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Robert M. Parker Jr.

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Wine Hotels in Spain: Charm and Luxury Along the Rutas de Vino

Finding the perfect hotel in the right location never ceases to be a challenge. Many of the villages along the Rutas de Vino in Spain have become home to some of the country’s (and world’s) most unique hotels. And what is the best thing about these hotels? They are part of a growing trend of wineries with hotels on site (many locally owned and operated by the winery itself). It is the perfect marriage for traveling wine lovers. However, to ensure the best experience one must consider a number of things. Wine country in Spain is vast and diverse. The scenery along the Rutas de Vino, especially during summer and fall, can be absolutely breathtaking and makes an incredible backdrop […]

Top 10 Reasons to Visit Ribera del Duero

The past few years have been good to the Ribera del Duero wine region in North Central Spain; but much like Sonoma in California wine country, it has had to contend with a more popular older sibling, Rioja. That said, given the region’s much deserved recent international notoriety, things are changing. On a recent trip to Ribera del Duero, I gained a new appreciation for this incredible region for which I’d love to share with you a few of my top highlights. Keep in mind, this is not a complete list, but rather several highlights that I think will most definitely pique your interest, and if we’re lucky, have you booking a trip to this region very soon! 1. World […]

Mallorca: The Last Spanish Wine Frontier

The allure of Mallorca lies in images of escaping the hectic mainland life and living an island dream (if only for just a few days) and walking carefree on the beach of the Mediterranean while the sand crumbles softly beneath your toes. But then you head to a local restaurant for the freshest seafood the island has to offer and see the wine list. Local wines? Do you dare venture off mainland Spain (or the rest of Europe for that matter) to try them? Absolutely! The wines of Mallorca are undoubtedly some of the best wines you have likely never heard much less tasted. The opportunity is now. Vine cultivation began in Mallorca as early as 121 B.C. In the […]

The Calçotada: From Spain to Your Backyard

Fire up the barbecues and grab your friends. No, it is not Memorial Day weekend or a celebration of the first day of spring. Winter marks the time of year when Cataluña celebrates the almighty calçot. It is no secret that Catalans love to party, and the annual calçotada is just one more excuse to gather with friends to eat, drink, and celebrate. Fortunately, this is one unique culinary tradition which can be duplicated here at home. Calçots originate from a variety of scallion from Lleida (Lerida), Spain. Although the origin is disputed, one of the most widely accepted accounts is that they were developed by a peasant farmer from the southern Catalan town of Valls (castells, the human towers, […]

Part II: Mallorca – Diversity at the Table

Approaching the traditional Spanish culinary table conjures images of manchego cheese, gazpacho, calamares fritos (fried calamari), jamón iberico, gambas ajillo (shrimp with garlic), and tortilla española. Taking a seat at the traditional Mallorcan table, rarely does one find any of these. The sordid and universal history of Mallorca has served to provide the island with an eclectic and diverse gastronomy. It may not be conventionally Spanish, but it is delicious nonetheless. Mallorcan cuisine is a pleasant mix of fresh produce from the land and the sea. Until tourism took center stage, agriculture, fishing, and livestock farming were the primary activities on the island. It’s location in the Mediterranean forced self-sufficiency and the use of the island’s natural resources became paramount. […]

Part 1: Mallorca: The Jewel of the Mediterranean

Amidst the periphery of the northeastern Iberian coastline lies one of the jewels in the Spanish crown – Mallorca (often spelt Majorca by English speakers). For years, I longed to visit the Balearics and only recently did that wish become reality. One luxurious week on an island in the Med. Would it be the experience I expected of a Mediterranean island? Yes and no. Surprises lurked around every corner – the island, the food, the wine – and the trip was beyond expectations. Prepare to be enamored by Mallorca, the jewel of the Mediterranean. Majorca, the largest of the four Balearic Islands (Minorca, Ibiza, and Formentera are the other three), has a history dating back 8000 years. As was true of […]

Basque-ing in the City

Nothing compares the aromas and tastes assaulting one as he walks the streets of San Sebastian on any given day. Perusing the massive counters of any number of Pintxos bars in the city will bring a grown man to his knees – in adoration, not defeat. So, when an opportunity to learn the art of cooking Basque presented itself to me on a recent trip to New York City, I jumped at the opportunity. Basque cuisine is heavily inspired by the abundance of food from the sea on the one side and the fertile Ebro valley on the other. Spanish and French influence is strong, but the two rarely meet. There is a notable difference between the cuisines of the […]

From Cataluña to Asturias: Eating Spain in New York City

As is true with those who are obsessed with travel and great food, I take every opportunity to try something new and/or different when away from home. A recent business trip to New York City set the stage for my latest endeavor. I am also certain that it will be no surprise that this trip involved Spanish food and wine! Two Spanish restaurants set the backdrop for this trip across northern Spain: Mercat and Tertulia. Two entirely unique geographic areas – Cataluña and Asturias – provided a gastronomic journey that would not disappoint. Approaching the entrance to Mercat Hispanophiles cannot help but notice the replica of the stained glass “Mercat” sign of the Boqueria Market in Barcelona displayed prominently above the front door. Dark and rustic on the […]

Horchata: Spain’s Non-Alcoholic Answer to Summer

Spanish lore is replete with anecdotes of the origin of horchata. Probably the most popular describes a young woman from L’Horta in Valencia who offered King Jaume I a white, sweet drink. The King was very pleased and asked the young woman, “¿Qué es això?” (“What is this?”) She answered, “Es llet de xufa” (“It is tigernut milk”). The King replied, “¡Això no es llet, això és or, xata!” [“This is not milk; this is gold (‘or’), pretty girl (‘xata’)!] Regardless of the origin, I am thankful someone thought of it! Orxata de chufa (as it is known in Spain) is made from tigernuts, water, and sugar and is an indispensable part of the Mediterranean diet due, in part, to […]

Jamóning It Up In London

I am always searching for truly unique food and wine experiences. I am no Andrew Zimmern or Anthony Bourdain, but I do seek to step out of the norm from time to time. A recent trip to London allowed me just the unique opportunity for which I have been searching. Happening upon the site for a London Spanish-food staple, Brindisa, yielded a one of a kind opportunity – a class geared towards learning how to carve a (Spanish) jamón. The class would far surpass my expectations. Located at their store in the Borough Market, the Brindisa Ham School is normally held once a month (during the summer they are holding two per month) and normally lasts a couple of hours […]