galician vineyard

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, which reminds me of a fascinating genetic study by Dan Bradley of Trinity College in Dublin.   DNA research shows that the Irish originated in northwestern Spain’s Galicia and Basque provinces.  This explains why there are Celtic ruins in Galicia but not in Ireland.  Both countries have a similar rainy climate with rolling green landscapes.  Bagpipes are played in both countries, among with other similarities.   So instead of drinking green beer tomorrow, stop in at Paris-Madrid Grocery for a bottle of Galician wine and cheese to celebrate Ireland’s roots!

tetilla and bread

Galician cheeses
Queso Gallego is a flavorful cow’s milk cheese and a customer favorite.  It quickly oozes when cut, and is perfect when grilled & served with honey.
Tetilla is a fresh and creamy cow’s milk cheese.   With an alluring breast shape (hence the name), it is mild and almost spreadable.   Wonderful on thick slices of rustic bread and membrillo.
San Simon is a gently smoked cow’s milk cheese.   Similiar to Fontina, but better, it is excellent when melted over spring vegetables.

Galician wines
Casal de ArmanCasal de Armán Blanco 2015, Ribeiro ($19.99)   90% Treixadura, 5% Godello, 5% Albariño.   Aged in stainless steel, this white blend offers up bright white fruit notes that has a briny element.  Focused and textured, this dry and mineral-laden wine is superb with shellfish.  “This firm white delivers weight and focus. Creamed pear and melon flavors mingle with herb, blanched almond and spice notes, while citrusy acidity keeps this lively. Rich, bright and balanced.”  92 points Wine Spectator

Papa Godello

Castelo do Papa Godello 2016, Valdeorras  ($16.99)  100% Godello, organically grown on the estate from vines planted in 1983 (average), at 1968 feet elevation. The vineyards farmed to make Papa are full of slate and granite, and the wine shows assertive aromas of rosemary, thyme, and oregano, underscored by a firm mineral character.   Notes of white fruit have a bright, creamy texture and noticeable weight with a clean, dry finish.  Excellent with poultry, cream sauces and rich fish such as salmon.   Vegan.   Godello wines also have an ability to age similar to Chardonnay in white Burgundy.

Las Gundinas, La PoulosaLa Vizcaína Las Gundiñas 2014, Bierzo ($34.00)   Mostly Mencía from vines planted in 1910, with Bastardo (Trousseau), Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet) and Doña Blanca.  Whole cluster fermentation in large oak vats, followed by one year of aging in used 225-liter barrels. Bottled without fining or filtration.  Offers up floral aromas, and an enticing bouquet of cherry.   With lifted red fruit, savory nuances, a mineral underlay and a lively palate it is complex and simply a pleasure to drink.   A beautiful wine that is excellent with charcuterie.

La Vizcaína La Poulosa 2014, Bierzo ($34.00)   80% Mencia from vines planted in 1940, with the balance Bastardo (Trousseau) and Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet).  Fermentation in large oak vats with 80% whole clusters, followed by one year in 225-liter used French barrels. Bottled without fining or filtration.   Displays concentration and dark forest fruits which are focused and elegant.    Very polished, with subtle mineral notes and a touch of wild herbs, this is a fabulous Mencia wine.  Very polished. “A plush texture carries ripe plum, cola and spicy flavors in this generous red. Juicy acidity keeps this lively, offering just enough tannins for grip. In the modern style, fresh and focused.”   90 points Wine Spectator

caldo gallegoCaldo Gallego is the traditional soup of Galicia. Turnip greens, pork, beans and potatoes make a hearty, healthy meal to stave off the damp cold of winter.
Serves: 6

1½ cups La Catedral dried white Judion beans, or Limas
1 ham knuckle, ham bone, or ham hock
1/4 pound bacon or salt pork
1 tbsp salt
1½ tsp Spanish smoked paprika
¼ tsp pepper
1 lb new potatoes, peeled and diced
1 bunch turnip greens, kale or Swiss chard, rinsed and coarsely chopped
2 spanish chorizos (6.5 oz total), cut into pieces

Soak the beans overnight in cold water.
Rinse beans then add them back to the pot with the pork.Cover with 8½ cups of water and season them with the salt, pepper and paprika.  Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer 1-2 hours covered, until they are almost tender. (Skim off foam)

Remove the ham bones from the broth and add the potatoes, turnips, and chorizo.   If you like, pull the meat of the bones and add back to the pot.
Return the pot to a simmer and cook for 30 more minutes until the potatoes are done.   Serve in large soup bowls.