A nice Cava for the holidays

Carleton sur Mer

Like many of you, I am on holidays with my family. We are working up our way in the Gaspé Peninsula, spending a good 10 days to d a comprehensive tour of the region.

For some time now, me and my wife were planning this trip. Both of us are food and nature enthusiasts and thats why Gaspesie was such a good fit for us.

The Gaspé Peninsula ( 250 km long and 100-140 kilometers wide) reaches into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, making it indepedent from the rest of Quebec. 

Inland, Gaspésie is a mountainous, woody wilderness, but one of the major attractions of the peninsula is its pretty rugged coast and their excellent cuisine. Gaspé is a paradise for fish and seafood lovers. Here you can find first grade local produce such as lobster and crab. Also it is easier to find quality scallops and halibut from neighboring New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

One of our favorite meals during the meal was the simplest but tastiest one. In Carleton sur Mer, we picked up some fresh halibut and scallops and decided to do a BBQ facing the beach.  A very rustic elegant meal. The halibut meat had a fleshy texture and delicate flavours. The piece of resistance was the scallops. They had a soft buttery texture with the most sweetest taste. A very delicate flavor bringing to mind halzenut.

 The Villa Conchi Cava ( SAQ # 12956456, $14.95, LCBO # 386979, $14.95)  was a perfect match for this vacation. Light and refreshing, it had a wonderful palette of flavors bringing to mind pear and lemon curd. Fruit foward, its medium size bubble was the perfect refreshing agent for the smoky impregnated flavors of the meal. For under the $15, it is an outstanding value in the cava category. The best wines are the ones that are enjoyed along with your family members.

Villa Conchi is sourced from selected vineyards in the heart of Catalunya. The vines benefit from the mountain protection range of Montserrat. Harvesting is done by the night and there is a percentage of Chardonnay added to preserve the fruit aspect of the wine.  Not only this cava is perfect with grilled fish but also with salads as well. 


What wines to have with Gazpacho?

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Slowly but surely, it is getting warmer in Quebec. Just this week on Wednesday, it was 31 Celsius. I was not in the mood to cook so I told my wife to cook supper. She ended up doing some burgers that were quite tasty.

My point being that nobody wants to be near a stove when is hot outside. Also, there is something about the heat that makes you feel deliciously lazy. In a hot summer day, I will salads, fish carpaccios or ceviche and of course a nice bowl of Gazpacho!!.

Basically, a gazpacho is a cold Spanish soup coming from the land of Flamenco and Tapas, Andalusia.  This is such a simple, tasty and inexpensive dish, that’s why it has become so popular.

Gazpacho goes way back to pre-Roman times when shepherds where sustained by the original version that consisted of stale bread, garlic, vinegar, oil and water. With the advent of agriculture, vegetables were incorporated.

Popular across Spain, I have had amazing gazpacho in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. However, it taste better in his home of Andalusia, the land of good flamenco that comprises Sevilla, Granada, Costa del Sol and Jerez country. In this land of scorching heat, the Andalusians have been making cool magic potions for a long time.

According to Alicia Rios and Lourdes March, authors of Spanish cookbooks, Gazpacho became popular thanks to the marketing efforts of Eugenia de Montijo, the wife of the French Emperor Napoleon III in the nineteenth century. Gazpacho was unknown, or little known, in the north of Spain before about 1930.

At its heart, though, gazpacho’s fundamentals are consistent: It’s a cold soup based on tomatoes, with cucumber, onion and green bell pepper as customary supporting players. The addition of bread is much more European, and evokes a culinary link with Tuscan panzanella (“bread salad”), which could be irreverently described as a chunky Italian gazpacho too thick to drink. Other versions involve the use of watermelons and there is even a white Gazpacho. This last one is made with ground almonds, pine nuts, garlic and lima beans.

If you happen to be in Madrid, do not hesitate to visit the resto Clarita. They make an amazing watermelon gazpacho plus they have other goodies such an amazing red tuna and the seafood is amazingly fresh all the times.

Look for crisp whites and fruity roses to accompany your Gazpacho. These wines have the ability to handle the pungent acidity of the vinegar in the soup and will not overwhelm the delicate vegetable flavors.

Must try wines with Gazpacho

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Vina Ijalba Aloque Rosado 2015 ( $17.20. Private Import in Quebec, Charton Hobbs )

A 100% tempranillo rose from the leading organic winery in Rioja. Lovely notes of raspberries, strawberries and floral nuances. On the mouth, medium body, fresh with a delicate balance. Pairing nicely with tomato Gazpacho.

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Laguna de Nava Tempranillo Rosado 2016. SAQ Depot # 12238008. $11.65

Easy going red berry fruit with fragrant peach notes. In the mouth, simple yet with very fragant flavors at a friendly price. Pair it with a watermelon based Gazpacho.

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Bodegas Marañones Picarana 2014. SAQ # 13206841. $24.45

A 100% albillo from the upcoming Vinos de Madrid appellation. On the nose, ripe orchard fruit with dried herbs and spices. On the palate, it is tasty, fruity, with good acidity and well-balanced. Pair it with a garlic white gazpacho.