brain farts...flotsam...driftwood...and meanderings on hedonistic endevours

Thursday, April 07, 2005

So wines of the Penedès...

It's been awhile since I have written and this is not due to a lack of adventures as much as an overabundance. First off my birthday, suffice to say it was a blast. Lots of tacos, wine, beer and food, shared with La Familia. All in all a good time and a fun way to share my 30th birthday. This all took place the night before my actual birthday as Gab has already stated. While the next day Gab and I had a nice relaxing time of munching our way through some of our favorite foods while watching a bunch of movies.

So she's already said most of this, in fact she covered most things quite well. With one exception: The Pig. So indulge me this once.

An amazing experience! Brian Mallie was in town after a long week of wine and food debauchery he had taken part in for work. I was excited to see a face from home and it was fun to have someone to “geek” out with for awhile. So after a couple of days of guided tours of Madrid we decided to go to Segovia to show him the Aqueduct and find him a pig. Being grateful for our direction and help in navigating the city, Brian decided to take us out for a dinner to show his appreciation. Though I’m sure his love of all things pig was maybe a bit stronger of a motivation!

To a point where my obsession seems tame, Brian has a love for pig that is greater than most and thus we searched out the best pig in town. Our destination Mason Jose Maria was a place replete with bronze pig outside to welcome you in. Going in it seemed we almost missed out on the meal all together, it seems it was too late 5pm and the server with a look as if to discourage us, informed us that all they had left was roasted pig and salad. We were more than welcome to stay but that's all we were going to get. Oh well, we stayed! Glad we did too. Gab in her best effort tried to give this experience a positive twist, sadly she failed.

Roasted suckling pig, something I need to do more research on, as of now this is what I know:

A pig has babies; these babies drink milk, and not much else for that matter. Milk a sweet nectar that nourishes all mammals in there infancy and fattens them up to deal with the harsh realities of life. In the case of the pig, death at age 20days with a nice layer of afore mentioned fat, sweet with milk. These pigs are then stripped of the little hair they have and are brought to a kitchen with a big wood fired oven. Now the tricky part, one pan/crock holding one pig, a sprinkling of salt water and a quick sunburn at high temp. This is then followed by a so far unknown to me amount of time roasting in a slightly cooler part of the oven. That’s it, well expect for the serving part. I guess the simplicity of it comes down too not wanting to mess with perfection.

Enter the pig, and while we missed this part at table side, from afar an ordinary plate was used to slam down and sever the succulent parts from each other. No need for a knife and no need for craving skills, just crash! For myself the hind quarter replete with pig tail, curled up as if to mimic the snail shell found in the Slow Food movement logo.

So what was it like, DIVINE! Skin crisp and rich, hiding a decadent core of sweet delicate meat all blanketed by a sweet milky layer of fat. So few ingredients, and yet so much flavor and delight. Oh and don’t think I didn't thank the pig, we were with Gab you know, and not to have thanked him/her for their sacrifice would have only left a bitter taste in my mouth. With small rivulets of grease clinging to my lips I thanked the mother pig in the sky for giving so that I may gorge.
To pair with this we choose a nice Rioja.

  • 1996 Lopez de Heredia Rioja Viña Tondonia Reserva - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja (3/27/2005)
    Had this with a suckling pig in Segovia. A first on both accounts. Incredible wine with richness and depth though a bit lighter than I expected. Nice fruit and good acid that cut through the rich meat of the 20 day old roasted milk fed suckling pig. I don't know which I liked more but they both went together so nicely. Look forward to having the wine by itself sometime!

Posted from CellarTracker!

I'd wanted to try this for a long while and am glad I did. It went surprisingly well with the sweet meat, and the lightness of the body did not interfere with the delicate flesh.

This was my pig story and I'm sticking too it.

But this is not why I write now. To start with I've been working on an idea in my head for a website, something new and something different. Directed at the "foodie" genre of travelers. More to follow, but be prepared some of you will be receiving directed questions and idea requests.

While this is on one side of my head the other side is contemplating how to get myself into a vineyard and make some wine. Who knows if I will or if something else will rear its head, but I know I need to do something. While the thought of not working sounds exciting to some, to me it is madness. Fortunately in the past few weeks I have run into good fortune and had names and events thrown at me. First off a name at Lavinia, Rapheal, and after repeated attempts to meet him, I gained success today. I ended up interrupting a meeting but he and I will meet tomorrow where he will give me some names to visit while in Rioja! Second a wine tasting of White wines from the Penedès.

Ah to taste wines and mingle with wine makers, a dream and the reason I traveled so far. Yet this was not to be. Unfortunately this was a tasting for the masses or so I found out when I arrived. Not knowing what to expect other than that I needed an invitation, I was hoping to try some fun wines and network a bit. So off I went to the nicest hotel in Madrid to try the white wines of the Penedès. Arriving I could tell this was not what I was hoping for. A long line greeted me with all colors and types of “wine connoisseur”. From young to old everyone wanted to make it to this event. For those of you in the industry back home imagine this: Take those trade shows that you get invited to each fall where you taste each distributor’s wines in a crowed ballroom. Now invite all your customers focusing in on the cheap ones who never think you’re giving them a good deal. Next cram about 400 of them into a room about 50”wide by 150” long. Oh and the kicker place speakers everywhere that feed back crowd noise to make it sound even bigger and louder! UGH!!! Hell and I was in it, complete with briefcase so that I might take down names and tasting notes. HA! Oh well, I did make one contact. Joao from Can Fiexes a winery whose wines I had sold in the past. They were one the first tables as you walked in and after realizing my Spanish was not up to par Joao came over and introduced himself.

It was nice to talk to someone a bit from a wine geek angle while in Madrid. Something that I rarely have the opportunity to do without the language barrier becoming a factor. So we chatted some and arranged for me to visit them in the future. They are very close to Barcelona and I think in a month or 2 I will stop in and say hi, hopefully adding to my ever expanding network of wine contacts here in Spain.

Oh and one more note, the most redeeming factor of this affair was a gift. As you entered you were given a very nice wine stem to use for tasting through out the event. While as you left you were given a bag to place the glass in to take home. At least I know next time to show up early and leave early if not just to help restock my wine glass collection.

Till soon, Ryan Opaz


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