Archive for July, 2011


July 28th, 2011 | Spanish Culture, Uncategorized | 0 Comments

One of the highlights of last weekend’s Gloria Ferrer Catalan Festival was the Flamenco dancing. The combination of beautiful flowing dresses, castanetas, fans, the accompanying guitar, and a complex movement of feet and hands, makes it a magical dance to watch. Attending a  traditional Flamenco performance while in Madrid was definitely one of the highlights of my trip to Spain. And though the dance originated in Spain, its popularity is worldwide – today there are actually more Flamenco clubs in Japan than in Spain (who knew?!).

If you’re interested in learning how to Flamenco or would love to see a performance – and a trip to Spain is unfortunately not  in your near future – no need to worry. Here are several links to theaters that offer classes, performances or both:

Furia Flamenco in Miami – Check out their summer dance intensive starting today, July 28 and running through Aug 7

Theatre Flamenco in San Francisco

New York Center for Flamenco Performing Arts

Flamenco Chicago

For additional information on classes across the country, check out this link:

Catalan Festival Recap, Recipes & Pairings

July 26th, 2011 | Events, Food & Wine, Recipes & Tapas, Spanish Culture | 0 Comments

Did you do anything fun this weekend? As I mentioned last week, I planned to attend the Gloria Ferrer Catalan Festival to get a dose of Spain without going too far from home. Though it was their 25th anniversary, it was my first time attending and what a fantastic event it was. I ran into a friend at the event who happens to be a Spanish teacher that visited Spain for the first time last year, and it just added to the experience to talk about our respective trips there and relive some of our favorite moments, food and sites.

The festival couldn’t have taken place on a more gorgeous summer day. It was sunny with a nice cool breeze. We started the day with a paella demonstration by the “Paella Guy” Jose Castaneda. It was so impressive, with Castaneda and his team making the popular rice dish in a variety of different ways in several large paella pans. One even had a whole salmon that was at least 2’-3’ long with large chunks of pineapple. As he explained to the engrossed crowd, “though pineapple is not a traditional ingredient to use in paella, it adds a whole new dimension to the dish.”

Amazing food, great Spanish still and sparkling wines, and authentic Flamenco guitar and dancing made for an incredibly entertaining afternoon. There was even a grape stomp competition, which was so much fun to watch and it looked like it was a real workout for the contestants as well!

While sitting under the new grape-covered pergola overlooking the Sonoma Valley, we enjoyed paella and several different Spanish delicacies and wine pairings. If you weren’t able to attend, but would like to recreate the event at home, here are some recipes for some of the food we had along with pairing ideas, as well as a link to download some music by Flamenco guitarist Eric Symons to set the mood.

Roasted Artichoke with spicy aioli – pair with a chilled Verdejo or a refreshing Spanish Rosè

Cheese plate with almonds – pair with Tempranillo

Chorizo sandwich on rustic roll – pair with Garnacha or Tempranillo

Paella – pair with Tempranillo or Garnacha

Visit Spain in Sonoma

July 21st, 2011 | Events, Food & Wine, Spanish Culture | 1 Comment

Last week I wrote about taking a virtual summer escape to Spain by reading books set there, but there are other ways too. Watching movies set in Spain, having a Spanish themed party, or attending a Spanish festival are all fun ways to capture the spirit of the region if you can’t take an actual trip there.

This weekend, I’ll be doing just that – attending the annual Catalan Festival at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards in Sonoma. This event pairs the unique spirit of Catalonia with the world-class quality of California sparkling and estate varietal wines. The festival originated as a celebration of the winery’s Spanish roots, as well as the opening of the winery in July 1986. The Catalan Festival rejoices in all things Catalan (the eastern/Mediterranean region of Spain), including music, dance, Spanish fare and of course, world-class bubbly.

The two day festival is on July 23 & 24 and includes a Paella cooking demo by “Paella Guy” José Castenada, a Flamenco Fantasy Guitar performance by Eric Symons, a dance performance by Sol Flamenco, a Gegants de Mataro Traditional Catalan parade, grape stomp, and of course, seminars on Spanish wine. It’s really like spending a day in Spain, without leaving the country.

If you’d like to attend as well, it’s not too late. Tickets are still available online or by calling (707) 996-7256. Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards is located at 23555 Carneros Highway (121) in Sonoma.

