Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Spain & Spanish Cuisine

Some of the Essentials are:
The Food is made with a particular speed, the presentation, Saffron, Paprika, real Strong flavours are used!
Aceite de Olive is one of the essentials which is bit more Fruity Version of the Regular Olive Oil is used very liberally in the Cuisine
Bread (Pan) is a staple in Spain & is usually eaten at every meal. What Rice is to Asians, Bread is to Spanish so no part of the Bread is wasted!
Cheese (Queso)
Saffron (Azafrán) is one of the main Spice & Flavouring agents

The most famous of Spanish spices has to be Pimentón/ Paprika is the ground Bell Pepper & comes in Hot (Picante), Spicy (Ahumado) & Sweet (Dulce) like the Los Navitos brand  
Garlic (Ajo)

Northern Spain has a lot of Cheeses like Manchego Classic Hard & Dense just like Parmesan, Mahon Se Hot Semi Hard, variety of Blue & Goat Cheese, Quince Paste (Membrillo) is a Spanish Quince Paste with Manchego Cheese is a Combo!
Calasparra Rice is a Low Starch, Short Grained Rice which is Fluffy and separates when cooked

The right equipment is needed to Cook to perfection such as Cazuela in varied sizes
Mostly used for slow braised in Oven, Gas Stove etc.
Paella Pans in varied sizes & an even heat distribution Rack

Paella is the Main Course Saffron flavored Rice with either Meat (Rabbit), Seafood or even Pasta
It is cooked on an even Open Flamed High Heat mostly with Wood in a Cast Iron Paella which means Pan

Traditionally the Valencian Paella cooked on a wood (mostly Orange Wood is used to ) fire has only Rabbit, Chicken with Vegetables, Fresh Green & Garaffo (a kind of Lima) Beans & Saffron
mix of High acidity & High Sugar content Tomatoes Paste boiled till reduced
Rosemary, Saffron infused Water, Rice is added
served straight from the pan with Wooden Spoons with Valencian Wine

Andalucia is world's largest producers of the Olive Oil
During the Harvest Season in December, for the bestest Oil quality, the Olives are plucked by hands in the Groves

Castillo de Canena Castle in Jaén is where Olive Groves of the Guadalvivir Valley have existed for about 200 Years
Picual Olive Oil is produced mostly in Jaén and its neighboring Districts which counts for almost 50% of the production in Spain & about 20% of the World's!

The Olive Oil from the Low lands have more Body with a bit Bitter taste and a hint of Wood, while the Olives produced in the Mountain area are Sweeter with a Fresh Flavor

Picual Olive Oil is mostly used in Frying & sometimes for Salads, Gazpachos

Arbequina Olives are originally from the Town of Arbeca, in Lérida & is also grown in Huesca, Tarragona, and Zaragoza
Mostly used in its Fresh Raw form that goes perfectly with Vegetables, Grilled Fish etc.

Asparagus and Artichoke Salad:
use of Mediterranean Pesto

Town of Petrer:
Kms. from Alicante Province
120 Alioli varieties are present

Emulsion Blender Container needs to be Plastic
The different varieties of Andalucian Alioli's are Fried Garlic-Olive Oil, Tomato Puree-Olive Oil, Chocolate are Salsa Alioli (Garlic Mayonnaise) topped/Piped on Confit Potatoes & can be used as a Dip for Fried Fish and Calamari
while the Tomato Alioli is topped on Confit Cod Fish
The EVOO in which the Confit Garlic & Cod were made is used for the Alioli

Town of Toledo:
Famous for Saffron Fields & Olive Groves

Saffron Olive Oil Rissoto:
EVOO drizzled only after the Rice is prepared so that the Flavour is prominent on the Palate

Town of Alicante:
There are different varieties of Oil available here are Arbequina (Subtle Sweetest Oil from Spain tastes like Banana), Hojiblanca (means 'White Leaf'), Picual (gets its name from the Fruit's Pointed Top 'Pico') & Royal (Nutty Banana Flavour) Olive Oil

