Eva Bertran's pantry
• Manchego cheese. Get it from a reputable shop that knows how to buy and care for the cheese ― and will let you taste it.
• Serrano ham. For small parties, says Bertran, buying sliced ham makes more sense. "Salt crystals on the surface means it's dried out," she cautions. "Also, it should have a good amount of fat."
• Olives. Mellow anchovy-stuffed green olives are what her family loves best. "We have to keep the kids away from them," she says. Peregrino and El Serpis are two good brands.
• Spanish olive oil. Bertran uses extra-virgin oil pressed from arbequina olives grown on the Gloria Ferrer grounds. She prefers the rich, mild flavor of arbequina oil "because it's the one I grew up with. Also, it lets you taste the food." La Amarilla de Ronda is one of her favorite brands.
Which bubbly works best?
Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves produces sparkling wines the way they're made in Catalonia, using the traditional French méthode champenoise (in which the bubble-producing fermentation takes place inside the bottle). Each of the three sparkling wines that Eva Bertan poured went well with the menu overall, but some pairings were particularly good.
• Brut. Typically made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, with pear and apple flavors and some toastiness. Especially tasty with the chickpea and tomato salad and the roasted peppers.
• Blanc de noirs. Made primarily from Pinot Noir grapes and often lush with strawberry, cherry, and warm spice flavors. Pairs well with the sweet dates wrapped in salty bacon.
• Blanc de blancs. Made entirely with Chardonnay grapes, generally producing citrus and pear aromas and good acidity. Delicious with the potato omelet and grilled bread with tomato.