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Eating at Monvinic, Broadcasting a Live Harvest in London and a Few Random Thoughts

monvinicIt’s been awhile since we’ve published a post with odds and ends, but the moment has arrived. First up, my experience dining at Barcelona’s famous, Monvinic. As you may recall, my first visit was less then stellar, ending in a rather scathing post. But this time, I had the great fortune of being treated to lunch, where I experienced impeccable service and a spread of delectable food that impressed. (Image by beckysnyder)

Our appetizers began with Bunyols de bacallà, or cod “balls”, containing a juicy center with creamy fish goodness oozing out the sides. This was a fish fritter I could fall in love with! Next up, a large plate of the renowned Spanish Jamon de Iberico, thin and perfectly tantalizing. Clearly, my lunch was off to a great start!

The main course featured a creative take on the classic Pulpo a la Gallega, where poached potatoes was blended with crushed and fresh flowers. Tender octopus was served perfectly salted and cooked to perfection without losing its moisture. I fought to lick my plate with the finest dignity. But it was the next dish that was to shock and awe the masses. To be clear, I am a devout lover of all things Offal, but sweetbreads have always hit a heart chord for me. Typically presented as small crisp nuggets served as a starter or side; on this particular occasion, they were not only large, but perfectly crispy on the outside and creamy within, covered with what I love most about this time of year in Catalunya, wild mushrooms. Well done, well done!

As for the wines, I would have preferred them in reverse. The Prado Enea 2000 from Muga (too bad they only had the ’01 in magnum, incredible stuff), which would have been delightful with the soft center of the sweetbread, but still held its charm with the rich cod Bunyols. This was followed by a 2004 Redoma from Neipoort, a wine that screams “essence of douro” with tobacco flavors layered over violets and dark berry foundations. In the end, I opted to finish my sweetbreads and sip the Redoma as I reflected on the meal.

Unfortunately, as my host needed to catch his flight, we skipped dessert and coffee. However, although the meal was interrupted by business negotiations, the incredible flavors were far from muted. Their subtlety and precision were not only apparent but appreciated. I will return soon, but this time, for a more leisurely stay.

Douro Valley in the MorningIn other news, we have a client as most of you know named Quevedo. We don’t usually talk about clients for obvious problems of objectivity, but now that the disclosure part is out of the way, I have to share something that I feel is both exciting and important for you to hear about.

This year, Quevedo has been streaming online a large portion of their harvest, as a result of an initiative between their winery and the local government of S. Joao de Pesqueira. This in and of itself was a fantastic project, and we were elated to see them do it, but the real magic came at the Boutique Wineries Tasting last week in London. Due to a Superman effort from both Quevedo and S. Joao de Pesquiera, we were able to project the harvest live on a 20+ ft screen. I believe this was the first time, and only time, that the Port Wine Harvest has been live broadcasted 800 miles away from its source with professionals from around the world tasting wines while feeling as if they were at the harvest. We experienced wine fermenting in the barrels, brandy added to the Port to stop fermentation and the harvesters in among the vines manually picking the grapes. And on top of it all, this included a short interview with Oscar on skype video talking about how the project came together. And although this was a Catavino inspired project, it was the team of Filipe Carvalho and Oscar who made it happen. Make sure to go Oscar’s site to catch what’s left of the live harvest, in addition to catching a few replays here and here. (small capture of the live video below)

Overall, the 2009 Iberian harvest has been continuously reported as a strange one. Early grape picking has led to high sugar levels and unripened seeds.  Combine this with heavy rains in a large part of the peninsula, and you’ve got the making of a so so vintage. That said, in 4 months time, when we start tasting barrel samples and early bottlings, there will be fantastic surprises – there always are! Looking forward to the discovery process!

Till Soon,

PS: I have some lovely photos of the meal on my new N97 nokia phone, but because this phone does not work, I sadly can’t get them off the device. Seriously, DO NOT BUY THIS PHONE. It is very very problematic, and from all I can tell no one is having a good time with it. Read my review here

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