Carpe Vinum: Passport to Catalonia

catalonia flag picAnother one of my Carpe Vinum girlfriends is dusting off her passport — she’s on her way to  Barcelona, Spain.  So . . .  the theme for Carpe Vinum this month was The Wines of Catalonia.

I wrote a separate background post on the wines of Catalonia.  If you missed it, you can find it here: Homage to Catalonia.

We had a terrific afternoon (when do we not?), sampling our way through Catalonia.  As always, the recipe titles are links to the recipes.

¡Bon Profit!

Spanish Potato Chip Omelette paired with Raventós i Blanc De Nit Cava 2011
If you make nothing else from this month’s Carpe Vinum . . . make this!!  It’s an omelette made with potato chips — how much more incentive do you need?  This is a José Andrés recipe, and my girlfriend went for the totally authentic experience, using JA potato chips and JA olive oil. The omelette is finished slightly underdone, which acts as a sauce, and it is insanely good!  And you MUST watch the video in the link.  I could listen to José Andrés all day long — he’s adorable:  “The omelette is so joo-neek!”

Learn from my mistake:  I tried to make a potato chip omelette myself, and I don’t think I had enough olive oil in the pan because mine stuck to EVERYTHING!!  Instead, I made a potato chip scramble.  It still tasted great, though.

Raventós i Blanc De Nit Cava 2011 ⭐⭐⭐/92
A classic Cava blend of Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada . . . with the addition of 5% Monastrell for color.  And the color on this Cava is like cutting into a Ruby Red grapefruit — gorgeous! Beautifully textured.  Floral and citrus.  And it’s only $18.  I should buy a case.  Go ahead, Raventós, say it:  Eat my Shorts, Champagne!

The Pairing 👍👍
The omelette is amazing.  The Cava is amazing.  Together, they’re otherworldly!  I would have been happy to sit and eat potato chip omelette and drink Cava all day long.  The Cava was the perfect complement to the saltiness of the omelette.

Chicken with Catalan Picada paired with Coto de Imaz Rioja Reserva 2008
Picada is a popular sauce in Catalonia.  I’m told it’s not used as a condiment, but as an addition to various dishes.  It’s basically almonds (doesn’t have to be almonds, though), stale bread, garlic and some kind of broth to bind it all together.  This particular chicken dish is made with bittersweet chocolate, so it reminds me a little of the Mexican chicken mole, but without the spiciness.  It’s rich and so flavorful.  An absolute must try!

Coto de Imaz Rioja Reserva 2008 ⭐⭐⭐/90
Yes, yes.  I know Rioja isn’t from Catalonia.  But stuff happens and this is what my girlfriend ended up with . . . so we roll with it.  Rioja is like crack for me . . . I can’t resist the stuff. Tempranillo is so smooth and silky.  Sip after sip, this is a glass of chocolate covered cherries. An absolute delight.  And it’s only $17.

The Pairing 👍
This pairing, though not a Catalonian wine, ended up working extremely well.  The chocolate notes in the wine just sing with the chocolate in the Chicken Picada.  And I started singing Pharrell (Smoky the Bear hat) William’s Happy song in my head!

Baked Ricotta Meatballs with Romesco Sauce paired with Vinos Pinol Terra Alta Ludovicus Red 2009 AND Clos Dalian Garnacha Monsant 2009
Romesco is another almond based Catalonian sauce, but this one is made with ground almonds and a melange of peppers.  My girlfriend used smoked paprika in her Romesco.  I’m not a fan of smoked foods (I won’t even buy smoked turkey at the deli), so I recused myself from critique.  But everyone raved about the sauce.  The meatballs were fantastic.  It never would have occurred to me to use ricotta in a meatball.  Yum!

Vinos Piñol Ludovicus 2009 ⭐⭐/84
This is a wine from the Terra Alta DO of Catalonia.  So glad we got to taste outside of Penedès and Priorat!  A blend of Garnacha, Tempranillo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Soft berries upfront, but a spicy black pepper on the finish.  A bargain at $10.

Cellers Unió Clos Dalian Garnacha 2009 ⭐/87
From the Montsant DO of Catalonia, this is another bargain at $10.  100% Garnacha.  I love the cinnamon notes.  And there’s definitely a black licorice component that tames the smoky paprika, so it really worked for me.  There’s a little chocolate on the finish, so I went back and tried it with the Chicken Picada . . . Mmmmm!

The Pairings 👍
Both wines worked really well with the meatballs.  My preference was the Garnacha because it tamed the smokiness of the paprika.  Everyone else preferred the Ludovicus.  You see how that worked out?  Something for everyone . . .

Catalan Pork Sausage (Butifarra) with Mushrooms paired with Terra de Verema Triumvirat Priorat 2006
This is another José Andrés recipe.  I wanted it to be authentic, so I ordered the pork sausage (butifarra) from La Tienda, a Spanish grocery in Williamsburg, Virginia.  I’ll admit, I’m not much of a sausage fan — I get a little weirded out by the fattiness.  And when I cooked this dish, there was a crazy amount of fat from the butifarra.  And even though José didn’t say to drain it, I did.  I had to.  The dish is rustic and simple — the splash of Moscatel and the raisins give it a touch of sweetness for balance.  José suggests serving the dish alongside simple white beans.  I did follow that advice, and wow . . . deliciós!

Terra de Verema Triumvirat Priorat 2006 ⭐⭐⭐/90
Priorat definitely has something special going on.  The complexity here is a notch above the other DOs.  A blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah.  Beautifully balanced between fruit and funk.  Blueberry and pencil-lead swirled together in a glass.  A bit more expensive at $30, but worth the splurge.

The Pairing 👍
Rustic food loves rustic wine . . . what else can I say?

I hope my girlfriend is enjoying her time in Catalonia . . . and I hope you all enjoyed this month’s Carpe Vinum pairings!

Next month:  The Governor’s Six-Pack.  Curious, aren’t you??



  1. As I am married to ‘The Potato Guy’ (no, we don’t grow potatoes ourselves) I am sure we will be trying the potato chip omelette – will look for the wine. May experiment with the others as well, thanks.


  2. You should absolutely try it . . . and let me know how you like it!! I think it would work with just about any Brut Cava or Sparkler. There’s just something about eggs and bubbles . . . Salud!


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