We were welcomed by a glass of Torres Coronas Tempranillo, a red wine that was just okay by my indiscriminate palate. See, I'm not really a wine person nor do I pretend to be. When it comes to wines, I just know what I prefer if I like how it tastes... and up to this day it's still Hardy's light and fruity Riesling. Skimming through the menu, I was horrified to find out that our main course for the day was stewed rabbit. It felt like something out of Fear Factor. It was just three days after Easter and there we were feasting on bunnies... O_o
We had Jamon Serrano for our first course, which is hand-carved Spanish ham. It was served with mixed greens, olives, and pickled onions. Rather salty fare if you ask me, and I really have no idea if it was a perfect match with that glass of Tempranillo. I finished it though, since I was dreading the upcoming rabbit.
Next up was the Gazpacho Andaluz, a chilled soup with diced tomato, cucumber, onion, and toasted garlic bread bits. It was a very unique appetizer to say the least. I liked chewing on those tiny little garlic croutons. Gazpacho Andaluz was paired with Torres Fransola, a white wine this time. I was expecting something like the Riesling but again, it was the farthest thing from being sweet and fruity.
Then came the dreaded Conejo con Aceitunas -- rabbit stewed in red wine, tomato, and olives. The strange aroma wafted through the air as the waiters passed by to serve those who were seated on the far side of the room. When my portion was laid in front of me, I thought it actually resembled a small lamb chop. Thank goodness it came with a slice of sea bass. I finished the fish and then moved on to the day's challenge.
Rabbit meat is actually similar to chicken in terms of texture, but it's more rubbery when you chew on it. It also possesses a distinct scent and taste, just like how lamb has its own signature smell and taste. Let's just say that now that I've tried it, I can tell if you're feeding me rabbit even if you don't tell me. I didn't like it. I'm not a big fan of lamb to start with and rabbit is even worse than lamb when it comes to after-smell and after-taste. I had one morsel and promptly abandoned the dish. I couldn't even enjoy the potatoes and vegetables because they were tainted with that freaky rabbit flavor. This dish was paired with Torres Gran Sangre de Torro, another red wine which was stronger than the Tempranillo. I was tempted to drink it bottoms up since I was desperately trying to make my taste buds and olfactory nerves forget the rabbit experience. I just swirled more of it around my mouth compared to the others.
Leche Frita, or deep fried custard, was what we had for dessert. It was crunchy on the outside, chewy and gooey on the inside. It reminded me of sweet potatoes rather than Leche Flan for some reason, but it was good nonetheless.
I had a little chat with Eric Kahn, Senior Marketing Manager at Future Trade International after lunch. Future Trade International is the distributor of Torres Wines here in the Philippines. I told Eric what struck me most about Torres Wines were the absence of fruity notes and sweetness. Eric told me that the reason for this is Torres Wines are what is classified as an Old World Wine. "Old World Wines are wines made within Europe," says Eric. "They are generally less fruity and sweet compared to New World Wines, which are wines made outside Europe," he adds. Torres Wines originate from Spain, making it an Old World Wine. Hardys Fine Wines are from Australia, so it's a New World Wine.
Eric says there are really no fixed rules for drinking wine. Red wine with red meat, white wine with white meat... that kind of matching isn't a dogma that must be strictly followed. Eric explains that there are red meat dishes that go well with white wine and vice-versa. When asked for advice, he simply says "Drink what you want. Wine drinking is very subjective and highly dependent on a person's taste. Just make sure that your wine doesn't overwhelm your food."
Catch the Spanish Food and Wine Festival running at Oakroom from April 16-30, 2010. Executive Chef Jerome Cartailler offers an array of "fiesta" fare complemented by Spain's leading wine dynasty, Torres. Don't worry, you don't necessarily have to order the rabbit... :p
6/F Oakwood Premier Joy-Nostalg Center
17 ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig City
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