It’s become a tradition to do two editions of our annual cassoulet dinner, and this past Monday we were treated to the Spanish version of this annual warming treat. Chef Bertrand of 2941 Restaurant knocked this dinner out of the park, creating the perfect combination of traditional and innovative flavors to showcase the portfolio of importer Jonas Gustafsson, who focused on wines of the Catalan regions of Spain to pair with this Spanish-inflected spin on cassoulet, called Escudella.
As an aperitif we were treated to Mas Estela’s Vinya Selva del Mar Blanca, whose blend of Garnacha Blanca and Muscat were the perfect combination of minerality (from the Garnacha) and lush aromatics (from the Muscat). Its fans were in good company, as it was the house white of the now-closed El Bulli.
Next came three small appetizers, which included both grilled sardines and cured anchovies. The briny fish was delicious with the Joseph Puig Terra Alta white, another Garnacha Blanca-based white.
With the main event, we enjoyed dueling reds, a red Montsant blend from Joseph Puig, and the Mas Estela Espiritu, a fuller-bodied red with a bit more bottle age. There was some spirited debate at the table as to which was the better wine, and which was a better match with the food. Some preferred the Joseph Puig’s freshness and purity, while others loved the Espiritu’s minerality and depth. Both were delicious with the cassoulet’s different elements, such as lamb belly, chorizo, and, possibly most notably, the house-made blood sausage. A certain owner of the store may or may not have finished a few guests’ blood sausage for them. It was that good!
Both the French and the Spanish cassoulet dinners were wonderful, but according to those who attended both, the Spanish version really impressed for its inventiveness and bold flavors. Bravo to Chef Bertrand Chemel, sommelier Jonathan Schuyler, and the staff at 2941 for their attentive service and fabulous food.