Alvalle’s Ultimate Summer Gazpacho Gathering
I started my gazpacho journey back in 2008 on my year abroad in Madrid. For those who don’t know what gazpacho is, it’s a delicious Spanish starter made from mixed tomatoes, fresh vegetables and seasoning. I used to take a bottle of Alvalle into work for lunch when I was working for an M and A firm in La Moraleja, north of Madrid. I used to share the gazpacho with my work mates whilst also devouring the most delicious jamón Iberico sandwich with tomato bread. I remember it always being refreshing with the added bonus of being packed full of vegetables. Think of it as a liquid salad!
After fond Madrid memories, I was thrilled to be working with Alvalle years later. The brand’s ethos has a strong message about bringing people together through drinking a glass of gazpacho which really resonates with me as it certainly brings back Madrid memories when I would share it with my work colleagues. This summer, I went to one of Alvalle’s Gazpacho Gatherings. It was set in a beautiful spot in Angel in North London called Culpeper Community Garden which is open to the locals. The location was one of those hidden gems where you forget that you are in the big city and it was filled with weeping willows, fox gloves, roses and a lily pond. I headed up the pincho stand and helped guests create a number of different food combinations to balance on top of their gazpacho. It was fun meeting the crowd and seeing how they chose to mix their flavours to compliment the gazpacho. We had everything from jalapeños to marinated octopus to jamón serrano. The idea was to create a balanced mouthful of salty sweetness to help compliment the chilled tomato drink. I was impressed that most of the crowd were familiar with these Spanish nibbles and were confident at putting together their taster. I loved chatting to the guests and whilst making the nibbles, this automatically creates conversation and a sense of togetherness. I think it’s hard to go wrong when making pinchos but if you look for a mix of Spanish pickles, cheeses and charcuterie, you should be able to make some delicious options. I think my ultimate format has to include anchovy, tomato, pickled onion, grilled padrón pepper and flat-leaf parsley for a sweet umami kick.
After the gazpacho, the evening was followed by a summery paella, seasonal salads with al fresco dining under a canopy of green. It was great to have a moment to chat to some of the locals and hear about their food experiences and how they found out about the event. I was lucky to sit next to fellow foodie, Rosie Birkett and a local couple. I’m a firm believer in food bringing people together and there was definitely something special about this summer’s eve. Sometimes in London I feel that people are too busy to sit down and have a proper meal together. I try to create these moments with my friends and family on a weekly basis but I feel that this is more traditional in Spain and elsewhere in Europe. After the dinner, I thought about organising a little Gazpacho Gathering of my own with neighbours in my apartment building. Hosting a gathering with gazpacho is simple, and yet can be effective in bringing people together around you. At the party we talked about the fact that Londoners can often feel lonely, and I think it’s amazing that Alvalle want to encourage people to engage in their local community and start a gazpacho movement. And so, I urge you all to start your own little party of gazpacho and ask neighbours, work colleagues and family over for a chilled glass with of course some pickled pinchos. Thank you to Alvalle for paving the way…!
Grilled padrón pepper pincho
Recipe for 4:
For the padrón peppers
4-5 small green bell pepper
1 clove garlic, cut into quarters
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
4 sun-dried tomatoes
2 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 pickled onions, halved
4 leaves flat leaf parsley
Add the olive oil to a hot pan and add the peppers to fry for about 4 minutes. Mix them around the pan a few times. Then add in the garlic pieces and move everything around the pan. Fry for another 4 minutes or until the peppers have wilted and have gone golden. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.