Happy International Sherry Week everyone!
This is the 5th year we are celebrating the world’s most versatile wine! If you are not too familiar with it let me give you a quick walk-through first. Sherry wines are truly extraordinary, they are delicious and diverse. From the floral delights of a chilled Fino or Manzanilla, to the rich and nutty notes of an Amontillado and Oloroso; and from the intense umami flavors of a Palo Cortado, to the sweet caramel heaven that is Pedro Ximenez, Sherry wines can both be enjoyed by itself all day long, and also carry you through a multi-course dinner.
This year, I am celebrating it with a food & wine pairing and decided to create a dish to pair with the most versatile wine, as well as the most versatile city that I live in.
Ever since the first time I've stepped foot into the Big Apple, I've been absolutely in love with it. There are a million reasons why I'm so taken with it, but one of the greatest attributes is its diversity, and that's why the world loves New York City. NYC is often thought of as America's melting pot - each one has his or her own unique story and you often get inspired by the people around you. It’s full of life, international, and anyone can fit right in.
Food is no exception - chefs here do not limit themselves with what they were taught at school, they go beyond and take advantage of the multicultural that people from different backgrounds brought in here. They get inspired by different cultures, seasons, local ingredients, and beautifully mix them together to bring out an unique presentation that you will not see anywhere else.
Fino Inocente Valdespino. It is a single vineyard wine from estate “Macharnudo Alto” with old vines (50+ years old), hand harvested and fermented in American oak casks. As a matter of fact, Bodegas Valdespino is one of the oldest bodegas and still stick to traditional methods till today. On the wine itself, beautiful yellow straw color with golden hues, pungent and complex on the nose, with dried hay and roasted almonds. Delicate but round, buttery palate, and a mineral and briny aftertaste.
The moment I sipped this Fino I felt like being hugged by the ocean with the little sea urchins rubbing my feet. I immediately recalled my dining experience in La Bernardin (World's Top 50 Restaurants with Three Michelin Stars) with the fabulous "Uni Pasta" by chef Eric Ripert - one of my favorite chefs in the world, and decided to recreate the unforgettable memory.
¼ cup sea urchin - I bought fresh Santa Barbara sea urchins, if you want to save the cutting and cleaning part, just get a box from your local seafood grocery
½ pound chanterelle mushrooms
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ pound fresh pasta
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoon fresh thyme
Your favorite veggies (zucchini, corns, onions, carrots, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, etc.)
Sea salt, black pepper, garlic, shallot, dried chili pepper or cayenne pepper (optional), lemon
In a blender, mix the uni and butter and puree (or you can stir until they break and nicely blended)
Get your pan hot and ready, add the olive oil, and garlic, shallots, chanterelle mushrooms, and veggies, turn over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Note - I also added some fresh thyme and dried chili pepper to give it a little kick.
Add your pasta to salted boiling water, your water should taste like the ocean, cook for 3-5 minutes or as instructed
Save ½ cup of the cooking water and add to the uni butter and drained pasta, stir to thoroughly coat the pasta over medium heat, until the pasta is coated with a creamy sauce, season with fresh ground black pepper
Pour the pasta into a big plate (or bowl), add the cooked mushrooms and vegetables, garnish with the remainder of the uni and finish with a sprinkle of sea salt and thyme. Note - you can also add a little extra of your favorite toppings such as caviar, nori, or salmon roe.
As mentioned this Fino is delicate but at the same time has a well-rounded mouthfeel, which pairs perfectly with the exact flavors a fresh sea urchin brings to the table, buttery feel but has a mineral kick from the ocean water. The chanterelle mushrooms provide more texture and structure, similar in style, delicate yet hold up well, the flavors blend so seamlessly that nothing being overpowered by other ingredients.
I do hope you get a chance to try it out yourself at home! While uni is absolutely my favorite seafood, you could switch to lobster, anchovy, or clams if you are not a fan of it, they would all go well with this beautiful Fino!
Finally, a big thank you to the International Sherry Week for organizing so many great events across the globe and bringing sherry to more people’s attention! I hope you enjoyed the pairing I created and cheers to all Sherry lovers!