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Culinary tour: Festival presents pairings of food, drink from around the world

Europa Food.Farm.Festival in Los Lunas will host pairing events each Friday in November. (Courtesy of Europa Food.Farm.Festival)

Put away the passport and head to Los Lunas for food and drink from other parts of the world.

Europa Food.Farm.Festival is offering special pairing events showcasing meads from Denmark, German- and English-style beers and ciders, and wines from Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Israel, Lebanon and Georgia, a country at the intersection of Europe and Asia. The libations will be pared with something sweet or savory, including imported cheeses and pastries from Israel. The pairings will be held in Europa’s large event space, which can host 30 people at 25% capacity. Masks are required. COVID-safe practices will be followed, and tables will be placed 6 feet apart.

The events begin Friday, Nov. 6 with a deductive wine tasting class led by Europa Food.Farm.Festival beverage director Daniel Gutierrez. The class is held the first Friday of every month. Attendees receive two glasses of wine and a 1½-hour class.

“Essentially with wine, sometimes it can be a little daunting, it can be a little intimidating, and we’re trying to break away from that and make wine approachable,” Gutierrez said. “So what the deductive tasting class is for is to give people a little foot in the door to kind of open the world of wine for people. We go through a whole grid of how to taste, how to look, how to smell, how to swirl, a little bit of a history class as well.”

The following week, Europa Food.Farm.Festival will offer a cider and cheese pairing at 7 p.m. Nov. 13. Gutierrez picked up the idea of the unusual pairing from “The Crafty Nectar,” a website he subscribes too. The event will showcase four ciders and four cheeses. Gutierrez is still working on the rare cheese offerings and plans to offer two French-style ciders, as well as Thistly Cross ginger cider from West Barns, Scotland, and Aspall Cyder from Suffolk, England.

“I thought that’s weird but the concept is that with wine you’re trying to create a symphony, you’re trying to take all these different components with the wine and creating something that amplifies or complements whatever you’re drinking and tasting, but with the cider and cheese you’re trying to create a whole new flavor, a whole new taste.”

The middle of the month is reserved for the Mead and Pastry Pairing at 7 p.m. Nov. 20. The featured meads are produced by Dansk Mjod out of Denmark and will be complemented by pastries from Israel.

“Mead, it’s the oldest alcoholic beverage in the world,” Gutierrez said. “Danish do it really well. … These actually have hops added. The hops add a little bit of a bitter component, which cuts down the sweetness of the honey, and every single one is actually going to taste very different as well. They’re all coming from the same producer, but we have one where they have sour apple juice added with cinnamon. We have another one that has dried hibiscus flowers added to it. We have another one that has caraway, which is the spice that gets added into rye bread, so it has a molasses-y, almost brown sugar component to it.”

A decadent Porto and Cake pairing will be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 27. Three finely decorated gourmet minicakes will complement lovely English-, Spanish- or Portuguese-style fortified wine.

“In Spain, they do more of a Madeira style, where it tastes a little more cooked and savory,” Gutierrez said. “Portugal has a real Old World style of fortified winemaking. We really want to try and utilize three different countries with three different styles of cakes, and those flavors are yet to be determined as well, but that’s the general concept.”

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