Hoboken’s very own, La Isla, is about to celebrate its 21st birthday in June! Chef-owner, Omar Giner, crafts authentic and creative interpretations of Cuban cuisine. His dishes, full of color, texture and flavor, showcase his genuine respect for culture and tradition. This small, family-run restaurant is the epitome of our city: humble, upbeat, warm and full of character.
I decided to pair this not-so-hidden gem with another, Txakoli (don’t be intimidated by the pronunciation; it is easy… cha-co-lee). Coming from the Basque Country, located in the North East corner of Spain and bordering France, the unique area reminded me of our Mile Square city: part of New Jersey, influenced by neighboring New York #sixthboroughmom, but an identity all its own.
Txakoli wine is generally tart, salty, and clean (picture sitting on a hot beach and being cooled off by sea spray) making it ideal for seafood, cured meat, and hard cheeses. It is often served with tapas, and sometimes poured from a porron, a traditional glass pitcher resembling a watering can. If you feel like being festive, you can buy one on Amazon. To use, just pick it up and tilt it so a thin stream of wine pours directly into your mouth. It takes some practice but spillage is acceptable… perhaps reserve this for home, rooftop, or backyard enjoyment.
I was ecstatic to find not one, but two bottles of Txakoli at Sparrow on Washington Street.
Txomin Etxaniz, Getaria, Spain $22.99
Grape: Hondarrabi Zuri
Coming from Gataria, just west of San Sebastian, this perky white is like a dance party in your glass. Bone dry, crisp, citrusy and full of mineral, saline notes it is a perfect warm weather sipper. There is a slight effervescent quality that is characteristic of the wine, giving it a fun prickly texture.
Pair it with:
Ceviche de Camarones- lime, cilantro, onion and marinated shrimp served with plantain chips
Tostones con Mojo- twice fried green plantains with garlic sauce
Camarones al Ajillo- jumbo shrimp sautéed in a white wine garlic sauce
**Sparrow also carries the Txomin Etxaniz Rose, hidden up front in the refrigerator… It’s like salted watermelon in a bottle!!
Try it with the Papa Rellena- mashed potato stuffed with ground beef, breaded and fried.
Deanna moved to Hoboken in 2013 to pursue a career in food and wine. She has worked at 5 star and Michelin starred properties in New York City as a sommelier. Moonlighting as a private chef in town, she is excited to bring her passion for wine to the Mile Square City.