While I am a staunch supporter of all things local, sometimes I step outside my box. Once in a while there are opportunities dropped in our laps in our own backyards to experience what is great about another region of the world, and as lovers of food and wine it is important to get out in our own city and experience these international tastes. Especially if it involves drinking wines from a region like Rioja in Spain, and one of the top Catalan chefs who trained at the world famous el Bulli.
Carles Abellan is a Michelen-Star rated chef, and the owner of Barcelona's Comerç 24. He was recently in Toronto, at The Chefs' House at George Brown paired with Campo Viejo wines for a tasting menu event to bring the tastes of Spain to some lucky Torontonians. This 5-course meal was intelligent, well paired, and took us through some of the things that Chef Carles and his chefs do at their restaurant. The great thing about this fully functioning restaurant at GB is that is utilizes students to prepare and serve the food. What a great experience for some 2nd and 3rd semester students to get to work under Chef Carles and two of his chefs.
Rioja makes some of my favourite international wines, and this was also a great opportunity to try some wonderful vintages from Campo Viejo, a master from the region. Spanish wines have been praised for their food friendly nature, with the lower tannins and the good fruit from Tempranillo reds, with a nice balance of acids. Tempranillo reds are also a great value, and were not as expensive as I believed they would be. We sampled 5 wines, flawlessly paired by Chef Carles with an impressive menu.
Egg "Surprise" Comerç 24
Pork Rind, Yogurt
Phyllo, Parma, Lemon
Paired with Campo Viejo Crianza 2006
Mackerel, Citrus, Aromatics
Paired with Gran Campo Viejo Cava Brut Rose
Seafood "Suquet" Catalan Style
Paired with Campo Viejo Reserva 2005
Duck Rice, Foie, "Kikos" (toasted corn kernels), Canadian Mushrooms
Paired with Campo Viejo Gran Reserva 2002
Bread, Oil, Chocolate, Salt
Paired with Campo Viejo Dominio 2007
Here is some of the food: