Did you know that this past Friday the 17th was Malbec World Day?
Neither did we until we saw a notification in GringoTree about a wine tasting event being held to celebrate this illustrious occasion. Having recently returned from Argentina where we consumed generous amounts of the country's signature wine, it seemed only appropriate that we should attend and show our support for such a worthy cause.
The event was taking place at Zahir 360, a beautiful new hotel that we had not previously visited.
We elected to participate in both the general wine tasting (these pics were taken at the end of the evening--there was much more selection earlier)
and a special tasting menu of different Malbecs paired with specific foods. What a treat! We sat down at a l-o-n-g table overflowing with wine glasses.
The chef first served a prosciutto roll stuffed with a soft cheese in a wine reduction sauce. The accompanying wine was from Norton, one of Argentina's largest and best known wineries. Next came a yummy mushroom risotto paired with our favorite Malbec of the night courtesy of Luigi Bosca. It was so special we bought a bottle to take home. We would have paid around $8US in Argentina instead of $26 but what the heck, we're not there anymore.
I got so caught up in the evening's festivities I forgot to take photos of all the courses but did remember this one, a smoked pork chop and figs paired with wine from Navarro Correas, an old and prestigious Mendoza winery.
After the final course of lomo fino (filet mignon) and a bold Malbec from Finca La Chamiza, we rejoined the general tasting before heading outside to take in a beautiful evening from the hotel's spacious terrace.
Cynthia and I talked about how none of this could have been possible in Cuenca when we first arrived. There were no new modern hotels, and there was little interest in fine wines and elevated cuisine. The popular assumption is that all of us new expats are driving this train, and nothing could be farther from the truth. At the wine event we, along with a couple from GringoTree, were the only foreigners present.
We expats happen to be lucky bystanders reaping the benefits of Cuenca's emerging middle class, driven mainly by locals who lived in the U.S. or Spain and have now returned home with a desire to enjoy the goods and services they were exposed to while abroad. There are more exciting places to go and things to do than ever before. For example, the Russian Ballet is performing here Thursday night.
Cynthia and I were happy to move to Cuenca five years ago and, honestly, this place is in so many important ways becoming an even better place to live.
PS. I just read an interesting article about how the latest research casts doubts on many of wine's reputed health benefits. What next, dark chocolate?