Picual Olive Oil Marinated Chicken with Saffron:
Dissolve Saffron in Lukewarm Water
Use Organic Chicken which is Marinated for 24 Hours in the Saffron Infusion
Heat the Oil, Add Chicken Fat side down, Vegetables (Carrot Onion Finely Slices), Saffron Infusion Marinade, Sherry Vinegar, Slow Cook for 1 Hour

Spanish Soup Ajo Blanco:
Blend Almonds, Garlic, Sherry Vinegar, Hojiblanca Olive Oil (used for its Wide Beans Bitter tasting Picante), Water till Cream Soup Texture is there
Top with Ham Slices

Special Olive Oil Ice Cream:
Make a Sugar Syrup with equal parts of Water & Sugar that are heated just to dissolve
Whisk Egg Whites, Lemon Juice, Lemon Zest & Whisk continuously while pouring Arbequina Olive Oil
Keep the Mixture to Freeze for 4 Hours

Add the Alicante Region's Special Red Wine with the Meal for a perfect experience

Town of Elda, Valencia:
Olive Oil Bonbons:
2 different types of Olives used to make the Arbequina Olive Oil used here

In the Melted Madagascar & Milk Chocolate, Boiling Cream is added to make a Ganache
Pour the Oil slowly while Whisking continuously just like Mayonnaise
Fill the Mixture in the Piping Bag to Put in the Tray with a Speck of Salt so that our Taste Buds open up before tasting the Sweetness of Chocolate
Empty the Tray upside down

Silver Oysters:
White Chocolate Shells look like Real Oysters
Saffron Cream made just like Mayonnaise Arbequina Olive Oil Caviar Milk Foam & a Pearl filled with Edible Vodka
Something that looks like a Rock from the Sea (with Algae!) is made from Panetonne (Sweet Bread)

Macaroon Cream made with Olive Oil & Vanilla 
Macaroons have a Rose Petal (Confit in Sugar) on Top
Isomalt Sugar can withstand High Heat which becomes the decoration for Macaroon

San Sebastian:
Port of Kaindra
Basque Country
Firm Anchovies salted kept stored & cured for about one year after which they are again Washed Filleted & stored in Tins with a lighter Olive Oil

Garlic Fresh Croutons Olive Oil fresh firm Anchovies
Whisk 2 Egg Yolks Garlic Crushed & mashed Dijon Lemon Juice 1/2
Mix together Salad Leaves Boiled Halved Eggs Anchovies Croutons & serve with White Wine

Santo Domingo de la Calzada:
Pilgrimage to many Christians

Northern Spain:

Salted Cod Bacalao:
Piquillo Peppers (which come handy in a Tin)

Before refrigeration, there is a need to preserve the Codfish; drying and salting are ancient techniques to preserve nutrients and the process makes the codfish tastier

Potatoes Boiled in same water as the Cod, take the Cod's skin off & mix with mashed Potatoes, add Garlic 5 Cloves, Olive Oil, fill in the scooped out Peppers in a clay pot, Pimenton Peppers, Manchego Cheese (from La Manta region), bake for 15 Minutes

Bilbao is located in North Central Spain
Bola-Viga Restaurant located in Vizcaya, Bilbao headed by the Father-Son Duo of Chef Amelio & Óscar Alberdi

North Western Region:
Santiago de Campostela:

Pilgrimage Tourist destination Church

Brevos is a kind of a Green vegetable like a cross between Kayle & Cabbage
one of the famous dishes made in Church is the Empanada

Eastern Region:

Chorizo is a cured Sausage made from Pig Meat (comes from the Shoulders) & Pimenton Peppers, Dry Garlic Powder, Rock Salt

Spanish Omlette:
The classic Potato Omlette
Heat Olive Oil for Deep Frying, Add the Chopped Potatoes & Cook till they are
Whisk 3 Organic Eggs, Drain the Potatoes not until Golden & Put in the Eggs, Salt
Pour in the Pan
Flip & Cook on the Other Side
Serve Hot!  

