Brindisa is one of those places in London that i’ve heard so much about but despite all of the glowing reviews and compliments, I have never made it – until last night that is.
I embarked on my journey to South Kensington last night with high hopes – I was about to attend a Sherry and Andalucian tapas tasting evening at Casa Brindisa.
One of my favourite cuisines is Spanish, probably due to the amount of time I spent in Spain when I was a child. Maybe not an awful lot in comparison to the more well seasoned traveller but nonetheless it gave my pallet and taste buds a firm grounding.
So the point of the evening: to introduce a range of press and bloggers to the new supper clubs held at the venue plus the Andalucian menu that will run through the month of September.
The venue itself, sweet and atmospheric with a bar area, tapas area, ham carving counter and a room at the bottom, which lets you look into the kitchen.
Peter McCombie, Master of Wine was on hand to teach us the difference between 10 sherry’s and how each and every one of them complemented the food that was served to us throughout the evening. Unfortunately I’m not overly fond of sherry, although I did try each one that was served to me. Some were potent, others sweet. I made a note of my favourite of the evening – Oloroso Abocado Alameda. Peter caught my attention, especially when he said ‘when you taste the sherry, tell me whatever you taste because you won’t be wrong. I might argue with you but you won’t be wrong.’ I didn’t hear any arguments throughout the evening.
My favourite facts that I learned:
• There is no umami present in Sherry. Heston Blumenthal tested this out. There is however something called AKP, meaning that it enhances the taste of foods. e.g. It makes crab taste crabbier
• There is an argument that if you can afford not to filter the wine, it will leave more to the taste
• There is also an argument that sherry can be aged once opened. Some say it ruins it if it is kept for too long as once it is open it will change. You can easily keep a good bottle of sherry open for a week or two but a lot of people think that ageing should take place in the barrel rather than the bottle
• The ‘Napoleon’ in ‘Amontillado Seco ‘Sacromonte’, Validivia is the French word. Apparently in English, this used to be called ‘Wellington’ but Peter is not sure that this still exists
I enjoyed seeing everyone getting fired up, especially Monika, founder of Brindisa who I saw taking in the smells.
During the tasting, we found out that she has a real passion for capers as she willed us all to try the hand picked capers that had been laid out for us on the table along with fine olives. There are a few foods that don’t satisfy my taste buds and two of those things are, unfortunately, capers and olives. Nonetheless, not wanting to seem rude, partly due to Monkia’s genuine passion, I popped one in my mouth and chewed. I was pleasantly surprised – not enough to say I would eat them all of the time but they were indeed less salty than cultivated capers. They are around three times the price of the capers that you would find in a supermarket and are only in season from June until September.
Now on to the food. Last night was full of surprises – firstly, I didn’t turn my nose up at a single one of the sherry’s that was served to me. It is no secret that I am not a big drinker, nor do I know much about alcohol. The only drinks I’ll ever have are white wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough please), Vodka with fresh Lime and Soda Water and Pear Cider. Recently I tried a Tanqueray cocktail at Vintage at Goodwood and it was rather tasty but apart from that, I stay well away from other spirits.
Secondly – the Remojon (orange and cod carpaccio salad, with artichoke) turned out to be my favourite savoury dish. The flavour combination was something that I have never experienced before. The saltiness of the cod, mixed with the texture of fresh artichoke, sweetness from the orange and the crunch from the red onion, pure heaven!
Thirdly – you can make exceptional fritters without eggs! The Tortillita de gamba (prawn tortilla) was the perfect example of this. The chef came over to our table to give us a bit of an education. The only ingredients used in this were prawns, red onion, garlic, flour. They are then fried in no doubt lots of oil.
Each dish that we were served had something special about it and I was left wanting more each time, especially when it came around to the pudding. A Tocinillo de cielo (heavenly flan dish) was placed in front of me and my first thought was that it looked like a beautiful crème caramel that my mum used to make when I was younger. I didn’t fully appreciate the almost sour taste of the sauce back in those days when all I used to eat were flying saucers and red fizzy laces (I’m not joking and I still eat them now) but one mouthful of the flan last night and I was astonished – i’m not a kid anymore! I finished it too quickly, as did the two girls sat beside me. We all ‘mmmmm’d’ and repeated more than once that what we had just eaten was bloomin’ delicious. There was a spare plate sat in the middle of our table, which we graciously finished – we couldn’t let it go to waste could we?!
When leaving, I was thanked by Monika for coming along and I told her I’d be back, if not for the Spanish Flan alone! I’ll definitely keep my word and next time try the Soho branch, Tierra Brindisa.
From the website:
For the last twenty years, Brindisa, an adventurous food importer, has sourced some of the finest foods from Spain. These are available to professional buyers across the country and also at the Brindisa shop at Borough market. With the opening of Tapas Brindisa in 2004, Monika Linton, who founded Brindisa in 1988, realised a long awaited dream: that of working with the creative flair of our team of chefs, to create our own place to serve Brindisa ingredients. Casa Brindisa enjoys the same heritage of fine producers behind its foods and a modern outlook on tapas cooking from the kitchen.
Find out more about the classes here.
7-9 Exhibition Road
Tel 020 7590 0008