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The red and yellow flags were waving over Old Billingsgate on Thursday night at the Spanish Wine and Food Fair, hosted by Wines from Spain and Square Meal. The country’s wine and gastronomic flair was there for all to see, with eight top-flight restaurants and a vast array of excellent wines.
At a dedicated cava bar, seven cavas, from the simple to the more complex, kicked off the fun. The whites of Rías Baixas and Rueda made a perfect match for fish, seafood and light meat dishes, jostling for attention with reds from Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Priorat. Wines from Cigales, Navarra and Toro also impressed.
The sherry bar has become an increasingly popular feature of the event over the past few years, with wine lovers enjoying bone-dry manzanilla, luscious, nutty oloroso and ultra-sweet Pedro Ximénez.
And for the hungry hordes, there was no shortage of dazzling offerings from some of London’s finest restaurants. For the first time, visitors could enjoy offerings from Bar Tozino, Rosita and The Sherry Bar, La Tasca and recently opened Hispania, alongside the more familiar names of Brindisa, Camino, Ibérica and Tapas Revolution.
Highlights were many and varied. Air-cured Mediterranean sardines with piquillo peppers from Brindisa – the meaty saltiness of the fish bouncing off the fruit of a delicious minerally Albariño. Ibérica's lentil salad with smoked cod was paired with a fresh but tropical-tasting Verdejo, an increasingly popular style in the UK, and a perfect alternative to Sauvignon Blanc.
La Tasca’s modern tortilla, spiced up with red-pepper tapenade and roasted garlic mayonnaise, was great with fino, as too was Rosita’s duck egg with mayonnaise and cress. The melt-in-the-mouth Joselito Gran Reserva jamóns, supplied by Bar Tozino, were huge in flavour and perfect with either good cava, nutty amontillado, or full-bodied Ribera del Duero.
‘It was marvellous to see so many people appreciating these wonderful wines and deliciously flavoured foods,’ said Wines from Spain organiser Maria José Sevilla.