Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Researching a Trip to Spain at the Woodfire Grill: Thursday, September 27, 2012

Here's what you do Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wines of Bodegas Alvear of Montilla-Moriles in Southern Spain.  These will assuredly be part of an upcoming trip.
A trip to Spain is in the offing my friends.  Some time toward the end of the year.  It's time to research.  What better way to do it than to check out all things Spanish that Atlanta has to offer?!  Over the next few months, we'll be focusing on Spain.  A recipe here, a dance class there.  It's gonna be fun!  And when the time comes, we'll be ready.  Wanna come?

The first event in our research plan is the September Wine Dinner at Woodfire Grill.  It's Thursday night at 6.  Woodfire's wine director and sommelier have hooked up with the Spanish Winery Bodegas Alvear of Montilla-Moriles in southern Spain to bring us a five-course meal paired with five different sherries.   The evening begins at 6 with a reception featuring Cava.  That's followed by a dinner at 6:30.  Cost is $95, plus tax and grats.  Reservations are required at their event page on Facebook.

Woodfire is Kevin Gillespie's place.  Kevin, of Top Chef fame, is a truly inventive master in the kitchen.  The food will delight and inspire you.  Trust us.

Kevin Gillespie's Woodfire Grill is the stage for the Spanish sheery inspired dinner.

Now, more about Bodegas Alvear and Spanish sherry.  First.  Where is it?  Check out the map below. Montilla is in the Andalucia region in South Central Spain.  Apparently, the Alvear family has been producing this wine for centuries, and has had quite an impact on the region politically, socially, economically.  You name it.   From the Alvear Web site:
"Throughout its 284-year long history, Bodegas Alvear has managed to hold on to its family traits, passing ownership from parent to child so that currently the business is in the hands of the eighth generation. 
Over the years, each one of the family’s successive generations has contributed its very own grain of sand to the business; both in the bodega’s strive towards state-of-the-art technology, as well as in its determination to preserve its architectural heritage. 
This historic bodega has successfully managed to combine and put into practice the extensive experience of a privileged land and a dedicated family in order to produce exceptional wines."

View Larger Map

The wines are based on the Pedro Ximenez grape.  From Alvear's site:

"Alvear is one of the most prestigious and internationally renowned bodegas in Andalucía, boasting extensive vineyards that are located in the most famous estates in the Sierra de Montilla y Moriles (Córdoba). 
This privileged land’s star grape variety is Pedro Ximénez, which is thought to have originated in the Rhine region, and is used by the bodega as the unique base wine for its sweet, Fino, Oloroso and Amontillado wines.

The Pedro Ximénez grape variety
Bodegas Alvear, Montilla Moriles
 The Pedro Ximénez grape variety is not only the star of DO Montilla-Moriles but also of the wines and vineyards owned by Bodegas Alvear. Legend has it that it was brought from the Rhine by a solider serving in the Spanish army in Flanders, who consequently gave it his name. 
In general, the bodega’s vineyards are cultivated on exceptionally chalky soils. The region boasts two very distinct soil types: white ‘albariza or albero’ soils which are very chalky, porous, poor in organic material and produce low yields, and where the grapes are subject to a longer and more balanced ripening process; and ‘ruedo’ soils that are red in colour due to the presence of iron oxides, and which, in contrast, accelerate the ripening process. 
After the initial vinification process the wines are subject to the miracle known as ‘ageing under a velo de flor’; a natural biological process whereby a cream-coloured cap or ‘velo de flor’ of yeast, indigenous to the region, develops on the top of the wine. The action of the yeast bestows extraordinary aroma and flavour to the wine, which is quite distinct from when it is first produced as a base wine. In order to encourage the development of the native yeast strain optimum temperature and humidity conditions are maintained in the bodega and the wine casks or butts are filled to about five-sixths, leaving enough free space at the top for the ‘velo de flor’ to develop. Wines subject to a longer ageing process, usually until the nutritional capacity of the ‘flor’ has been exhausted, are called Amontillado wines, which acquire a deep golden colour."

Andalucia is sounding pretty darned good!  See you at Woodfire at 6.

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Here's what you do Thursday

First:  The Spanish start out the day with strong coffee.  Let's follow suit.  Check out this video from Alton Brown on making coffee.  He really, really knows what he's talkin about.  Pair it with some toast with bread and strawberry jam.  You're good to go.  ($10 for ingredients).

Second:  This month's Delta Sky mag has a feature on Barcelona.  They cover everything from hotels to restaurants to nightlife.  Check out this eatery guide.  But, apparently, THE source for keeping up with what's going on in the club and restaurant scene is Le Cool magazine.   We'll be reading that for the duration, and certainly for this morning.  Pull it up on your iPad and take a read with a good cup of coffee.  Don't have an iPad?  Get the iPad scoop here.  Note that Le Cool is in both English and Spanish.  The plan is to slowly learn the language, so that when we are in Spain, we can get the down low from Le Cool in Spanish with the best of 'em.  More to come on the best way to learn the lingo.  Stay tuned...

The new W in Barcelona is a grand shimmering sail of a building, a true wonder.

Third:  A tapas lunch at Eclipse di Luna in Miami Circle.  Eclipse started the tapas craze in Atlanta, and they're still goin' strong.  Have two sangrias at Eclipse and say Tapas three times fast.  Tee hee...  Try the Quesos Espanolesa (spanish cheeses), Borrego a la Parrilla (lamb sirloin with roasted tomato sauce, fresh watercress and herb sald), or the paella.  ($ - $25 per person.)

Eclipse Di Luna in Miami Circle on Piedmont.

Fourth:  Nap.  You're in for a five course meal soon.  Get your siesta goin'!

Fifth:  Bodega Alvear at Woodfire Grill.  Time for some serious research.  :-)  $95 per person plus grats and tax.  Starts at 6.  Make a Rez!

Finally:  Ok, so Blues might not be exactly Spanish.  But, I bet the Spanish can relate, and so can you!  Go see Beverly 'Guitar' Watkins  at Blind Willies.  She's awesome.  One of the few African American women blues guitar players out there, and a legend.  From Wikipedia:
"Sandra Pointer-Jones writes, "Beverly Watkins is a pyrotechnic guitar maven whose searing, ballistic attacks on the guitar have become allegorical tales within the blues community."[1] George Varga, reviewing her debut CD, observed that Watkins “sings and plays with enough poise and verve to make musicians half her age or younger consider alternative means of employment.”"
Check out this clip!

She's on at Blind Willies at 9:30 and 11:00 on Thursday night.  Cover is $7.  Have a drink, dance, and flow.

Book Keeping:

For two people

Breakfast: $10
LeCool: $Free
Eclipse Di Luna: $50
Nap: $Free
Dinner: $190 +  $10 for tax and $40 for tip
Blind Willies: $14 + $16 for drinks

Total: $330

Day Map:

View AlvearAtWoodfire in a larger map

Carbon Footprint:

Todays full day plan takes about 20 mi. of driving, if your home base is midtown Atlanta.  That equates to about 16 pounds of carbon dioxide, or the carbon sequestered by about 3 sq feet of forest.  Calculations are based on the U.S. EPA's green house gas equivalencies calculator.  

20 miles of driving
16 pounds of carbon dioxide
3 square feet of forest would be required to sequester this carbon.

Wonder why a gallon of gas (about 6 pounds) generates 20 pounds of green house gas?  Check out this article at

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