If you can’t make it this year, plan to attend next year and in the meantime, watch a two minute video that captures the flavor and fun.

How do you create your own virtual summer escape?

Social Media Spreads Love for Wine

July 19th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

How many of you are on Facebook and/or Twitter? I’m guessing thousands, possibly millions! And in addition to this blog, are you reading other great wine blogs, like Simple Hedonisms, Terroirists, Vivacious Gourmand, etc? In addition to helping us stay connected to friends, family, and former classmates and co-workers, social media has really helped spread the love for wine by sharing food and wine pairings, virtual tastings, and fun facts and quotes.

Social media has been a great way to take the snobbery out of wine appreciation and open up the industry to millions of people who are looking to try new wines and expand their own knowledge and love of wine.

This coming weekend is the American Wine Bloggers Conference in Virginia where hundreds of bloggers and wine industrymembers will get together to learn about new and emerging wine regions, discuss the intersection of food and wine, and of course taste wines.

If you can’t make it to the conference this weekend, but you’re interested in following along with the conversations, there is a live blogging on white wines and rosés on Friday, July 22 at 4:20pm ET, and one on red wines on Sat, July 23 at 5pm ET (Tapeña will be pouring Tempranillo then too). Simply follow using the hashtag #WBC11 or become a follower of @WineBloggersCon on Twitter or “like” Wine Bloggers Conference on Facebook.

And if you can’t make it to Virginia, but don’t want to wait until next year’s conference, you might want to consider attending the European Wine Bloggers Conference in Franciacorta, Italy from October 14-16. It’s a beautiful time of year to visit Europe and maybe even extend your trip into a lovely vacation.

And if you don’t already, please follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter at @tapenawine.

A Rosé by Any Other Name

July 15th, 2011 | Food & Wine | 1 Comment

Though a Spanish Rosé is good any time of the year, there’s nothing like a chilled glass of it on a warm summer day. For this reason, I wanted to give this sometimes underappreciated varietal a little love today by offering up a few facts, as well as some delicious food pairing ideas.


- Made with a blend of Garnacha (the most widely planted grape in Spain), Monastrell (also known as Mourvedre in France), and just a hint of Shiraz, the perfect Spanish Rosé is best enjoyed while it’s young, when it is at its most crisp and refreshing.

- Rosés are slightly sweet, lower in alcohol, and have good acidity, making them very food friendly.

- Rosé wines are made by leaving the grape skins in contact with the grape juice for a short 2-3 days, instead of an average two weeks.

Food Pairings:
- Cheeses, from dry Manchego to creamy goat cheese
- Shellfish
- Chicken (grilled, baked, fried, etc)
- Serrano ham
- Frittata and other egg dishes
- Chorizo
- Grilled artichokes
- Stone fruits, like peaches and apricots

- Ice Cream

Click here for some recipes to make that pair well with Spanish Rosé.

What is your favorite food and Rosé pairing?

Summer Reads

July 12th, 2011 | Food & Wine, Spanish Culture | 0 Comments

A friend of mine just left for a six day trip to Spain today and I have to admit, I’m jealous! I had hoped to take a trip there myself this summer, but the timing just didn’t work out. Though I can’t actually go there, there are some ways to recreate the feeling of a Spanish vacation, like reading. Books are one of the best ways to transport yourself to anywhere in the world and there’s nothing like a good summer read.

So whether you’re preparing for a trip to Spain by reading books set there or just want to escape with a good book on your “staycation,” be sure to set the scene and next thing you know, you’ll feel like you’re enjoying a hot summer day somewhere in the beautiful Iberian countryside.

Get a nice chilled glass of Spanish wine, like a Verdejo or a Rosè, make a snack of some Iberico ham, olives and Manchego cheese, and crack open one of the books below.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – set in Barcelona in 1945, this complex book is a real page turner, so be sure to have plenty of sunscreen and chilled wine on hand because you won’t be able to put it down.

The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory – from the author of The Other Boleyn Girl, this fictionalized historical novel starts in Spain with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella’s daughter Catarina, the Spanish Infanta, and her journey to England as she becomes the beloved Queen Katherine, Henry the VIII’s first wife.

