During these days of social distancing, I look back fondly on an evening spent not so long ago at a new wine and tapas lounge in the Third Ward called Cavas. The tiny place was full of carefree people mingling with one another. The music was pulsing, and the owner, Ana Docta, was a light of movement behind the bar. She shifted effortlessly from pouring sparkling wine (or cava, as they call it in Spain) to mixing one of the bar’s cocktails, all while warmly greeting each new arrival.
Docta, who was born in Argentina and raised in Brazil, traveled to Spain for her culinary training and had a thriving career as a chef in Brazil. Marriage brought her to the United States in 2000, and for three years, she operated KASANA Catering and Cafe in the Third Ward.
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Food memories from her Argentinian childhood include the game her father hunted and the pit-roasted meats they would eat on Sundays. But she remembers more than meat: “My father was Italian and a very good cook, so he made a lot of homeade pasta: gnocchi, lasagna, fettuccine, ravioli, tortillas espanolas, stuffed red peppers in home-made ragu, locro (an Argentinean traditional stew made with cow stomach, white beans and vegetables). It sounds bad but is delicious! Also cow brain, puchero (a stew made with oxtails and vegetables and served with house made mayo that my mom used to do by hand) and so many more.”
I look forward to enjoying an evening at Cavas again, hopefully soon. In the meantime, Docta shared this recipe for sangria. She recommends it alongside meat or pasta dishes, cheese plates or pizza.
Sangria So Simple
You can make sangria with your choice of any chopped fresh citrus fruit. In a glass pitcher, add 1 1⁄2 cups of fruit, a 1⁄2 cup of sugar (or more to taste) and muddle, or smash, with a wooden spoon. Then add a bottle of white or red wine. Top with a bit of fizz: sparkling wine, sparkling cider or sparkling water. Pop the pitcher in the refrigerator to chill. Serve the sangria over ice.
TIP: Save your citrus peels. Take the white parts (bitter) of the peel, place them on sugar and freeze them, or bake them with sugar at very low heat until dehydrated. Save them for cocktails, desserts or meat dishes (like poultry, lamb or pork).