Archive for the ‘tapas’Category

Bobal brings friends to the barbecue

Lomalta from Finca San Blas in Utiel RequenaOur previous posts on D.O. Utiel Requena (see here) have concentrated on wines of the indigenous Bobal grape. Finca San Blas (fincasanblas.com) in Requena makes a well-regarded 100 percent Bobal. But the bodega also has extensive vineyards planted in Merlot, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. Its 2014 Lomalta blends 40 percent Bobal with 30 percent each of Merlot and Tempranillo. The resulting wine is a world apart from the black cherry and resinous spice profile of traditional Bobal.

The Bobal characteristics are largely overshadowed by the other two grapes. We had to double-check the label to make sure it wasn’t an experimental bottling from Rioja, which has had a love affair with French grapes for 150 years. The nose has the pronounced hot-climate menthol of Merlot, and the fruitiness in the mouth confirms the Merlot parentage. But the back of the mouth flavors and finish are pure Tempranillo. The three grapes are all vinified separately, aged separately in new French oak for nine months, and blended just three months before bottling. That approach keeps the grape characteristics quite individual, but it poses a challenge for pairing with food.

watermelon salad and pincho skewers

Finding the right food


We wondered if Lomalta might be a tapas bar wine—served by the well-aerated glass with small bites of spicy food. Having recently acquired Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades—Bastes, Butters, and Glazes, Too! by grilling guru Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, $17.95), we decided to try his “pincho powder” seasoning as a rub for skewers of pork. And since the rub is fairly hot (use it sparingly if you have a sensitive mouth), we figured the best cooling companion would be a salad of watermelon cubes tossed with crumbled feta, chopped mint, and a lime-olive oil dressing.

Our intuition about the wine proved correct. The smoky paprika-saffron-coriander-cumin combo knit the grapes of the wine together into a single, more subtle quaff. The roundness of the Bobal and Merlot softened the heat of the rub, and the spices married well with the Tempranillo’s aromatics and the bite of oak. It was as if the food switched on a light, and the wine woke up to its potential. With the publisher’s permission, here’s the recipe for Raichlen’s Spanish-style rub.

PINCHO POWDER

Ingredients

Raichlen book cover
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/4 cup smoked paprika
1/4 cup dried parsley
1/4 cup freeze-dried chives
2 tablespoons coarse salt (sea or kosher)
2 teaspoons dried onion flakes
2 teaspoons dried garlic flakes
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Crumble the saffron between your fingers into a bowl. Stir or whisk in the remaining ingredients. Transfer to a jar, cover, and store away from heat and light. The powder will keep for several weeks.

From Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades—Bastes, Butters, and Glazes, Too! by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, $17.95). You can buy it on Amazon here.

30

07 2017

New book stimulates an appetite for Spain

100 Places in Spain Every Woman Should Go cover
Pat’s new book, 100 Places in Spain Every Woman Should Go, has just been published by Travelers’ Tales Press (travelerstales.com). In many ways, the book cover photo of a woman striding confidently through the Alhambra captures the deep allure of Spain. Perched on a hillside in Granada and backed by mountain peaks, the Alhambra is a masterpiece of Moorish artistry and a touchstone of a storied and turbulent past.

Pat’s choices for the book do touch on Spain’s most celebrated sites and cities. They range from the futuristic Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao that sparked a city renaissance to La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Architect Antoni Gaudí’s phantasmagoric basilica has been more than 130 years in the making and is finally nearing completion.

paella cooking But many chapters celebrate the smaller pleasures that come from making a connection with people and place through food. That might be eating some of the best paella in Spain at a beachfront restaurant in Valencia. Or it could be spending the afternoon on a tapas hop through San Sebastián, a city that takes food very seriously.

One sweet stop


Serving at Chocolateria San Gines We never visit Madrid without stopping at Chocolatería San Ginés (Pasadizo San Ginés 5). As Pat writes in the book, it’s one of the most reassuring places in the city. Opened in 1894 and almost never closed, it’s also one of the few remaining traditional chocolaterías. You can count on a plate of freshly fried churros and a cup of thick, rich hot chocolate any hour. (Many bars and cafés serve hot chocolate and churros in the morning and again at tapas time. But they often buy the churros from a small factory and reheat them.)

