Garden of Delights, a two-minute hop from Icehouse, hosted an ASC Spanish wine tasting (150 kuai) last week. This Latin American restaurant is long, narrow and high, with a curved roof, a simple and airy interior, and earthy elements, including wood and bricks. It borrows themes from Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” though the phrase “Ikea biosphere” popped into my head.
We sampled five Bodegas Chivite wines, including a Chardonnay 2004, Rose 2004, Moscatel 2001, Gran Feudo Reserve 1998 (80% Tempranillo; the rest Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) and Coleccion 125 Gran Reserva 1995. Bodegas Chivite is a top-ten producer and apparently the oldest winery in Spain, and company rep Marife Blanco Esteban described the wines as “home in a glass.” Cheers! My notes were scant and I will simply say that I enjoyed all five, particularly the fresh and crisp Chardonnay and the 1995 reserve.
The three-course dinner (300 kuai), accompanied by even more wine, was prepared by visiting chef Jordi Valles, who previously worked at both Akelarre and Arzak in Spain. (The guy beside me said that he made reservations seven months ahead at one of these places; a restaurant in Beijing is lucky enough to avoid being chai’d for that long.) I had diced roasted chicken with avocado puree between corn chips (tasty morsels); roasted salmon with Peruvian seafood sauce (perhaps a bit too subtle for my base tastes); and warm chocolate souffle cake with molten chocolate center (which I am suing for making me a diabetic). I also enjoyed talking to some of the owners, which consist of three couples who seem like slightly nervous parents with this, their first, restaurant, as well as the Ecuadorian floor manager, who had been in Beijing for only 24 hours and claims he makes a mean Mojito. (Agent Red Wolf has put it to the test and gives a high grade; see next issue.)
(From Beijing Boyce XIII, first emailed on March 24, 2006)