Postcards from Spain: Day Tres
Talk about stumbling over a gem! I had a fabulous dinner last night at a place with a handful of tables on a skinny lane (no kidding, we were passed by the occasional scooter).
Meson Reino de Leon, a family business for 30 years, is housed in a building that is twelve hundred years old, has Knights Templar emblems on the base of its internal column, and Moorish arches. In the 18th century, it was a hospital for TB patients. Of course, these days it is a bar/restaurant and the home of the owner. According to his son, José Luis Prieto, who is also the chef, “Behind the walls here are lots of secrets.”
José came out to chat with us as we lingered over tapas (a sinful mini terrine of layered foie gras with an aspic touched by Pedro Ximenez Sherry, grilled mushrooms with an Oloroso Sherry sauce, and the ultimate, a marshmallow of deep fried creamy goat cheese on a slather of Oloroso-carmelized onions capped with a thin slice of tomato jam). At 29, José trained and worked in Switzerland and Spain (at posh, Michelin-starred restos) before slipping on the apron previously worn by his father.
His tapas are unlike the traditional ones I’ve tried (and enjoyed). HIs lean towards the international, so are more exciting than the boiled artichokes I ate the night before. I think José uses artichokes, but I’m willing to bet that they will be cooked with elan – and a splash of Sherry.
Dinner, which included a steak and a slab of foie gras (yes another – and yes I know how fattening it is, leave me alone, it was recommended by Chef José), and a bottle of Rioja, creme caramel and glasses of Pedro Ximenez Sherry, cost 48 Euros, about $60. For two, shared.
Has anybody eaten at a fabulous Jerezano place? I’d like to hear from you.
Photo of Chef José (worth seeing, trust me) on my blog.