All posts filed under: Spain

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Where to Eat in Madrid: Roast Suckling Pig at Botín

We all avoid tourist spots when we travel, mainly because they are mostly dreadful. But some cities are serious about food, and even their tourist places can be excellent. Like Madrid. It is unfair to label Botín a tourist spot though. True, it is mainly tourists that eat there now. Lots of writers have feasted on suckling pig over the years here too, including Graham Greene & Hemingway. Goya was a waiter there. Hemingway is quoted as saying “We lunched upstairs at Botin’s. It is one of the best restaurants in the world. We had roast young suckling pig and drank rioja alta. Brett did not eat much. She never ate much. I ate a very big meal and drank three bottles of rioja alta.” I always liked Hemingway. Botín has been open since 1725, and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest restaurant in the world. Suckling pig is roasted here in the wood fired oven (which dates from 1725 also) in the Castillian way. The restaurant is quaint and …

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A Menorcan Food & Wine Producers Trail (Wine, Gin, Sobrasada & Mahón Cheese)

Head to Menorca and fill your boots with cheese, wine, sobrasada & GIN! A gorgeous, chilled out and very under rated island, Menorca was one of my favourite places to visit this year. Here is your guide for the best of the artisan products. There are also links here to my Menorca Eating & Drinking Guide and the best Sunday lunch on the island (lobster soup, as you are asking!). Menorcans claim mayonnaise. The French don’t agree, but Menorcans say that mayonnaise originated in Mahón and was taken to France where it was popularised after the French victory over the British in Menorca in 1756. The sauce was salsa mayonesa in Spanish, later becoming mayonnaise when the French embraced it.  Who could blame each side for declaring they are responsible for the origin? I adore the gorgeous emulsion of egg yolk and oil. A bold claim from a small island like Menorca and an insight to their proud culinary heritage. Menorca is still steeped in salsa mayonesa, which they make fresh and serve with many dishes. There is …

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Bringing San Sebastian Home to Your Kitchen: How to Make a Gilda Pintxo & Hedgehog Prawns

My trip to San Sebastian wasn’t all about pintxos and restaurants, although it was all about eating. I spent Sunday afternoon cooking with Tenedor Tours, and learning all about Basque food that I could cook at home. We met in the lively old town of San Sebastian in a gorgeous apartment dedicated to Gabriella’s cooking classes. There was a long room with an open kitchen at one end, and a table set up for us to eat at after. The light was beautiful, crisp and Autumnal, and Gabriella was waiting, brandishing a bottle of Txacoli and a warm welcome. Gabriella has been running tours in Spain since 1997. In San Sebastian she works with chefs from the Basque Culinary Center (where she also teaches), and puts together sociable fun Basque cooking workshops followed by a meal where you devour your efforts. Our chef was Íñigo Zeberio (Princess Bride fans, there are a lot of Íñigos in San Sebastian, and you may find that phrase  – My name is Íñigo etc. – circling around your head repeatedly). A San Sebastian …

Pintxos in San Sebastian

Where to Eat Pintxos in San Sebastian (Donostia), in Spain

Don’t even dare try to order tapas in San Sebastian. There are no tapas there (unless you happen to be in an Andalucian restaurant). In the Basque region and San Sebastian it is all about the pintxos (pronounced pincho). Small bites, served on sticks and piled high on the bars that line the San Sebastian streets. When finished you present the sticks to the bartender, and that is how they calculate your bill. Different sticks denote different prices where there is variation. A little about San Sebastian first. A small city in the Basque country of 200,000 people straddling a long beautiful bay, San Sebastian is near the French border and is home to three of Spain’s seven 3 michelin star restaurants. It is second only to Kyoto for the number of michelin stars per square metre. This is pretty impressive but there is much more to this city. There are the many pintxo bars, the cider houses and all of the lovely local Txacoli wine. If you have not had it, I suggest you …

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Where to Eat, Drink & Stay in Menorca

I bumped into a friend on my flight back from Menorca recently. I was very tired and so I squinted, but no, sure enough it was Will. And he reminded me how much he loved Menorca, and how he had got married there. He visits all the time, and all I could think was, yes, of course you do. It is such a lovely place. Surprisingly so, and not because it isn’t lovely, it is, but because it feels so untainted by tourism. Aren’t all of the lovely places already very busy?

