <Karl: Mencia is a red grape you may not have heard or tried.>
Rioja MARQUES DE MURRIETA FINCA YGAY RESERVA $29.99

Garden Parties at Hart House Restaurant this Summer 2013

hart house restaurant logo

hart house restaurant

There’s no better way to spend a summer evening than enjoying fine food and wine in the open air.  Hart House’s annual garden parties are the perfect fusion of regional cuisine, enchanting wines, and beautiful natural surroundings.  Each evening starts with a tasting of wines from the featured region; guests may purchase a bottle or two from the special selection to pair with dinner.  The al fresco dinner is served on the estate lawn overlooking Deer Lake, and is accompanied by live music, making the evening a true feast for the senses.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 – Lobster Fest

Our Lobster Fest features fresh Nova Scotia lobster paired with spirited maritime music.  Celebrate the start of summer with us. $62 per person, plus taxes and gratuity

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 – Italy al Fresco

Italy’s passion for food and wine is legendary.  Guests will enjoy savoury Mediterranean cuisine paired with top-quality wines from Italy.  Traditional Italian music will set the mood. $56 per person, plus taxes and gratuity

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 – Evening in Provence

Celebrate France’s contributions to world cuisine at this evening featuring the coastal Provence region. Romantic French ballads will provide a tuneful counterpoint. $56 per person, plus taxes and gratuity

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 – Spanish Fiesta

Modern Spanish cuisine is a fusion of Old and New world influences.  The menu for our Spanish Fiesta will feature seafood and Spanish-inspired dishes paired with excellent wines and flamenco music. $56 per person, plus taxes and gratuity

Reservations are available by phone only at 604-298-4278.
Hart House at Deer Lake
6664 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby

About Hart House Restaurant:  

Open since 1988, Hart House at Deer Lake makes an unforgettable impression on guests with its elegant heritage house setting and outstanding Pacific Northwest cuisine.  The 13-acre estate includes a mock-Tudor mansion with tastefully appointed dining room, private function rooms, and heated patio; immaculate lawns and gardens; and a Lakeside Cottage.  Always a favourite for outdoor weddings, Hart House also hosts business lunches and conferences of all sizes, as well as intimate dinners and celebrations.  Our menu changes with the seasons to take advantage of the freshest local ingredients, including herbs from our own on-site herb garden.  Whatever your menu selection, our attentive staff are always happy to recommend wine pairings from our award-winning cellar.

Hart House Spanish Garden Party – Get Your Tickets

On Wednesday, August 31 2011, Hart House will salute Spanish culinary tradition with an evening featuring a wine tasting and al fresco three-course dinner accompanied by live music for $52.

The evening opens with a casual tasting of top-quality Spanish wines on Hart House’s elegant estate grounds overlooking Deer Lake. Guests may choose to purchase a bottle or two from the night’s specially-selected wine list to pair with their dinner. The menu for the event will include local seafood, paellas and other Spanish-style cuisine with its savoury combinations and exciting spice blends. Guests will enjoy dining in the open air on our estate grounds, and the overall sensory experience will be heightened by live Spanish music.

Reservations by phone only at 604-298-4278.

Wednesday, August 31 2011 at 6:00 pm

$52 per person plus taxes and gratuity

Planning Your Summer Wine Trip?

It’s almost mid-August… What do you mean planning your summer wine trip?  Well I didn’t mean a trip here.  How about the southern hemisphere?  January is prime summer time down under.

Vina Errazuriz, Chile winery

If you are in North America, a trip south to Argentina or Chile is not a far stretch.  Vancouver, BC to Santiago, Chile via Air Canada is $1555 round trip in January.  Toronto, Ontario to Buenos Aires, Argentina via Air Canada is $1503 round trip in January, per person.  Both countries speak Spanish, but you can also get along with English as there are English speaking people in hotels as well as at wineries (from personal experience).

Before you get to any of the countries I mention, I recommend researching out some wineries on the Internet, then contacting the wineries in advance to set up a private tasting. I’ve done this in the past and I had great private tastings, which usually includes a few wines that are not normally poured at public tastings.

Southern hemisphere wine selection

If you feel more comfortable being in an English-speaking environment, try Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa.  If you like wines and the environment of British Columbia, then New Zealand may be the destination for you.  A round trip in January from Vancouver to Auckland, New Zealand $2460 via Air Canada per person. If you would like to see the terra rossa soil of the Coonawarra in Australia, and enjoy a big Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon, a Vancouver to Sydney, Australia round trip ticket costs around $2123 per person.

