Tapeando with Angel Teta

bar seating

As I learn more about sherry, I’ve been eager to discover who in Portland has sherry on the menu or is including it in cocktails. Angel Teta is noted not only for her love of sherry and vermut, but also for her award winning sherry cocktails. I thought I was sitting down to an interview. Instead, the evening turned into something quite reminiscent of visiting a local tabanco in southern Spain.

Tuesday nights at 4:30pm are the best time to come into Ataula for a “neighborhood watering hole” experience. It’s like stepping out of Portland and into Spain. The kitchen staff is busy finishing last minute prep for the evening. But if you sit at the bar and engage with staff, they’ll include you in their conversations. They love to suggest their favorite bites and drinks, and will tell their stories of how they came to be at Ataula.

I’ve been following Angel’s Instagram feed for a while, and finally made an intentional visit to meet in person. As we chatted, she surprised me with the Gracias Señor Simo, a blend of rum, Hidalgo’s Napoleon Amontillado, apricot liqueur, bitters and citrus. It was so refreshing and well balanced. The sherry really comes through rather than become lost and muddled by other components.

Shaylee is brand new to Ataula, coming from a Portland’s coffee scene. Her favorite starter to pair with my cocktail is the Ataula Montadito – house cured salmon, mascarpone yogurt, on a coca bread cracker that’s drizzled with truffle honey that’s to die for! It’s a bit messy to eat as finger food, so don’t feel bad asking for a fork. I could not believe how the food enhanced the drink and vice versa. The flavors of Amontillado, apricot, truffle and honey really pop!

Lauren is from Puerto Rico and spent the entire conversation with me in Spanish. She raved about the Cojonudo – two bruschetta toasts topped with a fried quail egg, chorizo and piquillo pepper. Angel paired that with her favorite Oloroso style from Cesar Florido. Cesar Florido is the king of Moscatel production in Chipiona. His other sherry styles are refreshing and not too heavy on the palate. This Oloroso was perfect for cutting the richness of the egg and chorizo.

 

Chef is always moving, always thinking, always creating. Even he paused to come and chat at the counter. ¡Canta! I actually thought he wanted me to burst out in song. Thank goodness, this is just his way of saying, “what’s up?” As we talked about the sherry dinner event, he had me try a little dessert before heading home. Huevos Fritos – a fun play on fried eggs in a cold skillet using egg yolk sorbet with coconut foam and finished with Jacobsen’s flake salt.

huevos

The same Oloroso goes great with this as well. The aromas trick your mind to think you’ll be drinking something sweet, but it’s bone dry. The nutty nuances really sing with the dessert, both creating a satisfying savory sweetness.

For someone who has never tried sherry, but are open to it, here’s what Angel suggests:

I always pair something with what they’re eating. What they order gives me a glimpse into their palate preferences, which helps me put something in front of them that they will actually enjoy. For example, if they get the Bellota Jamon, I always pair it with the Valdespino Inocente, as they both enhance each other. If they seem a bit less adventurous, I’ll start with an Amontillado. If they seem like sherry is really not their gig at all, I’ll try the East India to finish with a Xuixo.

The team at Ataula really enjoys sharing the sherry love. Next time you’re in the mood for tapas, come early, sit at the bar and give sherry a try. You’ll be in excellent hands!

chef + Angel

 

 

Flor Friday at 15 Romolo

15 RomoloBack in June, Chef Michelle Matthews and Sommelier Ian J. Adams from 15 Romolo were declared the winners of the 6th edition of the Copa Jerez. (Here’s a great recap from fellow sherry blogger Ruben at Sherry Notes.)

Ever since, I’ve been following 15 Romolo on twitter, anxiously awaiting a chance to go visit! The opportunity finally presented itself this past weekend. I had to fly through San Francisco to visit family in wine country. I decided to squeeze in a bite before heading to Sonoma. What better way to spend #FlorFriday than at a sherry bar in the city with friends?!

sherry listOn a Friday night, this area of town is a busy place! The old hotel space was already packed with people by 18:30. My eyes went straight to the sherry list. They offer so many wonderful libations including two sherry flight specials.

