Spanish Table-a report (a bit long)
- Detlef Chef
After reading a chow report on the opening of the Spanish Table in Berkeley, my wife and I went up there and gave it a shot. They still can't sell wine yet (hoping for March), but if their selection is anything like what I found in the Seattle store, that wil be one of the store's strongest points. As far as what they have now... Certainly the highlight of our trip there was the Blanxart dark chocolate, lovely stuff indeed. They have other grades and also have some with nuts, but we just tried (and loved) the dark.
They carry 5 grades of pimenton (dulce, picante, and 3 levels of smoked). If you haven't used this stuff before, you're missing out. It'll change the way you think about paprika. At some point, you'll be urged by your loved ones to perhaps cook something without it, just for a change of pace.
I took a chance on an interesting product called arrop, which is chunks of pumpkin poached in grape must, and I can't say I'll do that again. To begin with, it's quite pricey for how much you get, the pumpkin chunks are too firm, and the syrup is too much like molasses for my taste.
Fig Bonbons that were poached in brandy before being covered in chocolate were tasty, but not the revelation that I was told they'd be. These also were a little on the pricey side.
Some delicious Toro Alba riserva 1980 vinegar was well worth it's $15 price. Very assertive, but the acidity doesn't trample over everything you put it with.
The Saloio Portugese Olive Oil is nice, but perhaps a bit subtle.
They do have a nice selection of cheeses and carry the Dona Juana brand Charcuterie (made in LA, but very authentic). some Chorizo Sarta that I bought there was scarfed up all too quickly by myself and a friend.
I can't vouch for any of the strange canned product as I'm not really into things that come in cans (besides perhaps tomatoes in winter).
All in all, it's a worthy stop. They've also got a bunch on groovy pans and earthenware, and they're very nice to boot.
There you have it.