London’s Spanish fiesta

Sam Clark of Moro, an octopus and other gastronomic delights at the fiesta…

It was a pleasure to meet Sam Clark of Farringdon’s Moro & Morito restaurants last Thursday at Old Billingsgate. He was taking part in the annual Wines of Spain Consumer Tasting which offers some of the capital’s best Spanish food to accompany a wide range of the country’s wines.

Sam was chopping up a sizeable octopus for ‘Pulpo a la Gallega’ which was served with rock salt, smoked paprika and Basilippo Arbequina olive oil. It was exquisitely tender – reminding me of the great seafood that I enjoyed when I lived in Galicia – and a good wine from the region, Albariño Pazo Barrantes 2010 from Marqués de Murrieta, was the obvious choice to go with it (www.mmdltd.co.uk).

Alongside fellow Moro chef Andy Haimes was preparing a tapa which takes inspiration from the south of Spain – ‘Chicharrones de Cádiz’ (wood roasted pork belly) – and, as a heady waft of the spice suggested, cumin was a key ingredient here.

Spice can be a bit tricky with red wines, especially oaky reds, so I opted for another white to go with this tapa – the deliciously fruity La Miranda Garnacha Blanca from Viñas del Vero in the northern region of Somontano (www.gonzalezbyass.com). It proved to be another great combination.

The Moro chefs had decided to keep things fairly simple but seeing the duo putting their dishes together at the table made great culinary theatre.

Several other restaurants were also taking part with their specialities. Brindisa’s Robert Castro prepared a ‘tostadita’ with roast vegetables, mackerel and romesco dressing and Camino’s Nacho del Campo served up an equally delicious equivalent with charcoal-grilled pepper, aubergine, spring onion and anchovy.

For something completely different I then headed to Ibérica’s table to taste the eclectic celery and seaweed panna cotta with apple and cucumber which refreshed the palate. I was then ready to enjoy some classic Spanish cold cuts with a red wine and I found River Café Sergi Arola’s lomo and chorizo delicious with the fine Rioja Contino Reserva 2006 (www.hatchmansfield.com).

Down at the end of the hall several tables were attracting a lot of interest, especially from those who know how well fine sherry and jamón go together.

Two of the UK’s ‘master carvers’– Chuse Valero and Zac Fingal-Rock Innes – were carving up wafer-thin slices of jamón to be enjoyed with something from the well stocked Sherry Bar. I found some of my favourite sherries here including I Think Manzanilla En Rama and La Bota de Manzanilla No 32 both produced by Equipo Navazos (available from The Sampler and Philglass & Swiggot) and Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana from Bodegas Hidalgo (www.mentzendorff.co.uk).

Thanks for the fiesta!

*Attracting nearly 400 people, this celebration of Spanish wine and food was hosted by Wines from Spain in collaboration with the publishers of Square Meal magazine. Guests paid £25.

For more information about Spanish wine go to: www.winesfromspainuk.com

All the Spanish restaurants mentioned here appear on www.squaremeal.co.uk

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