Agua Restaurant and Jacques Scott Wines & Spirits teamed up to bring Grand Cayman residents and visitors a unique taste of Spain through the innovative cooking talents of visiting Chef Jesus Ramiro and his fine Tempranillo wines.
Chef Jesus Ramiro doesn’t cook the way you’d expect someone from one of the most tradition-laden areas in Spain to cook.
That fact became very evident to the guests of the Spanish Dinner at Agua Restaurant on 20 February when Ramiro brought out a canister of liquid nitrogen to make olive oil snow for his pumpkin gazpacho soup, the first dish of a five-course meal.
Ramiro insists he doesn’t use this molecular gastronomy technique simply for the spectacle of using liquid nitrogen and the cloud of ‘smoke’ it leaves on a plate, but for the effect it has on the olive oil itself. The resulting dish had a kaleidoscope of colours, tastes, textures and temperatures, a trend in Ramiro’s cooking style.
By blending the culinary traditions of his native Castilla y León region with innovative techniques and contemporary styles, Ramiro has flourished. His restaurant, Ramiro’s in Valladolid, Spain – which he operates with his son of the same name, an accomplished chef himself – has earned a Michelin Star and earlier this year, he prepared a meal for Spain’s King Juan Carlos.
If there was one word to describe Ramiro’s food, it would be different, and his food isn’t just different from other chef’s food, it’s different from what he cooked the week before.
“The restaurant cannot do the same thing twice,” he said. “We have an eight- to 10-course tasting menu and it changes every week.”
The Spanish Dinner reflected the singularity of Ramiro’s style with everything being different – sometimes very different – from what the guests normally see with similar ingredients. Even the dessert put a twist on chocolate cake and ice cream, with the cake being a chocolate sponge cake.
In years past, Ramiro has been involved in restaurants in both Miami and Puerto Rico, but in 2001, he bought a winery in Castilla y León.
“I saw that wine was the soul of the kitchen; the soul of cooking,” he said. “I didn’t buy the winery to sell wine. I bought it because I have a passion. Wine goes with cooking and cooking goes with wine.”
Ramiro said that he is working on a cookbook in which every recipe will have wine as an ingredient. The Spanish dinner at Agua displayed one example of this combination. The ‘Bocadillo de Chorizo al Vino Tinto’ was a small tubular ‘sandwich’ filled with Spanish chorizo sausage and placed in an edible printed potato wrapper that was a replication of one of his wine labels. It was served with a brush stroke of tangy red wine reduction sauce, marrying the food with the wine.
The winery itself is a partnership between Ramiro and Eduardo Garcia, son of Mariano Garcia, winemaker of the well-known Vega Sicilia winery. It produces two wines, both made from 100 per cent Tempranillo grapes and both available at Jacques Scott Wines & Spirits. Condita [Retail: $30.99] was served with the second and third courses. Aged in French and American oak barriques for 16 months, this full-bodied wine had a aromas of berries with the smokiness of the oak coming through. In the mouth, it was easy drinking with soft, rounded tannins.
The final savory course of the meal was local suckling pig confit with violet mashed potatoes – coloured with squid ink – truffle pickled onions and porcini mushrooms. The appearance of the plated dish, with an array of colours and textures, made it look like a piece of art and had some guests asking ‘What is that?”
This course was served with Bodegas Ramiro Wine Cellar’s flagship wine, simply called Ramiro’s [Retail $56.99]. Ramiro’s is a stunning, unfiltered wine that was aged in new American and French oak barriques for 30 months. It had a wonderfully lush aroma, was well-structured and had a long finish. This wine is a beautiful expression of the Tempranillo grape and was a highlight of the meal.
Other Jacques Scott wines served during the course of the evening included the refreshing and light Segura Viudas Aria Estate Brut NV Cava [Retail: $19.99], Spain’s iconic ‘méthode champenoise’ sparkling white wine, which was served with a trio of ‘apertivos’ during the welcome reception.
Served with the gazpacho course was 2010 Pazo de Señoráns Albariño [Retail: $28.99]. Mainly grown in Spain, the Albariño grape produces wines with a distinctive floral aromas and this wine was no exception.
The wine selection moved to Portugal for dessert and some Taylor’s 10-year-old Tawny Port, a fine ending to any evening.