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Lenn Thompson

Tag Archives: Spanish language

La Vuelta a España Stages 13-14: Rioja & Txakoli

In our next installment of La Vuelta a España (check out the first, second and third installments), we visit the iconic region of Rioja, and its under-appreciated neighbor, Txakoli. A few years ago, Ryan and I conducted a regional report on Rioja knowing very little about the region and its wines. We were cognizant of its fame, both nationally and internationally, but were convinced that its glory was all hype and no bite. And though it is true that its reputation as a high quality region has allowed some wineries to gain an undeserved leg up, much of what we found was truly phenomenal. When coming to Rioja, think Tempranillo. If there is any region in Spain that has fashioned […]

The Perfect Trifecta: Arroz Caldo, Spanish Rose and White Sandy Beaches

It is close to impossible to visit Barcelona and not take the short jaunt south to Sitges, where you can bask in the stunning blue waters and grand villas of this small but bustling Catalan town. Renowned for its gorgeous beaches, festive gay ambiance, Film Festival and Carnival –  it’s a place of stunning beauty and incredible food. I have been to Sitges only a handful of times, the last of which I spent eating a mouthwatering pot of mussels while longingly staring at the sea wishing that my ridiculously heavy, plaster cast was water resistant. Having recently broken my hand in a moronic sailing accident, where I tripped over a mooring line while “gracefully” leaping onto the cement dock, […]

What does it Take to Become an Expat Winemaker in Iberia?

Editor’s Note: This article was posted prior to David Booth’s passing. However, we are retaining the tone of the original article as his views are still relevant and very respected.  Over the years, Ryan and I have shared several stories with you regarding our lives as expats in Spain. We’ve lamented days when our heat, gas or electricity have been shut off with no previous warning. We’ve told you of heralding feats to jump through bureaucratic hoops as foreign business owners; our delight and awe over vinous treasures we never thought to have existed; and our prolonged addiction to the European way of life. Our time here has been both magical and a menace, a decision we would proudly make […]

Furniture or Fruit? Two ‘Roble Español’ Toros

A few weeks ago, I was talking to Raul Quemada, the winemaker at Bodegas Portia – the new Faustino enterprise in Ribera del Duero – and happened to ask whether he used Spanish oak on any of the Portia wines. After setting me straight that they used 100% French oak, he added that ‘Spanish oak is for making furniture’ in the way that suggests this is a regular joke among cellarhands in the bars of Aranda de Duero. But someone does think Spanish oak is worth putting wine in – whether for marketing purposes or a genuine concern for flavour – because I recently tasted two wines that proudly state it on their label. The two were by Toro producer […]

To Kiss or Not to Kiss: Top 10 Tips for Greeting Fellow Europeans

When we first moved to Spain, not 5 years ago, we arrived totally green and naive. We never jumped on Wikipedia to research the plight and suffering of the downtrodden citizens under General Franco, nor did we study the diverse and regionally specific foods and wines savored throughout the peninsula. We were ignorant of the various languages and subcultures vying for national and international recognition, and we never once thought that relationships would be formed over the course of 4 hour lunches. With only a few months to pack our gear and fly over the big pond, Ryan and I hit dusty Spanish soil with very little understanding of the culture and its people. And although our approach allowed us […]

El Puntido: The Meaning and Relevance of a “Great” Rioja

Would you rather have a great wine that wasn’t a classic example of it’s place (the ‘t’ word)? Or would you go for a staunchly regional wine, warts-and-all? In the case of a friend and I last week, we went for the great wine: El Puntido. The problem is it’s not what I call classic Rioja by any stretch. Indeed, one look at the label and it looks like a high-school art project of the 1980s (is it a symptom of my impending middle age that I stoutly refuse to take a photograph on a label seriously?), but it was one of those wines I instantly liked and, judging by the people I’ve met recently who have tasted it, I’m […]

Get Up And Crawl! – Best Spanish Tapas in New York

Nary has there been a person who has lived in Spain and not participated in a tapas crawl. This time honored tradition has all the makings of a night of gluttony and debauchery if not attempted correctly; but, hey, who cares if you eat and drink too much and get a little crazy?  You are in Spain! Having participated in a few tapas crawls in my day during my time in the Motherland I was craving the feeling that one gets when sharing a bar counter with friends and strangers alike. Incredible food and drink coupled with conversations as varied as the individuals sharing them. At times, the food almost seems secondary to the company, but all have their place […]

Tapas and Spanish Wine: A London Based Trade Tasting

Editor’s Note: Last week, we asked London food and wine blogger, Rachel McCormack, if she would be interested in revisiting her previous residence of Spain by attending the Wines of Spain (ICEX) trade tasting in London. With her sweet Scottish brogue, Rachel wholeheartedly accepted. Thanks so much Rachel for providing us your take of not only the tasting, but the current state of the Spanish wine trade in London. When I was a child, I used to love Spain. I’d been on holiday three years in a row to the small town of Pollenca in Mallorca and I’d come home and rave about how much I loved it – the food, the language, and the people. Generally, I was met […]

The Tale of Two Tapas Bars: What Qualifies as an Authentic Tapas Restaurant Outside of Spain?

I admit, I tend to be little trepidatious when hearing of an authentic Spanish Tapas restaurant outside of Spain. I think of “authentic” Mexican food at Chipotle, or “traditional” Chinese food at “Big Bowl” – essentially, complete shams. (Photos in this post by browners82) A tapa means more than a small plate of food you can hold in one hand while imbibing various vinous beverages in the other. To me, authentic tapas must resemble commonly found recipes in Spain, such as patatas bravas, tortilla de patatas or croquettes. Not to say that I’m not open to innovation and creativity, but when a menu claims it serves authentic Spanish tapas, and I read “spicy black beans with grilled calamari” or “fried […]

Portugal Overcomes Pride to Acknowledge an Unexpected Wine Leader

Last year, I wrote an article on how Spanish and Portuguese wineries could succeed online. I mentioned words such as passion, culture, adaptability and history, which are all powerful reasons why Iberian wineries have a chance to succeed in Social media, but I’m afraid it’s not enough. I left out a key word that holds most of us back from succeeding, fear. Fear that if they try something and fail, everyone will laugh or pity them. Pride is extremely important in Iberia, often times dictating someone’s decisions and actions. From having your plumber blame the mold in your bathroom on your “poor cleaning”, as opposed to his poor grouting efforts, to the winery that won’t sell you their wine because […]