Those who know me know how much I enjoy gardening. We had a long fall, but it’s almost December and gardening in Pennsylvania is pretty much done.
A few root veggies were still in the ground in my garden: little baby carrots and a few beets that at this point weren’t going to grow much more. But sometimes these little findings can make or add to a great meal.
Some say that what grows together goes together. In this case it did! I cooked and cleaned the beets. Blanched the carrots and put them over a little romaine lettuce dressed with miso dressing. Sprinkled feta cheese over it, and it was great!
Thanks for having me as the official wine pairing pro for DinnerwithDaniel blog, looking forward to many fun matches! As a wine and food professional, I always like to break down pairings into simple component parts: originating region of cuisine, cooking technique, balance of flavors and spicing, the body of the dish, and the seasonality of the dish are all major points to consider.
Region: Spain – this dish is prepared in various ways in Spain and is a common and traditional tapas (small plate).
Cooking Technique: this dish is cooked in oil and then sautéed. Depending on the cooking heat, there can be some caramelization of the onions and browning of the potatoes and eggs. Daniel tried to make this a very simple preparation of the dish (I’ve seen a recipe where the onions are slowly caramelized for 40 minutes, but you need so much patience!) and the sweetness from caramelization is minimal – so it’s not really a factor.
Balance of Flavors and Spicing: think fat, and lots of good fat of the olive oil kind! Fat coats your palate and adds richness and mouth feel to a dish. This is especially significant when you add rich eggs to the dish–now you can pair a red wine with low to medium tannins and the fat will offset them. The blend of herbs make the dish more flavorful, and Rosemary tends to be a red wine herb, but this really depends on personal preference. Traditionally this dish has smoky Spanish Paprika added which adds a “smoky” component, but Daniel didn’t do so in this recipe so it’s not a factor.
The Body: this dish has quite a bit of richness and body from the oil, the cooking technique and the eggs. I consider this dish medium-bodied in flavor because the olive oil and eggs add weight, but there is no red meat, mushrooms or rich vegetables like eggplant to move it up a notch on the richness level – it’s not meant to be a heavy dish (try this dish for breakfast the next day after sitting in the fridge overnight, it sure beats an Egg McMuffin!).
Other factors: This is an all-season dish and none of the flavor components are overwhelming such as sweetness, acidity or spicing.
Wine Pairing conclusion: after breaking down the dish (and becoming famished in the process!), I would pair this dish with a medium bodied white or red wine, and I would try to stick with the region of Spain. Tempranillo is a red varietal that is relatively inexpensive and with low to medium tannins would be excellent, this is in fact what Spaniards would most likely drink with the dish, there are many good ones produced in Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Toro. On the white wine front, an Albariño from Rias Baixas in the North west of Spain would be excellent, but since I consider this dish an excellent brunch food, a wonderful dry or off-dry Cava (sparkling wine) from Penedès in eastern Spain would work great as well. Some fun alternatives would be Cabernet Franc from Virginia, Tempranillo from California, Malbec from Argentina, Sangiovese from Italy and Pinot Noir from Oregon or Burgundy. The only wines I would shy away from are “oaky” Chardonnays and overly rich red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Australian Shiraz. This dish is simple country fare and the wine paired should be rustic and inexpensive – there’s no reason to spend more than $20 a bottle or so.
Consider yourself Paired!
Charlie Adler, Author
“I Drink on the Job” (Release date: January, 2010)
www.idrinkonthejob.com Twitter: @idrinkonthejob
Charlie Adler, President
1028 29th St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20007
The tortilla de patata or Spanish potato omelet has to be the most traditional Spanish dish. If you travel throughout Spain, you’ll probably find many different recipes for the tortilla de patata–and if you ask anyone, the best one is the one they make at home.
Basically it’s a very simple recipe. You only need these ingredients: potatoes, onion, eggs, and a little salt. Well, and if you want to do it the right way, some good olive oil. This is it. So, why so many different recipes, then? Everyone wants to make it how they like it, make their own. Some might like to add a little garlic, some a little chorizo, some might cut the potatoes into cubes, some into slices, some might add some aromatic herbs, some might even fill them with all imaginable delicious combinations. As many combinations as you can think of for an omelet or a frittata, this is what a tortilla de patata is.
In the recipe I explained how to make the most simple tortilla de patata. I leave it up to your taste and imagination to change it as you go.
Making it this way at first, will allow you later on to decide what else you would do or add to it.
Flipping the tortilla de patata requires some practice, and if you lose some of it at first, don’t feel bad. It has happened to me before, and I’m sure it will happen again. Have fun and buen provecho!
Heat up the olive oil. Dice the onion and add to the oil. Bring oil to a boil and reduce heat. Stir to make sure onions aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pan. Dice potatoes. Soak in water for a few minutes to get rid of some of the starch. Drain well, salt the potatoes and add to oil. Again bring oil to a boil and reduce heat. Stir from time to time to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and whisk lightly. In a mortar, crush garlic, herbs, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. If you don’t have a mortar, simply chop the herbs and garlic and mix with red pepper flakes and pinch of salt. As soon as the potatoes are soft, turn off the heat! (You don’t want your potatoes to get too soft–they’ll cook some more in the sauté pan.)
Stir the herb mixture into the oil. Remove the potatoes and onions from the oil. Use a skimmer to move potatoes from oil into egg mixture. You want to drain as much oil as you can. The 10-inch sauté pan should be warming on medium-low heat, make sure it doesn’t get too hot. Stir potatoes into eggs and then pour this mixture into the sauté pan. A nonstick pan works best, you can also spray it for extra safety. Distribute the mix evenly throughout the pan. Let it cook at slow heat. You will see the edges of the mix get done first. It should be ready to flip in 15 minutes.
Put a 10-inch plate on top of the pan and flip onto it. And then quickly slide back into the sauté pan. Push down the edges of the tortilla with a fork. Let it cook at low heat for another 10 to 15 minutes. When a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean, it’s done! At this point repeat the plate/flip operation. Put a clean 10-inch plate on top of the tortilla and flip onto the plate.
A little bread and wine and you’ll be enjoying one of Spain’s most traditional tapas.