Tag Archives: spanish

Summertime Strawberry Sangria

One of the very first dinner parties my husband Patrick and I ever hosted was in the backyard of a house he shared with several roommates.  We invited a bunch of friends over and I attempted to be a hostess in a house I didn’t even live in.  It was a roaring success, which I mostly attribute to this sangria.  It’s that kind of drink that sort of sneaks up on you cause it is so easy to drink.  Mind you back then we were making a modified version with vodka in it as well.  Feel free to add some but it should definitely come with a warning label then!  Following that party we realized if we were going to keep our friends standing upright we would need to tweak the recipe given to us by a bartender at the famous Jose Andres restaurant, Jaleo.  So out came the vodka and I subbed mint with basil because I liked the flavor combos better but otherwise it is mostly as Mr. Andres served it.

If you have never used Liquor 43 before, go ahead and grab a bottle – it’s a citrusy liquor that could sub well in lots of cocktails that call for triple sec or orange brandy.  I think it is a bit more delicate and floral and it goes great in this drink.  The strawberries don’t make this overly sweet – they add a hint of flavor but mostly make for a delicious boozy snack you can munch on while drinking the cocktail.

Summertime Strawberry Sangria (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  special sangria at Jaleo
Special Equipment:  none

  • 8 strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups white grape juice
  • 1/2 cup Liquor 43
  • ice
  • 1 bottle Cava (I used my house sparkling)
  • a couple sprigs of basil

In a large pitcher combine the strawberries, white grape juice and Liquor 43.

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You can do this several hours in advance.  When ready to serve top with a couple cups of ice, carefully pour in the sparkling wine and toss in the basil.  Stir to combine and serve.

Summertime Strawberry Sangria

  • Servings: 8
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 8 strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups white grape juice
  • 1/2 cup Liquor 43
  • ice
  • 1 bottle Cava (I used my house sparkling)
  • a couple sprigs of basil

In a large pitcher combine the strawberries, white grape juice and Liquor 43.  You can do this several hours in advance.  When ready to serve top with a couple cups of ice, carefully pour in the sparkling wine and toss in the basil.  Stir to combine and serve.

 

ACC’s DC: ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar

ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar – 300 Florida Avenue NW

The ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar has been a long time coming.  For any of you who follow food news in DC, this place has been talked about for ages, and then it took me ages to get over there and check it out.  So glad that I did.  This first in the District cidery actually makes their own cider from apples collected all over the city!  They are still working on a much bigger production facility (stay tuned) but have already started making some delicious collaborations with other local cider makers that are featured on their menu.  Cider is a big deal in the Basque region of Spain and the menu here, both beverage and food, reflect those sensibilities.

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First lets start with the liquid.  You are at a cidery so order a cider!  The terrific bartenders and servers are cider nerds and will walk you through the menu and point you in the right direction.  Hands down the favorite among my friends was the Snowdrift Red, a rose cider.  They also carry several varieties from my favorite cidery in Richmond (featured in this post), Blue Bee.

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They do flights of ciders so you can try your hand at several and see what style you like.  I decided to go with the Gaztanaga from Spain which is a traditional Basque style cider.  It was great but honestly a little stressful!  It comes in a 12 ounce bottle that you are meant to pour from a height so that the cider is aerated.  However, you are also only supposed to pour as much as you are going to drink immediately, basically one gulp, because the flavor profile changes once its sat for a while.  I took one for the team and let it sit a while just to test it out, maybe my cider palette isn’t sophisticated enough – tasted ok to me – though it wasn’t as good as just poured.  Anyway it was fun to try but drinking shouldn’t require this much work!  Watch me try to not get cider everywhere while I pour some.

ANXO also has a nice selection of Spanish wines, a good craft beer selection and a full bar with cocktails.  Next time I go I definitely want to try some of their vermouth.  The bar downstairs is really beautiful – apologies I didn’t take that many pictures because I didn’t want to be that girl but it really is a very instagramable space.  I loved the black and white concrete tile on the wall, the fun chalkboard menus and platters of food perched atop large graphic tins.

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The second floor has another bar and dining tables but I think the best spot is their great front patio – try and sit out there before it gets too cold.  Patrick and I went with our friends Jon and Kitty who are adventurous eaters so we basically tried one of everything.  The menu changes regularly and is split up between the pintxos menu, which are one or two bite dishes, with a larger more tapas style menu, that has dishes to share.  One of our favorite dishes of the night was the roasted quail – perfectly cooked and nice and garlicky.

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Roasted Quail

The cider poached octopus was also incredible.  I was sad to share this because the saffron mashed potatoes are totally addictive.

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Cider Poached Pulpo

If there are croquetas on the pinxos menu – order them all!  We got chicken and ham ones, they come 3 to an order, and are hot, salty and AMAZING.  A really great snack to pair with the ciders.  Also don’t sleep on the cauliflower stuffed piquillo pepper – even our two meat loving men raved about this veggie dish.

