Sherry… an Unsung Hero

When it comes to food and drink, so far this week has been very Spanish! On Tuesday I paid a visit to Barrica on Goodge Street for some delicious tapas and wine with the Phipps Rioja team. Then, last night, in keeping with the Spanish theme, I arrived home from work to find my mum had cracked open the bottle of sherry I had brought back for her from Spain, my boyfriend was drinking a glass of Reserva Campo Viejo Rioja, and a number of tapas dishes were being prepared in the kitchen.

Never one to pass on great food, despite ‘attempting’ to have a good day after the previous night’s indulgences, I tucked into the following:

– patatas bravas
– bread and olives
– mushrooms with chilli and garlic
– chickpea and chorizo salad

The star of the show by far was the chickpea and chorizo salad (recipe below) which went excellently with the sherry!

‘Sherry?’ I hear you say… isn’t that something we normally associate with Christmas Eve and our old grandmas with their crystal glasses? Well, up until a few weeks ago I did just that! But, after discovering that sherry is a popular tipple to drink alongside tapas dishes, as well as learning that several of the Phipps team are firm sherry fans, I have actually started to look at it in a new light.

Sherry is a fortified wine made near the town of Jerez in Spain from white grapes (thanks Wikipedia!), and lately it has seen a revival; on menus, in the press, and in my wine cellar (well, cupboard!)

The particular sherry we had was this Valdespino Jerez, bought for just 3 or 4 Euros in a Supersol in Southern Spain…

While I’m new to the sherry game, I must say I really enjoyed the crisp, dry finish, and tart citrus flavours of this fino – it cut through the fatty robust flavours of the chorizo dish nicely.

I’m planning on keeping an eye out for sherry in shops and restaurants over the next few weeks and will keep you posted on any note-worthy examples! In the mean time, why not try this quick and easy salad (taken from this excellent tapas book) alongside a nice chilled glass of Tio Pepe?

Catalan Chickpea and chorizo salad – ensalada catalana de garbanzos

Ingredients – serves 4
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
200g chorizo
2 bay leaves
2tbsp pine nuts
400g tinned chickpeas, drained
Salt and black pepper
1 small tomato, finely chopped

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion, garlic, chorizo, and bay leaves
2. Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes until the onions soften
3. Stir in the pine nuts and chickpeas
4. Heat for a further 5-10 minutes
5. Mash some of the chickpeas with a fork
6. Season with salt and pepper
7. Add the chopped tomatoes and serve with some warm crusty bread

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