The real beginning of MY new year.
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to an event at a restaurant in Chelsea that I'd passed many times, but never made it into. The event was a ham and wine tasting, but not like the kind of ham you get at your local deli, unless that local deli happens to be in Spain. No, we were treated to some of the finest Jamon Iberico (Iberian Ham) that you can find, from Cinco Juntas. Paired with some really lovely wines.
The beautiful Albariño from Bodegas del Palacio was the perfect summer white, which on the hot muggy day was what I spent most of the evening drinking. But I couldn't leave without tasting the red, which I almost regretted not having more of during the event. The 2008 Rioja was a Cerro Añón Gran Reserva from Bodegas Olarra that was a perfect complement to the richness of the ham, while remaining perfectly drinkable on its own, a classic Rioja wine.
Along with the luscious wines and award-winning ham, Chef Luis Bollo, of Salinas took his inspiration from the salty, melt-in-your-mouth swine and created some very tasty passed bites. We were treated to Croquetas Fundientes de Hiberico y Maiz (Roasted Corn & Ham Croquettes); Tosta de Bonito con Dulce de Tomate, Hiberico y Caviar de Trufa (Crustini with sweet tomato, bonito tuna, ham and truffle caviar); and my personal favorite, that I had about 4 or 5 of, the Chupito de Salmorejo (Cordoba-style gazpacho shoot with ham, hard-boiled egg, croutons & olive oil). And while I did munch on a good deal of these treats, they did a good job in leaving me wanting for more.
The event itself was done very well. I think that it lasted just long enough, where we got to enjoy the food, drinks and beautiful venue and the company that was there. The representatives from both 5J and Salinas were all very engaging and seemed genuinely interested to be there. And did I mention how lovely the space is? It's an enclosed garden room, taking you off into a fantasy land that just happens to be in the middle of Manhattan. After the intimate event my friends and I had whetted our appetites just enough to seek out some of their larger tapas plates, and perhaps get something other than jamon inside of our bellies!
Unfortunately I didn't get any shots of our dishes when we went back into the restaurant, BUT I can tell you that it was all beautiful and absolutely delicious. The patatas bravas was, in fact, so good that my friend refused to share hers with me so I had to get an order of my own. One of the quintessential Spanish tapas, this dish was so beautifully done, from the perfect cut on the potatoes that were treated with the perfect balance of their spicy "brava sauce" a tomato based sauce & a drizzle of creamy aioli to cool it down, I was happy to not have to share with her in the end! I also ordered the alcachofas fritas (fried artichokes), which were very good, but in comparison to the patatas and then the Negros y Curjientes (Catalan crispy vermicelli, shaved sepia, watercress squid ink broth, aioli), it was a little bit lost, but I was just trying to get some veggies in. We sipped our wine and indulged in the food before us until we just couldn't anymore. And I know a lot of people can't "get full" from tapas, but they just aren't doing it right and filling their bellies with pork eats beforehand! I would also like to mention that before I went into the event I had a drink at the bar, which was expertly crafted by a very talented bartender, whose name is escaping me now. And although I don't know that I would order the Romero y Limon again, it was a very nice summer cocktail to start off the evening. I shall certainly return to Salinas, now that I know what I've been missing. And I look forward to more events from Boucher & Co, thanks for the invite!