Queso y Vino’s Festival of Chiles

October 11th, 2008 by Eric

We first met Catherine Reynolds at The Spanish Table years ago, when we were just learning about Spanish food and wine.  Catherine was the wine manager, always cheery and helpful in recommending wonderful cheeses and wines to try.  Over the years, as she’s branched out into all things food-related, we’ve taken paella classes from her, attended wine tastings that she and her husband Ken have hosted, and have read her beautifully-written blog to find out about places to visit and things to eat, here and about.  And now she’s struck out on her own with her new business Queso y Vino.  Is there a better way to learn about Iberian food and drink than at wine tastings and dinners hosted by a passionate foodie like Catherine?  Aside from hopping on a plane to Lisbon or Barcelona, I think not.

Queso y Vino’s first official event was hosted last week at Washington Wine Company, which featured a Mexican-fusion dinner by Chef Naomi Andrade Smith, with Catherine’s wine pairings from Spain, Portugal, and South America.  Naomi is the force behind Villa Victoria, and while we were sad that she had to close her take-out business last month, keep hope alive – she’s still selling food to the public from her main catering location.  She will be sending out menus weekly to her mailing list, so you can order ahead and pick up a dozen tamales or whatever she’s offering that week.  Hopefully, she’ll continue selling all the things we loved so much from her take-out business: empanadas, homemade chips and guacamole, her amazing green tomatillo sauce, and her own roasted coffee beans.

We went to the dinner with some friends, and the oft-repeated phrase of the evening was, “Oh man, this is so good.”  Not only that, but dinner was hands-down the best value in town – seven family-style courses with seven paired wines for a mere $50.  Dishes included minced sautéed rockfish with chile and avocado with hand-cut chips, a salad with jicama, orange, and honey-tamarind dressing, chipotle-rubbed pork ribs with jalapeño and pineapple glaze, chanterelle mushroom tamales steamed in banana leaves, and chicken picadillo-stuffed poblano chiles with walnut cream sauce and pomegranate seeds.  The wine pairings were excellent, and included cabernet sauvignon from Argentina, pinot noir from Chile (one of my favorites of the night), a blend from Portugal, and a full-bodied Spanish Priorat.  Dessert was classic and, well, so good: flan covered with raspberries, paired with Madeira.  This was served with Naomi’s roasted coffee, Café Mocambo.  She purchases her beans from the same grower as Illy coffee.

Villa Victoria's El Gran Flan con Zarzamoras (flan for a crowd with raspberries)

We had a chance to chat with Naomi, and when we told her how much we were going to miss all of the great food at her take-out location, she had a wistful look on her face as she mused, “I wonder if I should open up a restaurant?”  We certainly hope she does – La Carta de Oaxaca and taco trucks aside, it’s tough to find good Mexican in Seattle.

If you’d like to be in the know about Queso y Vino events, send an email to quesoyvino@gmail.com and ask to be added to the email newsletter.  I hear that Catherine’s holding wine tastings at 12th & Olive and dinner at Gaudi later this month.

Villa Victoria
4116 Rainier Avenue, Seattle
(206) 722-3303

Villa Victoria on Urbanspoon

2 Responses to “Queso y Vino’s Festival of Chiles”

  1. ms. proust says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful recap of the first official Queso y Vino event. If you asked me 6 months ago if I thought I’d be off on my own making my own business actually come to life–well, I probably would have guessed I’d be in the planning stages instead of actually doing it!

    All the support has been incredible & I owe it to folks like you who appreciate my passion and inspire me to coordinate events like this. I love seeing everyone come together, especially when the world is going through a bit of a rough patch. I feel fortunate these days that my specialty has been in the realm of affordable luxuries–we need them (or at least I do as an entrepreneur!)

    Keep us making us hungry with all your fantastic adventures!
    Catherine

  2. Dawn says:

    Catherine, we’re happy to be along on the journey, and are looking forward to what you have in store next!

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