It all started with a tweet and a favourable mention of our white Le Domaine. Soon after, the chef of our one Michelin-starred restaurant Refectorio was cooking with Holly Jivin, his counterpart at restaurant Bazaar in Los Angeles, one of the many successful culinary venues that José Andrés Spanish Chef has opened across the United States.
A few years ago, José Andrés wrote a tweet praising our white Abadía Retuerta Le Domaine and we ran out of wine in the blink of an eye. Some time later, a member of his team spent a few days at Abadía Retuerta and became fascinated with the place and our cuisine.
Was there a special connection between the great US-based chef and our Duero estate? The situation cried out for some kind of collaboration which eventually materialized in a four-hands menu designed by Marc Segarra, the chef of our one Michelin-starred Refectory restaurant in partnership with chef Holly Jivin of Bazaar restaurant in Los Angeles.
How is a four-hands menu prepared?
It was important for Marc Segarra to transfer the cuisine and surroundings of Abadía Retuerta across the Atlantic. “It was a great challenge,” he remembers. “You can’t carry food into the US, so we had to work with locally-sourced ingredients which are not exactly the same -and that includes how they taste.” Additionally, the dishes had to be paired with some of the winery’s best vintages.
The diners for whom they had to cook were very diverse: there was a session reserved exclusively for sommeliers; another for wine collectors, journalists and personalities such as the former US ambassador to Spain, James Costos; and the last two for the restaurant’s regular clientele.
“We worked for several months on the food selection to unite both styles in a single menu,” says Segarra.
And what was it like to work in a kitchen other than the Refectory?
“It was a stimulating and enriching experience. I was able to get a first-hand look at the perfect organisation in a restaurant which serves between 300 and 400 meals over the weekend and has between 60 and 70 dishes on the menu. The pace is hectic, and the quality of the food and the service is very high,” says the chef of Refectorio.
They had to deal with some difficulties, such as the issue with the crayfish with wheat flour bread soup. “At home we use a special large-sized Dublin Bay prawn which ultimately could not be found in the United States so we had to substitute it for lobster,” Marc points out among the anecdotes surrounding the preparation of the menu.
A parade of great vintages
The solid part included dishes like candied artichokes, octopus, lobster and the singular Angus ribs -the cooking technique of the latter dish attracted a great deal of interest among Los Angeles chefs. Meanwhile, the liquid part of the menu featured small vertical tastings of some of Abadia Retuerta’s flagship wines.
Some of the historical trilogies that were served such as the Selección Especial 1996, 2006 and 2016, confirmed the quality of the vintages ending in six. Other wines that were present included the 2005, 2013 and 2015 vintages of Pago Garduña and the 2001, 2010 and 2015 vintages of Abadía Retuerta Petit Verdot. The journey ended with another series of great Pago Valdebellón vintages: 1996, 2005 and 2015.
Segarra recalls the partnership as a fascinating experience: “Gaining an insight into their way of working and their techniques and sharing the kitchen with her team was a unique opportunity”, he points out.