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Croquetas, Cauliflower Stuffed Piquillo and others

ANXO is a really fun place to drink and snack – don’t go for a true dinner as the small plates and then very small pinxos means a lot of little bites of things that never really feels like a meal.  I am really eager to try some of the new menu items.  Also I feel like I just scratched the surface of my cider education!  Head over with a bunch of friends, explore the cider list and snack on croquetas – Florida Avenue never felt so close to Spain!

Tapas Party

Make sure you carefully enunciate when you invite folks to this party – speak too quickly and folks will think you are hosting a topless party (yes it happened more than once!).  Themed cocktail parties are really fun to do and so easy, this time I went Spanish.  Sometimes when I am trying to come up with a menu I can get paralyzed by all of the options but if you focus on one cuisine or type of food, not only will your menu be more cohesive but it will be much easier to put it all together.  Patrick had been craving patatas bravas for a while so I decided I would try my hand at making my own aioli and then heck if I am making my own mayo might as well invite some people over, and then well we might as well have a Spanish theme…this is usually how my party snowball starts.  We hosted this on a busy weekend so unlike most cocktail parties, I committed to only making 2 things and purchasing the rest.  A little part of me died doing this, but honestly no one notices, and I didn’t end up looking like the Tasmanian devil right before our friends arrived.

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The key to really fleshing out a cocktail party without a lot of work is of course your best friend – the cheese board.  Unwrap a bunch of cheeses and done.  I also keep a variety of crackers on hand and some accompaniments to compliment the cheese.  To keep with the theme I put out membrillo paste, a Spanish quince jelly type spread that goes well with sheep and goat cheeses.  I got it at Righteous Cheese, an incredible cheese shop in Union Market, but you can find it pretty easily at your local cheese counter.  For the cheese selections you always want to have a mix of soft and hard cheeses, mild and strong, and a mix of cow, sheep and cow.  We of course had a manchego, the king of Spanish cheeses, along with a cabrales blue, an incredible washed rind goat and a cheddar.  No, cheddar is not Spanish but when you host your own party, you make your own rules!  When you do a cheese board make sure to fill in the empty spaces on the board with crackers or grapes so it doesn’t look chintzy.  I used this beautiful board my darling friend Erica had made for me – I have my own merch now!  Also make sure to set out cheese knives that can actually do the job – nothing worse than wanting a nice hunk of a hard cheese just to be greeted by a wimpy little knife.  I have this amazing cheese cleaver from Sabre that we got in Paris, that can really handle any cheese, a great wire cutter thingy also from Righteous Cheese and then I have these  gold bamboo spreaders from Home Goods that I can pair with soft cheese.

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In addition to the cheese board we also had Spanish marcona almonds, sliced chorizo, olives and grapes.  Put them on a footed silver compote or in a lovely bowl and BAM! you have a pretty good spread.  Of course I had to satisfy the patatas bravas craving right?  If you have never had them, they are crispy potatoes sprinkled with smoked paprika, sometimes with a spicy tomato sauce and always with a really garlicy aioli sauce.  To make this classic tapas a little more cocktail party friendly I cooked up some pee wee potatoes and make an aioli with smoked paprika in it to dip them in.  Some recipes I saw had you add garlic and paprika to mayo but making aioli was so easy and MUCH better than anything made with premade mayo.  I used this Food and Wine recipe and it was delicious.

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I had to make sure there was meat on the table so I also made some grilled chicken skewers to dip into my Uncle Bill’s amazing chimichurri sauce (recipe below).  Notice the extra char on the skewers – a good reminder to everyone to soak those sticks but also to watch them on the grill!

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Last but not least was the booze – we did a mix of riojas, albarinos and cava along with beer.  Usually I would have also made a signature cocktail but I was keeping this simple, right?  No, ok confession time – I tried and failed to make sangria popsicles to go with the meal.  Oh well, the night was a success anyway – try a tapas party next time you are looking to mix things up.  Have a great weekend!

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Red Wine Chimichurri (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  my Uncle Bill’s amazing BBQ dinners
Special Equipment:  food processor or blender

  • 2 cups fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons dry red wine 
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2  jalapeños, roasted and peeled (do this like the rajas)
  • 1 garlic clove

Put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender along with 2 tablespoons of water and puree until smooth.  Season with salt.  This sauce keeps in the fridge for several days and is great with steak or fish as well.

Red Wine Chimichurri

  • Servings: lots
  • Print

Special Equipment:  food processor or blender

  • 2 cups fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons dry red wine 
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2  jalapeños, roasted and peeled (do this like the rajas)
  • 1 garlic clove

Put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender along with 2 tablespoons of water and puree until smooth.  Season with salt.  This sauce keeps in the fridge for several days and is great with steak or fish as well.

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