Wine Dinners: Spanish Lessons Article -
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Wine Dinners: Spanish Lessons

Discover the Spanish approach to mealtime as you linger over little nibbles or share paella with your best pals.

Tapas: Small Plates--Big Flavors

Tapas are Spanish appetizers that typically accompany drinks. Presented on individual small plates, tapas can include shrimp fried in garlic and olive oil, a petite potato omelet, a few nibbles of chorizo sausage, a cod fritter or two, some olives, thinly sliced serrano ham, and roasted almonds.

Wine to Pair with Tapas

It's fun to entertain with tapas. So why not break open a bottle of bubbly? Spanish cava--the sparkling wine of the Penedes region of Spain--is a refreshing sip that pairs really well with salty and fried tapas. A chilled dry sherry can also be excellent with tapas. Watch out, though! The alcohol in sherry can sneak up on you in a hurry! You might also try a fruity sangria served over ice.

Tapas Tips

These little bites make terrific bar food, and that's just where the tapas tradition emerged. For no extra charge, bar owners would place small plates of food on top of the drinks they delivered to thirsty patrons.

A good tapas party is all about leisurely snacking and lots of conversation:

  • Serve tapas on little plates--saucers will do nicely.
  • Use large, flat-bottomed Asian-style soup spoons to set out individual portions of seafood or other tidbits swimming in sauce
  • Bring out just a couple of choices at a time so your guests have a chance to experience the flavors
  • Many tapas can be prepared ahead of time, but make the fried dishes on the spot so you can enjoy them at their peak of crispy goodness. Break out the electric skillet or your deep fryer and turn the cooking into an event
  • Set out a big bowl of red and yellow bell peppers dotted with fresh flowers and greenery for an inexpensive but dramatic centerpiece using the colors of the Spanish flag

    Paella: It's All in the Pan

    Paella is one of the world's great one-pot meals, and makes a spectacular party dish. Your menu can be as simple as a salad (featuring oranges and Spanish onions), paella served in the pan, and something sweet to savor at the end.

    Wine Pairings with Paella

    There's usually a lot of seafood in paella. Mussels, shrimp, clams, and lobster are terrific with a crisp cold Albariño from the cool-climate Spanish region of Rias Baixis. Of course, red wine also works perfectly well with paella, particularly with meatier versions. Try a reserva Rioja, a classic Spanish wine made primarily from Tempranillo grapes. If it's a hot day, and you want to split the difference between red and white, pop open a bottle of superb Spanish rosé wine.

    A Plan for Paella

    Tips for great paella:

    • A genuine paella pan or wide, shallow skillet spreads out the rice to ensure even cooking
    • Use round-grained paella rice such as Bomba from Catalonia or risotto-style Arborio rice so it won't get mushy
    • Make your own stock if possible and be sure it's very hot when you add it to the pan
    • Yes, saffron threads are costly, but you need only a pinch to add authentic flavor and aroma to your dish. Don't even bother with powdered saffron

      Dec. 23, 2009 5:52 pm
      When you bake the flan put it on a cookie sheet with some water let it cool and then refrigerate for a couple of hours, my grandmother was from spain and she did it this way :)
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