“Cooking is all about people. Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people get together to eat.” (Guy Fieri)
The venenciador dipped his venecia into the barrel, drew it out full and skilfully poured the sweet Manilva wine into two glasses. His attractive assistant pressed traditional Spanish jamon and cheese on Julie and myself as we entered the marquee set up in Plaza de Vendimia in Manilva. The scene was set for the first day of the 1st Gastronomic Fair, ‘Taste of Manilva’.
This event is all about sampling produce that you might not normally consider buying because you do not know what it tastes like. About 2 dozen stalls displayed mainly local produce. I started at the Gran Select stand, designer beer produced at Manilva’s own brewery. The ‘pale ale’ was definitely to my taste and I thought the ‘Christmas ale’ was perfect for the festive season. Stephen Amore told me that would be due to the spices used, making it a good winter ale. He promised me more samples next Saturday at their open day. That’s what a local show is about, one thing leading to another.
Cheeses came in a vast range of shapes, sizes, colours, wrappers and age, not to mention base content, cow, sheep or goat’s milk. This sort of show allows you to find one you like and buy a chunk. You may never find it in a supermarket or even see it again in your life so enjoy whilst you can. My favourite, a very aged firm goat’s cheese, reminiscent in taste of a good Stilton believe it or not.
On to the wine next. The local wine tends to be made from the Muscatel grape and it is grown in similar soil to that found in the Sherry Triangle so the taste always reminds me of a sherry. Much of it is produced and sometimes sold by individual familes as it has been for centuries. Nilva Enoturismo SL owned by Argimiro Martínez Moreno, is a commercial wine maker in Manilva. Nilva produces dry and semi sweet wines along with the traditional sweet. I enjoy the dry, served very cold, as a less alcoholic alternative to a dry sherry.
One of my passions is black pudding. Not just the famous one from Bury in Lancashire but puds from Germany, France, Italy, Greece, every country has one, and Spain. Here they are called morcilla. The best, in my opinion, include with the main ingredient, pig’s blood, rice, good pieces of yellow fat, onion and a touch of sweet paprika. They are already cooked so you can eat thin slices or use them as seasoning in stews and other dishes depending on the type of morcilla. I sampled a few before wandering away with a glossy black, wrinkly affair.
I wonder what I will come home with this year.