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By Luis Lechuga
You may have asked yourself this question, or been asked by friends or relatives…. Can wine tours be enjoyed with children?
Everyone may have his or her own answer about this question, but in my case 2 things make this question especially important. As a matter of fact, I myself have 2 children, aged 3 and 5, who are adorable… but also noisy (you would not expect otherwise being Spanish children) and who love to run and jump, and play fight.
The second thing which makes my case a bit special is that I organize wine tours… My friends have indeed asked me. “Have you ever visited wineries and done one of the tours you propose with Mateo and Miguel? “ (my sons) Well, eh, the answer is no. Better said, the answer was no… I decided I had to try.
On the one hand I feel it is very important for me to transmit to my children passion about the job I do, and I think this can help them chose in the future a job they will like. In my case, it involves visiting the places I recommend and strolling along endless rows of vines amongst many other fascinating activities. On the other hand, there is also the challenge to make out of a wine tour a trip enjoyable for children. Is that feasible?
Spain is a land very rich in history. This results in a myriad of castles and monuments spread all over the country. I also know many wineries near those castles, and wineries which were literally carved in rock, and which welcome the visitor with tunnels hundreds of meters long in a very intriguing manner. With these 2 ideas in mind my wife and I decided we could get the boys ready for the trip a bit in advance… We will tell them stories of knights and warriors, princesses and kings… and also the story of secret places that stored and kept safe treasures or food (what could be more of a treasure than food in days of famines?…) All these things were to be visited during our next trip, and the bed-time stories revolved around castles and secret places…
We had 4 days and we decided to do both Rioja and Ribera del Duero. From Madrid this is a good option. Ribera is one hour and a half drive North of Madrid. The River Douro was for centuries a natural border and the region is full of castles which protected it. We left Madrid a bit later than peak time to avoid any traffic jams and arrived at Aranda de Duero at 11:00 AM. In Aranda we spent some time walking near the Douro river and visiting the town center, which hosts a beautiful Main Square and 2 amazing churches. The children prefer early lunches (by Spanish standards) so we had planned a short visit to Bodegas Portia (Norman Foster was the architect involved in this project) and had lunch at their restaurant, which turned out very convenient. A drive to Peñafiel (http://www.turismocastillayleon.com/cm/setLocale?pgseed=1343401464939&dvRegLocale=en_UK) followed and during the drive a small siesta for the children. Great! Peñafiel literally means the “Loyal Rock”… and if you are there and stand in front of the mountain and its impressive castle you fully grasp why it is named so. Going up to the castle was a great experience for the children. The city hall has installed a replica of the castle in one of the local parks, and our boys spent a good hour climbing and playing knights and dragons… The views from the castle are simply amazing and you can easily, and so did the children, imagine yourself in ancient times, spotting for any troops in the horizon.
We decided not to visit any other winery that same day, but to take a walk in the streets of Peñafiel instead and relax at our hotel. The following morning we visited Protos. This is a classic if you are in Ribera and a winery of a kind… it is built underneath the mountain and has kilometers of tunnels that contrast with Richard Rogers new winery next to the old one. Impressive.
After this visit we drove straight to Rioja (http://www.lariojaturismo.com) . Motorways in Spain are good and from Peñafiel this is a two-and-a-half hour drive to our selected destination in Labastida (http://tourism.euskadi.net/x65-12375/en/contenidos/d_destinos_turisticos/0000006316_d2_rec_turismo/en_6316/6316-ficha2.html)
We opted for a Casa Rural this time. This type of accommodation in Spain is very convenient if travelling with children. Old, typical houses have been restored with charm and equipped with modern facilities in order to guarantee a pleasant and comfortable stay. We selected a House with a 2 bedroom apartment. The house dates back to the XVIth century and it has a maze-type garden… perfect for the kids to play. Labastida is one of those villages in Rioja where a hill hosts a church. Down the hill narrow cobbled streets make you think of the days these streets were full of horses. Labastida is a great location to visit La Rioja. It is a 15 minute drive from Haro (where many wineries are concentrated around the train Station, from which the trains transported wine to the harbours in the north), 20 minute drive from Laguardia -an amazing walled city- and 45 minutes drive from San Millan (in Santiago / St James way) or Logroño.
We visited 4 wineries altogether the following 2 days, in 2 of them we opted for wineries where nice walks in the vineyards are possible… and also visited the wine Museum of Dinastia Vivanco. We could not obviously stay there all the time the place deserves but the children were fascinated by some of the items exhibited. They also loved the “grape train” in Laguardia… boys do always love trains, a kind of adventure for them!
