A lovely tour of vegetarian tapas with @Barcelonawinebar in West Hartford

Tapas.  Are.  Delicious.  Vegetables, executed correctly, are delicious.  These are two of my favorite things.  But before we delve into their culinary delights, let’s examine a third of my favorite things: BEETHOVEN

Beethoven Rocks

Ludwig.  Van.

Do I get more excited to listen to Beethoven I would for many contemporary musical options?  Maybe.  I’m a giant nerd, hold your judgement.  Or if, like me, the musical genius of this great composer sings to your soul, then join me at the Bushnell to listen to the Hartford Symphony’s performance of Bold Beethoven from November 5-7, directed by accomplished pianist William Eddins.  I am deeply appreciative to the symphony for providing me with tickets – which are also available for purchase here.  Ah yes, yes, indeed.

And, back to tapas.

Spanish tapas, of course.  Traditionally executed at Barcelona Wine Bar – who are kind enough to be within walking distance of my home, dedicated to authentic presentation of well executed and classical Spanish favorites, and kind enough to invite me to many of their events.  Here’s a mini-calendar – I’ll be at the Black Hog Brewing one and also commandeering their Facebook page for the night, which is neat:

Wines of Catalunya on November 10th

Black Hog Brewing Dinner on November 19th

Thanksgiving Dinner, Barcelona style, on November 24th

The cooking class took place in the dining room adjacent to the bar, with Executive Chef Eric Stagle guiding us through a range of easy to follow recipes:

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Simple to replicate at home – and I have a recipe to prove it

Chef demonstrated cooking techniques for four different dishes:

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Fried brussels sprouts with picked red onions and pimenton

spanish omelette

Sweet potato tortilla (not pictured but here is the traditional spanish tortilla which I often order and is also delish)

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Braised chicken thigh with pureed butternut squash 

and, last but not least

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Churros.  Delicious churros.  With chocolate dipping sauce.

For those playing at home, here is the sweet potato tortilla recipe.

Sweet potato tortilla
10 eggs
1 large sweet potato
2 onions
1 qt. olive oil
Peel and julienne your onions put about 1/2 an onions worth to the side.
Sauté the rest of the onions on low heat until very soft
Heat Olive oil while you peel your sweet potato. Cut potato in half the long way and then cut into 1/4″ slices.
Salt your sweet potatoes and the 1/2 julienned onion you had reserved. Let sit for 10-15 minutes.
Poach the sweet potatoes in the olive for about 10 minutes. Don’t over cook them.
Crack your eggs into a bowl while potatoes cook. Salt your eggs
Add cooked hot sweet potatoes and soft cooked onions to your egg mixture.
In a non stick pan that is on medium high heat put a little olive oil in the pan. Add your egg potato mixture to non stick pan and turn to low. Cook for 10 minutes and the finish in a 250* oven

But first, whiskey: a recap of the @wehawhiskey festival

There are things that I like, and then there are things that I love.  “LOVE” would be accurate for an event that is:

1/ Classy as hell

2/ Within walking distance from my house

3/ A benefit for Camp Courant and the Ct Children’s Medical Center

4/ Full to the brim of delicious whiskeys to try – all courtesy of Maximum Beverage!

kat and mckinley

The lovely CEO of Camp Courant – McKinley Frey Albert, aka the @hautehistorian

I love whiskey.  Love it, love it, love it.  Complimenting the whiskeys were many small bites from Highland Park Market – cool little things like brie in pastry, beef wellingtons, and a friggin’ macaroni and cheese bar.  Hello, yes please, and thank you.  They also had Fischers Island Lemonade – another one of my go-tos for the summer.  Here are some notes from the whiskeys I sampled and thought were particularly noteworthy, and below that, please enjoy some lovely photos taken by my very talented photographer buddy, Kerri Provost.  Thank you to the Weha Whiskey Festival for inviting both myself and Kerri to attend.  We had a truly excellent time.

Glendalough Distillery – a delightful light, bright Irish brand rep – and a whiskey to match.  The taste is crisp with a tangy bite and just enough caramel to finish it off.  I sampled the single barrel and was impressed by how much of a punch this young whiskey packed.  Good for sipping and good for mixing too – I would love to try it in a very dry manhattan.

Rebel Yell Bourbon – now we are talking classic.  Classic Kentucky bourbon.  Malty, smooth, and deep and mysterious.  Dive into this nose first and surface just long enough to enjoy the Billy Idol song which, I am sure, you thought of when you read “Rebel Yell,” and if not you’re thinking about it now, and you’re welcome.

Woodford Reserve Double Barrel – ahhh, this is one of my personal go tos.  The Double Oaked version contains smoke, essence, a nice tangy heat and is perfect for sipping.  You could put this in a cocktail, but if you did, it would have to be one that enhanced versus masked the smokey notes and deep flavor profiles.  I would love to hear from my mixologist friends on what they would recommend for this particular blend.

Hudson Valley Whiskey Baby Bourbon – Hudson Valley is actually home to me in a ways – that’s where my Dad grew up and I still have family out there.  So, I am very excited to visit the distillery with my Uncle Gregory in early December, to further explore the flavor profiles they offer.  The ‘baby bourbon’ was, well, a baby.  It’s got a young feel about it, a freshness, a little sweet, a little bite.  Again, a great whiskey for a cocktail.

Bruichladdach Scotch Whiskey – Oh scotch.  Scotchy Scotch Scotch.  Good enough for Ron Burgundy, yet I still struggle with you.  I know I need to develop my palate to appreciate the honey, the malt, that rare singular bite of a very good scotch.  And I will.  And the Bruichladdach was an excellent starting off point.  I’ll keep at it, I promise Scotch.  Next year, when we meet again, I’ll be ready for you.

As mentioned before, all photo credits below to Kerri Provost.  And all hats off to the Weha Whiskey Festival for such a spectacular and nuanced tasting event!

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