Tag Archives: Spain

Bodega Roda Reserve 2007, Rioja, Spain

Bodega Roda Reserve 2007, Rioja, Spain

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The 2007 Roda Reserva is a blend of 89% Tempranillo, 8% Garnacha and 3% Graciano with half the crop aged in new oak for 16 months. It has a ripe, dark berry, espresso and cassis bouquet that unfolds nicely in the glass and demonstrates complexity and harmony. The palate is medium-bodied with taut tannins. It displays fine acidity with clean fruit flavors of wild strawberry, raspberry, tart red cherries and a touch of citrus peel.

Arola Celebrates Its Third Anniversary!

By Nikhil Agarwal, Sommelier & CEO at All Things Nice 

Chef Sergi Arola hosted a small group of people including me to celebrate the third anniversary of Arola at Mumbai’s JW Marriott. The group was made up largely of fellow wine writers, chefs and bloggers invited by the Food Bloggers Association of India.

Arola is Chef Sergi’s India outpost. For the uninitiated, Sergi specializes in cuisine from Catalunya, Spain with multiple Michelin stars at various establishments across the globe. The excellent Chef Manuel is at the helm of the restaurant in Mumbai and an all around star in general. Sergi spends his time globetrotting and looking over his restaurants in Istanbul, Spain, Portugal and other parts of the world.

The dinner started off a little quiet with my fellow diners more interested in tweeting about their food and drink rather than actually eating and drinking.  Things seemed to find some balance eventually over endless Martini’s interrupted by Gin and tonics (we were after all at a gin bar) and the night unfolded into conversations about food and music. We had the resident DJ playing Led Zeplin as we chowed down on some delicious food.

Here’s the menu for the evening

Manchego Cheese

Jamón Ibérico

Iberian Ham served with Pan-Tomato

Gazpacho

Salmon Ahumado, Queso de Cabra, Esparagos Blancos

Smoked Salmon, Goat Cheese, White Asparagus

Patatas Bravas

‘Bravas de AROLA’, Fried Potatoes, Filled with a Spicy Tomato Sauce 

Pollo de Corral

Chicken Wings, Deboned and Lacquered with Spices

Gambas al Ajillo

Prawns, Garlic, Fresh Red Chili, Fresh Parsley

Coca de Pollo Moruno

Moruno Chicken, American Corn, Coca

Coca de Verduras

Sauteed Vegetables and Bocconcini Coca

Arola Special Seafood Paella

Arola Style Vegetable Paella

Huevos y Canela

Caramelized Eggs, Cinnamon”Crema Catalana”,  Mandarin Sorbet

Baileys Truffle with Coconut Mousse

 

Arola is Mumbai’s only Spanish restaurant, well there could be one more but I don’t think they are in the same league. I actually love the vibe of the place; they have a beautiful lounge section at the far end ahead of the bar that opens out to the JW pool below and the sea. The bar itself is probably one of the coolest bars in Mumbai, the food is super and the wine selection is good. On a personal note I have always loved Spanish cuisine and wine. I do hope that we see an influx of standalone Spanish restaurants that are accessible to everyone. Until then, thank you for being around Arola.

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Rioja – Spain’s Iconic Wine Region

rioja vineyards

Rioja – the home of the berry loaded,  barrel-aged red wine made from Tempranillo and Garnacha – is one of Spain’s most important wine regions. Rioja was the very first Spanish region to be awarded DO status, back in 1933, and in 1991 became the first to be upgraded to the top-level DOCa. All top-end red Rioja is matured in new oak barrels; American oak is the preference, but many wineries use a mix of American and French oak. This contact with virgin oak is what gives Rioja wines their distinctive notes of coconut, vanilla and sweet spices. The amount of time that a Rioja wine spends in barrel shows whether it is categorized as Joven, Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva. Rioja Joven wines, which are intended for consumption within two years of vintage, spend little or no time in oak (jóven is Spanish for “young’). Rioja Crianza wines are aged for one year in barrel, and one year in bottle. Rioja Reserva wines spend a minimum of one year in oak, and cannot be sent to market until a full three years after vintage. Rioja Gran Reserva wines are the region’s very finest and most expensive wines. These undergo a total of five years’ aging, of which at least two years is spend in oak.

In Spain, wineries are commonly referred to as ‘bodegas’ though this term may also refer to a wine cellar or warehouse. For quite some time, the Rioja wine industry has been dominated by local family vineyards and co-operatives that have bought the grapes and make the wine. Some bodegas would buy fermented wine from the co-ops and age the wine to sell under their own label. In recent times there has been more emphasis on securing vineyard land and making estate bottled wines from the bodegas.

Nikhil Agarwal interviews Albert Adria

Nikhil interviews Albert Adria, one of the most acclaimed chefs in the world and brother of Ferran at their new restaurant- Tickets.

I was in Barcelona recently, as a pit stop after a visit to Priorat, a truly beautiful wine region in Spain not too far from the city. This region produces beautiful wines that are gaining popularity around the world, they are also some of Spain’s most expensive wine offerings. While in Barcelona I was intent to eat at Tickets which is the famed brothers – Ferran and Albert Adria’s new restaurant after closing the legendary and path breaking El Bulli.

El Bulli was considered until very recently the best restaurant in the world but perhaps only not the best anymore because the brothers closed the restaurant for good. I tugged and pulled, bullied and pleaded and succeeded in  getting myself a reservation at Tickets. This restaurant normally has a two month plus waiting list and to add to my good fortune, as a bonus, I got to spend time with Chef Albert Adria himself.

What was the Idea behind Tickets?

We wanted to create a traditional yet sophisticated take on the regular Spanish tapas bar. To take the concept of the everyday tapas bar and make it more fine dining yet retaining the casualness of a tapas bar.

Do you plan to open any restaurants outside of Barcelona?

We have a lot of opportunities today to open restaurants all over the world but at the moment we do not want to. We may open a restaurant in London. We don’t have the team to open up more restaurants.

Your fascination with food started with?

I started working in the kitchen when I was 15 years old, I started working in the kitchen only because I needed to work but soon I fell in love with food and the kitchen.

What’s the secret to opening amazing restaurants?

When we closed El Bulli, we were had a lot of experience and a great team. This team allows us to take all the ideas that we have in our minds and make it a reality. We understand what people want.

Why did you close El Bulli ?

El Bulli was a train running at a very high speed and it was like we had to keep feeding the train to ensure that it stayed at that speed. At the end we were just tired.

This train allowed us to learn a lot, we became known around the world and it is the best moments in my life and the life of Ferran. We are the same team but we are older and with families, it was time to move on. We also wanted to close El Bulli at its peak.

Do you have the same ways of thinking with Ferran ?

We speak the same language but have different personalities. We discuss a lot and find middle ground.

In which direction is Spanish gastronomy going?

It is a contradiction, on one hand we want to be avant- garde and on the other we want to hold onto tradition.

What’s new in Spanish cuisine?

It is not easy to find something new now but perhaps we can see what we can bring back from history. Things have changed; the world is a much smaller place now. Now I can get ingredients from India, South America and Africa for example. Thanks to the internet I can see the menu’s of restaurants all over the world. Information is easy and to take new directions in food or borrow from different cultures is on our fingertips.

Do you believe in using ingredients from all over the world ?

Tickets is 95% Spanish and besides a few things here or there we are proud to showcase Catalan cuisine using the finest local ingredients.

Could you explain Molecular Gastronomy?

Unfortunately I cannot explain it. I was talking to a journalist the first time we used nitrogen and somehow we got tagged as purveyors of molecular gastronomy. We wrote a letter to the entire media saying that we do not believe in molecular gastronomy, all we believe is in a good kitchen and a bad kitchen. The customer is not interested in molecular gastronomy. I may give him a variation of an olive but if he doesn’t like the taste of that olive we have failed. At the end every cuisine of the world depends on only one thing, the quality of the ingredient.

To make a great olive recipe you need to ensure you have the best olives, we make sure we get the best and that’s it. For the customer, the experience is just 2 seconds; we only have those 2 seconds to give them a burst of flavours.

We serve customers from around the world, which is difficult, 50 % of our customers are foreigners, we want to make a menu for everybody. So we cannot say that we do or understand what molecular gastronomy is.

When I was on my way to Tickets I was excited, finally I was going to have the Adria experience. Do you realize the level of impact you have had on people who love food?

The entire team knows that there are people waiting to have dinner or lunch at our restaurant and we take this responsibility very seriously. We want to make sure that we do the best with every lunch or dinner seating.

What is the reason behind calling the restaurant Tickets?

The area where Tickets is located was like Broadway so we called it Tickets. The doors are like a cinema door. You come in for a show, for an experience.

You use emotion in food, my ice cream that I ordered was served in a way that reminded me of my childhood. ( It was served by someone riding an icecream cart to my table and ringing the cycle bell to inform me that it had arrived).

For us the most important thing is the food. We can play with emotion, we can create flash backs to when make people were young, but in the end the quality of the food is the most important to me. And really that’s all. Everything else, emotion, changing shapes and sizes is important but not as important as the food. We should not only do play food but also serious food. I am serious when I am fooling around with food.

As told to Nikhil Agarwal, Director & Sommelier – All Things Nice