Flor FridayTo my disappointment, Ian J. Adams was not there that evening, but Daniel was very helpful with sherry suggestions. He brought out the Old & Rare flight which had a couple of my favorites, as well as two from Toro AlbalĂĄ I’ve wanted to try for some time: Manzanilla Deliciosa en Rama from Valdespino, Amontillado Viejisimo (35 yrs) from Toro AlbalĂĄ, “ApĂłstoles” Palo Cortado VORS (30 yrs) from GonzĂĄlez Byass, and Pedro XimĂ©nez “Gran Reserva” 1983 from Toro AlbalĂĄ. Daniel also surprised me with their signature sherry cocktail Maids of Cadiz.

sherry rainbowWe started with the Pork Croquettes and an order of a delicious Romolo Poutine! I decided to drink my Manzanilla first. It’s mild nuttiness and freshness helped cut through the richness of the dishes. The Amontillado Viejisimo was also a perfect pair. I loved this dry, aged amontillado for its toffee notes.

While I waited for my entrĂ©e, I had “dessert” first. The PX was full of raisin flavor yet a bit too sweet on its own. Daniel brought out a dish of blue cheese. It’s been suggested to me before to pair blue cheese and Pedro XimĂ©nez, but until this moment I hadn’t actually tried it. On its own, I’ve never been a fan of blue cheese, but paired with the wine BOTH became total rock stars! I couldn’t get enough of either!

good eats + sherryAt their suggestion, I ordered the Yo-Mama Burger to enjoy with my Apóstoles Palo Cortado VORS and Maids of Cadiz cocktail. Yes, house-made peanut butter and bacon actually go very well on a burger, and the entire entrée went surprisingly well with the Palo Cortado!

The cocktail should have been enjoyed before the flight. The apple brandy really is the star here but a bit too thin to go head-to-head with a Palo Cortado and burger. Overall, it is a nice palette-cleansing cocktail to end a long week and kickoff the weekend!

Unfortunately, I did not leave any room for the dessert recommendation of their Chocolate Torte paired with the Oloroso Dulce “Matusalem” VORS from GonzĂĄlez Byass. I’ll make room next time! Yes, there will definitely be a next time!

Me at Romolo

A Visit to Grupo EstĂ©vez

Grupo Estevez BodegaOne of my first sherry tastings was with Jaime Gil from Grupo Estévez. I remembered anything he poured from Valdespino agreed with me. Naturally, he was the first person I contacted when I planned my Sherry Odyssey back in April. I was curious how my visit would be, knowing how full his schedule was. It was a miracle with his travels that he was even in town! He arranged for me to join a tour of the bodega, then met up afterwards for our private tasting.

Grupo EstĂ©vez lobbyThe facility is beautiful and truly the largest I had seen – encompassing the wineries for Real Tesoro and Valdespino. La Guita is also under Grupo EstĂ©vez, but housed in SanlĂșcar de Barrameda where all Manzanilla is produced. Grupo EstĂ©vez is also one of the few wine makers who have their own vineyards in Jerez.

The Bodega Lola wine cellar, named for the iconic flamenco dancer Lola Flores, houses 12,000 barrels of Real Tesoro’s Fino Tío Mateo. Outside past the production plants are lovely horse stables and the carriage house. The larger, two-story space was like an art gallery with the cellar in back that holds 25,000 barrels of Valdespino and Real Tesoro soleras. The barrel room is only accessible to tourists from above for a lovely panoramic view.

