January is generally a dull month after all the Christmas excesses. However a Vegan jaunt to Cadiz brightened up the last days of the month.
Restaurante Patria located in the heart of the Andalusian countryside is an oasis of calm. Set in the hills above the Cadiz coastline, the chef took on a veggie challenge. His mission was to use Tio Pepe Wines, creating an innovative Vegan menu with local produce and seasonal vegetables.
Local Produce in Cadiz
Run by Thomas Donso y Ose Donso, this relaxing little place in Vejer de la Frontera harnesses the richness of local fruits and vegetables. Showcasing seasonal produce of Cadiz and achieving the best with zero mile food. Although Restaurante Patria does serve meat and fish on this day it was an exclusive Vegan menu.
Not only did I discover that Tio Pepe Wines are Vegan Friendly, I also discovered a new vegetable too. I had never heard of Tagarninas before this Vegan Lunch.
Tagarnina is the Spanish name for Golden Thistle. These wild thistles were eaten years ago by families that couldn’t make ends meet, particularly around the 1940s. Found across most of central and Southern Spain´s countryside, this food is now a delicacy. With a short season in late April to June. Only a few producers grow this commercially.
Good for omelettes and stews, I tried Paté de Picarninas by Conservas Cantizano. This is a tagarnina spread which was peppy and delicious on a crispbread as an aperitif. The stalks are the best part of the plant although roots and leaves can also be eaten too.
Thistles are known for their powerful medicinal properties. Great to combat water retention, to aid digestion and the liver, these vegetables only have 27 calories in 100 grams so they are great if you are watching your waistline too.
I saw them on sale in the local market in Jerez, in the wild they are in season in late spring but can be found throughout the year in Cadiz province where they are comercially produced by local growers.
Is Sherry Wine suitable for Vegans?
Traditionally in Sherry Wine production egg white was used in the clarification process. This treatment makes the wine completely clear and free from sediment. Tio Pepe are now using Pea protein in this part of the elaboration. So Tío Pepe, Tío Pepe en Rama & Tío Pepe Finos Palmas are all suitable for Vegans. Only vegetable protein is used in these wines. For a dessert pairing Nectar Pedro Ximenez is a Vegan Friendly choice.
The R&D team continue to investigate in other ranges of wine to increase the use of vegan friendly processes.
Vegan Food Pairing
So what did the chef create for this Vegan Banquet?
The creations were pretty impressive. With diverse use of different vegetables, fruits and herbs the dishes looked very different. Lots of creativity in the presentation too. Each dish was very colourful. With different preparation techniques this meal was visual interesting and delicious too.
Fennel Artichokes & Sweet Potato
The first three dishes were made with Sherry Wines infused in the recipes.
- Baked Fennel with Oloroso, orange, garlic, Rosemary & Spinach
- Artichokes & Thistles with Amontillado, peas and homemade garlic mayo (photo above)
- Onions stuffed with sweet potato, garlic & Tio Pepe teriyaki
Cabbage Cauliflower & Mushrooms
The next three dishes were matched with Sherry Wines
- Spring Onion with potato wafers & apple puree served with Amontillado Viña AB. (photo above)
- Cauliflower and potatoes with Funnel Chanterelle Mushrooms & Truffles paired with Palo Cortado Leonor
- Baked Cabbage with fresh thyme, raisins & almond paired with Oloroso Alfonso
Food Pairing for Vegans
Artichokes and Asparagus are some of the more difficult vegetables to pair with wine. Due to their complex flavours, Palo Cortado is a great choice for these dishes. Vegetarians and Vegans have to be careful to select their wine as some particles could remain in wines prepared with animal products.
Of course to end our meal the dessert was a showstopper too:
- Homemade cashew ice cream and almond milk with Pedro Ximenez, chocolate, strawberries & caramel – Served with Oloroso Dulce Solera 1847
Warm caramel sauce was served so that the chocolate melted, revealing the ice cream and strawberries underneath. Perfectly matched with a sweet Oloroso we couldn´t have ended the meal on a better note.
(N.B This is a Vegetarian dessert)
Tio Pepe with Strawberries
To round off the event we toasted the chef with a glass of Tio Pepe served with fresh strawberries and Patria Strawberry Juice.
A refreshing colourful cocktail perfect for springtime dinners.
See more details of this Vegan Food Pairing in the video (Spanish language)