Caldereta de Langosta at Es Cranc in Menorca

A Perfect Sunday Lunch: Caldereta de Langosta in Menorca at Es Cranc (Traditional Lobster Soup + a Recipe)

On a quiet street in Fornells in Menorca is an unassuming restaurant, Es Cranc. Es Cranc has a large menu, but most come here for the Caldereta de Langosta, a popular lobster soup from Menorca made with the native blue spiny lobsters which Es Cranc is particularly well regarded for. Caldereta gets its name from the pot that it is cooked in, a caldera. Traditionally this was a fishermans dish, cooked with the broken lobsters that they had caught. Now, it is a luxury and an indulgence, cooked at home for special occasions and at specialist restaurants like Es Cranc in Fornells. Behind a side door next to Es Cranc is a path that meanders to a room of large water baths, and these are full of spiny lobster. Spinning and weaving, large and small, these lobsters are mostly destined for the caldereta, some will be served simply grilled on their own. This is where the fishermen deliver their catch, for Es Cranc that is 5 different day boats that go out up to 7 …

What to Eat in Madrid & Where to Eat It

Madrid is a serious food city. It is also a city that parties hard and keeps extremely late hours. I went to bed early each night over the weekend that I was there, at 3am. Woah, Madrid! Madrileños eat as they drink, and that eating is a serious business. Their expectations are high, and so they should be, quality abounds, and once you steer clear of the tourist joints, you will eat well. This list is based on my last trip there, a week ago. It is well researched and sampled, but not exhaustive. Madrid is brilliant and exciting in that it has an enviable list of great places to eat. Which is why I plan to go back there as soon as I can manage it. For this trip, I asked the locals, as only people who live there can have the full breadth of experience required to pick a sample for a weekend. Conspicuously absent on this list until my return is Callos Madrileños (Madrid style tripe), Cocido Madrileño (a heavy chickpea based stew) and DiverXO …

The pointlessness of my list and some photos from Seville

I have a list. Really, I do and I try to stick to it. But I just hate sticking to lists. I love grabbing my biro and adding to it. It is stupidly long. Everything is in the wrong order, but who cares, right? I don’t. Perhaps, I should. But caring about lists is just not my bag, baby. I love clambering up and down my list, reviewing, striking things off because I am bored of just the idea of it. I find it difficult sometimes to get things done. I do always get there in the end though. I definitely indulge my whims far too much. I have been cooking all day and have so many recipes to share with you. My favourite would have to be big green olives from Spain stuffed with homemade ricotta, sobrasada (spreadable spicy sausage from Mallorca) and sage, breadcrumbed and then deep fried to form little olive bullets. The filling is like spicy creamy molten lava. It will shock, burn and make you smile. And you will go …

Jamon, Jamon! The World of Jamon Iberico de Bellota

I have a cultural and genetic obligation to love the humble pig. Traditionally all Irish houses had one, hiding behind the half door, and it would feed a family for much of the year. Bacon and cabbage is a national institution, we’re obsessed with white and black pudding, and the Christmas ham is wheeled out all through the year. My mother was raised on pigs head and trotters (we call them crubeens – little feet in Irish), but we never had them as children. They would be raised as a threat if we wouldn’t eat our mash and peas. Now as an adult, I adore them. Spain takes the humble ham to a different level with their Jamon Iberico, specifically Jamon Iberico de Bellota. The pata negra (pigs with black feet) love acorns and live in an area where there are many. They are like small shuffling acorn junkies. They are allowed a lot of space to move, and to forage for and snaffle acorns so they get a lovely dispersal of intramuscular fat. This …

A Postcard from Seville

Seville is charming and very pretty, and even though I am back, I had to post some photographs. This is just a selection of the ones I have gone through so far so it’s not comprehensive. I took so many, and it takes a long time to go through them all. More soon on my visit to the pata negra farm (black pig) and jamon iberico de bellota factory. Swoon, I miss that jamon. So delicious. Also, my favourite tapas which were at El Rinconcillio, Cafe Bar Las Teresas & E Morales (listed now as a few of you have been in touch asking for recommendations :).

