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IN THIS ISSUE:



HAPPY 4th OF JULY WITH RIOJA



NEW RIOJA GRAPE VARIETALS



BODEGAS ALTANZA – WINE AND TRADITIONAL COOKING



FROM JILL’S COOKBOOK





TALK TO US

Do you have a favorite recipe and Rioja wine you’d like us to try? Have a great story about wine or Rioja that you’d like us to print? Or a question you’ve been wanting to ask about food and wine pairing, travel to Spain or other Rioja topics? Talk to us! Send us your ideas, recipes or stories. Simply contact newsletter@VibrantRioja.com

RESPONDING TO READERS' COMMENTS

Pennie, thanks for your email and we’re very glad you love Rioja and the wines! Regarding your question about the Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva, please note that it comes from Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta. The varietals used are mainly Tempranillo (about 70%) and Garnacha, Mazuelo and, sometimes, Graciano – making a deliciously complex wine!

Enjoy a glass of Rioja!

Salud!

The Vibrant Rioja Wine Team

   
HAPPY 4th OF JULY WITH RIOJA
 

4th of July is finally approaching and it’s the perfect time to celebrate by cooking and drinking with friends and family. This year, there’s nothing like bringing people together for great food and wine – and as you know, Rioja wines are among the most food-friendly the world. To get you started, here are some fantastic recipes ideal for sharing. The recipes come from Bodegas Altanza – a winery in Rioja – and our very own Jill Paradiso. Buen provecho!

 



  NEW RIOJA GRAPE VARIETAL
 

By now, you’re all probably aware of the immense variety of wines Rioja has to offer. Well, that is just going to increase as the Riojan government approved a new set of grape varieties after approval from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and the Rioja Consejo Regulador. The new white varieties are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Verdejo, as well as the native Maturana Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco, and Tarruntés. The international varieties must not exceed 49% of a blend with a minimum of 51% Viura. The new red varieties are Maturana Tinta, Maturana Parda and Monastel. These new grape varieties will be incorporated into the DOCa regulations. (Decanter.com, June 3, 2009).

Make sure you’re on the lookout in the coming years for new varieties of your favorite wines! For more information, click here.

 
  BODEGAS ALTANZA – WINE & TRADITIONAL COOKING: OLGA SIERRA, THE COOK AT A SMALL WINERY IN RIOJA, TALKS ABOUT HER LOYALTY TO “COCINA TRADICIONAL”
 

Olga has been cooking forever. Her grandmother taught her when she was a little girl, in rather a stringent and no-nonsense manner. Francisca was a decisive woman who had packed the suitcase when young and left her village in Rioja for Madrid. She stayed at the capital of the kingdom for ten years working as a housekeeper and cook for a marquis. She married when she returned home, at the ripe age of 32, rather late in those times when Spain was slowly starting to change and the change had still not been abruptly interrupted by the civil war.

Olga has followed her grandmother’s footsteps. She has been trained, among other restaurants, at Akelarre, the renowned, Michelin star Subijana’s restaurant in San Sebastian, but she has always believed traditional cooking should always be the cornerstone on which every professional cook must construct his/her dishes, as creativity needs to have two essential elements of regional gastronomy in mind: wholesome ingredients and “lots of affection”. She adheres to “nouvelle cuisine” in that products must be selected with a ruthless eye on quality and depending on the season, cooking times short and accurate and the layout of the plates, pleasant and appealing.

But she insists that food was created to serve man and not the other way around. Bodegas Altanza was created with a dining room thought for her. From the orchard hidden at the vineyard come many vegetables later presented at the table. Her dishes are delicious, but not very sophisticated, except when the occasion requires it.

And they are always ideally matched, of course, to the Tempranillo reserva wines of Altanza. Rioja wines have always been and still remain food-friendly: the tannins and the acidity rich, the taste mellow and unobtrusive, as if they were meant exactly for that purpose, though “new age” or “new wave” Riojas can certainly be enjoyed on their own.

Besides, wine is still part of the shared meal ritual. It’s not unusual for Rioja youths to start drinking it in a family gathering when they are still teenagers. Wine is still considered “alimento”, that is, food. Countrymen had it for breakfast on a toast, with sugar, not so long ago.

But whether food, or a beneficial alcoholic drink, it sure enhances the pleasure of a good plate of patatas con chorizo (potatoes and chorizo), caparrones (red beans) or chuletillas al sarmiento (lamb chops grilled with vine wood).

Check out this recipe for caparrones:
14 oz red beans
8 oz onions
8 oz carrots
2 oz leeks
6 oz hot chorizo
6 oz bacon
1 pork bone or 1 pork tail
salt

Soak the red beans –they must not be buttery- for 12 hours. Once soaked, cover them with enough water to cover them plus an extra 50% of the volume. Add the chopped onion and leek, and the carrots. Meat will be added later, when water’s boiling. Start from cold water until boiling point for the first three minutes and let it simmer afterwards.

After three minutes, we add the hot chorizo, the bacon and the bone or tail. Let the beans simmer for around 1 hour in a semicovered pan. Add salt.

Due to the hot chorizo and the red in the beans, the stew and its broth will be reddish. Once the cooking is finished, remove chorizo, bacon, bone and carrots and cut them in equal pieces to serve in all plates.

 
 
 

FROM JILL’S COOKBOOK – Fresh Lemon Cheese
Jill Paradiso is a classically trained chef that has worked in the kitchens of Mario Batali and Jean-Georges Vongerichten – you might recognize them. She has also done recipe development for Martha Stewart, Whole Foods Markets, and Dean and Deluca and she’s been kind enough to share some of her recipes with us.

 
 


FRESH LEMON CHEESE

Whether you call it ricotta, queso fresco, farmer's cheese or quark- fresh cheeses are incredibly easy to make and take very little time. This is a recipe that can be made in the morning and ready to eat at lunch time! It has a delicate citrus finish which pairs beautifully with a Rioja Rose`.

Yield: 2 cups cheese

Ingredients:
8 cups (1/2 gallon) whole milk
1/3 cup, plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 2 1/2 lemons)
1/2 tablespoon salt

Equipment:
candy thermometer
fine mesh strainer
medium pot
bowl

1.Heat milk to 190 degrees, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
2.When temperature reaches 190 degrees remove milk from heat and add in lemon juice and salt. Let sit 2 minutes.
3.Stir the mixture- the curds will have started to separate from the whey. Let sit another minute then pour the curds and whey into a fine mesh strainer placed on top of a bowl.
4.Put mixture to drain in the refrigerator about two hours. The whey will have completely drained away, leaving only the curds in the strainer. The result will be a nicely dense, spreadable cheese.

Serving suggestions:
The cheese is delicious drizzled with a fresh, bright olive oil and a bit of salt. For a real treat try the Rihuelo Puesole Extra-Virgin Olive Oil made by artisan Clemente Bea. This is an incredibly fruity olive oil which really captures the essence of the Riojan soil.