People are very welcoming in this part of Spain, and you can feel that children are always welcome in restaurants… Here are a few tips though if you are travelling with children in this part of Spain (or maybe in any part of the world!): bring along some drawing material and a couple of toys. We had printed before departure from Madrid some colourings (grapes, oak barrels, castles and knights) to keep them entertained… plus also a mighty surprise: 2 warriors and their horses… a prize for good behavior after Day 1. It is amazing to see what sort of imaginative stories the children come up with… and the toys helped us a bit to be able to combine winery visits. My wife and I both drive. We therefore took turns with the driving, although it didn´t prevent the driver from tasting the wine anyway (remember you can, as professionals do, spit the wine in the recipient provided). However I must admit that there is no way I was going to spit out such delicious wines when it wasn´t my turn to drive!!!
A great family trip! Would I include a Tour to enjoy with children in our offer at www.winetourismspain.com? I still need to think about it…
Chef Luca Ciaffarafà
The Tuscan origin of Ciaffarafà is reflected in his interpretation and expression he give to his cuisine. At the base of all is a great respect and dedication to what the tuscan territory has to offer. His expertise in cuisine is extended to a wide range of arguments, being a professional sommelier, pastry chef, certified ice cream maker and mastering an infinite amount of subjects such as sugar based decorations, ice sculptures and monumental cakes, extra virgin olive oil taster, fruit and vegetable décor.
One may truly consider Chef Ciaffarafà has highly professional chef and gastronomic expert.
Among his professional experiences, he has worked in Austria, Monte Carlo, Bangkok, Los Angeles, Boston, New York and Great Britain.
The future plans for the Sapordivino Restaurant of the Grand Hotel Continental will focus on rediscovering the typical and regional recipes, adapted to the modern cuisine and with dedication to the details of presentation. Emphasis will be placed on the selection of the single ingredients, the use of spices, fresh herbs and salts. Menùs will respect the seasonal products further to offering specifics on organic produce. Suggestions for vegetarians and any dietary intolerances will be attentively created.
Some example of dishes: “Necci” – chestnut crepes – filled with tuscan raw ham and Pecorino – sheep cheese, Black cabbage millefeuille with lard from Chianti, “Gnudi” – spinach and ricotta dumpling- with wild tender herbs and crisp sage, Wild boar stew with olives,
The Restaurant Sapordivino will present a dynamic menu for lunches and dinners, offer the possibility to create a special and private moment in the beautiful wine cellar with a tasting menu to match selected wines and furthermore, the magnificent function rooms of the Grand Hotel Continental will host cocktails, business lunches, gala dinners, wedding reception.
Fagottini di Cinta Senese alla piastra con mostarda del Chianti
(Grilled Sienese pork filled parcels with Chianti chutney and apple vinegar)
|Ingredients (3 people):||Method:|
|Melagre del Chianti – Chianti Apple vinegar or balsamic vinegar gr 9Extra virgin olive oil 60gr
Red/Yellow peppers gr 90
Orange marmellade gr 45
Mixed flour gr 450 – rye, white, spelt and chestnut
Lemon juice gr 50
Parmesan cheese gr 15
Pork meet gr 300
Milk gr 60
Butter gr 30
Sugar gr 30
Minced celery, carrot and onion gr 50
Spices: mace, cinnamon, horseradish
|For the parcels: mix the flour, eggs, lemon juice and oil into a smooth doughFor the chutney: cut the peppers into small dices, springle with sugar and putt to a side for 12 hours. Put the pepper in a pot with the orange marmellade, chilli pepper and spice and stir when needed until they are cooked.For the filling: cut in small pieces the pork meat, stir fry in a pan with the celery, carrot and onion until cooked. Grind all the ingredients with the parmesan cheese.Make a besciamelle with milk, butter and flour (15 gr.). Add to the filling.Roll out the dough thinly, form the parcels with the filling. Boil in water fro 2 min and then brill grill with a little oil.
Lay out the parcels on the plate with a spoon of the Chianti chutney. Décor with drops of Melagre of the Chianti or balsamic vinegar.
