Romesco Sauce

Romesco sauce is a garlicky tomato-based sauce that originated in Catalonia, Spain. In a way it’s similar to the Balkan ajvar, but includes onions instead of eggplant. The vegetables are roasted, then combined in a food processor with toasted bread and nuts, olive oil, vinegar, and paprika. Sweet paprika is fine in this but a sweet (not hot) smoked paprika adds a sultry note to the finished spread.

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Empanada Gallega

There is something so inherently satisfying about a good empanada, which I’m used to thinking of as a single-serving delicious turnover with either a savory or a sweet filling. We’ve enjoyed these throughout South America (most notably in Chile and Argentina), as well as in Mexico. On a recent cycling trip in Galicia, Spain, though, we were introduced to the empanada gallega, a single larger “pie” that is then cut into wedges or squares.  Continue reading

Eating Across Spain (and Portugal), 2017 Edition

This June we found ourselves back in Spain by way of Lisbon, Portugal. And once again, we enjoyed old favorites and discovered some new (to us) dishes – a few of which I’m working on making at home already! Highlights definitely include the delectable Pastéis de Nata (or Pastéis de Belém) egg custard tarts in Lisbon; octopus (pulpo) either grilled or in salads (why, oh why can’t I buy octopus at home…); jamón ibérico and its beef counterpart, cecina; wood-grilled cabrito (baby goat); empanada gallega, a larger format empanada with fish (or meat) and vegetables, sliced into squares; paella; and the superb cabrales blue cheese from Asturias. We also enjoyed our fair share of more basic but well prepared fare, including a variety of fried fish croquetaspechuga empanada (pan-fried chicken schnitzel), and even chorizo and eggs for dinner.

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Chicken and Seafood Paella

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Seafood paella, El Caldero, Madrid

We had some fabulous paella in Spain earlier this year, the best being at a restaurant called El Caldero, in Madrid near Atocha station. I have made paella off and on at home, but until recently didn’t have a real paella pan … I’d avoided buying one because I thought I didn’t really need another specialty kitchen item. But when my cousin Bob made paella for us not long ago, with the special pan, out on the bbq grill, I thought…ok, time to get serious. Lo and behold, I got a pretty nice pan from Amazon.com for only about $20.

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Gazpacho

Gazpacho is one of those quintessentially Spanish menu items that doesn’t seem to get the love it deserves in the US (“eew, cold soup? COLD?!?”). But truly, on a hot day – and we have plenty of them this time of year in Arizona – it is a lovely lunch or first course at dinner. Continue reading

Eating Across Spain

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Menu at Estay Restaurant, Madrid (Salamanca District)

When one thinks of Spanish cuisine, a few obvious things come to mind … saffron-infused paella (either ‘sea’ or ‘land’), cold gazpacho soup, delectable jamón ibérico, churros y chocolate, an assortment of tapas. Not to mention a nice Rioja wine to accompany, or perhaps some Basque Txakoli. As with any cuisine though, there’s so much more, especially if you’re willing to order something whose name on the menu you haven’t completely translated. 🙂

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Tortilla Española

We were introduced to Spanish cuisine on a cycling trip to Spain in 2009.  (Well, Robert had been there before I met him, but we’re talking decades ago.)  And like probably the majority of tourists who are familiar with Mexican food but not so much with Spanish food, when presented with a tortilla Española in a tapas bar, we said…that’s not a tortilla!  That’s an omelette! or a frittata!

Whatever you call it, it is simple and delicious.

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