potato

Where to eat in Barcelona: Mercat Princesa

Tucked into an out-of-the-way corner of El Born in Barcelona, Mercat Princesa {www.mercatprincesa.com) is the food court to end all food courts. Sixteen small vendors have transformed a nondescript medieval building into a welcoming space with great food at bargain prices. The building dates from the 14th century, and its courtyard has been glassed over to create a central dining space. Just 16 seats ring the area, though plans are afoot to expand into the basement for another 40. We'd been looking at and eating in restaurants all over Barcelona as we researched Frommer's Easy Guide to Madrid & Barcelona, due out in November. And apart from the city food markets like La Boqueria and Mercat Santa Caterina, we hadn't found anything like this little...Read More

Tortilla española at both ends of the day

Few dishes are as versatile as the potato omelet served in Spain. Consisting of little but eggs, potato, onion, and olive oil, it is a recipe passed down in the genes of Spanish cooks. That every one tastes different is a mystery. This morning, as we set out researching the Barcelona chapter for Frommer's Easy Guide to Madrid and Barcelona, we decided to have breakfast the La Boqueria – technically Mercat Sant Josep, but only called that by city bureaucrats. It is the jewel of Barcelona's three dozen local food markets. All the way in the back, where the market comes out on Carrer Jerusalem, is La Gardunya (C/ Jerusalem, 18, tel: 93-302-43-23), one of the oldest and most venerable of the market restaurants. Contrary...Read More

Remembering Italy — first with Montasio cheese

With the advent of short days and cold nights, menu planning in my house switches from summer vegetables to the heartier foods of winter. So when the Legends from Europe promotional team (legendsfromeurope.com)came through Boston last week and bequeathed me a small cache of Montasio, Grana Padano, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses and a few precious ounces each of San Daniele and Parma prosciuttos, I started recreating some of the great dishes I remember eating in northern Italy. I'm sharing them on the site as a series of four courses. All five products are registered under the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) program – a guarantee of regional authenticity. Accept no substitutes! So-called “parmesans” from Wisconsin or Argentina may be tasty cheeses, but they are not...Read More

Recapturing a great flavor of New Hampshire

Our latest book, Food Lovers' Guide to Vermont & New Hampshire (Globe Pequot Press), just arrived two days ago and it brought back fond memories of the research. One of our favorite meals was at the Bedford Village Inn, when Benjamin Knack, fresh from a season on Hell's Kitchen, had just take over the dining program for this romantic destination property. It so happens that Ben makes a killer gnocchi, which he claimed was so simple that even his then 4-year-old daughter could do it. There are a couple of secrets to getting just the right texture. The potatoes should be cooked so they “squeak like Styrofoam when you squeeze them,” he says. And they should be pushed quickly through the sieve so the potato...Read More

Stuffed tomatoes from Roman pizzerias

Like many Roman visitors (and many Romans, for that matter), we took advantage of the city's many pizzerias for quick meals or snacks. Once our Zone 6 garden swings into production around mid-July, we hope to revisit the subject of Roman pizza for the myriad of vegetable versions. But it was in the pizzerias that we stumbled onto another quintessentially Roman dish: stuffed tomatoes on a bed of roasted potatoes. Tomatoes stuffed with rice are a standard dish in a lot of parts of Italy, but Rome was the first place where we had seen them served with a big batch of potatoes. The simplicity of the single combined dish appealed to us, as it clearly does to many Romans getting an inexpensive casual meal....Read More

Making pâté chinois the cooking school way

In our most recent Montreal residency we were amazed by the explosion in cooking classes. Montrealers have always loved to go out to eat, but more and more they're also dining well at home. One of the pioneers in teaching classes for the general public was the Académie Culinaire (360 rue Champ-de-Mars, 514-393-8111, academieculinaire.com), which has its offices and kitchens in a modern facility on the edge of Old Montreal. The Académie created a modernized, jazzed-up version of pâté chinois that reflects the increased sophistication of even basic Quebecois cookery. We find it a wonderfully comforting supper dish on a cold winter night. The recipe required no tinkering at all, except that we adapted it for cooking in a 9x13 pan. If you prefer, individual...Read More

Poutine, pâté chinois, and Quebecois comfort food

In the three decades that we have been visiting Montreal, the dining scene has never been in so much flux—and we mean that in a good way. One development is a resurgent pride in old-fashioned Quebecois cooking. Dishes that many Montreal foodies had considered guilty pleasures are now celebrated in fine restaurants. Back in 2007, Montreal's leading French-language newspaper Le Devoir even surveyed 500 people to determine the ''national plate of Quebec.'' (In Quebec, one always describes a province-wide phenomenon as ''national.'') We were surprised to learn that it was not poutine (French fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy), but rather pâté chinois, sometimes inelegantly translated on English menus as ''Quebec shepherd's pie.'' Keep watching this spot because we will publish an updated recipe for...Read More

Making patatas a la Riojana at home

We don't feel too bad messing around a little with tradition to make this dish with New England provender. This rich stew hails from the Ebro River valley in La Rioja, but until Napoleon brought potatoes to northern Spain in the early 19th century, this dish was made with chestnuts! Of course, nowadays the local potato varieties of the Ebro valley are highly prized—considered by many the tastiest potatoes in Spain. In fact, the Riojanos tend to keep them for themselves. Not only do they have the rich potato flavor of say, a Kennebec, they also keep their shape like a waxy potato while containing enough starch to thicken a broth. We discovered that a mix of waxy potatoes (Red Bliss are the easiest to...Read More

Sustenance for the long walk to Santiago de Compostela

Full disclosure first: We did NOT walk one of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. But last spring, when we were in northern Spain to research a guidebook, we did see pilgrims everywhere. Guess we shouldn’t have been surprised. Pilgrims have been walking across Europe to Santiago de Compostela, ever since the tomb of St. James the Apostle was discovered around 814 A.D. Pilgrims often carry walking sticks with scallop shells, the symbol of Santiago. Alas, they also often throw rain ponchos over their backpacks. There’s a good reason the north is called “green Spain.” It rains a lot. Two of the main routes from France (the Camino del Norte and the Camino Aragónese) converge in Navarra and La Rioja, continuing west across...Read More