World on a Plate: elusive ketchup bun from San Sebastian

World on a Plate: elusive ketchup bun from San Sebastian

Trying to choose a favorite pintxo from San Sebastián makes us throw up our hands and sing the end of the first verse of a particular 1965 Beatles song: ‶...in my life, I loved them all.″ That said, we're haunted by a simple slider on the menu at A Fuego Negro (31 de Agosto; tel: 650 135 373, www.afuegonegro.com/). The current incarnation is listed as ‶MakCobe with txips,″ which is a smirking play on words in English, Spanish, and Euskara that you almost have to be there to appreciate. We do know that you do have to be there in person to appreciate the little burger. Sure, the meat is richly beefy and meltingly tender. That's to be expected. What blew us away was the...Read More
Stylish La Diosa Cellars blends wine, tapas, and music

Stylish La Diosa Cellars blends wine, tapas, and music

The marvelously outlandish Frida Kahlo homage décor might tip you off that Sylvia McPherson was an interior designer before she opened her bistro La Diosa Cellars (901 17th St., Lubbock; 806-744-3600, www.ladiosacellars.com) in 2004. La Diosa is a family affair. Sylvia's father hailed from Spain, and her food menu features many classic Spanish tapas. Her husband, Kim McPherson, makes her four house wines (including a sangría) at his winery across the street (see previous post), and their daughter, an Advanced Sommelier, chooses the other wines on the list. (Four of Dad's also make the grade.) It's one of the few places in Lubbock where I found a broad selection of Texas High Plains wine to enjoy with good food. There's live music at La Diosa...Read More
Bobal brings friends to the barbecue

Bobal brings friends to the barbecue

Our 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...Read More

New book stimulates an appetite for Spain

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. But many chapters...Read More

Sevilla has a great new hall of tapas

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. 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...Read More

San Antón: Madrid’s best market makeover

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. The Mercado San Antón isn't exactly a temple of food like La Boqueria in Barcelona...Read More

What to eat at the airport in Málaga (AGP)

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...Read More

One tapa with the entire 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...Read More