Posts Tagged ‘Sonoma’

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?

Continue the Celebrations with Three Kings Day

December 28th, 2010 | Events, Spanish Culture | 2 Comments

Christmas time is truly my favorite time of year. With all of the parties, decorating, presents, etc, what’s not to love? And one of the things I enjoy most about the holidays is traditions. Not just my family’s traditions, but those of other religions and cultures from around the world. Knowing how other people celebrate the holiday often inspires new traditions, new foods to discover, or fun activities to do with friends and families.

Photo Courtesy of Gloria Ferrer

I recently learned about a traditional Spanish holiday event called Three Kings Day (Día de los Tres Reyes Magos). Also known as The Epiphany, the day commemorates the story of the three wise men who followed the star of Bethlehem to bring gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Baby Jesus.Three Kings Day is actually the gift-giving time, rather than Christmas Day, and it continues for a few weeks after Dec. 25th (love that!). And it’s not Santa who comes to Spain bearing gifts, but the Three Wise Men. On the Eve of Epiphany, January 5th, children place their shoes on the doorstep, and on January 6th, they awaken to find their shoes filled with toys and gifts. Parades are held that day, and candy and cakes are distributed to throngs of children. Again, what’s not to love about that?!

If like me you can’t make it to Spain this January but you still want to keep the celebrations going into the New Year, here are some links to various Three Kings Day events and parades around the country:

Northern California:
Sonoma: Three Kings Day Event at Gloria Ferrer
Sunday January 2, 2011 4:00pm

Southern California:
Huntington Park: 14th Annual Three Kings Procession
Thursday, January 6, 2011

New York:
NYC: The 34th Annual Three Kings Day Parade
Thursday, January 6, 2011

Baltimore: Three Kings Celebration
Saturday, January 8, 2011

Atlanta: Three Kings Day, Dia de Reyes
Sunday, January 23, 2011

Spain isn’t across the pond, it’s at your dinner table part 2

October 26th, 2010 | Food & Wine, Recipes & Tapas, Spanish Culture | 0 Comments

Sunset over Manzanares el Real

Finca de Celdrán

The Village my family lives in is called Manzanares el Real and has a formidable castle build by the Mendoza Family and a picturesque square to entice visitors. But it is what took place in the small Cafe’s of the surrounding villages and towns that changed the way I look at food, wine, and life. My Uncle Manolo is an Architect, and he would be what we call in the states a Building Inspector. It was his job to go from Village to Village and make sure the plans that he had approved were being constructed up to code. This is his job in retirement, and he’s usually done by lunch. So he spends each Monday making his reservations at all the local cafe’s in the neighboring villages and asks for the house specials. It’s my job this week to tag along, and pretend I know Spanish while Manolo pretends he doesn’t know English. But we learn that we both know something, and that’s great food!

Paella in Murcia along the Coast

We are talking roast rabbit, chorizo, fresh salads, ancient balsamic vinegars, freshly pressed olive oil, cheese, seafood, the list could go on and on. Basically we ate our way through these villages, I almost felt like some sort of Godzilla wreaking foodie havoc all over the towns. Paella here, Steaks over there and the common theme throughout? RELAX, sit, talk and enjoy each others company. My wine glass was always full, and the wines never cost more then a few Euro. What amazed me was the beauty of the pairings, simple yet elegant. Balanced acids and tannins worked their way through roasts and steaks. stunning crisp and tart whites complimented the lightness of prawns and shellfish. The simplicity didn’t come from the the type of dishes, or wines that were being served but came from the fact that that both came that specific region. Vino Tinto (Red Wine) from the neighboring region of Castille y la Mancha would go with the Provencal dishes from Manzanares el Real. The whites usually came from Galicia in the north west, or the Catalan region along the Mediteranian coast. What I also learned from this adventure was to not get caught up in the types of grapes, Tempranillo is king, but it was very common to see it blended with Garnacha, Cabernet and Merlot. Our travels throughout the region opened my eyes, and stomach to amazing possibilities little did I know at the time it would also send me down a rambling path to a new career and life in Northern California’s famed Wine Country. To be continued…

Spanish Food Recipes and Tapas