Hot chocolate at San Ginés (www.chocolateriasangines.com) is truly a revelation. It is so thick and rich that a spoon will almost stand up in the cup and a haunting spice lurks beneath the deep chocolate flavor. Late night club-goers and ladies with shopping bags enjoying an afternoon treat all agree: The only way to get the last delicious drops of chocolate from the cup is to mop the bottom with a bit of churro.

100 Places in Spain Every Woman Should Go is available from Amazon.com and from local booksellers.

31

10 2016

Sevilla has a great new hall of tapas

Mercado Gourmet Lonja del Barranco When Sevilla’s Mercado Gourmet Lonja del Barranco (C/Arjona; 954 220 495; mercadolonjadelbarranco.com) opened a year ago, it was an instant hit and yet another example of the trend throughout Spain of converting neighborhood markets into tapas halls. If the structure below looks familiar, it’s because it’s a classic Gustav Eiffel market design. Construction began in 1861 and was completed in 1883, and for generations the handsome iron building on the riverbank at the end of the Isabel II bridge to Triana served as Sevilla’s principal fish market.

Mercado Gourmet Lonja del Barranco The World Heritage Site structure had been closed since the 1980s—until journalist Carlos Herrera and bullfighter Fran Rivera saw an opportunity to give Sevilla a glassed-in tapas court like Madrid’s Mercado San Miguel. Two years and a reported €2.1 million later, the riverfront was awash with Sevillanos eating all manner of tapas and drinking beer and wine. In warm weather, they spill out of the building to picnic and café tables.

octopus at Mercado Gourmet Lonja del Barranco Only a few of the 18 food stalls sell food to take home and prepare (a butcher and a fish monger, as far as we could tell). The rest have tapas and food specialties—and we do mean specialties. One stand (Peggy Sue’s Grill) makes nothing but variations on the American hamburger. Pulpería Barranco serves a zillion versions of octopus (left). Another stall specializes in empanadas.

Salmorejo in every guise

But our favorite stall might be La Salmoreteca, which specializes in variations on salmorejo, a puree that’s a first cousin to gazpacho. The modern version combines tomatoes, bread, onions, and garlic, but the dish predates the availability of tomatoes and peppers from the New World.

salmorejo sampler Brainchild of chef JuanJo Ruiz, the company actually began at the Mercado Victoria (another market turned tapas court) in Córdoba, the city that’s usually credited as the cradle of salmorejo. Ruiz exploded the basic concept of salmorejo to a purported 600 variations. The sampler plate shown above consists of eight distinct variations in small bowls surrounded by Spanish wine crackers—an appropriately sturdy vehicle for scooping up the purées. The bowl in the foreground is the roasted pepper version topped with faux baby eels made from seafood, faux caviar made from vegetables, and some fried potatoes. Just to its right is the salmorejo of avocado and seaweed with a ceviche of dace (a small river fish) and lots of chopped egg.

The dishes offer a surprising and delicious range of flavors and textures for what is basically a dressed-up purée. Salmorejo is a barroom staple in Andalucia, and the concept of whizzing bread and vegetables in a blender lends itself to infinite variations of “salmorejos de vanguardia,” as Ruiz calls them. It’s a trend we can definitely get behind.

The Mercado Gourmet Lonja del Barranco is open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to midnight. On Friday and Saturday, it stays open until 2 a.m.

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19

11 2015

San Antón: Madrid’s best market makeover

slicing ham at San Anton market in Madrid
Madrid has been renovating and updating its historic fresh food markets in recent years, starting with the transformation of Mercado San Miguel next to Plaza Mayor into a jewel box full of tapas bars and high-end deli food. But we’re even more impressed with Mercado San Antón in Chueca. The market is a symbol of how that neighborhood—once the part of town where you went to buy sex or drugs—has become one of the hippest and most gentrified parts of the central old city. FYI, about the nastiest stuff you’ll find on Chueca streets these days are some shoes with 15-centimeter spike heels in the shops on calle Augusto Figueroa.

