29 November 2010

n.d.p. in madrid: common decency at bocaito

After a few nights spent careening around Madrid en masse guided only by iPhones and good intentions, it was a tremendous relief on our last night to actually have a reservation in our name somewhere. My friend D's friend C, a Madrid native, had made the res from London and then moved heaven and earth to arrive in time for the main course.

I suspect that D had made us intentionally late for C's sake, actually. We all trooped into Chueca-district restaurant Bocaito loopy on sherry and about an hour late, prompting the matronly proprietress to unleash a wild tirade on impoliteness and ethics to the only member of our party who could understand her, which happened to be Y, the curator of the group show in which D's wife E was performing. We all seated ourselves red-faced with heads bowed - but grinning, since at very least we were seated, and at a restaurant that promised to be decent, even.

Not that you could tell from the wine list. I will freely admit to not knowing what I should about Spanish wine. I know the big names - Vega-Sicilia, R. López de Heredia*, etc. - and I have a general grasp of the varietals, but the nuances of vintages are lost on me, as are what must be the legions of interesting smaller producers. For this ignorance I don't blame myself - I'm American, after all - I blame Julian Jeffs, whose book on Spanish wines was so impenetrably dull that I simply couldn't carry on to the end.** Page after page of "very good indeed"-level description. (If that is all you are moved to say about great wines, Mr. Jeffs, perhaps you should have considered some career other than wine writing.)

All this is to say, anyway, that I was very pleased at Bocaito when, despite my general ignorance and what I suspect was a pretty meagre list, I was nevertheless able to alight on one white and one red that satisfied everyone, even me.

This particular brand of bottled water that you see all over Madrid has the funny effect of making it look like every table is polishing off a bottle of gin with dinner. 

The red was a sturdy standby: the 2008 vintage of renowned winemaker Alvaro Palacios' Bierza "Petalos," a bright, inky, biodynamic Mencia that I was first introduced to a few years ago at Silverlake Wine back in LA.

Pic nicked from wallywine.com.
I adored it then, although it might have helped that at the time I was infatuated with a Spanish girl from roughly that region. (Everything informs these opinions, just everything.) Nowadays I find it a bit modern, creamier than I remember, but still very enjoyable, and seemingly ubiquitous in a certain level of Madrid restaurant. (I saw it all over town on this trip.)

The white, however, was new to me, an inexpensive 2009 Ribeiro field blend by Vino San Clodio. Made from steel-fermented Treixadura, Godello, Albarino, and Loureiro, it's the project of a retired filmmaker and television producer called José Luis Cuerda.

It was assertively high-toned and lightly tropical and also a tad creamy, which quality, since it didn't derive from oak use, reminded me a little bit of the pine-apple yogurt effect I seem to get from some Friulian field blends. (Privately I theorize this might just be a sort of blurring effect you get when you somewhat artlessly blend a lot of disparate white grapes. Who knows.)

The food, which Y heroically agreed to order for the whole table, was unfussy and enjoyable. I remember being strangely affected by the high quality of the lettuce (!?) in some random side salads the vegetarians insisted on ordering. Otherwise the most memorable dish was a version of huevos rotos served atop a mass grave of tiny little fried fish.

The surface-area-to-fish ratio meant that they mostly served as little yolk 'n' grease vehicles. Totally delightful!

*Both of whose wines I was kind of shocked to see in the duty-free luxury "delicatessen" at Barajas airport. 

**I was surprised, since Jeffs had actually edited the entire series in which his boring book appeared, which also contained Nicolas Belfrage's duo of excellent books on Italian wine. I'd like to look into The New Spain, by John Radford, but it's currently going for $200 used on Amazon. I have no idea why this book should be worth its weight in gold, having never read it. 

Restaurante Bocaito
4-6 Calle Libertad
28004 Madrid
Metro: Chueca
Tel: +34 915 32 12 19 ‎

Related Links:

N.D.P in Madrid: Txakolina in La Latina
N.D.P in Madrid: Hangover cuisine at Almendro 13
N.D.P in Madrid: The vision of La Venencia
N.D.P in Madrid: A few quicks splashes at Taberna Tempranillo

Many photos of Bocaito's cuisine @ PlatesAndPlaces
An article on Alvaro Palacios @ Decanter
A tasting of Alvaro Palacios' wines @ WineAnorak
A profile of Alvaro Palacios @ RareWineCo.

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