Our Wine List

Thinking of Spanish wine is usually thinking of Rioja wine, but there is still life beyond it, because there are plenty options to enjoy a good wine in Spain. Here, at La Tertulia, we believe in local produces, in our goods and flavours, so we have created a wine list  focused on Ribera del Guadiana D.O. We firmly believe that our wine can support a sound and diverse wine list.

The main core of our selection of wine references is focused on wine from Matanegra area, such as our house wine, a young red wine which amazes people when they try it by the first time and gets adepts everyday.  It is a wine by Bodegas La Pelina, in Usagre, a family winery with a long tradition. They grow their own vineyards (Cabernet, Tempranillo and Merlot) so they can control the whole process, harvesting grapes manually and taking care of the vines. Paying attention even of the smallest details and receiving different prizes as a consequence, as in the case of their Privilegio de Chacona Oro (Merlot, barrel fermented) and Bronce (Cabernet Sauvignon crianza).

Also from Matanegra is Bodegas Toribio. Here you can find a pair of classic references, Viña Puebla Crianza (Tempranillo) and Viña Puebla Selección (Tinto Roble, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Garnacha and Shyrah), although we also have some of their new creations, gathered together under the name of Torivín. Other wine from Matanegra that we especially like is Jaloco rosé, by Bodegas Medina.

Our wine list from Ribera del Guadiana usually includes Quinta Alaude, Payva, Señorío de Orán and Castelar, in addition of some other references that changes regularly.

White wine from Matanegra features prominently in our menu too, such as Viña Puebla Macabeo (fruity young white wine), Torivín Young White (Macabeo, Verdejo y Eva) and Verdejo del Pizarral by La Pelina. But maybe our most popular white wines are medium-sweet wines, like Primavera, a  young wine by Bodegas Sani fromTierra de Barros area, and Dulce Eva, by Viña Maimona.

Still life with four bunches of grapes

Well, and now that we have feathered our own nest enough, its time to be clear: a good Spanish wine list is not complete without a good wine from Rioja D.O.and a good wine from Ribera del Duero D.O. too. From Rioja, we remain faithful to Ramón Bilbao, but sometimes we also offer other references like Cune or Baigorri; From Ribera del Duero, we have chosen Carramimbre. Regarding to white wines, we have a couple of essentials: Castillo de San Diego, by Barbadillo, and Mocén (Vedejo-Viura), a classy Rueda. Finaly, we are glad to introduce our most recent incorporation, Mar de Frades, a first class Albariño.

So, now that you know our selection, why don’t you come and have a glass of wine?

* The picture is Still life with four bunches of grapes, by  Juan Fernández el Labrador, an enigmatic baroque painter. It is believed that he is from this area, and the aspect of these grapes seems to reinforce that idea.

Plaza Chica: A Life Under the Arcades

It’s Sunday. Not any Sunday, but a good autumn Sunday. It’s raining outside, but wine and electric braziers warm the dinning-room, and there are lots of happy faces around the counter,  deeply engaged in cheerful conversations, everlasting discussions or love talks. Hustle and bustle, smokers jam at the door. You have to run and keep the balance with the tray, dodging a pair of tykes that are coming into, looking for their croquettes.

Say hello, smile, say goodbye, write down the orders, pull some beer and serve some drinks. Take a stew from the kitchen, a dish of olives, a salad and some desserts. Then, add one of those quarrels kitchen-waitress/waitress-kitchen that makes this job so wonderful, and you won’t be able to stand it anymore at five or six pm.

But then, everything is a bit more relaxed. You go out, smell some fresh air, stop for a while under the arcades to see the rainIMGP6689It is great to be here.

Here, in the Plaza Chica (Small Square), the small centre of our small world. More than six hundred years watching how life runs under the arcades: business and markets, trials and weddings, melon stands, theatre, carnivals, Curro Jiménez and The Holy Innocents.

The Square, setting for cinema and life, is probably the older spot in Zafra. It was the centre of the medieval town, which grew around it until the 16th  century, because economic and political power were concentrated here. The weekly market was authorised in 1380, and there are evidences of the location of the town hall since 1430.

The arcades are a natural consequence of its commercial function: three covered parts, for sheltering trades and goods from sun and rain, and a free part for the Town Hall, later the Court (It is still having the jail bars), and today, the Music School. Nowadays, the Square maintains its rectangular plan, surrounded by white buildings whose facades end in brick arches. They have assorted columns and capitals as a result of the reuse of architectonical materials from former Roman and Visigothic buildings. Some of these columns, witness of the passing of time, hold etching words that talk about past ages. In addition, we can see some intertwined arches in one of the windows. They are typical of the Gothic-Mudejar art, but very rare in Spanish architecture.