For more information contact Barbara3@rogers.com
Langdon Hall, Cambridge
Our most memorable vacation meals are often found close to home and
Cambridge’s Langdon Hall is no exception. A
revered dining venue and vacation destination, the Hall is celebrated for
its culinary excellence. Five Diamond awarded Chef Jonathan Gushue is
for making each meal a miniature masterpiece, demonstrating his passion for
French-inspired cuisine. How does one go back to reality after this five
star treatment? Try making his Cucumber Gazpacho and Lettuce Gazpacho
recipes at home.
|300mL vegetable stock (or water if desired)
2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
200mL 35% cream
100g fresh horseradish, grated
1 tbsp tarragon (chopped)
1 tbsp chervil (chopped)
1 tbsp basil (chopped)
1 tbsp chive (chopped)
2 tbsp creamed horseradish
Salt, white pepper, and lemon juice to taste
|Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Pass through
a strainer and season with salt, white pepper and lemon juice. This is best
made 24 hours in advance so the flavours can develop.Serve very cold.
|2 heads romaine lettuce, dark green tops removed
5 shallots, sliced
1 fennel bulb, core and outer layer removed, sliced
1 celery heart with leaves, chopped
1 bunch chervil
300mL garlic aioli (see below)
Sea salt (such as Maldon)Aioli Ingredients:
6 egg yolks
|For the aioli – In a large bowl, whisk first four ingredients until smooth.
Then slowly drizzle in oils white continuing to whisk until mixture
into a mayonnaise. Season with salt, white pepper, and more lemon juice if
needed.For the gazpacho – Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until
smooth. Pass through a strainer and season with salt. Add more aioli if
necessary. Serve very cold.
For more information contact Barbara3@rogers.com
Great chefs: Stefano Mazzone
Born in 1975, native of Treviso, Sicilian parents.
Chef of the famous Grand Hotel Quisisana, Capri, Italy
He started his career with Gualtiero Marchesi and after only two months experience, became Chef de partie for appetizers. Mr. Marchesi educated him to think of the dish and paper, to design it according to a certain style and then turn into realty, with a rigid discipline, an absolute rigour to maintain the same level of quality, through hours of painstaking work.
No genius, but great determination, knowledge, experimentation and a bit of creativity, so that, according to Mazzone, allows the extra step to be an innovator, to
do something unique. This severity sounds pretty amazing from a chef so open minded, with intuitions, sometimes born of constraints, such as prosaic request of a grilled fish, then comes with a grilled mackerel in tomato vinaigrette
After the “military service” with Marchesi, Mazzone learnt how to cultivate, as Sicilian, the being Mediterranean, the fun in the kitchen from a Teutonic by Heinz Beck, “one with a kitchen so colorful and vivid to seem of a chef South of France, chaotic and volcanic, but the best marketing manager between chefs, an example of how to talk to the customer even after the dinner, as not to miss the opportunities of the market, through a clear business plan.”
The apparent simplicity conceals peaks of flavor that are the result of analysis, study, experimentation, innovation, such as when the bones of the bird, be it a pigeon or a partridge are cooked on the bottom, on the grill, slowly to avoid burning, and focus on taking a note smoked flavor that enhances the sauce making it completely new.
Tastes, texture, even the temperatures tend to be warm “as the body temperature, natural, non-invasive”, are recognizable, clean, touch the memory of smells and tastes that everyone has, at a deep level as it has evolved palate and trained, and at the surface, to their immediate pleasure.
Grilled Mackerel with cherry tomatoes and Oregon flavoured mayonnaise
|Ingredients (4 persons)
4 Mackerels of approx. 250/300 gr. Each
1 kg cherry tomatoes
1 red onion
300 wild Oregon
2 egg yolk
300g olive oil
2 lt. Mineral water
30 g wine vinegar
|MethodMackerel: cut the fish but leaving the tail and remove the fish bones with a little pincher.
Tomatoes: soak in salted boiling water for 10
seconds and immediately make cold, peel them in
quarters and wash seeds and gelatines.
Peel the onion and cut in little slices.Mayonnaise: clean the oregon and wash it quickly
with water. Place it for few seconds in boiling
mineral water and immediately make cold.
Fill a little can and mix with a high speed mixer.
Whip the yolks with salt and olive oil; when the
mayonnaise is done add mineral water until the
sauce becomes semi-liquid.
Add the oregon that has been previously winnowed
and fill it in a Siphon.
Load a cartridge for the cream and keep in the
refrigerator for few hours.Plate assembling:
Add the onion to the tomatoes, add salt, olive oil
and vinegar, leave it for few minutes.
Cook the Mackerel on a very hot grill, place the
tomatoes well dry from their juice in the plate in
Place the mayonnaise and on the top, one mackerel.
Garnish with salt, oregon and little oregon flowers,
For more information contact Barbara3@rogers.com