Is Spain the new France ?


Obviously no, Spain is Spain and France is France. However in culinary terms Spain seems to be occupying the position [in my head anyway] that France monopolised for many years; the food can be fancy without the bill inducing a cardiac arrest,


the meat is great, especially the old beef, and the wine has achieved a splendid equilibrium between quality and price. There was a time when the steaks in France would consistently hit the mark, as long as you were prepared to eat black and blue (or more accurately cut off the horns, clean its backside and stick it on a plate) and I still recall great chunks of Charolais and Limousin which I have known and loved and devoured. And yet as recently reported one of the worst steaks of the last 20 years, Beefeater revisited, befouled my plate on a recent trip to Lyon. Meanwhile the Spanish quality is bonkers; from a Churrasco (top sirloin) near Madrid airport to Chuleton (Bone-in rib) in Bilbao I seem to consistently encounter well aged cattle matured appropriately.

In the UK at the high-end there is developing a trend for extreme-ageing [up to 199 days], is this to offset the lack of flavour due to relatively young age (avg. 30 months) of the animals ? I'd rather not eat almost-carrion and prefer the meat of older animals with less ageing; Chuletons can come from cows over 8 and up to 17 years of age, the fellow above was 12. In Galicia there is a thriving industry based importation of finished dairy cows (+4 years), especially Simmental, which are then put out to pasture to grow fat and delicious. Yes it’s more chewy than in-vogue grain fed [which taste a little soft and buttery to me], that’s why I have teeth.

In terms of wine I consider Rioja to provide the best value anywhere and should it be a little too delicate on some occasions [i.e. when there’s a particularly old and fatty Chuleton to be hoovered up] then its robust cousin Ribeiro del Duero, also predominantly Tempranillo (they call it Tinto Fino), can step in and stand up to just about anything.

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Spanish, Lifestyle, Wine