Once back in the main building, I sat down to my private tasting with Jaime. He was soft-spoken and full of great details about each wine.

cataLa Cata (the tasting):

deliciosaManzanilla Deliciosa en Rama by Valdespino, bottled in 2014. Five days after my visit, they bottled for 2015. Grupo Estévez only bottles this Manzanilla in the spring, because they feel the flor has more character than in the fall. The flor, literally meaning flower, is the yeast growing on top of the wine. In the fall and spring, it is much more active and grows thicker, which adds intense flavor and aroma to the wine. Being en rama, or unfiltered, the color was a dense golden tone. Even though this had been bottled for nearly a year, it tasted super fresh and salty. Jaime explained that most manzanilla soleras have five criadera levels. Manzanilla Deliciosa has six criaderas, which helps age the wine just a bit further.

guitaLa Guita Manzanilla bottled in December 2014. Jaime told me the story that back in the 1800’s the bottles had no markings or labels. This manzanilla had the reputation for not only it’s high quality, but for having a winemaker that demanded up front la guita, the slang term for cash. You drink it you buy it. Guita also means string or twine. Today, every bottle of La Guita has a piece of twine attached as tribute to this story. Even though it’s more commercially produced, it has not lost its reputation for high quality. It would pair well with crudo, jamon Iberico, fried fish and anything salty.

inocenteFino Inocente by Valedespino. This is a very unique Fino. It’s only uses grapes from a single vineyard at the highest altitude and has the best Albariza soil. Grupo EstĂ©vez maintains tradition by barrel-fermenting the new wine, which goes into 400 barrels in a single solera with ten criaderas. The wine ages for ten years under the flor. Jamie explained that the wine is already very good at five years old and they could bottle it at that time. However, they want to go further to the end of the yeast’s life before it completely dies.

amontilladosAmontillados TĂ­o Diego by Valdespino. After the wine aged as Inocente for ten years biologically and the flor dies off, they age it another five to six years oxidatively to become this amazingly delicate amontillado. Even though the nose has the caramel notes of a typical amontillado, I could really taste the influence of the flor. It was dry with strong almond notes. It would be great with artichokes!

Amontillado del Principe by Real Tesoro. This was a classic amontillado style. It is aged eight to nine years under the flor, then another nine to ten years oxidatively. Compared to the TĂ­o Diego, this was darker like an Oloroso, and had more caramel notes.

palo cortadoPalo Cortado Viejo C.P. by Valdespino. This was the first Palo Cortado I ever had when I first discovered sherry. This Palo Cortado began either as a barrel in the Fino Inocente solera or one in the Amontillado Tio Diego solera. Because the wine was not reacting to the flor in the same way as the other styles, the barrel was removed from the criadera. It’s very delicate and the rock star of their wines. The nose was like Amontillado Tío Diego, but on the palate it felt a bit more like an Oloroso.

don gonzaloOloroso Don Gonzalo VOS by Valdespino. Jaime spoiled me with this bottle that represented soleras established over one hundred years ago. Jaime calls this one the liar; it smelled sweet, but was quite dry on the palate. It had a unique toasted character and a very long finish.

coliseoAmontillado Coliseo VORS by Valdespino. This Amontillado actually started as a Manzanilla in SanlĂșcar. Once the flor died, the wine was brought to Jerez to age as an Amontillado. It was concentrated and intense and averaged around 40 years old. As Jaime explained, the flavor cuts like a knife right down the middle of the tongue.

padlockPedro Ximenez El Candado by Valdespino. I love the story behind the name and the reason for the little padlock attached to the bottle. Many years ago, the wine maker had a client who loved the PX so much; he bought an entire barrel for his own consumption. It was set apart from the other barrels with a padlock, and the client could come and taste using his own key. The workers all referred to the barrel as el candado, or the padlock. Today, the cap on each bottle has a little hole to allow its owner to keep it locked. I loved the balance between its acidity and sugar. It’s aged for eight years to keep it nice and light.

jaimegilJaime Gil was the first to introduce me to Valdespino sherry, and this grand tasting was a clear reminder why the wines from Grupo Estevez have won me over!