Postcard from Barcelona, Day 2

I woke up reasonably grumpy today, mainly very tired, and plan free. I don’t like to plan too heavily when I travel, as I like a little free range explore and the freedom to be lazy, frankly. As I left my hotel this morning that’s exactly what I did. Wander, slowly and slightly lazily, watching as I went. I followed the sound of some church bells, peeling in the distance, they were joyful and I knew there would surely be activity nearby. Choir song burst out of a basement. I happened upon a gorgeous large church, and just as I arrived the doors jolted open and people erupted out. Children had footballs that they were already bouncing and adults joined in. It evolved from a quiet moody square to one that was  jostling, playful and quite busy. Girls in communion dresses wandered around, clearly proud of their elegance. In the corner there was a lovely little tapas bar (Fragments Cafe). I thought coffee. Despite the menu being in English as well as Spanish it was …

A Visit to La Boqueria in Barcelona

When in Barcelona, what does any self respecting food blogger do but visit the Boqueria! I’d been told by so many people that it was a must, and had seen it on tv and read about it on other blogs. So, on my recent hectic weekend trip to Barcelona, I made sure there was an afternoon free to fit it in. Many of you will know Aidan Brooks, food blogger and chef, up until recently he was working in Michelin starred Comerç 24 in Barcelona. I am a very big fan of Aidan’ blog, it’s always interesting and entertaining. I shared a lovely meal with him at The Providore’s over the summer and had always planned to visit and eat at Comerç 24 while he was still working there. It wasn’t to be, as he had moved on already by the time I finally got there. We arranged instead, to meet and tour the Boqueria on a Saturday afternoon last month. Barcelona is a lovely city, and this particular weekend in November it was gorgeous. …

Eating in Granada: Taberna el 22

We landed in Granada on our first night a little weary following our delayed flight and very hungry! We had arranged to rent an apartment in the old Medina facing the Alhambra. I called our new landlord, Pedro, a really lovely guy, who gave me the briefest of Spanish courses advising how to pronounce Aljibe de los Tomasas in the Albaicin, our new address, a beautiful old moorish quarter set in a hillside facing the alhambra. Despite repeating it 14 times for him on the bus, I was not in the least confident (nor was he!), however, the taxi driver understood me and off we sped up the labyrinthine streets. It was midnight at this stage and Pedro advised that not many places would be open for food but we could try the place at the foot of the medina opposite the 16th-century Iglesia de San Gregorio church, I must find out the address but unfortunately I was too absorbed in my eating and drinking to think of it! Unfortunately, we were too late for …

A taste of Spain

Pic: Tapas in Granada, from top left: Jamon Serrano, Queso Manchego, Chorizo in cider, Artichokes with anchovies, Tortilla. Ah, Andalucia! London seems so grim by comparison. It’s a wonderful part of the world: sunshine, sea, fabulous food, beautiful wine, lots of cheese & lovely people. We went to Granada for 3 nights, then, headed east to Agua Amarga on the coast for a weeks relaxation and a friends wedding. It was a great experience on many fronts, very relaxing, great & very reasonable food and wine, lots to see, cultural things to do, lots of friends about and a great wedding to finish it all off with. I haven’t had a chance to get into the kitchen yet but I intend to this evening. I have lots of Spanish treats to tuck into: chorizo, morcilla, manchego, luscious olive oil, rioja and more. I did cook quite a bit in Spain though and will leave you with this quick and very tasty bite. One evening we wanted something quick to snack on with wine. We had …