Having just come back from a weekend in the south of Spain, I was feeling all Mediterranean- skip the burgers, I was suddenly craving fish and olives.
So it was rather a stroke of luck when Copa de Cava and Sauce Communications invited me down to a Cava and Tapas evening.
I wont deny it, I love a glass of the old champers, but again I won't deny, Cava had always seemed rather anonymous to me. Was it a cheaper version of Champagne? A British imitation? With questions needing to be answered, I headed on down the stairs to the little magical brick vault that is Copa de Cava.
Cava is a sparkling wine, which in the past was referred to as "Spanish champagne", although its not allowed under European Union law any more, as Champagne is a protected name under something called Protected Geographical Status.
Yet it is not to be sniffed at. Cava is as prestigious, and as much a labour of love as Champagne is, it just hasn't quite translated over to us Brits yet.
Keen to change that perception, we began with a cracker; Raventos Blanc De Nit Brut Reserva paired with Pan Con Tomate.
Crisp toasted bread with tomatoes, roasted garlic and extra virgin olive oil went fantastic with the Cava. It was extremely fresh, with a soft hint of fruit. Who needs champagne when Cava tastes this good?
We then were served Chacinas- A selection of cured meats: Teruel D.0. Jamón, Lomo lberico, Chorizo and Fuet. I love cured meats, and I found the Iberico and Chorizo very impressive here.
We swiftly moved onto the Conde De Haro Brut (Rioja) paired with Setas, which is sliced Abalone mushroom tossed in garlic and chilli. The Cava was delicious, but I will be honest the mushroom wasn't quite to my liking. It had a unusual texture, rather rubbery, almost like halloumi.
I did however really enjoy the Tortilla Siglo just because it was a Spanish omelette in a glass! Genius!
I've had tapas a few times over the years, but I've never actually had that popular classic Patatas Bravas. Yes, pretty shocking on my part. Luckily I was making up for my sins by finally sampling those Potato rolls in a tomato based 'brava sauce'. The verdict? Not bad at all eh?
Now we all know champagne is best drank with friends- friends don't let fiends drunk alone- so I invited Frou along to convert to the world of Cava. You remember Frou from my Fable launch party post- yes we stayed in touch! Woop!
We also met Nancy from Its a Lifestyle Thing, and so 3 hungry and thirsty girls continued on our quest to learn about Cava.
Up next was the Raimat Gran Brut paired with Ceviche of stone bass marinated in lime, chilli, coriander. I was wowed by the Ceviche. I've never had Ceviche before, but the crispness of flavours just shone right through in each mouthful. Delicious!
Things were clearly getting serious now as our glasses were quickly whipped away and replaced with the Mont marcal reserva and a platter of coca recapta- Thin crispy pastry sheets topped with roasted aubergine, red pepper, onions and anchovies. I loved the overall combination, but I did accidentally eat a chunk of anchovy on its own. Salt-y!
However the winner of the night was this impressive beast-
Pulpo- A whole Octopus tentacle with olive oil mash and paprika, which was paired with the deliciously rich ALBARIÑO, Mar de frades brut nature. Another winner.
Wow, the octopus was so fresh, so juicy, it just blew me away. I've never had octopus so meaty before!
Thinking there couldn't be much more, you'd be very wrong indeed. Things were just getting started. Well when in... err... Spain?
The Reserva de la familia gran reserva was up next matched to slices of presa iberica which is shoulder of Iberica pig done rare- very rare indeed. I found the Iberica needed a little seasoning, but the creamy pearl barley mixed with lberico ham and Manchego cheese was heaven.
Thinking I couldnt fit another bite in, we were presented with an amazing filete tartaro which is a smoked steak tartare which was kept under glass. Confused, I soon understood when the glass dome was lifted and out poured the smoke! Talk about fresh!
Finally we popped a little chunk of ladrillo de Chocolate into our awaiting mouths. Sweet beautiful dark chocolate filled with a deliciously sugary white chocolate truffle mousse.
Upon finishing, we were told our education was complete, and so like any graduation we celebrated by popping open a bottle of the very finest. The Kripta, Gran Reserva Brut Nature, agusti torella 2007. Costing £85 a bottle, Cava is no cheap bubbly knock off!
Having sampled enough Cava to possibly last a lifetime (OK who am I kidding, when its this good, maybe a week at best) I can honestly say I am a Cava convert. Who knew Cava was such a refined drink.
So next time you reach for the Champagne, give Cava a try instead. But remember like any wine or Champagne, don't go for the cheap bottom shelf thing, you'll always find the rubbish ones there. Give good Cava a chance.
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