Sherryfest + I’m Obsessed!

unnamedSherryfest is in full swing in New York City this week! I’m unable to attend, but I’m not bitter. I owe my passion, or should I say obession, for sherry because of Sherryfest!

I love this picture from Sherryfest West 2013 of Peter LIem, Cheryl Wakerhauser + Jaime Gil  photo by Motoya Nakamura/The Oregonian

I love this picture from Sherryfest West 2013 of
Peter LIem, Cheryl Wakerhauser + Jaime Gil
photo by Motoya Nakamura/The Oregonian

In March 2013, Sherryfest West, Galaxy Wine and Cheryl Wakerhauser, the owner and chef of Pix Patisserie/Bar Vivant invited several sherry ambassadors to represent their wines in Portland, Oregon. Cheryl is the trailblazer for putting sherry on Portland’s radar. She has the largest sherry menu in town with some of the best the Marco de Jerez has to offer!

Had I not attended, I never would have met Jan Pettersen from Fernando de Castilla or Jaime Gil from Grupo Estevez. Out of several representatives, these two men took time to talk me through their wines, and made sure I slowed down to enjoy each one. You can read more on that night in my first sherrysips post.

Last June, Sherryfest returned to the west coast in San Francisco. I was only able to participate through Twitter feeds. However, a small Sherryfest after-party came to Portland only hours before I had to board a flight to Costa Rica, but I was determined to fit it in!

Jan Pettersen and Jaime Gil set up tastings at Great Wine Buys – a wonderful wine shop in NE Portland that has an amazing sherry selection! Jaime shared wines from Valdespino: Manzanilla Deliciosa en Rama, Inocente Fino, Palo Cortado Viejo C.P., Don Gonzalo Oloroso VOS and Moscatel Promesa. I’m a huge fan of anything from Valdespino – this tasting made me a happy camper!

Jan shared his some of the best from his bodega: Fino en Rama, Amontillado Antique, Oloroso Antique and Pedro Ximenez Antique. His wines are refined, aged to perfection and in my opinion, worth way more than their price tag!

After my quick visit with them, I zipped over to Pix Patisserie/Bar Vivant. I love that Cheryl Wakerhauser always provides opportunities to learn about sherry from the wine makers on her menu! This time it was Lorenzo Garcia-Iglesias of Bodegas Tradición, the first bodega I toured, and Peter Liem, co-author of my “sherry bible” Sherry, Manzanilla & Montilla.

This was a unique, intimate setting for Peter and Lorenzo to share the basics of sherry, allowing those attending to taste along and ask their questions. The flight included La Gitana Manzanilla from Hidalgo, Fino from Bodegas Tradición, Amontillado VORS from Bodegas Tradición, Palo Cortado Viejo C.P. from Valdespino, Oloroso VORS from Bodegas Tradición, and Pedro Ximenez Antique from Fernando de Castilla. As soon as the class ended, I had two hours pack and fly to Costa Rica for eight weeks with 25 high-schoolers. I think three sherry tastings did the trick to calm the nerves!

Sherryfest Get Flor'dNow one year later, I am celebrating Sherryfest NYC through social media streams. I love what Sherryfest does to bring sherry into mainstream drinking scenes. Someday, I will attend again and hope to meet the many sherry lover connections I’ve made in the past two years. Until then, I raise my copita from Portland and encourage everyone to Drink More Sherry & Get Flor’d!

Sharing the Sherry Love

PCA Sherry EventThis time of year has sherry on the radar, especially with the upcoming Sherryfest in New York City. It only seems fitting that I had a little sherry celebration of my own here in Portland, Oregon. PCA Sherry Event

The Portland Culinary Alliance provided an amazing opportunity for me to present my first sherry tasting at Cyril’s at Clay Pigeon Winery. The evening would not have been a success without the support and partnership of Sasha Davies. She and her team pulled out all the stops from setting up the room, to serving the guests, to providing the perfect pairings for each wine.

