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Monday, June 4, 2012

Peachy Picks Solera Our Coverage Sponsored by Cosmopolitan Dental, Official Dentist of Whom You Know

Peachy Deegan and Rufino, owner of Solera

The Best Dentist in Manhattan 


Official Dentist of Whom You Know:

30 E. 40th Suite 1001

212 683 1960

Dr. Garo Nazarian is a Mover and Shaker:
If you want to experience premium Spanish cuisine in Manhattan, there is only one place to go and that is Solera.  Watch the video above of Rufino to hear about why the restaurant is named Solera!  Solera is a total delight from the minute you walk in until the minute when you'll hate to leave.  It is evident every moment you are there why this restaurant has been dominating Spanish cuisine in Manhattan for the last twenty-one years and it is due in no small part to the fact that Rufino is not only a master of cuisine but also a stellar personality that takes the utmost pride in every aspect of quality imaginable.  First, Solera was featured in Terrific Takeout:
Terribly tantalizing, Solera then advanced to Tasty Tidbits:
It has graduated to Peachy's Picks with flying colors!
Seated at Table 21 (panelist in position one, Peachy in position two, joined by Rufino at conclusion in position four), which we thought was a lovely vantage point, we began our Solera experience with a crisp, welcoming Cava:
Solera definitely had caught on to the fact that someone has a cocktail named after her, so they thoughtfully added peach slices both in it and as a garnish which was a flattering and delicious touch!  We were greeted with hors d'oeuvres which is called Pincho in spanish:
Often Pincho of all varieties is smartly served on a piece of toast to give it something to sit properly on.  Going clockwise from top left: Tortilla Espanola, a classic;  House Smoked Salmon, which is smoked for six hours after being first marinated; Gazpacho, served every day from Memorial Day to Labor Day and clearly the best Gazpacho you've ever had; Cod Fritter, a special of the night and Peachy's favorite of the five; and Chorizo, with crisp toast on top.  All were small versions of course of the appetizer size and gave us a convincing taste of the hit parade to come.
We hear the most special tables at Solera have these fantastic almonds to munch on.  Their proper name is Marcona Almonds from Spain and it will be a challenge to stop eating them but you also will want to save room for your meal.
You know Peachy is Ms. I Don't Eat Olives EVER.  Well, she ate THESE OLIVES and they were DELICIOUS!  They are even smart to have a pit deposit tiny bowl.  Little touches like this tell us that the restaurant is detail-oriented which is what we are after, among other qualities too.
Above is what you're going to have the hardest time not eating when you are still working on the appetizers: Rufino's Garbanzo Puree!  This concoction boasts chic peas, garlic, red pepper and onion in the correct proportion to each other that will leave you spreading it, and spreading it, and spreading it and SMILING.

When you go to Solera, you do as the Spanish do.  We must admit, we do not have a vast knowledge of Spanish wines so we deferred to Rufino who has quite the expertise as you saw from the video above.  We sipped on a splendid white: Arcan Albarino, Rias Baixas 2010 which was crisp and refreshing.  Ideal for June!  Ideal for Peachy's appetizer which she has dreamed of for a few consecutive nights now:
Totally genius is the first way we'd describe the lobster potato salad.  Of course, you all know Peachy is Irish so naturally she loves potato salad.  You have seen her write about lobster umpteen times surely.  No one has ever thought to put them together until we met Rufino!  It's no accident that he has such strong culinary intelligence: in 1987 he was the first in New York to cook paella in a paella pan he tells us.  Rufino is from La Coruna which is a Northwestern area of Spain.  It is quite possible if you go back far enough you may discover that Peachy and Rufino are related as she has been told she is Black Irish.  You know she has brown eyes and brown hair...not the stereotypical Irish look.  Now you also know she has a clearcut affinity for the Warm Lobster potato salad with succulent lobster discs and cute cubed potatoes dancing in a truffle vinagreta.  Avocado joined the party and this is going to be one of the most coveted dishes of the summer, in her humble opinion.

It wanted you to see it just a little bit closer!
Don't you love its smile!

Executive Chef Daniela Paulno has been at the helm of the Solera kitchen for 14 years, and he hails from the Dominican Republic.  His talent is evident and we met him when he made an appearance during our main course!  Rufino introduced every single course to us personally and made us feel so welcome.

A clearcut winner of the entree section Peachy Deegan can personally verify is the Salmon a la plancha: Escalopes of Salmon, spinach stuffed artichoke (so creative!!!), artichoke emulsion and salmon roe will win you over in just one bite!  There will be no talking during this portion of the meal as you will be completely captivated by the flavor, moistness, and overall harmony of the components forming a symphony of taste that will make you feel like you have never had salmon before, because you haven't had THIS salmon.  We learned that a plancho pan is employed as a griddle to sear the fish on the outside: the bottom line-they know what they are doing and this method trumps others we've written on.

Next it was time to advance to red, and specifically: Marques de Vitoria Reserva, Rioja 2005 which had incredible depth of taste and paired perfectly with our carnivorous course to follow!

