Showing posts with label Lustau. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lustau. Show all posts

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Lustau at Ballymaloe

Lustau Dinner at Ballymaloe
Sherry with every course. Of Course!
Paco, Scott and Manolo

Jerez came to Ballymaloe on Wednesday night and Lustau oenologist, Manolo Lozano, who has been named “Best Fortified Winemaker of the Year seven years in a row by the International Wine Challenge of London” brought some delicious wines with him and they were well matched by Ballymaloe chef Scott Walsh.

Manolo, accompanied by friend and translator Paco Lozano (unrelated), was here to visit Irish Distillers in nearby Midleton and the dinner at Ballymaloe celebrated the links between the two companies. The distillery was well represented with Kevin O'Gorman, Master of Maturation; Billy Leighton Master Blender; and Ger Buckley, Master Cooper, among the diners.

The Spanish visitors gave us a brief introduction to their sherries. Manolo: “Jerez is one of the oldest wine regions in Spain… just three varieties are used, Palomino, Moscatel and Pedro Ximenez…. we used the solera system, a dynamic system, to get the characteristics we want… there are no yearly vintages….” To read all about Lustao, including the methods of production, click here.


"A style for every occasion"
There are different types of aging for the dry and for the sweet and the casks used are made from either Spanish or American oak with a capacity of five to six hundred litres. We had Fino Jarana both as aperitif and as a match for the first course: Toasted Almonds, Wild Watercress and Honey Salad.

Manolo explained the flor, the “veil of yeast” that covers the young wine in a biological process (see diagram below). Hence the pale colour, the salty nose with hints of yeast. “It is elegant, with nutty (almond) elements”. Chef Walsh had gathered his watercress and had a good word to say about the recent storm Barney: “It is a great time to gather watercress, the storm increased the water flow and enhanced its peppery flavour. A sprinkle of sea salt clinched it”. A perfect match indeed.

Ballymaloe's Colm McCan (left) with his
guests from near and far.
Then we were on to the Amontillado Los Arcos, a darker sherry. This is raised first under flor and then after the addition of higher alcohol has killed off the flor, the second maturation begins. Colour is amber and while the palate “reminds of Fino, the nutty flavour is no longer that of almond”. The chef had a big challenge here in trying to do it justice. So he used cured farm pork and the fat in the smoked meat “made the match”. The full title: Ballymaloe Kasler, white bean and Parsley tostado.


The first two sherries were dry,  under 5 grams per litre, and so was the third, the mahogany coloured Oloroso Don Nuno, “raised in the same casks that Irish Distillers now have!” Alcohol here is 20 per cent. The wine here has been selected from the start to be Oloroso so there is no flor at all. All three start “very plain. Then we develop what we want. It is a very good wine, a strong wine for red meat, for game. Hard to match!”
Main Course
Scott came up with the answer, even if there are now “no cow tails left in Midleton”. “There’s a lot of meat on a cow, “ he said. “But just one tail!”. The dish was Braised Ox Tail with Romanesco, tomato, lentils. And we believe that both red and white wine, even some brandy were also added. The chef was hoping the sherry would “cut the richness and the fat” and neither he nor we were disappointed. A superb pairing indeed.

Now we were onto the sweet Moscatel sherry (200 g of sugar per liter). “This is not allowed to ferment at all; alcohol is added immediately to allow natural sugar remain in the wine. Grapes are pressed, fermentation is stopped. The Pedro Ximenez grapes (450g), on the other hand, are “transformed” by sun-drying prior to pressing.
Scott and Yours Truly

Before he and Paco sat down to enjoy their desserts, Manolo asked us to consider sherry in a new light. “Don't forget, sherry is a wine. It is very versatile and there is a style for every occasion.” They had indeed demonstrated exactly that.

The chef had come up with a divine Steamed Kumquat Pudding for the Moscatel Emilin while the PX San Emilio was paired with Ballymaloe Vanilla Ice-cream. The PX was supposed to be drizzled over the ice-cream but you know the Irish drizzle!

There was one further liquid treat in store for us, a glass of Redbreast 21 year old Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey. Master Blender at Midleton Distillery is Billy Leighton: “The Redbreast family is all based on whiskey raised in sherry casks. Paco and Manolo have been of tremendous help to us in Jerez. We get the best quality cases and that leads to the best quality whiskey”.


“There is a succulent fruitiness on the nose more so than on the 12 years old, a heavier style. Secret is to match the sherry flavours with the spicy whiskey, get that balance of fruitiness and spices. And that taste is full and silky, smooth and, even at 46% abv, it slips down nicely before the fruitiness slowly fades away and it drys out leaving the barley at the very end. Sláinte!”


And Sláinte indeed to everyone at Ballymaloe. A privilege to be there at Manolo's first ever sherry dinner in Ireland.
Producing sherry.
For more info check Lustau website

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sherry Baby. Sorry, I’m Late.

Sherry Baby. Sorry, I’m Late
Missed Sherry Week - didn't have the nerve to ask for one in Bordeaux - but made amends immediately on returning home by opening a bottle of Lustau’s Palo Cortado. Palo Cortado is one of the ten (at least) styles of sherry, coming midway in the range between light and dark, between Fino and Pedro Ximenez, "combining the delicate bouquet of an Amontillado with the body and palate of an Oloroso".