Sasha and I chose to showcase sherry as a wine for any style of food, not just tapas! The rule of thumb I was taught is: if it swims – pair with Fino or Manzanilla; if it flies – pair with Amontillado or Palo Cortado; if it runs – pair with Oloroso.

WE DID IT! PCA Sherry Event

For a Tuesday night after fighting rush-hour traffic, guests were greeted with a glass of sparkling wine to help unwind. It’s an easy transition for those who may not be familiar with sherry. Once seated, the sherry and food were served in groups of two while I told them a story; beginning, middle and end.

First they were served Inocente Fino from Valdespino paired with scallop crudo. I chose this Fino because not only do I love products from Grupo Estevez, but I love that this Fino has been aged for ten years under flor. Not only is it a challenge to sustain the flor yeast cap for so many years, but it also gives the wine a rich complexity of flavor and color unlike any other fino. The scallop crudo had an amazing brightness that was not only enhanced by the Fino, but brought out the characteristics of the wine in return.

Along side the Fino, guests were served La Garrocha Amontillado from Bodegas Grant paired with a chicken drumette with dates, olives and capers. This was my first Amontillado I fell in love with. I love it even more after having visited Bodegas Grant back in May. They are amazing people making amazing sherry! (I’ll tell you all about it soon, I promise!)

For the middle of the progression, guests were served Palo Cortado Viejo C.P. from Valdespino with pan seared artichokes in sherry vinegar, lemon and thyme. Sherry is one of the best wines for pairing with the most difficult dishes, like artichokes. This was the first Palo Cortado introduced to me and it is my favorite sherry style. Palo Cortado is considered the “rebel” and known for it’s mysterious rarity because it isn’t an Amontillado or an Oloroso, but somewhere in between. I have since tasted several Palo Cortados from other wine makers, but I’ll never forget my first.

For this evening, we did not have a dry Oloroso, but decided to serve a sweetened Oloroso Cream style before transitioning into dessert. Guests were served East India Solera from Lustau with prosciutto and basil wrapped figs. I’ve always loved the story of how its name refers the British trading company and is made mimicking the 17th century trade ships, maturing the blended wine in a hotter and more humid area of the bodega.

To conclude the evening, guests were served Moscatel Pasas from Bodegas CĂ©sar Florido paired with Turkish apricots stuffed with a walnut on mascarpone and crushed pistachios. As well as Pedro Ximenez from El Maestro Sierra with a lovely slice of Pleinvent Fermier Cheese. I wish I had the chance to visit CĂ©sar Florido, but did not get over to Chipiona where all Moscatel styles are made. I did however receive the invitation to visit El Maestro Sierra. This is a very special bodega I will tell you all about later. I’ll simply say they make amazing sherry using only traditional methods!

I DID IT!

This evening was so special for me! My audience was a perfect balance between supportive PCA members, friends and family. I was honored to have local support from Thirdwave Coffee Tours and Conserva. My greatest joy was having my parents and husband there to support me. The fact that my father (a frugal, retired Marine who would prefer a meal at the Village Inn) came across town during rush hour and smiled the entire night meant the world to me! Portland is full of good people who support those living out their dreams!

It could not have gone any better for my FIRST event. The many smiles,  praises and even a couple critiques I received by the end of the evening only further confirm I’m exactly where I need to be on this journey!

#drinkmoresherry

#drinkmoresherry

A memorable night at Canlis

IMG_20141111_204549As Valentine’s Day approaches, I get excited to dine out with my husband. He ruined me with his passion for fine-dining and knowledge of the truly top chefs of the world. I have tasted some of the best food, walked through many kitchens and returned home with amazing memories. For me, it’s all about the entire experience.

canlisOne of the best and most recent was at Canlis in Seattle, Washington. We wanted to eat there before Chef Jason Franey left for new adventures in California. Since the beginning, Canlis focuses on its patrons, whether you’re a regular or a first time visitor. Each person receives a touch of personal attention from etched glassware for the regulars to available proper attire for those arriving underdressed.

canlis sherryThe restaurant is warm and inviting with large windows that look out over the water. I’ve grown accustomed to ordering fixed menus when going out with my husband. I enjoy not having to make a decision, knowing it will highlight the chef’s favorite dishes. The evening began with some palate teasers and continued with four courses and desserts. I decided to do the wine pairing with my meal, which I don’t usually do because I tend to be a lightweight. I am so glad I did because our sommelier, Elton Nichols, told so many great stories about the wines in addition to their flavor profiles. I knew I met a kindred spirit by the amount of sherry listed on the wine menu!

