Barcelona Patio Party!
This post has been a long time coming!!! You may remember the BBQ & Vino Party I recapped earlier in the summer, which took place at one of my favorite CT restaurants, Barcelona Wine Bar. The restaurant group owns establishments in several locations, including West Hartford (also home to its latest venture, bartaco). I love the fact that at all locations, monthly events take place about the appreciation and creation of creative, local tapas.
On July 30, Barcelona West Hartford hosted a Patio Party all about summer fare. Chef Jason Welch, who prepared that fantastic pig roast dinner I wrote about last month, once again outdid himself and provided a group of CT locals with a generously priced (only $25!) tasting menu, and performed cooking demos for each course.
Quite the selection for just $25, right?! And all of my favorite things! Veggies…seafood…steak…feta…
I didn’t know much about Jason’s work experience even after the BBQ & Vino event, so I was glad he kicked off the proceedings with more about himself and his backstory as a chef. He grew up nearby in Farmington, CT and later, even spent time cooking at a legendary NYC restaurant, Gotham.
In the above photo I’m holding the first course, a watermelon martini (watermelon puree, Hangar lime vodka, lime juice) and watermelon & cucumber salad (watermelon, cukes, feta, mint, Pedro Ximenz Sherry Vinegar). The martini was okay, but I am just so picky with how sweet my drinks are…AKA I like them best as old man drinks; I was disappointed that I couldn’t taste more of the cayenne pepper dash that was thrown in there. However I have plenty of girlfriends that would’ve gone mad for that martini. I more so enjoyed the watermelon cucumber salad. Watermelon and cucumber with feta has been done before, but I’ve never tasted a version with the sherry vinegar (which can be found at Whole Foods). The perfect unique touch to a summer favorite.
Jason took the time throughout the Patio Party to make sure every guest got a good view during each demo. He brought around the above bowl of the marinade for the striped bass ceviche, which contained peppers, red onion, cilanto, and citrus (those last two are always my favorite parts of ceviche). The bass itself was purchased from a local farmer’s market that very morning!
While not the best ceviche I’ve ever had, because I prefer mine a bit chunkier and with a “medley” of seafood, I still adored Jason’s version. The marinade in particular was fantastic. To go with our food, Jeff (are you really that surprised that he went to this event with me?) and I took the suggestions of our great waiter Derek and ordered two different sweeter white wines to share – a German Riesling (2010 Riesling, Max Ferd. Richter, Zeppelin) and a French Vouvray (2010 Chenin Blanc, Bourillon Dorléans). Both were wonderful, but I adored the Vouvray because of its less sweet flavor profile. So refreshing on a summer night and perfect as a seafood pairing.
The next course was dynamite – don’t be fooled by its veggie description. The roasted sweet corn & fennel was tossed with Manchego cheese, as well as a heavenly, out-of-this-world cilantro-lime BUTTER! Now I normally eat my corn plain, right off the cob. But I also can’t deny that when it’s coated in fancy cheese and shmancy butter, it’s pretty damn delightful.
Jason continued to give us a small demo for each course, while the plates for us were made back in the kitchen. He also passed around a list for us to write down our emails so we could get the recipes later.
As I mentioned in my Millwright’s review, I adore swordfish, and the next course met my excited expectations! It was topped with a fennel-orange vinaigrette (I love how much Jason incorporated fennel into the menu, since its local supply was so fresh and bountiful at that time). I have paired pineapple and mango salsas with swordfish before, but never orange! A new fruit/fish combo for me that I really enjoyed.
To go with our next course, we ordered some fantastic red wines that all tasted, I must admit, delightfully boozy Jeff went with a recommendation I’d gotten from my a friend who bartends at Barcelona, Anna. He agreed that the Cesca Vicent was a) wonderful and b) very me. Both true! Evan and I each got a glass of Malbec.
Around this time things started getting a little more silly
Had to pass the time while waiting for the last course…
…which consisted of skirt steak, garlic spinach, sweet potato fries, and chimichurri sauce.
Holy crap! The meat was not as underdone as I usually like (I like it moo-ing) but that’s fine because the sweet potato fries were INCREDIBLE. Often thick sweet potato fries are too limp but Jason’s recipe? So fantastic – thick fries that still had a body to them. The spinach tasted so fresh…I just know that it was local. I love when no telling is needed to have confidence in where a food came from. Plenty of garlic on that spinach for my tastebuds too. They can never get enough!
The crowd was even surprised with dessert! It wasn’t listed on the menu, but I was pleasantly surprised to get another chance to indulge in Barcelona’s homemade churros with chocolate sauce. To go with them, Jeff and I ordered one of our new favorite wines – sherry. Just like port, I love me some old-man style sherry.
Just looking at that photo makes me crave a dessert and dessert wine combo while I’m in MA this weekend for the Healthy Living Summit…yup that’s right more recaps are coming your way next week! I am making the most of my summer and that is OK! And amazing
So thank you Chef Jason, Derek, Anna, and the rest of Barcelona’s talented staff (including Exec Chef Adam Greenberg) for hosting an affordable evening to remember of local summery foods, delicious drinks, and silly photos on your beautiful patio!
Barcelona West Hartford is closed in August for renovations, but check out bartaco in the mean time!
Which of these dishes would you want to try most?
What’s your favorite part of summer nights?
Am I the only fan of sherry out there?!