Restaurant: La Paella
Location: 476 South San Vicente Boulevard. Los Angeles, CA 90048. (323) 951-0745
Date: June 1, 2013
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 return to this Hollywood staple I jumped on board for another evening packed with great wine and great food.
NV Billecart-Salmon Rose. Parker 90. The NV Brut Rose is a pretty, gracious wine. Freshly cut roses, red berries and spices take shape nicely in the glass as the wine shows off its understated, timeless personality. Billecart-Salmon’s NV Brut Rose is a reliably tasty wine.
“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.
2004 Bouchard Aîné et Fils Corton-Charlemagne. Burgound 93. I have not had this since cask and the bottle in question had a tattered label though no apparent seepage. As such, it’s difficult to know whether this bottle was indeed representative as it seemed relatively supple and forward, indeed more or less ready to drink. To be sure, there was no obvious secondary nuances in evidence and still good freshness to the rich, intense and vibrant flavors brimming with minerality on the impressively long finish. Impeccably stored bottles might need another few years to arrive at their peak but absent this bottle being an aberration, I don’t think that opening one today would be infanticide.
“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 was a little thin textured for my taste.
1978 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial. IWC 93. Medium red with an amber rim. Highly complex bouquet of fresh and dried red fruits, cherry skin, pipe tobacco, smoky minerals, cigar box and potpourri. Sweet strawberry and cherry flavors stain the palate but are strikingly lithe. Cured tobacco and candied rose flavors emerge with aeration, and the fruit takes a darker turn toward cherry. The tannins have been completely absorbed, allowing the wine’s almost decadent sweetness to come through. Expensive, yes, but this would offer newly minted wine lovers an insight into the personality of aged wine from a great region and a very good vintage for the same price as many newly released Napa or Bordeaux wines.
“Champiñones con Chorizo.” Mushrooms with Spanish red sausage.
From my cellar: 1978 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Viña Real Gran Reserva. 95 points. Pretty tight at the onset and only started to get going after an hour or so. It definitely would’ve benefited from decanting. Heavy swirling and the passage of time eventually saw fresh dark cherry flavors and aromas come up with a bit of beef blood, old wood and spice. Nicely balanced with solid acid levels. It would absolutely benefit from more time in the cellar, though it’s certainly tasty now, but, again, decant.
1995 R. López de Heredia Rioja Rosado Gran Reserva Viña Tondonia. 90-94 points. An alluring leather, dried orange peel and strawberry leaf scented bouquet that blossoms beautifully in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine, elegant tannins. It is both precise and exquisitely defined with hints of cured meat and leather towards the graceful finish.
From my cellar: 2008 Pingus Flor de Pingus. 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.
1999 Château Guiraud. IWC 90. Pale yellow-gold. Lower-toned aromas of orange zest, herbs, spices, earth and vanillin oak. Textured, rich and sweetly oaky, with notes of vanilla and creme caramel Showing plenty of personality today. Ripe and rich for young Guiraud. Big but essentially gentle, with an impressive, slow-building finish.
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 are Gambas Pil Pil, Anchovies en Boccerones, seafood paella, and, of course, the flan.