Wine Depot Alabang conducts gourmet workshops monthly. Lucky participants get to learn new and easy recipes that could be replicated at home without much fuss. Feature for the month of March: tapas or appetizers or pica pica.
Tapas (singular or plural) was derived from the Spanish noun tapa (cover or lid) and verb tapar (to cover). There are many versions of how and why the word has come to denote a type of food in Spain. The most common story is that in the past, drinkers in tavernas would use a piece of bread or meat to cover their drink glasses as protection from fruit flies. The bread or meat eventually became the snack to go with the drink.
Most, if not all of Spain’s bars and restaurants have a variety of tapas in their menus. In certain parts of the country, they are called pinchos. Tapas was originally more of an appetizer and has evolved from the uncomplicated anchovy stuffed olives to elaborately prepared ones that could pass off as a main meal. Nowadays, we can find tapas all over the world. In Manila, this type of food is fast gaining popularity and it is no wonder that Wine Depot decided to make this their feature for March.
At the gourmet workshop, premium ingredients and top of the line equipment are used.
The much publicized Green Pan seen in Asian Food Channel
Only the finest ingredients used....pata negra, EVO, truffle oil, etc.
Booklets containing the different tapas to be demonstrated, their corresponding recipes, and space for jotting down notes are given to all attendees.
Chef Marco Legasto, the Executive Chef of Wine Depot was our tapas guru for the day. He was a very gracious, generous and inspiring host.
Chef Marco Legasto
For the first demo, it was an easy breezy tapas that anyone can prepare. This must be the simplest tapas ever: Sliced honey dew melon (better to use the orange Spanish melon) wrapped with a slice of jamon (the best is the Pata negra variety). Dollop with honey on top to achieve the sweet-salty taste. As an added treat, Chef Marco drizzled a substantial amount of truffle oil. This started the truffle oil shower that afternoon and no one complained at all =)
Honey dew melon wrapped with Jamon Iberico or Pata Negra (the rolls royce of cured jamon)
Did I mention that aside form the cooking demonstration, the organizers thought of pairing each dish with an appropriate wine coming from Wine Depot’s vast inventory? We were thrilled with the food and wine pairing =) For the honey dew melon with jamon, a light Chardonnay was served to everyone’s delight.
Cape Jaffa unwooded Chardonnay---meaning it was stored in barrels not made of wood.
Chef Marco in action preparing the first of four "official" tapas...
Better to use grass fed beef. Striploin, local tenderloin or wagyu topside are suggested meat cuts.
Procedures: Rub garlic on meat and leave overnight if possible. Right before cooking, put salt and using high heat, sear meat in coated pan with a thin layer of olive oil spray. Remove meat from pan. In the same pan, on medium to low heat, add garlic, onions and sliced green & red bell pepper. Add Spanish paprika, a dash of red wine (from the bottle you opened to drink while cooking) and soy sauce. Stir. Add back meat and mix. Add chili flakes for a kick. As a finishing touch add about 2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle pepper. Sarapique =)
Tips: 1.) Never marinate beef with salt as this dries up the meat. 2.) Use the pan used for searing meat as there is so much flavor on it. You can saute on it or just deglaze it with wine or stock. 3.) Green & red bell pepper may be omitted for a more traditional salpicao.
This beef salpicao was paired with Tatachilla Merlot from Australia.
Next on the agenda….Covap croquettas (Covap is the brand name of the cured meats used in this recipe).
Procedures: Sweat diced bacon, chorizo, salsichon, jamon iberico. Sprinkle with paprika for that Spanish taste. You can add some blue cheese and grated cheddar cheese for more flavor. If you wish to add cheese, turn off heat.
Then, combine mashed potatoes with all the ingredients in the pan. Make sure mashed potatoes are plain…meaning no salt or seasoning, no butter/cream/milk. After a thorough mix, form the meat infused mashed potatoes into your desired croquetta shape. Ideal shape of course is the elongated one. Roll the croquetta in flour, egg, breadcrumbs (in that order please). Fine bread crumbs will do. Deep fry.
Ideal croquettas form
"Croquettas look" after frying
A cheese sauce was made as accompaniment. Recipe was not in the booklet but because Chef Marco was so generous with his knowledge and ingredients, sauce was made on the spot. He sauteed garlic & onions in butter. Salt and milk were added. Then these sinfully delicious stuff followed: grated aged cheddar cheese, goat cheese, goat curd (divine!). Stir constantly on low fire. And then it’s shower time!!! Truffle oil poured….like rain =)
Extremely pleasurable cheese sauce! TBW wanted to lick the spoon and pan after =)
Tips: 1.) For the cheese sauce, use whatever cheese you have, especially the over staying ones in the ref. 2.) A well prepared sofrito can be used as sauce. In fact, any sauce sourced from ceativity & imagination will do. =) 3.) You can add ground beef, diced chicken, flaked salmon or any leftovers as filling. This is actually a great solution for leftover meat, seafood and mashed potatoes of the previous night’s roast. 3.) A huge batch of croquettas can be made to maximize time & effort. Store formed ones complete with batter in freezer. Anytime you need a ‘croq” fix, pop a few in the fryer.
The croquettas seemed quite simple to prepare yet the taste was nothing like it. The experience got even better as this tapas was paired with a Muscato frizzante, a light and fruity sparkling wine. A match made in heaven!
Grand Birdge Muscato Frizzante
Simple things can be used to create spectacular things. Higher levels can even be achieved if paired well. Hmmm….Food imitates life. Or life imitates food =)
Stay tuned for Part 2!