To coincide with this years ‘Muestra de Embutido Artesano y de Calidad Requena’, better known as the ‘Sausage fair,’ (even though it is so much more) Ferevin (the towns Wine Festival´s organisers) introduced a paralell competition.
Ferevin will celebrate its 30th birthday wine-fair over the last full weekend of August and under President Ken Wagener (Sebiran) have promoted a number of different events. VÍ Vid was delighted to be invited to join the jury for this first Ruta de Tapas and Vino, a competiton where 10 bars/restaurants produced a tapa highlighting the protaganists of the Muestra accompanied by wines from Ferevins members.
The competition was unusual in that the Jury undertook a four kilometre walk around the town just like the public who tried all the tapas had to do and we were not esconced comfortably in a warm room having the entries brought to us! That would have been impractical given the number of visitors in town. Requena was ‘heaving’ on Saturday 8th , the bars were full of people enjoying the sun and local fare, getting their tapas trail cards stamped (there was a competition to win products from the fair and a bodega visit) and it seems the fair itself suffered a small problem with supplies, such is the popularity of the event and despite 6000 kilos of “embutidos” etc being available!
We began in La Pinada with a Toasted bread with roasted tomato with “perro” and goats cheese and a vinagrette of honey with nuts. (Top left). Next we moved to Fiesta for their Pastry parcel of “perro” with roquefort and an emulsion of red fruits and white chocolate. (Top right). On to Doña Anita and the traditional but rarely seen ‘longaniza with artichoke’ (centre) before the Burrito of pisto, sausage, basil emulsion and pepper spume in Yantar (bottom left). In Jardin we tasted a toast base with caremelized onion, apple, black pudding, “lomo de orza” and a quails egg. (Bottom right)
More wines accompanied the second half of the trail. In Con Alma we tasted the powerful Olla de Requena, a tradional stew sometimes called a caldereta.
Now into the second half of the trail we moved on to Meson del Vino for their Crispy lettuce with longaniza, quails egg and alioli (Top left) and then to Musical for a skewer of morcilla, longaniza and chorizo with “poor mans potatos” and black garlic alioli. (Top centre) Unfortunately it was impossible for Simple to participate such was the clamour from diners and so we went on to Esquina de Colon for a slice of bread with cooked vegetables, chorizo and longaniza cooked in wine. (Top right) Finally we concluded in Alejo for a trilogy of pork. (Bottom)
Of course, other pork products made an appearance in what is a fiesta dedicated to the pig! A quick aperitif and the Jury retired for deliberations, decisions and lunch in Yantar.
Here chef Carlos and his team have opened a new venture. Carlos began in the family restaurant in nearby Venta del Moro and was a pupil of Juan Carlos Galbis who incidentally was a jury member in the tapas trail. Yantar provide a catering service and we have enjoyed his “fusion” dishes on several bodega visits and other occasions.
The new restaurant is in the historic barrio of Requena right next to the moorish castle.
The standard of cooking is exceptional, the flavours subtle, deep, satisfying and the Gazpacho in particular is a “must try” for future visits.
The jury consisted of Ken Wagener (President of Ferevin), Jose Chirivella (Vice Alcalde-Requena) Juan Carlos Galbis (Master rice chef and Professor of Cookery) Enrique Ballester and Cova Morales (both food bloggers and jurors with wide experience). In discussions over lunch we all expressed opinions about the high standard of presentation and cookery overall in the competition. It had clearly been popular as evidenced by both the number of people we encountered in the various bars with their trail cards and the number of International visitors was notable.
Jose then took us on a short tour of the old town including the churches and the ancient bodega Honda belonging to the family from bodega Vera de Estenas with its old tinajas. Then it was on to the Mostra itself for the announcement of the winners.
Competitions like this are an important way of combining wine and local gastronomy into a wider tourism experience. Immensely fun, both of the towns major products combined perfectly whilst the fair itself provided the annual opportunity to compare products from some of the towns wine producers and butchers and to buy (there was plenty of evidence of bulging carrier bags full of sausages) as well.