IMG_20141112_104225Our first course was a delicious pork trotter dish that paired really well with the Valdespino Manzanilla Deliciosa en Rama. The spice in the dish brought out a sweetness in the manzanilla I’ve never noticed before. I was very impressed by Elton’s sherry knowledge. Unfortunately, most in the Pacific Northwest can’t say they know for sure what is sherry.

chablisOur server Damon Yeutter, former barista now sherry aficionado, agreed the Chablis paired with our third course would be a great transition for others to drinking Fino. It has the same almond notes on the nose, but a slight buttery finish. It was deliciously paired with the fragrant tarragon shrimp bisque and calamari. I honestly wanted a second glass on its own!

IMG_20141112_114426By the end of the evening, I my stomach was satisfied, and I was full of new stories I’ll never forget. Elton and Damon surprised me with an added thank you glass of my favorite Palo Cortado Viejo C.P. from Valdespino along with some French cheese and rosemary crackers.

Afterwards, Damon took my husband and I on an extensive tour of the entire restaurant full of its stories and family history. We even got to take a peek into the private cellar. My night was complete! This overall experience was by far one of my top favorites!IMG_20141112_005940

New Year’s Resolution – #DrinkMoreSherry

I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions or if I do, I don’t hold to them very tightly. I prefer to reflect on the past as I move forward into the New Year. But I really meant it when I declared on social media I want to #drinkmoresherry. As I make plans for 2015, I’ve been reminiscing about my comical and someone chaotic introduction to the wonderful world of sherry.

sherryfest westIt was spring of 2013. I was preparing for my first flamenco trip to Jerez de la Frontera. I was studying bulerias with my teacher Laura Onizuka, and saw she would be performing at the Sherryfest West hosted by Bar Vivant and Galaxy Wine Company. Until this moment, I had never heard of Sherryfest, nor several of the bodegas being represented, nor even Peter Liem. I did not realize that his co-authored book would soon become what I affectionately refer to as my Sherry Bible. I just thought this would be the perfect way to further prepare for my trip Jerez.

I should preface that I prefer intimate settings to crowds of people. So, this experience was a bit of sensory and information overload. The small bar was filled with nine bodega reps, a small flamenco tablao for my teacher and her performers, a table with free tapas and several Portlanders squeezing in for the experience!

sherry menuWhen I first walked in, I was handed the list of open bottles by vendor. I was still clueless about in what order sherry should be tasted. I felt like I was experiencing culture shock. I’m not even sure if I tasted all 38 bottles. I did my best to scribble tasting notes by the ones I really enjoyed. My top three by the end were Valdespino – Deliciosa Manzanilla, Emilio Lustau – Almacenista Oloroso Pata de Gallina (Garcia Jarana), and GonzĂĄlez Byass – Alfonoso Oloroso. However, I really enjoyed every bottle from Fernando de Castilla. I believe I didn’t take notes because Jan Pettersen was the so engaging in conversation.

Eventually, I gathered near the flamenco tablao and clapped along and shouted out jaleos. Jaime Gil from Valdespino stepped out for a little bulerias. He remains a great resource for me throughout my journey; always available to answer my questions. My hope is to visit the bodega on my next journey to Jerez de la Frontera.

As I look at this list, I’m compelled to taste through these again with fresh eyes. If I knew then what I know now, it would have been a whole different experience. Which is why I plan to #drinkmoresherry in 2015!