Spain…A Culinary Road Trip by Mario Batalli and Gwyneth Paltrow – Even if you didn’t see the PBS TV series “Spain…On the Road Again,” you’ll want to pick up this companion book which covers the cross country road trip the foursome (including NY Times food critic Mark Bittman and Spanish actress Claudia Bassols) take to discover the best food and wine in Spain.

And if you’d like a few more suggestions, a recent article in the Guardian UK offers some top fiction and non-fiction books set in Barcelona. Do you have any recommendations on books set in Spain or one you have on your must-read list?

Ice Cream & Wine??

July 7th, 2011 | Food & Wine | 2 Comments

July is National Ice Cream Month and as a huge fan of the yummy frozen treat, it got me thinking – does ice cream pair well with wine? And if so, which ones? I love ice cream and I love wine, so wouldn’t it be doubly delicious to have them together?

You have to be careful with this pairing as the key is making sure the ice cream isn’t too sweet or else it’llmake the wine too tannic. Most often dessert wines or sparkling wines can be easily paired with ice cream, but what about other food-friendly wines? Now that ice cream flavors have pushed the limits beyond the traditional chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, with ingredients like garlic, lavender, sea salt, etc, there’s more opportunity. Plus, it’s fun to expand your wine pairing options and be a bit adventurous, further developing your palette.

I did a little research and found a few ideas for ice cream and wine pairings, like Prosecco Ice Cream with Rosè wine (pictured right) and Tempranillo with Lemon, Salted Caramel, or Bailey’s Ice Cream, but plan to do my own experimenting as well to see what works and what doesn’t.

Have you experimented with ice cream and wine pairings? Do you have any recommendations?

Running with the Bulls

July 5th, 2011 | Events, Spanish Culture | 0 Comments

Yesterday was the 4th of July, a great American tradition of barbecuing and watching fireworks in celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the birth of a new nation 235 years ago. Tomorrow, July 6 is the start of a much older Spanish tradition, the San Fermin Festival. This eight day festival began in the Middle Ages around the 12th Century in honor of St. Fermin, the patron saint of Navarra, combined with local trade fairs and bull fights. Today it’s more well-known as the running of the bulls, which like the 4th of July, involves lots of parties and fireworks. The parties are thrown by sixteen main peñas, groups of friends who have formed social clubs for and as a result of the Sanfermines, but who also organize a number of gastronomic, cultural and sports events throughout the year.

Of course, the most renowned celebration is in Pamplona, which legendary American author Ernest Hemingway made famous in his first novel The Sun Also Rises, but San Fermin fiestas take place all across Spain. These events feature open-air dancing, concerts, exhibitions of folklore, and parades of giants and “cabezudos” (figures with enormous papier-mâché heads). The San Fermin Festival has become so popular over one million people come to Spain to participate.

Have you ever been to a San Fermin Festival, either in Pamplona or somewhere else in Spain?

Red, White & BBQ

July 1st, 2011 | Food & Wine, Recipes & Tapas | 0 Comments

Hard to believe it’s already the 4th of July, but who isn’t ready for a long holiday weekend filled with fun, fireworks, and friends? It’s also the perfect time to break out the barbecue and entertain outside. So whether you choose to pour red wine, white or both, there are so many wonderful grilled food and wine pairings to impress your guests. And if you’re not sure what to serve your guests, here are a couple of mini menus to try or expand upon, adding in your own special favorites.

Entrée: Grilled Skirt Steak
Sides: Grilled Vegetables, Tapenade & Goat Cheese Toasts
Pair with: Tempranillo or Garnacha

Entrée: Kansas City Style Pork Ribs
Sides: Corn and Tomato Pasta Salad, Grilled Asparagus
Pair with: Garnacha or Tempranillo

Entrée: Glazed Grilled Salmon
Sides: Corn on the Cob, Avocado Citrus Salad
Pair with: Verdejo or Spanish Rosè

Entrée: Grilled Chorizo with Tangy Carmelized Onions
Sides: Fruity Pasta Salad, Grilled Artichokes
Pair with: Spanish Rosè or Verdejo

And for a naturally delicious dessert that will add the perfect finish to any of these menus, throw some fresh peaches on the grill for a few minutes, then top with fluffy whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Spanish Food Recipes and Tapas