Just as good as the best steakhouse steak we've had is the Corte del Carnicero a la parilla!  In English that means Grilled Hanger Steak with Pimenton potatoes and chimchurri.    Every bite was juicy and succulent and we would guess even people we know who refuse to eat meat would end that habit in 5 seconds if they simply inhaled the smell of this blue ribbon entree.  If eating meat is going to make Peachy live fewer years it is totally worth it if the steak is like this!!!
Finally, Rufino must really be reading since he adhered to Peachy's commitment to chocoholism.  Here's another course where you will become immediately antisocial as this really does taste as excellent as it looks.  Delica de Chocolate is the proper name and it's warm chocolate, pecan brownie and fig ice cream!!!  It will please everyone we're sure, as will the entire Solera experience which will impress even those with the most discriminating taste.  The cuisine will leave you breathless, the talents of the chef will wow you, the decor will make you feel like you are in Spain and Rufino himself is the epitome of talent, knowledge, class and decorum and he sets the standard for how restaurant owners should be.  
Our esteemed panelist adds:
Sample Savory Spanish cuisine at Solera! We thoroughly enjoyed every morsel and learned (some) of the secrets to our delicious dinner. Solera is a twenty one year old restaurant and tapas bar in east midtown. Our meal started with fresh bread served with a delectable spread of garbanzo beans, a marker for the unique tastes that were to follow. The scrumptious spread contains red peppers, salt, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. The bread has been made in house for the past twenty years. We had two marvelous starters: Black and green olives prepared to perfection by marinating for two weeks then flavoring with olive oil, lemon, orange, garlic and olive oil. These olives had just the right amount of salt, which is to say not too much. Next were marcona almonds from Spain sautéed in olive oil. Absolutely flavorful. 

Our first appetizer course was a sampling of tapas: First was the tortilla Espanola, followed by the house smoked salmon. The salmon is marinated then smoked for 6 hours, served on a Ritz cracker. Next was a full bodied, wonderfully flavored without any one taste overpowering it, gazpacho. The gazpacho is only served from Memorial to Labor Day so do not miss this special soup. The fourth sample was a cod fritter that was delicious. The fifth sample was chorizo with toast on top. 

I chose arroz cremoso con pato y setas, creamy rice with duck and mushrooms, as my second appetizer, shown above. This dish highlighted all the flavors without any one overpowering the other. The rice texture was perfect, not too creamy, allowing one to enjoy the duck and mushroom tastes. During our dinner we were joined by the owner Rufino and we can see how his family heritage of quality food is a driving force behind the excellence we experienced. Rufino is from Northern Spain. His mother and grandmother were bakers and ran a small restaurant in Spain respectively. His father would fish in the morning and farm in the afternoon. The authentic fresh taste of the food that his family values is quite evident in this establishment and is the inspiration for many of the dishes. 

My main course was Pescado del dia which was Black bass. Every morsel was moist and absolutely delicious. We learned that the secret to this moisture was the use of the planchard, a griddle that cooks the fish perfectly without draining any moisture from it. A tasty preparation that is not to be missed. This was paired with a light white Arcan Albarino, Rias Baixas 2010. Next we were served the Corte del Carnicero a la parrilla: grilled hangar steak, Pimenton potatoes, chimchurri which is a delightful blend of parsley with red and green peppers, garlic, olive oil and vinegar that compliments the steak. This fabulous dish has been on the menu since day one and we can easily understand its tremendous popularity. A carnivore's cacophony of complimentary tantalizing tastes, to be tried as soon as one can. This was served with a red Marques de Vitoria Reserva, Rioja 2005. 

Dessert was served as samplings as well which we agree maximized one’s exposure to the delicacies on the menu while minimizing one’s caloric exposure. The dessert wine was a full bodied Don PX Gran Reserva 1982 Pedro Ximenez, Toro Albala, Montilla. The first course was cuarteto Leche Huevo: This consists of Crema Ctalan, tocino del cielo, flan and caramel ice cream. We learned that Spanish flan is actually the tocino del cielo, a softer consistency due to less sugar and less egg than the firmer flan. The tocino was wrapped in tasty phyllo. Crema catalan is the Spanish equivalent of crème brulee. This is richly flavored without being too rich or too heavy. Ice cream was a delicious gelato served on a thin cookie called a galleta. Sample size allowed us to enjoy a second dessert of Picatostes: Toast point, warmed chocolate and extra virgin olive oil topped with maldon salt. We learned that chocolate was invented by the Spaniards from the cocoa leaves, and we suggest that they have perfected the taste of this dessert. The inspiration for this not to be missed creation derives from Rufino's fond childhood memory of returning home after school and blending bars of chocolate with crushed old bread. 

Our closing final dessert saluted its heritage: Cookies called polvorones. Polvorones are a traditional Spanish cookie that translated as “dust” due to their lightness. They deliciously disintegrate to a “dust”-like consistency in your mouth. Ours were ever so slightly flavored with poppy seeds. We would like to thank Rufino and his culinary forbearers for their contribution to a midtown dining experience that should not be missed: Muchas gracias, Solera. 

Peachy Picks Solera!
Solera is Highly Recommended by Whom You Know.

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