Restaurant: La Paella
Location: 476 South San Vicente Boulevard. Los Angeles, CA 90048. (323) 951-0745
Date: September 27, 2012
Rating: Really tasty traditional Spanish
Since spending a month in Spain in 2010, I’ve been addicted to Spanish cooking, so when the hedonists decided to head on over to this Hollywood staple I jumped on board for another evening packed with great wine and great food.
This “bonus wine” (thrown in by Lana at the last minute) was drinking beautifully. “The Grande Cuvee is scented of croissant, buttered cinnamon toast and warm strawberries with a hint of smoky bacon. Muscular and still very taut in the mouth, the densely packed flavors are refreshed with a pure, crisp acid line. It finishes long with plenty of toast and nut layers.”
I brought this boutique Spanish white. Parker 96. “The 2009 Sketch, an Albarino sourced from a parcel harvested 1-2 weeks later than all the other vineyards. It was fermented and aged (without malolactic) in two 700-liter barrels for 12 months followed by 60 days of aging in the bottle at 30 meters under the sea. It offers up an enthralling bouquet of mineral, saline, floral, tropical, and marzipan elements. Intense, complex, impeccably balanced, and remarkably lengthy, this is as good as Albarino gets. Bodegas y Vinedos Raul Perez is the hangout of Spain’s most visionary vigneron, Raul Perez. These latest releases only reinforce the legend.”
Parker 95+, “The 2006 Brunello di Montalcino flows with gorgeous layers of dark red fruit. This is one of the more muscular, virile wines of the vintage. Slow to reveal its character, the Valdicava Brunello will require significant patience, but I have seen the wine blossom beautifully, even in the smallest of vintages. A blast of iron, smoke, tar, licorice and new leather inform the deep, intense finish. This is a hugely promising, brilliant Brunello from proprietor Vincenzo Abbruzzese, but it needs to be buried in the cellar for at least a few years. Readers who can’t wait should open the wine a few hours in advance, which will allow the fruit to emerge.”
“Patatas Bravas. Fried potatoes tossed with spicy tomato sauce.” In Spain, these would usually be coated in a spicy mayo. I liked these better, as the sauce was more like that used on hot wings and had a nice spicy vinegar tang.
This was incredibly smooth and seductive. Parker 92, “Dense plum/ruby/purple-colored, with a sweet perfume of earth, herbs, jammy black fruits, and oak in the background, the opulently textured, round, fleshy 1994 Gran Reserva possesses full body, moderate tannin, and an accessible yet structured personality. It should drink well for 12-15 years.”
The front was a little flat on this ancient Rioja, but the middle and finish were very interesting, almost like a Madeira. “The 1948 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial from a great Rioja vintage spent a mind-boggling 40 years in American oak barriques before it was bottled. Dark cherry red in color with a garnet rim, it offers up a splendid perfume of earth, mineral, lavender, incense, and black cherry. The wine’s vibrant acidity has kept it youthful and complete.”
Parker 91, “The dense ruby/purple-colored 1997 Valbuena reveals a deep, sweet nose of black fruits intermixed with earth, leather, smoke, and fruit cake. There is sensational texture on the palate, seamlessly integrated tannin and acidity, and moderate quantities of oak. While young, it is already showing exceptionally well.”
“Gazpacho Andaluz. Tomato, garlic, bread, cucumber, celery, pepper, olive oil.” A nice gazpacho. I’m rather the gazpacho whore and I make it myself using Jose Andres’ recipe (modified by me). This one was tasty, but didn’t have enough vinegar for my taste.
Gorgeous! Parker 97, “Aged 18 months in 100% new French oak from 75-year old Tempranillo vines, the 2001 Pagos Viejos is one of Spain’s greatest wines. A singular red of extraordinary stature and intensity, it exhibits an inky/ruby/purple color as well as a luxurious bouquet of lead pencil shavings, black and blue fruits, espresso roast, and floral notes. This full-bodied, dense 2001 possesses layers of flavor, a sweet integration of tannin and wood, and a finish that lasts for nearly a minute.”
From my cellar. Young, but a total fruit bomb. Parker 96, “The 2008 Flor de Pingus had been in bottle for 2 weeks when I tasted it. It offers up an enticing nose of smoke, Asian spices, incense, espresso, black cherry, and blackberry. On the palate it displays outstanding volume, intensity, and balance. Rich, dense, and succulent, it has enough structure to evolve for 4-5 years.”
Another youthful fruit bomb from my cellar. Parker 96, “The flagship, the 2007 Clos Mogador is made up of 40% Garnacha, 20% Carinena, 20% Syrah, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is purple/black-colored with a sensational bouquet of mineral, truffle, espresso, black cherry, blueberry, and licorice. Dense and Reubenesque on the palate, it has great concentration, loads of savory fruit, impeccable balance, and several years of aging potential. Accessible now, this lengthy offering will be at its best from 2013 to 2027. It is one of the stars of the vintage in Priorat.”
This Sauterne isn’t textbook, but it was drinking very nicely as a dessert wine, almost like a honey mead. Parker 84, “Nairac’s 1980 is a well-balanced, light golden-colored wine that displays a good level of botrytis, a spicy, tropical fruit, oaky bouquet, medium body, soft acidity, and a fat, tasty finish. It is fully mature.”
There was also “Arroz con Leche” (rice pudding) that I missed a photo of. I’ll have to try their flan too, because I’m such a flan fiend.
I love Spanish cooking, and La Paella has a really nice traditional kitchen. It reminds me of Botin in Madrid at the opposite end of the Spanish culinary spectrum from modernist Calima and the ElBuli school. Personally, I love both and I need to head back to La Paella to sample even more of their menu. Some of my favorites I must try are Gambas Pil Pil, Anchovies en Boccerones, seafood paella, and, of course, the flan.