Here at Spare Time Texas, we hosted another successful “Taste of Spain” drink-pairing dinner at our Pflugerville location. This event was one of many drink-pairing dinners that are hosted throughout the year. We had a total of 34 foodies present for this event. Guests included couples, close friends, and family. The bustling event room took you straight to the heart of Spain, with jazzy Spanish music playing overhead.
Chef Kent O’Keefe and his sous chefs take great pride in their recipes and their presentations. Watching them work shows the dedication and commitment they all take in making sure their meals are served deliciously and consistently. Chef Kent meticulously planned the food and drink pairings with Assistant General Manager Zach Heim to ensure they were complementary to each other.
Throughout the meal, Chef Kent and Zach explained the pairing combinations and how to pair similar dishes. This was a great way for the guests to understand the types of drinks that should be paired with the delicious menu items.
Dishes & Their Pairings
First, the Gazpacho Soup was brought out while the hosts poured the Torre de Casta Rosado, a dry rosé wine from Spain.
While most wine pairings are easy to determine, Gazpacho is more challenging. The tomato base in the soup makes pairing a red wine a bit too harsh. However, a fruity, crisp white or rosé wine is the perfect combination. It’s important to pick a cool, summer wine that complements all of the great flavors in the refreshing summer soup.
Next, the traditional Spanish tapas were served. Tapas are a combination of appetizers and small meals that are prominent in Spain. The selections included light, open-faced crab empanadas, savory chorizo-filled dates wrapped in bacon, and a Spanish tortilla – a light appetizer that resembles an omelet with salsa.
“The tapas selections were chosen to create a wide range of flavors and textures,” says Chef Kent. “The bacon wrapped dates were originally created to just be served by themselves, no garnish or cheese. I thought that was a little flat so I decided to experiment with a creamy goat cheese and black raspberry jam to complement the tastes and add a little sweetness to the dish. I think it really added to the overall taste.”
All three tapas selections were paired with homemade Sangria – created with local Pedernales Cellars Tempranillo infused with fruit. The citrus fruits in the Sangria (melons, oranges and apples) really allow it to pair well with sweet, spicy, and seafood dishes. This was a perfect drink to pair with the tapas selections.
Now for the main course! The seafood Paella was served as a traditional Spanish meal, straight from the steaming pan onto the guests’ plates. The dish looked beautiful with the mussels, shrimp, snapper, and bright green peas.
While being served, the host poured a crisp, dry white Spanish wine for pairing. The lightness of the Rias Baixas Laxas Albarino wine paired terrifically with the Paella. As many wine connoisseurs would suggest, flavorful seafood dishes are best served with a dry white wine to help complement (and not overpower) the seafood. When choosing a white wine to serve with seafood and shellfish, choosing a wine with plenty of acidity and fruity notes is best. The Albarino varietal is available in a wide range of prices and flavors, making it a great go-to wine for your seafood dish.
As guests were finishing the large helping of Seafood Paella, the Créma Catalina dessert and Spanish Sherry were served. This Spanish-style crème brûlée was garnished with berries and paired deliciously with the sweet Lustau Pedro Ximenez Rare Sherry. Sherry's are available as dry and pale-colored, or sweet and mahogany. This Sherry in particular had a prune undernote to it, making it sweet and dark. Pairing dessert with an end-of-the-evening sweet Sherry is a great way to finish a flavorful meal.
After the meal, Chef Kent and Zach happily walked around to each guest ensuring their experience was a great one. Many of the guests raved about this event and shared their excitement to put their new wine-pairing knowledge to the test.
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