Spain in the US

Spain Represents: Xixón Cafe in Miami

May 12, 2013
Xixón Cafe Miami:  great Spanish wine and food

When I’m missing Spain, Xixón Cafe is one of those places that can that the edge off. It offers a comforting combination of good Spanish wine and food and a bustling, relaxed, mostly Spanish-speaking atmosphere that makes you feel right at home. Did I say good wine? I meant a spectacular selection of Spanish wines, not only by the bottle, but by the glass. They have self-serve Enomatic machines and cards, so you can even help yourself to tasting-size pours if you want. The menu is extensive and includes many traditional Spanish mainstays as well as some more adventurous interpretations. There is even a market section where you can buy some excellent gourmet Spanish products. Exciting first visit….lots more to try!

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Exciting Spanish wine hunting in Costco!

April 18, 2013
Spanish wine in Costco

I’ve only been checking out Costco wine for a few months, but so far I was not so impressed. I know they are the biggest vendors in the world and are also the biggest vendors of Bordeaux first growths in the US, but their selections seems awkward to me. Lots of bulkish, mainstream quaffers and some top flight CA and French bottlings, but not much in the middle, not much for the discerning wine drinker who doesn’t have a large budget. Not much either, for the adventurous wine drinker…but I know that’s too much to expect from a big box operation. But yesterday, it was like I entered a different store…tons of mid-range, interesting wines. Also at least 12 different Spanish wines….some typical picks, some awesome picks, some a little strange, but overall a Spanish wine fest! For the first time I had to force myself to stop picking out bottles…..

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Don Simón wines in Whole Foods Part 2

April 5, 2013
Don Simon Tempranillo Spanish wine

So I got the wine and I’m drinking it now! I’m referring to a Spanish wine from the Tempranillo grape by the producer Don Simón, bought in Whole Foods for four dollars. In my previous post on the matter I expressed concern that Whole Foods was selling such cheap wine from Spain, and from a producer known for boxed sangria. After tasting the Tempranillo, my concern remains. The wine is not totally undrinkable, but neither can I recommend it in any way. I feel there are decent wines in the 5-10$ range and tons of interesting ones in the 10-15$ range but under 5 is really tough…and these wines are not the exceptions. This wine only damages the Spanish cause and it’s current high visibility in Whole Foods makes me sad.

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Don Simón wine touches down in Whole Foods!

April 1, 2013
Don Simon Spanish wine

I entered my Whole Foods store and this is what I saw! This huge display of Don Simón wines takes up the whole entrance area. Don Simón represents the worst side of Spanish wine with bad sangria and wine in cardboard boxes. Whole Foods has always had a small, but decent, if over-priced, selection of Spanish wines. How did these two wine worlds collide? There is no clue on the Whole Foods website. If the wine costs four dollars in Whole Foods….imagine its quality level! I am down, down, down about this…high profile, ultra-generic, low-quality wine does nothing good for the image of Spanish wine in the US. I will, in an attempt at fairness, try one of these wines….but it’s not going to be pretty!

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Spain Represents: Dani Garcia’s Manzanilla in NYC

March 18, 2013
Dani Garcia opens Manzanilla in NYC for Spanish food with Andaluz influences

Very excited to here about Dani Garcia opening Manzanilla in NYC. I’ve really enjoyed his high-end tasting menu at Calima and his fun yet fancy tapas many times at La Moraga in Spain. Judging from the menu, Manazanilla seems more along La Moraga lines, with great casual Andalusian-inspired dishes. Love this great picture from Manzanilla’s Facebook page of the cool front entrance wall with inspiring foods and places from southern Spain….coquinas, espeto, chopitos….my favorite southern things! Can’t wait to try it!

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American Jamón Ibérico: love at first bite?

January 22, 2013
Jamón ibérico American-style

They caught my eye immediately…beautiful pig legs, glistening with fat….that familiar smell…heaven for someone in the ibérico desert! I was in Union market and I saw the whole legs first and then packages of cured ham slices that really resembled Spanish jamón visually. It turned out they were indeed cured 20 months and were from pigs that were American raised but had 50% ibérico race bloodline…so exciting! Bev Eggleston is the man and he runs Eco Friendly Foods, an operation specializing in sustainable and humanely raised livestock. Pretty amazing operation, but the jamón still had to go through my taste test…..

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Spanish Comfort Food: Tortilla de Patata

January 9, 2013
Spanish tortilla de patata with bacon and spinach

There is nothing more comforting than a Spanish tortilla de patata….it takes me back to Spain in a really “casero” or home-made way. Eggs, potatoes, onions, olive oil, sea salt….five perfect ingredients in its classic form. Firm on the outside, creamy and melting on the inside. It is one of the main snack foods in Spain, from mid-morning to pre-dinner tapa. Every home cook in Spain has their method, secrets and tweaks to make a great tortilla, but it’s also easy to find a great slice in many bars. Here in the US, it can be a challenge….I’ve been mostly disappointed by the ones I’ve tried in Spanish restaurants. Home-made is maybe best here….it’s easy after a few tries!

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Satisfy some Spanish cravings in La Boqueria DC

October 12, 2012
Jamón ibérico at La Boqueria Washington DC

The branch of La Boqueria in Washington DC opens into the bar area and the open prep kitchen where you can see them preparing the delicious little bites of tapas at a frenzied pace. It transports you to Spain right away, with a whole leg of iberico jamon, a great selection of Spanish cheese and olives, and tortilla de patata, all displayed beautifully. Pan con tomate or tomato bread, cheap, delicious and filling, flies out of the tapas kitchen. Splurge and top that pan con tomate with some jamon and you are in heaven!

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