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Getting to Know You: Wine Expert Antonia Dominguez

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

A series of Q&As with members of the vibrant Irish international community to share their cultural heritage, food memories and stories.



Antonia Dominguez, who was born in Jerez, Spain to an Irish mother and a Spanish father, is a Master of Wine Student (stage 2) and a wine buyer at Dublin’s specialty food and beverage chain, Donnybrook Fair. In addition to over twelve years of working in the wine business, she has trained in economics and law. She is also the co-host of Wine: the Long and the Short of It podcast. Follow Antonia on her Instagram @antoniadubjerez @winethelongandtheshortofit @wine_scape


Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in Jerez, the land of Sherry, a place that has hugely influenced and informed my love of food and wine. When I was four years old, we moved to Ireland where I grew up, but we always returned to Jerez for the summers. My father was from Jerez and my mother from Dublin. She had very bravely gone to Jerez with her best friend at age nineteen to teach English. To an Irish person, Jerez might as well have been Timbuktu back then, it was so unknown and inaccessible. She met my father there and the rest was history.

Being from Jerez really enhanced our gastronomic experience growing up. From a young age we were eating paella, shellfish, Ibérico meats, garbanzos (chickpeas) and lentejas (lentils), puchero (stew), croquetas. We were exposed to a diverse range of cuisines at home, not just Spanish but Italian, Indian, Lebanese. My parents were big foodies and terrific cooks, especially my mother. So we were very fortunate. And naturally wine went hand-in-hand with the food culture. There was always a barrel of Sherry in our home. My earlier memories involve my father returning from business trips in Spain with a drum of Amontillado Sherry in hand to top up our barrel. Those were pre-Ryanair days of course!

Do you cook?

Yes, I love cooking. From an early age I spent time with my mother in the kitchen and I learned Spanish recipes from my father. Both my grandparents on my Spanish side were amazing cooks and ran a small restaurant in my earlier years. I still have recipes handed down from them.

My cooking ability had to develop fast when we lost my Mam when she was aged 46 years. I was 17 years old at the time and my youngest brother was seven. My father was then living in Spain for work. Someone had to cook the meals and that was me. I later did a part-time culinary arts module in DIT Cathal Brugha Street, such was my interest in cooking, and I loved every minute of it.


Who are the best, and the worst cooks in your life?

Without a doubt, my Mam was the best cook in my life. She was an all-rounder and could take her hand to any cuisine, both traditional and modern dishes, and she was a brilliant baker. She loved baking breads, choux pastry, pavlovas and all types of desserts. She was a really gifted cook and host, and she put a lot of love into every dish.

I think naming a ‘worst’ cook would not have good repercussions for me!

What is your favorite food memory?

It’s so difficult to narrow it down to one! But up there has to be our family beach outings in Spain, when we would go to one of the stunning beaches on the Costa de la Luz, like Roche or Zahara de los Atunes, a short drive from Jerez.

The preparation was immense and involved the extended family – aunts, uncles, cousins, grannies – each preparing a few dishes to bring. These would always include Spanish omelettes (about a dozen of those), filetes empanados (thin fillets of pork or chicken marinated in garlic and lemon juice, paneéd with breadcrumbs and fried), olives, charcuterie, cheese and fresh ‘picadillo’ salads (tomatoes, green peppers, onion, tuna all finely chopped and dressed with sherry vinegar and olive oil). Plenty of soft drinks, cold beers and wine. And fresh watermelon and cherries for dessert.

There are few cultures that know how to do beaches like the Spanish. They erect tents en masse, tables, chairs, coolers, portable fridges, glassware, and every kitchen utensil you can imagine! Nothing is left behind! Those days were magical. Spent dipping in out of the sea, sitting around the beach stake out, snacking on all the delicious culinary treats.’


What is your most traumatizing food experience?

My most traumatizing experience might be from one of my work trips to China. I’ll preface this by saying that authentic Chinese cuisine is up there with one of my favourites. I’ve had some of my best food during my travels throughout China. However, on one occasion we were having hotpot in Sichuan province and among the dishes presented were raw sheep’s brain, heart and intestines. We were expected to dunk these culinary delights into a hot, bubbling stock before eating it in our bowl with accompaniments (enoki mushrooms, Chinese greens, minced garlic, sesame oil and soy sauce). I struggled with that one!


Where do you shop?

It varies. I enjoy shopping in independent grocers and specialists, like my local fruit & veg store, Wrights of Howth for seafood and Lotts or Donnybrook Fair for some of those products you can’t get elsewhere like good quality olive oil, sea salt, etc. Being the mother of 4-year old twins doesn’t always make it possible or practical to do so! I think supermarkets are doing much better in terms of their offerings now.

The products I crave most are good Spanish produce – olive oils, picos (Spanish bread sticks) and Ibérico meats - at reasonable prices.


Are you excited about the cuisines of other cultures? Are there ingredients/dishes that you are not crazy about?

Yes, I love all types of cuisine – Spanish, Italian, Greek, Middle-Eastern, Chinese, Indian – but one that excites me most is Mexican. I did a five week trip of Mexico some years ago and was thrilled by the authentic cuisine with all its vibrant flavours. I did a cooking lesson in Oaxaca, Mexico’s culinary capital, where we made all the typical dishes like guacamole and moles, and some not-so-typical; cactus and grasshoppers don’t really do it for me!

We would love it if you would share a recipe.


Abuela’s Almejas a la Marinera


Half kilo of clams (almejas). You could use cockles as a substitute.

Garlic x 4 big cloves, finely sliced.

Saffron, a pinch. You can stew this in some tepid water in advance to coax out the flavour and colour.

Fino Sherry

Flour

Salt

Flat leaf parsley, finely chopped.


Fry sliced garlic in olive oil until golden. Add a teaspoon of flour, followed by glass of fino sherry. Add a pinch of salt and the saffron. When the sauce is simmering, add the clams. Take the clams out as soon as they open. Continue to simmer the sauce to the right consistency and then pour over the clams with a sprinkling of the chopped parsley.

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