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08 August 2005

Spanish Mexican

MexicoSpain and Mexico have a shared history, which goes back hundreds of years. Yet how often do we see this history shared in the kitchen? Spanish tapas are rarely, if ever, offered with Pacifico. Alternatively, I've never observed Chili Rellenos recommended with a red wine from Rioja. Admittedly, some Spanish-Mexican pairings don't seem like such a good idea: Tacos and Sherry, J. Cuervo and Paella, etc.

This weekend I played the role of culinary explorador. I discovered the mouthwatering Spanish-Mexican match known as Cava & Fajitas.

First, the Cava
Gramonagrandecuvee_1Cava is Spanish sparkling wine. It is made in much the same way as
Champagne. However, it's much less expensive, considerably simpler-tasting, and generally more aggressively bubbly than Champagne. There are a number of good, readily available Cavas from the Spanish giants Freixenet and Codorniu. I recently discovered Gramona Gran Cuvee Cava, '01 ($15) (from the same folks who brought me this languor-lifting white wine). Gramona is a cut above basic Cava in the complexity department. It offers scents of apple and citrus paired to a creamy texture, and a flavor-boosting, crisp finish.

FajitasNow the Fajitas
I find fajitas to be a personal culinary experience. In other words, I don't take kindly to soup-to-nuts recipes telling me what to do. I do, however, enjoy discovering yummy new marinades for chicken fajitas. Give this one a try:

Cilantro-Lime Chicken Marinade for Fajitas

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 cup olive oil
5 T fresh lime juice
2 t ground cumin
1 t Cayenne pepper (powder)
1 t Chipotle pepper (powder)
1 T honey

Salt & pepper to taste

Puree in a blender or food processor and pour over chicken breasts to marinade (20 minutes or more)

Prepare fajitas your way. My way is to grill red onions, fresh green chilies (Serrano or Anaheim), and yellow bell peppers. I grill marinated chicken breasts, let them rest for 15 minutes, and then thinly slice the breasts along with the veggies. And what are fajitas without a laundry list of topping-goodies?  Add tortillas, fresh guac, sour cream, and salsa.

Fix yourself a fajita, pour a flute of Cava, and enjoy the Spanish-Mexican fiesta in your mouth!



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