Monday, October 18, 2010

Sherry & Spanish Cuisine

I wouldn't have been surprised if we had been offered sherry for breakfast.

While touring the Jerez region, we tasted sherry at each bodega we visited.  Sherry also accompanied every lunch and dinner, immersing us in its food pairing possibilities.  It was eye-opening, as sherry is not a wine that many people consider when pondering which wine to pair with dinner. Yet it worked  very well, and there wasn't a dish that didn't work with some type of sherry. 

I am enamored with the culinary delights of Spanish cuisine and was not disappointed in the least as we dined at some of the best restaurants in the Jerez region.  We enjoyed many different tapas, some incredibly fresh seafood, and the buttery soft and nutty jamón ibérico de bellotta.  Some of the highlights included El Faro de Cadiz, La Cruz Blanca, and Bar Juanito.

Because I generally just wanted to savor the food and sherry, I took few photos of the food. But I still have some photos which provide you a glimpse into the fine cuisine I enjoyed. Many of the initial photos you will see are from El Faro restaurant, the first place we dined our on trip. It was a superb start, and I would highly recommend it to anyone traveling to this area.

We began with a very simple, but exceptional dish, fresh sardines atop toasted bread with crushed tomatoes and a bit of olive oil.  Every element of this dish stood out on its own, yet also blended well together.  It was crispy, briny, sweet and absolutely delicious. We drank some Tio Pepe Fino with this dish, and the dry nutty flavor of the fino was a nice accompaniment.

Andalucia is famed for its gazpacho, a cold Spanish soup, and we had gazpacho at several of our meals. The creamy and flavorful soup, topped by ham, was quite good and accompanied by Las Medalles Manzanilla.  With its acidity, it cut well through the creamy soup and its briny apple flavors enhanced the dish.

The Dorado, with potatoes and shrimp, was fresh, with a nice crisp skin and sweet meat.  The potatoes were killer, light, soft and flavorful.  We drank the Botaina Amontillado, which had an alluring aroma, and a dry taste of nuts and light caramel.

With the rich Pan Chocolate Flan, we had a glass of the Romate Cardinal Cisneros Pedro Ximenez, a thick, sweet sherry with flavors of raisins and prunes.

At La Cruz Blanca, we had a fun tapas lunch, our table loaded with plates, a diverse selection of interesting tapas. Above, you can see their prawns and pepper dishes. We also enjoyed dishes including: angullas (baby eels) in garlic and oil; venison steak on pita bread in red wine sauce; pig cheeks in a savory brown gravy; blue cheese with honey & walnuts; grilled shrimp; and much more. Most of this was washed down with Tio Pepe Fino, showing the versatility of fino for many different types of dishes.

Bar Juanito was another tapas feast, a smorgasbord of delicious foods, including some silky foie gras and these crispy shrimp "pancakes."  The restaurant has an excellent wine list with a wide variety of sherries, and we took advantage, choosing several different sherries to accompany our dishes. 

At Bodegas Williams & Humbert, we had an amazing multi-course lunch, and one of the highlights was the lobster & rice, a savory and nearly addictive dish.  We had several different sherries with our meal, and got to try them with the various dishes, to see how they paired together. Such a fun experiment.

Bodegas Osborne offered us ham, cheese, almonds and other snacks for our pleasure, accompanied by a range of their sherries.  So we were able to mix and match at will, to see which sherries paired best with the foods. Such simple Spanish foods, such as jamon iberico and Manchego, but also so very tasty.

Though sherry pairs very well with Spanish cuisine, it is quite versatile and pairs well with a wide assortment of different cuisines. Tomorrow, I will give you some suggestions for other food pairings for sherry.


Michael Leach said...

Thanks for taking the time out to write this post, I've been fascinated by Spanish cooking recently and found your write-up really interesting and the photos are nice. Sounds like you had a great time!

Michi said...

A friend of mine just introduced me to your wonderful site. I am from Spain and I love all spanish food and Sherry's. I love when I see more Americans enjoying and loving all things Spain. I am enjoying reading you posts and the beautiful pictures. Although, I should point out that you talk about Gazpacho in this post and the picture you have is of Salmorejo (which is a less known thicker and more rich "brother" to Gazpacho and is made mainly in Andalucia.) Not many people outside Spain know about Salmorejo but it is SOOO good and it is topped with cubed hardboiled egg, jamon de bellota and a little pour of olive oil.

Richard Auffrey said...

Hi Michi:
Thanks for the info. The soup was called Gazpacho on the menu.