I’m counting the hours until a planned trip to Spain. I have never been to Rioja (nor to San Sebastian, where we are spending our first night stuffing ourselves on tapas, or pinxos as they seem to call them).
This week, leading up to the trip, I’ve been visiting friends in London. It’s been an interesting week, interviewing the brilliant Serena Sutcliffe MW who heads the Sotheby’s auction house, throwing a BBQ (post to follow), and brainstorming video ideas with the Spain team and TV projects with Joe Wadsack. Then there is the food. After NYC, London is the best restaurant town I know. Since we are a group heading to Spain for said wine tour (tomorrow, early morning, I’ve gotten used to sleeping in!!) I thought I’d prep by doing a snacks/tapas crawl. Let me tell you, there are some AWESOME tapas bars in London. Even if, so far, my favorite locations for nosh in this city are rather places like the natural wine bar and restaurant Terroirs, or the cool bar/snack-food place Spuntino, there is a lot of tapas bars. A friend of mine, wine journalist Anthony Rose of the Independent and Decanter, is even writing a book on them!
So, yesterday, the crowning glory ended up being the Opera Tavern, part of the Salt Yard group of bars. They cure their own ham – for FIVE years! We had little iberico ham and foie-gras sliders with cava, pea and mint crocquettas, crispy soft-shell crab, and a perfectly spiced morcilla (blood sausage – my friend was not amused). My highlight, however, was the wines by the glass. It is only the third time I’ve found my very favorite Spanish producer on the menu. They even had it by the glass. So what was it? It’s the white Vina Gravonia from classic Rioja producer R.Lopez de Heredia. Excellent, slightly oxidized and oily with plenty of toasted nuts on the nose. I’ll write more about them when I visit them ON FRIDAY! So excited.
Worth mentioning was also the organic Spanish red from Pittacum. Spicy, velvety, layered. Nice. I’m ready to Rioja and Roll.