entrance to Mercado San Anton market in Madrid The Mercado San Antón isn’t exactly a temple of food like La Boqueria in Barcelona or the Mercado Central in Valencia. We think of it as the parish church of food for the fairly hip, fairly young crowd in Chueca. The basement has a small SuperCor supemarket for the essentials—laundry detergent, canned white asparagus, cheap wine, Coca-Cola in 1.5 liter bottles, etc. The real food is on the first level, where the market stalls have everything from perfectly selected fresh fruit in season to one of the best curated fish stalls we’ve ever seen. Madrid is in the middle of the country far from the fishing ports, but Madrileños so love their fish that the wholesalers overnight the catch to the capital. There wasn’t a cloudy eye to be seen on the mackerel, cod, hake, or grotesque whole monkfish. As befits a great market in Spain, all the ham is cut fresh, as in the photo above.

The second level is even more amazing than the fresh food. It consists entirely of tapas stalls, a wine bar, a pastry/ice cream/coffee stall, and a few tables around the edges. At mid-morning when people are shopping for food, it’s placid. From 2 p.m. until 5 p.m., it’s a madhouse as people come for a cheap lunch. Some tapas cost as little as €1, as indicated in the image below. You can also get a tuna or an eggplant empanada, a small pork steak and fries, or—at the stall of creative tapas, a fancy burger topped with foie gras for less than €6.

The top level is a restaurant operated by the Jabugo ham group Cinco Jotas. It’s not all thin, precious slices of Iberian ham served with Manchego and sherry. The menu includes a wide range of meat and fish dishes. Half the restaurant is on an outdoor terrace, which solves the Spanish need to smoke all through the meal now that indoor dining is smokefree by law.

Mercado San Antón is at calle de Augusto Figueroa, 24; tel: 913-30-07-30; www.mercadosananton.com. The market is open daily from 10 a.m. until midnight.

tapas at Mercado San Anton in Madrid

18

10 2015

What to eat at the airport in Málaga (AGP)

Bull burger
Until last year, international travelers at Terminal 3 in Málaga’s airport servicing the Costa del Sol were pretty much stuck with international fast food like Starbucks, Burger King, and England’s Soho Coffee. So we were delighted to see that Michelin-starred local superchef Dani García had opened Dani García DeliBar. Much of the menu overlaps offerings in García’s Manzanilla tapas bar in downtown Málaga, which is one of our favorite spots in a city that has belatedly but enthusiastically embraced contemporary Spanish cuisine. One of García’s strengths has been the reinvention of some classic sandwiches by giving them a distinctly Andalucían twist. His bacalao (salt cod) sandwich with tomato sauce and chipotle mayo is heads above the best filet-o-fish. His Burguer Bull (pictured above) has brought him a lot of attention from other chefs as well as fast food aficionados. Created in 2008, the burger is a patty of slow-braised oxtail, aka rabo de toro. It’s served on a bun spread with mayonnaise made with beef juices instead of oil, then topped with some arugula and a melted slice of Havarti cheese. It has all the taste depth of the classic dish of rabo de toro with the form and flourish of a great cheeseburger. If you’re staying over in Málaga, be sure to eat at Manzanilla at Calle Fresca, 12 (tel: 95-222-6851; www.manzanillamalaga.com). If you’re staying on the Costa del Sol, take a train into the real city. It’s only 23 minutes from Torremolinos to the Alameda stop in Málaga on the C-1 line. That’s just down the street from Manzanilla.

11

04 2014

One tapa with the entire taste of Spain

Taste of Spain
While all the tourists are milling around the Mezquita and the Alcázar in Córdoba, the Córdobans are getting together over tapas at the first gastronomic market in southern Spain. Mercado Victoria (www.mercadovictoria.com) was installed in May 2013 in a feria pavilion in the Jardines de Victoria, just northwest of the Judería’s Puerta de Almodóvar. The 30 food stalls cover all the bases of a conventional fresh food market—fish, meat, produce, baked goods, and beverages—but most also offer food for immediate consumption on the premises. There’s also a kitchen workshop for classes and demonstrations. By early evening, the entire glassed-in pavilion is jammed with people eating and drinking, making it one of the most lively tapas scenes in town. But we were especially amused to spot this tapa. It’s a slice of Manchego cheese, topped with a piece of roasted red pepper, and an anchovy. That pretty much captures three of the essential flavors of Spain on a single toothpick.

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07

03 2014