Secret Kitchen menu, 21st August 2010
Manzanilla ‘La Guita’
Tapas: Paleta Ibérica de Jabugo, Cabrales cheese croquetas,
olive & anchovy pinchos, tortilla, roasted almonds,
grilled baby squid with aioli, chard gratin with toast,
white asparagus with piquillo sauce
Las Nieves sheep’s cheese, cherry preserves and honey liqueur
About the dinner…
The ham is actually from Andalucia, since Iberican jamon (leg) and paleta (shoulder) from Jabugo are some of the country’s best. We know because a while ago we spent two days there eating our bodyweights of the stuff. The Cabrales in the croquetas is a three milk blue cheese (cow, sheep & goat) made in the foggy Picos de Europa mountains, where we learned how it is matured in damp caves, like Roquefort.
Grilled squid with garlic mayo is classic, and actually inspiration for this came from preparing it at Chez Panisse in California – my job was invariably to clean the guts and ink out of the squid – where we served it with braised fresh shell beans. Yum. The tortilla is based on a recipe by David Tanis, one of the chefs at Chez Panisse.
The pinchos are inspired by some we had in a bar in San Sebastian, where of course they spell it ‘pintxos’, being Basque. Chard, or just the fat stems, is often paired with béchamel, as in this gratin, which seems a perfect combination. Some chard is from the garden. The piquillo sauce recipe comes from Moro. Piquillos are special small red peppers grown in northern Spain, where they are roasted, skinned and bottled.
The beetroot gazpacho is my imitation of one we enjoyed recently in Spain, and used a kilo of Marmande and cherry tomatoes from the garden. Fabada must be Asturians’ most loved dish. Asturian dried beans sell for a small fortune, but their creamy texture when cooked for hours is unrivalled. The chorizo and morcilla are from small producers in Asturias. Flan, or crème caramel if you’re French, is ubiquitous.
And sheep’s cheese with cherry preserves is a Basque pairing. This cheese was made in Espinosa de los Monteros, near Burgos, the jam by me, and the honey liqueur by friends of our new friends, Carlos and Yolanda in Asturias.