A Spanish Inquisition?
Living in a house surrounded by builders is not a very pleasant experience and it is exacerbated by the ineptitude of the various utility services whose left hand doesn’t seem to know what their right hand is doing. It’s very frustrating to be a victim of their ineptitude. We can’t cook or entertain and we are spending far too much money on eating out whilst we are waiting for the utility companies to finish the work they have started. After all, we paid them their exorbitant fees six months ago and the work is still not yet finished.
Some of our friends have taken pity on us and have invited us out for dinner. Our great foodie friends, Nick and Lesley, did just that on Saturday and what a great experience it was. Nick is enormously knowledgeable about wine and Lesley is a very accomplished cook, so we knew we were in for a very enjoyable evening.
Nick announced that the evening would have a Spanish theme and we kicked off with Gramona’s premium Cava, Celler Battle Gran Reserva 2004 accompanied by slices of superb palette de Iberico bellota ham from acorn fed pigs which just melted in the mouth. A little appetiser of a coconut milk yoghurt with herbs and an exotic prawn and chorizo dish was washed down nicely with a 1998 Murrieta Ygay Gran Reserva white Rioja – mouth-filling and creamy and with no trace of the American oak sweetness that you get with so many white Riojas.
This was followed by some simply sliced loin of venison from Holkar Hall at Cartmel Valley in the Lake District and this is where we started to get into the vertical tasting of the C.V.N.E. Imperial Gran Reserva Riojas. We started off with the 1994 followed by the 1998 and the 2001. (My host does not believe in starting with the youngest vintage first!). They were all pretty solid and chunky with an earthy, gorse and brambly taste. The 20th century vintages were tending to dry out a little, but the 2001 was the star with much more generosity of fruit on the palate. This also made it better fare for the cheeses that followed, an impressive collection of some of Spain’s finest – Cabrales (unpasteurised cow, ewe and goat), blue from the Picos de Europa, a Picos Valderon blue (unpasteurised cow), Torta del Caser (soft ewe) from Extramedura, Garrotxa (semi-soft goat) from Catalunya and Queso de Iberico Curado (unpasteurised hard ewe) from Castilla y la Mancha. What a treat!
Leslie’s chocolate and pistachio parfait with raspberry dessert was matched with a 2005 Late Harvest Moscatel from Julian Chivite’s Coleccion 125 series – a smooth and unctuous fitting end to the meal.
Staggering homewards towards the tube station, Sonia and I basked in the warm glow of superb hospitality even if it was bloody cold and wet for August!