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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Drinks and tapas with friends - Dehesa in Soho

I recently met up with a friend after work to talk about wines, cheeses, blogging and our day-jobs (he's a freelance credit manager with a blog). We had arranged to meet at a Spanish tapas and wine bar in Soho called Dehesa.

The area has many delights for the socially-inclined and trendy media types who like to hang out in proximity to Soho's frisson of sleaze and edginess, but Dehesa offers something fairly unique there.

It's a continental-style, upmarket wine bar where everything just works - the food is good, simple and honest, the wines are elegant, fruity and well-chosen to match with the various hams, salamis and cheeses, and both the decor and the service are sophisticated, classy and straightforward. Prices are also very reasonable for one of the trendier parts of London.

According to the company's website, Dehesa is a unique woodland area in Spain which is home to the black-footed Ibérico pigs, said to produce the best ham in the world.

A dainty amuse bouche
A few years ago, I found myself travelling abroad regularly on business - for a while, I made a point of going to some very nice restaurants, but the novelty of dainty amuse bouches, foamed vegetables and multi-variationed desserts eventually wore off and, like an aging rock star who ditches the glittery outfits for something simple and all-black, I found myself drawn to simple-but-classy wine bars.

We started with a fino sherry from Colosia; one of my favourite aperitifs, it was crisp, dry and pungent.

Food was the usual mix of cheeses and hams from Spain and Italy with a fig paste, along with griddled sourdough bread and a choice of olive oil or home-made mayonnaise for dipping.

I was intrigued to see a Poggio Argentiera wine I had tried at a Cambridge Food and Wine Society tasting recently, but we eventually chose an Honoro Vera Monastrell from Bodegas Juan Gil in Jumilla, an inland region of Spain. Elegant and soft, rather than gutsy, it was smooth and perfumed with aromas of cherries, strawberries and some bramble fruit and matched with the strong, simple flavours of the food.

We finished off with something a bit special - a PX sherry from Fernando de Castilla; dark in the glass and as rich as a fruitcake, it was a mouthful of complex flavours of raisins, figs, toasted nuts and dried mixed fruit, yet had a refreshing acidity that kept it from being too overpowering.

A wine like this is a dessert all by itself and does not really need an accompaniment, but would be a great match for a Christmas cake or a home-made sticky toffee pudding.


Dehesa - http://www.dehesa.co.uk/

Colosia - http://www.gutierrezcolosia.com/index_ingles.html

Bodegas Juan Gil - http://www.juangil.es/ing/index.htm

Poggio Argentiera - http://poggioargentiera.com/

CPCM blog - http://cpcmcredit.wordpress.com/


  1. thank you for citing Poggio Argentiera Tom, I've never been there, I'm looking forward to go.

  2. Ciao Gianpaolo

    It's one of my favourite places in London and, as you can see, their choice in wines is excellent ;)

    Hope all is well, Tom