There are some signs of this commercial past. The most famous one is the Vara, an old Castilian measurement (83 cm) colengraved on a column as a reference for buying fabric. Stands were gathered by products in this old market. As an example, bakeries were located in the arc that leads to Big Square, thas is still called Arquillo del Pan (Bread Arc). The Almotacen, the guardian of the market, lived just there. And in this same corner, small as the square, a tiny baroque chapel devoted to a virgin who, because of her size is called Little Hope (La Esperancita).

The market grew as the town did during the Early Modern Period, so part of it was moved to the other square and Plaza Chica lost part of its commercial function.  However, it kept being the political and judicial centre, and became the location for some taverns and inns. They were our precedents, the ancestors of all these bars and restaurants that fill the square with life, colour and delicious food. 

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Escabeche: history and practice of pickling.

A Bit of History: The Origin of Escabeche

Trying to discover the history of a dish, it is very common to trace the history of its name, the etymology. In Spain, and Spanish, Mr. Corominas is the father of any etymology, so we turn to him to know where escabeche (pickling brine) is from.

This term comes from Arabic iskabej -it sounds obvious, regarding the amount of spices that dress the dish- and iskabej comes from Persian, because the dish appears on the menus of One Thousand and One Nights.

But Corominas takes it to his side. He puts a bit of Catalonian in this etymology, the pair –ch, because the usual evolution in Spanish should have been escabeje or escabel. But it doesn’t mean that the dish was born  in Sabadell, for example, as some people say, but the normalization of the term was based on Catalonian Medieval recipe books –as the Llibre del Coch, by Mestre Robert de Noia-, which were pioneers of European gastronomic writing.

Considering that language (and literature) is a reflection of life,  we can know the evolution of a concrete practice by following the evolution of a word. So, if we look back to the origing of the word escabeche, we will arrive almost at the origin of the civilization, the cradle of the Neolithic and the preserving practices that allow human being to overcome the alimentary right-here-right-now.

Pickling, as well as its cousins, marinades, is based on the use of an acidic medium (mostly vinegar) to avoid putrefaction. But, differently from marinades, food for pickling is previously cooked.

Spanish version is defined by the use of olive oil for frying this food (some people boil it, but the result is not as good as frying), and use different spices to make it tasty, mainly black pepper, bay, saffron and/or paprika.

As the Spanish culinary writer Capel says, European historic recipe books, as Alexandre Dumas’ Dictionary of Cuisine, give a Spanish origin to escabeche. And nothing can be more Spanish than this subsistence cuisine, that allows to take advantage of the abundance and low cost of seasonal produces, preserving them for days and eating them cold, wherever and whenever.

Nowadays, with all our fridges, microwaves, thermomixes  and so on, preserving is just an anecdote, although it doesn’t take taste from one of the more versatile and typical dishes of our cuisine.

 

A Bit of Practice: Cooking and Eating Escabeche

For a good escabeche you just need whatsoever, a good oil, vinegar and spices. Whatsoever can be meat, fish or vegetables, but always fried in a good olive oil. Here in Extremadura you can find escabeche made of vegetables (courgettes, beans, string beans, eggplants…), game meat, chicken, rabbit, sardines or river fishes.

Regarding to vinegar, any wine vinegar is appropriated for an escabeche made of game meat or fish, because a more aromatic one takes the chief role. On the contrary, vegetables and chicken ask for a good Sherry Vinegar.

About spices, they change according to cooks’ mood and preferences: there are as many escabeches as cooks. But if you have any doubt, you always can look up for a recipe on the Internet, where you can find plenty of them.

There are also some tricks for eating. First of all, you should use a spoon: the sour juice is part of the dish. Second, but not less important, let it rest for a day before eating. And finally, to make it perfect, you should eat it cold, a hot summer night, in La Tertulia.

 

SOME SUGGESTIONS

Escabeches are a classic dish of la Tertulia summer menu. Defined by frying in batter and by the mix of vinegar and bay with toast garlic and saffron plus some orange slices, the result is a dish where technique is an excuse for enjoying a soft mix of aroma and taste. This summer we suggest escabeche made of courgettes from El Raposo or Sardines  in pickling brine.

And for drinking, a cold beer, because the bitternes of beer make the taste of pickling strong.