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Celebrating some sort of work hiatus, Kareasa and Ralph hosted a few folks for a Cena Espa˝ol.

 

Kareasa and Constance.


A few nibbles were on the table to start...

...and we opened a little bottle of a remarkable Manzanilla.

Wow!  This was seriously good!
It's a Manzanilla, which resembles Fino Sherry, but comes from a different region with cooler temperatures and higher humidity compared to the conditions in Jerez.  Apparently the flor yeast in the barrel is then thicker and more protective of the wine, resulting, potentially, in a fresher Fino-styled wine.  Add to the mix, the salt air blowing in off the ocean and you have something particular.  
But then, please notice the term "en Rama" on the label.  
This is a rather rare bottling...just lightly filtered and they note the season as well as the year of bottling.  The character of the wine changes over the course of the year, what with temperatures, barometric pressures and humidity levels varying.  As a result, each bottling, from Winter to Spring, varies.
Our bottle was put in bottle in the winter of 2012.
It would retail for about $30.


Katherine, a co-worker at Ridge with Kareasa, pours the Manzanilla.

And what a deliciously dry, classic wine it is!
The Sherry house of Barbadillo bottles this.
Kareasa is a big fan of Barbadillo's 30 year old Sherries and she seemed to enjoy this as well.


The aromas were mildly nutty and there was a waxy aspect to the fragrance.  The wine had a very long finish and it was exceptional with those Marcona Almonds.


Back in the kitchen, Kareasa was working hard...

Bacalao Fritters.




With the Cod Fritters we opened some Spanish Cava from Gramona...


Mark and Ralph...


Cod Fritters with some Sauce and Lemons...and the Cava from Gramona was good.

We had the Gran Cuvee Brut from the 2008 vintage...nice and dry, fresh and reasonably crisp.
More toasty and complex was Gramona's 2005 Lustros.  More "serious" sparkling wine and in the direction of good Champagne.  I think for $50 I'd prefer spending the money on good Champagne.
But with Kareasa's Cod Fritters, it tasted great!

Ralph then roasted some Padron Peppers...


El Padron himself!

And having roasted the peppers, here's El Pardon "doing a Bob"...


Kareasa then showed off her latest tattoo...

It was time to take a seat at the table...

This GARBO Rosado was mildly fruity and reasonably dry...it paired well with the slightly bitter salad, with beets, smoked trout and candied nuts.

We had numerous bottles to explore and evaluate...Ralph shows off a Portuguese dry white made of Arinto by the Quinta da Santa Maria.


Ralph has mastered the fine art of "Doing a Bob*"

* this entails showing off wine or food in a proud fashion while mugging for the camera.


Not quite Doing a Bob.


Better.

 

Back in the kitchen, Kareasa was putting the finishing touches on the Paella.


Now there's a work of art!

 

Ralph then began the laborious "dismantling" of the Paella.


We had numerous bottles to 'taste.
I can't say any of the table wines was especially exciting or soulful and none struck me as being worthy of their price-tags, whether they were $10 a bottle or $80.


The Roda I was the best of the bunch, but with a price of $70-$80, I'll pass on a second bottle.

From the "Who Knew Department?", it turns out Connie has rhythm!


Her husband Mark was perplexed by her musical talents, as were some of the other people in attendance.

Mark was in the kitchen working on dessert...and, mira!

Mark's Famous Almond Cake and Mark, "Doing a Bob."

Someone asked Kareasa about her recent wine-tasting tour across the Bay.

She then showed off another tattoo and you can even see the vein in her neck, as it began pulsating when she recounted her misadventures in the Liverwurst Valley.


Meanwhile, Mark sharpened Kareasa's "Guy Fieri*" knife to hack into his homemade Tarta de Almendra (Almond Cake).

*It turns out Kareasa is a fan of TV's Guy Fieri.


Connie, meanwhile, was checking the score of the Giant's game...


"Damn!  They're losing again!"


Back to business...a big Pedro Ximenez wine from Hidalgo...

We also tried a Spanish Muscat from Malaga...grapes dried briefly and then vinified...nice, but not compelling.

The PX was sweet and a bit ponderous.

A bottle of Barbadillo Oloroso was nice, too.


After the Sherry, things got even more amusing...



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