The Lustau Solera Reserva Palo Cortado Peninsula, to give it its full title, is a terrific example of the style. It has an ABV of 19 per cent (usually about 15 for a Fino) and its inviting bouquet is followed by rich nutty flavours.  


I bought mine at Bradley’s, North Main Street. They sell it in a handy 37.5 cl sized bottle - you don't want your sherry hanging around too long. In the “olden” days, the Sherry bottle was kept from Christmas to Christmas. God knows, maybe the postman knows, what it tasted like after five years in the back of the cupboard!  Sherry, presumably in good condition, has been described by Alexander Fleming (the discoverer of penicillin) as the best remedy against disease.


I’ve seen a recommendation, from those that know, that this style, once opened, should be kept tightly corked in the fridge for no more than 6 weeks. No excuse for keeping a 37.5 cl bottle that long though. Unlike other wines, the sherry bottle should be stored upright in order to reduce the surface of wine exposed to oxidation to a minimum.


And oxidation does kick in immediately, so don't put off finishing your bottle. Lots of appropriate moments to enjoy your Palo Cortado. Use it as an aperitif and other recommendations from the folks in Jerez (the only place in the world where Sherry is made) include using it with nuts, cured cheese, cold meats, tuna, game, and stewed meat. Ideal serving temperature is 12-14 degrees celsius.


Now, in which corner of the fridge did I leave that Lustau?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Muc Turns Up for Book Launch in Ballymaloe

Muc Turns Up for Book Launch in Ballymaloe
Jamón Ibérico


Muc*, the pig from Buenvino, was in Ballymaloe Cookery School at the weekend. Or at least one of his back legs was. You see, four years back Muc was killed and the long air-drying period began. Before that, he had happily wandered the woods around the big house in the south west of Spain, snouting out the best of nuts, especially those gorgeous acorns, qualifying him for the coveted Ibérico status.


Muc, now a tasty hunk of Jamón Ibérico**, was in Ballymaloe as Buenvino owners, Sam and Jeannie Chesterton, came to have their cookbook, simply named the Buenvino Cookbook, launched by Darina Allen. All the recipes have a Spanish flavour but you can get most if not all the ingredients here.


Quail's eggs
Rory O’Connell certainly did and he and his team cooked up many of the recipes from the book and we were able to enjoy: quails eggs with a pinch of cumin, fresh pickled anchovies, toasted almonds, Almond soup with PX soaked raisins, manchego, spinach with chickpeas, tortillas,  and more, before finishing off with a plate of Paella! All accompanied by Lustau sherry (manzanilla for me) and Vina Herminia wines (a Rueda verdejo and a Rioja red).

Finca Buenvino, a pink washed farm and guesthouse, is in the middle of the Sierra de Aracena nature reserve in Andalusia and the book tells how Jeannie and Sam ended up there and are now regarded as true locals.


Paella

Darina, who has visited the Finca, says Jeannie is a wonderful cook (and she does cookery courses there). Jeannie herself emphasizes that while her cooking is influenced by Spanish methods and ingredients, that this is not a “thoroughbred” Spanish cookbook, rather her take on their way of life and the food they share with their guests.


It was Irish "hatched" Sam who persuaded Jeannie to join him in Buenvino about thirty years ago. It is something of a cook's paradise. “We kill and cure our own Jamón Ibérico and bake wholemeal loaves and Moroccan flatbreads from organic flour...Honey comes from the hives above the orchards, organic vegetables and herbs from the garden. In autumn, wild mushrooms spring up in the woods…”

Darina introduces Sam and Jeannie

The book, published by BFP , runs to over two hundred pages and there are all kinds of tantalising recipes from Tapas to full meals, from  Baked Octopus and potatoes to a Lamb with aubergine tagine, from various treatments of anchovies to a Citrus and Honey Cake, from a Stew of Mixed Fish to the Pear and Almond Tart, from Tortillas to Iberian Pork Fillets with red peppers. There are even some pronunciation tips, for Chorizo for example.

Such variety! And all beautifully illustrated. “Have a great time cooking these recipes” wrote Sam as he and his wife signed the book for us. A great time, maybe even a long time. But it is looking very good indeed.

Jeannie gives her seal of approval to Rory O'Connell's paella


Just two recommendations to end with, there are many.
1 I can't wait to buy this book and be transported back to their little corner of paradise. (Thomasina Miers, founder of Wahaca restaurants).
2 A creative and dedicated cook who understands food with plenty of taste, colour and flair. (Maria Jose Sevilla, Foods and Wines from Spain, Spanish Trade Commission, London).

* Name has been changed!
** Jamón Ibérico puro de bellota is a rare and exclusive air-cured ham. The Ibérico pig is a pure bred, free-ranging animal that feeds mainly on acorns from Holm Oak trees. It is these acorns that give Jamón Ibérico it’s unique smell, taste and feel. The meat is delicate, with a sweet flavour and less salty than Jamón Serrano.