Chef Jose Salazar of Cincinnati’s eponymous Salazar restaurant opened Mita to great acclaim in August 2015 as a showcase for the cuisines of Spain and Latin America. Members of the Cincinnati chapter of Société Mondiale du Vin, a sister organization of the international Chaîne des Rotisseurs, were treated to an exclusive sampling of Chef Salazar’s fabulous culinary skill with Spanish, Portuguese and South American wines (from Wine Trends) paired by somms Mary Horn, Bethanie Butcher and Kathy Merchant.
A refreshing glass of Naveran Cava 2013 welcomed guests, a perfect apéritif with Consommé en Gelée with Maine Lobster and Pan con Tomate from Mita’s small plates menu.
The first course was anchored by thin slices of Red Snapper ceviche plated among the varied flavors and textures of avocado, hearts of palm, passion fruit and green mango, then topped with crunchy plantain chips to complete the experience. A variation on the dish, Ceviche de Pargo, is available on Mita’s fish menu. Pairings from Spain and Portugal were indigenous white varietal wines — Viura from Spain (Buenas 2014) and Loureiro from the Vinho Verde region of Portugal (J. Portugal Ramos “Lima” 2013) — each connecting across the range of elements in the dish. Sure to please most wine lovers, a familiar Sauvignon Blanc from Chile (Leyda 2014) sparked the dish’s citrusy elements.
The somms mixed it up for the second course, selecting red wines from Spain and Portugal as well as a Chardonnay from Argentina. While grilled and deeply smoky Spanish octopus appears on the Mita menu of large plates, the special preparation for Mondiale was anchored by Amish saffron chicken roulade presented with summer beans and rice. A perhaps unconventional choice from Spain where Tempranillo and Garnacha rule was a blend of Syrah and Petit Verdot, a single vineyard (Dominio de Valdepusa) selection from Marqués de Griñon “Caliza” 2010. Three of the grapes permitted in Port were used in making a deliciously juicy (but not sweet) wine from the Douro region of Portugal: 50% Touriga Franca, 30% Touriga Nacional and 20% Tinta Roriz (Tons de Duorum 2012). Showcasing Argentina’s recent increase of Chardonnay winegrowing, the Viña Cobos “Felino” 2012 was from the Luján de Cuyo region.
In a fine crescendo for the evening, Chef Salazar served spice-rubbed Kentucky lamb tenderloin, deftly ending Summer and ushering in Fall with a selection of vegetables in piperade sauce (a traditional Basque dish with onions, green peppers, and tomatoes sautéed and flavored with red Espelette pepper). All three wines squarely met the pairing challenge with eggplant, summer squash, tomatoes, arugula and chickpeas. From Hammeken Cellars in the Priorat region of Spain, a 2013 “Tosalet Vinyes Velles” was a blend of Garnacha, Cariñena and Cabernet Sauvignon. Perhaps the most unique wine of the evening was from winemaker Wine & Soul, a very approachable 2012 blend of up to 30 indigenous grapes (not specified) called “Pintas Character” grown in the Douro region of Portugal.
Photo credit: Janet Smith