The longest flight for Canadians would be to South Africa, but you can experience the Old World wines of the New World.  If you like the structure or finesse of French wines, for example, but also the fruit forwardness of North American wines, South Africa is a good choice. South African wines are designed for food, so make sure you enjoy a braii (a South African bbq) with your South African wines.  A Toronto, Ontario to Capetown, South Africa in January is about $2061 via Air Canada per person.

Some questions you may have for your trip:

  • What wines to enjoy in these southern hemisphere countries?
  • What are the signature grapes of these countries?
  • What are some interesting regions to visit in these countries?

These are all questions that you probably have as you consider your southern hemisphere Summer wine trip.  In upcoming blog articles I will tackle these questions and hopefully help you have a great wine trip!

The flight prices I found on Travelocity.ca.  They can change quickly, so I recommend doing a check on your own. Enjoy your trip planning!

Sangria for Summer!

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Author: TamorlanSummer is just around the corner, your patio furniture is coming out. You need something refreshing to drink. How about sangria?

If you have never had a glass of sangria, it is a mixture of sliced fruit, wine, and club soda or other sparkling water. The wine can be white or red, so make a pitcher of each if you are having a party on your patio. Sangria, from Spain, works well with tapas, so try to put together a few classic Spanish tapas, such as grilled prawns with garlic in oil, potatoes in spicy tomato sauce, grilled sausages, olives, cheese, and more.

White Sangria Recipe

  • 1 bottle of a light, unwooded white wine, like Casal Garcia Vinho Verde or a Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio.
  • 1 sliced lemon
  • 1 sliced lime
  • 1/2 sliced orange
  • 1/2 chopped red delicious apple
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Dissolve the sugar with a bit of the wine in a pitcher.  After the sugar is dissolved, add the chopped fruit. Pour the remaining bottle of wine into the pitcher, then refrigerate overnight, if possible, otherwise give it a few hours.  The next day add a few ice cubes to a glass, fill the glass 1/2 way with sangria, and fill the other half with the soda water / sparkling water. Enjoy.  If you like peaches, you could use them instead of the apple or orange pieces.

Red Sangria Recipe

  • 1 bottle of an inexpensive red wine (try a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Tempranillo. Check wines from Chile or Spain)
  • 1 shot of brandy (optional)
  • 1 sliced lemon
  • 1 sliced lime
  • 1/2 sliced orange
  • 1/2 chopped red delicious apple
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

As you can see the ingredients are very similar to the white sangria.  So are the preparations. Dissolve the sugar with a bit of the wine in a pitcher.  After the sugar is dissolved, add the chopped fruit. Add a shot of brandy (optional). Pour the remaining bottle of wine into the pitcher, then refrigerate overnight, or at least a few hours.  The next day add a few ice cubes to a glass, fill the glass 1/2 way with sangria, and fill the other half with the soda water / sparkling water. Enjoy.  If you like peaches, you could use them instead of the apple or orange pieces.

Enjoy these two sangria with friends and with food!

Highlights from the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fest – Day 1

Yesterday was a day of tasting primarily Spanish wines at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. Quite a range from sherries to white, red, and Cavas to choose from. I haven’t been able to get through them all, but here are the names of a few bottles you may want to try if you go to the International Tasting room tonight or tomorrow night. Full reviews for these wines and others will come after the festival on my main www.MyWinePal.com website.

My Spanish Wine Picks for Day 1:

  • Alvaro Palacios Remonda la Vendimia 2009
  • Alvaro Palacios Remonda la Montessa 2007
  • Bodegas Chivite Gran Feudo Edicion Vinas Viejas Reserva 2005
  • Grupo Faustino Fortius Reserva 2004
  • Freixenet Elyssia Pinot Noir (sparkling)
  • Gonzalez Byass Finca Constancia Cosecha 2008
  • Marques de Riscal Gran Reserva 2003 (my favorite of the night)
  • Bodegas Olivares Rose 2010 ($12 bottle of rose is a great deal!)
  • Cavas Pares Balta Blanc de Pacs 2010 (a still white made from traditional Cava grapes. Great flavour. It is organic too.)

Most of the red wines above are 100% tempranillo, or a blend with tempranillo. Note that there are many other wines I could add to this list, but today I’m keeping things short.

Today is tasting room time again. I’ll be trying the rest of the world mainly, and finish off a bit of Spain. Saturday is jam packed for me, attending the New Zealand Perfect Pairings, the grenache seminar, and the Cinq a Sept French event. I hope you get a chance to try one of the above wines, and to meet you at one of the events. Please say Hi. Enjoy!