Very sad news to share today because this Friday, September 30, will be the last day of Ana Losada at la Chula de Chamberi.
I found the Chula in May 2012 when my proper job moved into the neighbourhood and since then it has been top number one on my list of happy places (as the half dozen regular readers of this blog may have noticed). The food is really excellent, the atmosphere noisy and relaxed, the people are fun and they have a great, fun selection of wine of every kind. It is no exaggeration to say that I love the place: when I am asked by colleagues in London if I would ever consider moving back I simply describe the Chula to them.
Ana has been a big part of that. She is a brilliant sommelier and the wine list she built up, the rotation of wines by the glass (La Panesa, El Tresillo, Fernando de Castilla, Gabriela), the pairings she suggested (oloroso and navajas, fino de montilla and steak tartare … trust me on this), the new things and special wines she brought me to try, the wine folk she introduced me to, not to mention the world class banter … without them the last three years would have been an altogether less happy time.
Nowadays I can generally be found minding my own business at the bar, writing a blog post on my iphone with a glass of something nice, but before I met Ana there was no blog and it was all too rare that there was anything nice in the glass. It was Ana that told me I ought to write a blog about sherries (at the time I thought it was a subtle hint that I should stop banging on about them at the bar) and I have learned more from her about the reality of wine (anyone can pair a Meursault, as she memorably pointed out once in more or less those words) than I would ever let on.
Since then she has been a primary enabler of my habit – all kinds of special bottles have been produced and entire ranges of sherries have been sampled, and most memorably the Chula was the scene of the Night of the Pitijopos (Volume I). I was very touched that Ana saved me the last of those six bottles for further study, and am very grateful too.
I am sure Ana will be a success wherever she goes next, and provided it is within the M40 I will probably end up being a regular customer. It certainly isn’t the end of Ana, and neither, I should add, is it the end of La Chula. But it is the end of an era that I will look back on with great fondness and much gratitude. So please all join me in raising your glasses to Ana and her next adventure. See you all there!