We recently received a thank you letter. A couple of tourists from Northern Europe visited our renowned Ollauri cellars a few weeks ago, at the beginning of July. Their comments fill us with pride for a job well done (congratulations, team!), but what really struck a chord with us was how they felt a few days later dining with our white wine.
A meal to remember for many years to come
After spending a few days in Rioja, the couple travelled along the Cantabrian coast. In a secluded fishing village, they were drawn to a small restaurant: a delicious aroma came out of one of its windows. They decided to go in and have a meal.
They found simple and honest food, very much home-grown. There are times when ordinary things become a sublime pleasure. And this is exactly what they found in a seasonal menu that combined and enhanced the tastiest flavours of the land and the sea.
Just two ingredients were enough to make them feel like they were in heaven.
The main course was red mullet (mullus surmuletus), fried to perfection with just the right amount of extra virgin olive oil. The intensely red scales coated the smooth, clean, white flesh. The smell suggested fresh, honest saltiness. The fish was so pure that its firm texture and explosive flavours melted in the mouth. The sea enveloped the senses and filled them with the most direct of evocations.
And the side dish? This is where the chef had turned his gaze in the opposite direction, to the vegetable gardens that dot the green hillsides, amid farmhouses, granaries and farmyards. Between the first tomatoes and the extraordinarily large courgettes of summer, farmers harvest piparras, or small chilli peppers. Originally from Ibarra in Gipuzkoa, they are nowadays grown in many valleys near the Bay of Biscay. These days, they are a popular bite to eat fresh and fried. Their crunchy texture and delicious flavour, far more delicate than green peppers, make them the perfect veggie to enjoy on its own or to serve with meat and fish.
And now let's go back to our friends' table. The couple of tourists not only enjoyed some delicious food but they also had a third surprise: Conde de los Andes Blanco was available on the restaurant's wine list. With vidid memories of their visit to the winery still fresh in their minds, they ordered a bottle. They enjoyed it so much that this meal turned out to be one of the fondest memories of their trip. We hereby thank them for sharing it with us.
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