Friday, August 31, 2007

Matt Corbett, Executive Chef at Punch/ Wined Up, Recommends:

Re-Discovering the Flavors of Spain

When discussing the topic of Spanish cuisine in today’s world, it is almost essential to divide it in to two categories: traditional and progressive. Most anyone in the food world will agree that some of the most progressive and forward thinking cuisine is emerging from this country from names like Adria, Arzak and Andres. However, forward thinking needs to be rooted on a strongfoundation of flavors and textures and traditions.

This simple, tapas inspired dish is one of bold flavor, contrasting texture and brilliant color. It combines a few of the most essential ingredients in the Spanish pantry. It will accommodate 4 guests a starter course or you slice the cheese thinner and serve it family style as a platter.

6 ounces Manchego

4 pieces of Piquillo peppers, seeds removed, cut in to thin strips

4 ounces of Membrillo (Spanish quince paste)

2 ounces of Marcona almonds

2T dry Sherry, such as Manzanilla

3T Extra Virgin Spanish olive oil

pinch high quality sea salt (optional)

Allow the Manchego to stand at room temperature for 20 minutes prior to serving. Slice the cheese in to 4 equal parts and place on an appetizer size plate. Divide the Piquillo peppers, Membrillo and Marconas in to 4 equal parts as well and arrange on the plate so as not to touch any of the other ingredients. Finally, spoon the Sherry and Olive Oil over the top of the cheese and serve immediately. For an extra dimension of flavor and texture, sprinkle a high quality sea salt on the cheese after it has been arranged on the plate. Sample the condiments individually and in pairs to determine which best suits your palate.