Jan 052014
Valencian food: watch Valencian Roots – a gem of a film!

I was recently sent a great documentary film about Valencian food. This is by a friend of mine, Zev Robinson, who is a highly regarded film maker. Although Canadian, Zev lives in Spain, is married to a Spaniard and knows the country intimately. Called Valencian Roots, Zev’s wonderful short film captures the very essence of country life in Valencia and is fascinating for its close look at the products produced in Valencia and the way […]

Mar 292013
Rewarding wines of Spain

Hell is a place where no wines get awarded prizes and no experts gives them points. Or at least this is what the people who give prizes and points would like us to believe. But why is wine singled out as one of the few consumables subject to such a barrage of rating agencies? What about potato crisps, dark chocolate, coffee beans, vodka, foie gras or bourbon? Agreed, there are scores awarded to cigars but […]

Feb 212013
Inflated Wines, corkage in Spain

Wine producers have always criticised restaurants for charging too much for their wines, and the restaurants reply that to survive they have to uplift prices by two or three times their cost. Both groups are right in a way, and unfortunately the practice of charging a fixed uplift per bottle instead of a percentage increase has few practitioners. Restaurants are also right when they claim that to acquire and store an expensive wine costs more […]

Jan 252013
Adios Mr Parker and your wine points system

It had to happen. From the moment when Jay Miller and Pancho Campo caused the unprecedented scandal in the wine world 18 months ago, the future of Robert Parker and his infamous points system for classifying wines had its days numbered. Shown without a shadow of a doubt that these Parker representatives had asked for money while they tasted wines on Parker’s behalf in Spain, but, in spite of speculation that still perseveres, what they […]

Dec 112012
Farewell John Radford

At the tender age of 65 you have left us, although not without having imprinted your personality on the history of Spanish wine. You started writing about wine in the 1970s and it soon became apparent that the only wines that really interested you were those from Spain. In 1981 the commercial office of the Spanish Embassy in London (ICEX) commissioned you to edit its official guide, Spanish Wine Education Notes. I have known few […]

Nov 132012

Looking through my emails this morning, I note that the new version of the iPad will be released in March 2013. However, with Apple’s usual love of mystifying the faithful, it is not clear whether the new model will be an updated iPad 3 or the long-awaited iPad4. New technology is marvellous provided it makes for a better life, or, even more important, a more comfortable one. Seldom does it make it less convoluted. What […]

Oct 262012
Cooking as theatre, the chef’s table and Spain

We have all had unexpectedly good meals in unlikely places. My best coq au vin ever was in the buffet of Poitiers railway station, with plastic chairs and paper tablecloth; I remember an outstanding lunch seated in a narrow passage in the overcrowded Michelin-starred Restaurant Europa, Pamplona, during the Sanfermines; other customers were sitting on the stairs. An additional lasting memory is fresh seafood rice cooked on a Mallorca fishing boat by the captain, with […]

Oct 262012
The best bacalao in Spain?

As Marbella’s 2-Michelin star Calima restaurant, in the Gran Meliá Don Pepe Hotel (but independent of the Hotel), prepares to close its doors for the winter break, Dani Garcia received yet another award to add to his burgeoning collection. Patxi Giraldo, one of Spain’s top bacalao providers, awarded his company’s tenth annual prize to Dani for his inventive dishes made with the cured fish, worth 6,000 euros. Dani cooked a special pipirrana nitro de bacalao […]

Aug 272012
The perfect host in Spain!

Does the perfect host or hostess exist? Everyone who ever has guests considers themselves the perfect host but there is a chasm between those that really are and those that have no idea. Recently I was fortunate enough to be invited to a party at the home of a well-known Malaga businessman who lives in Marbella. A delightful guy with impeccable taste. He had the interesting idea of holding the party on the Day of […]

Aug 172012
When is a Wine not a Wine?

It has always been the custom for the various wine regions to defend tooth and nail the integrity of their products against all-comers. Not that long ago any wine made with sweet grapes, or even with raisins, could be called port or sherry wherever it was made, even in England, until the famous legal battle in London’s High Court when the sherry makers of Jerez de la Frontera carried the day. Not much later the […]

Aug 152012

Writing a few weeks ago in this column about people who use fridges for just one item, I was reminded of a young Belgian who some years ago went to work for the Osborne bodega in El Puerto de Santa María. He found lodging with two sisters, and was surprised by the fact that they both went out every morning of the week except Sunday to do the shopping. Hoping to save them the trouble, […]

Aug 102012
Spanish champagne?

If you ask how many ‘champagne houses’ there are in the officially-denominated area around Rheims, you will get what is to most people the surprising answer of 5,000. Yes, you heard right, 5,000 wineries of varying sizes making the world’s most expensive sparkling wine, in a small area in the Ardennes on the same latitude as Paris Some of them, like Ruinart and Tattinger are veritable industrial giants, in these two cases founded nearly 300 […]