Vegetarian Paella:
Paella comes out perfect only with the classic Calasparra Rice & absorbs the maximum water
Onion, Capsicum, Garlic, any Vegetarian Substitute for Seafood, Rice 80 Grams per person, Stock, 1 Rice: 2 Water proportion, Grind the Saffron & Sea Salt in Mortar & Pestle for more Colour & Flavour, Spanish Pimento Spice, , & lastly the Peas are added
Garnish with Roasted Capsicum & Chopped Parsley!

Small Snacks (Tapas) are very common & served with Drinks mostly Seafood like the Garlic Prawns, Spanish Olives
In Olive Oil, Garlic, Red Chilli, Prawns, after 15 Seconds turn, Pour the Liquid & serve with Olive Oil

Churros Con Chocolate:
Long sticks are the Snacks dumped in to Hot Chocolate
Also good for men's health & to remove Hangover as well!

Arroz Con Leche:
Rice Pudding is the ultimate Comfort Food for all Spanish people who grows up with it in their household
Medium Grained Rice- 250 Grams
Full Cream Milk- 1.25 Litres/ 5 Cups (Skim Milk just won’t do for this Delicacy!)
Cinnamon Sticks- 2 No’s
Lemon Rind- 1 Strip
Grams Can Sweetened Condensed Milk- 395 Grams or 1 Can
Cinnamon Powder- For Garnish

In a Sauce Pan, Put Rice and Water & bring it to a Rapid Boil for about 5 Minutes
Drain the Boiled Rice & Keep Aside
In a Deep Bottom Pot, Heat the Milk with Cinnamon Stick, Freshly Peeled Lemon Rind
As the Milk comes to a Boil, Add the Drained Rice
Stir this Constantly on Low Heat until the Rice is Half Cooked
Add the Condensed Milk & Stir until Rice is cooked
Test by Smashing a Rice Grain
Spoon into Individual Serving Dish
Dust with Cinnamon Powder & Serve Hot!


Cafe la Vienna La Rambla Boulevard's most famous Menu items is the D'iberico Ham Sandwich (Flaut A `D'iberico Jabugo) served with In House Beer
The Sandwich has only 3 ingredients- Bread (thin, crispy Baguette), Tomato (rubbed with a juice for a little Flavor & Moisture without the Slices) & Ham
Great place to for in between Meals at about 4- 430 pm Sandwich

Churro & Chocolate
Crispy outside & a little Tender inside but most importantly no Churros are ever wasted!

Catalan Cuisine:

Hispania Restaurant in Arenys de Mar, Catalonia since 50 Years
run by Sisters Francisca, Dolores Reixach, Paquita and Lolita

Some of the Signature Dishes include Faves amb Butifarra Negre (Fava Beans with Black Sausage), Crème Catalana, Tripe, Catalan style Paella

King in Catalonia comes to Elica's Famous Sucat

Calçots look like small Leeks & are served only when the Calçots are ready for harvest (any time from January to April)
A communal Calcot/Spring Onion eating competition in the Spanish Cataluña/Catalan region (has many unique Culinary customs & traditios)

The traditional Catalan method of cooking the Calçots is to grill them over a flaming barbecue, then they are wrapped in newspaper (to make them tender), which then are served on a Terra cotta roof tile (not a plate) to help keep them warm
While eating, we can freshly peel away the blackened outer layers, dip the tender bulbs in Salvitxada (a smooth Sauce made of Almonds, Tomatoes, Garlic, Peppers, Vinegar, toasted or fried Bread, Oil & Balsamic Vinegar)

The feast also has Tortilla (aka Spanish omelette) and fried Artichokes with Aioli

Dark Chocolate added to most Sauces in the dishes towards the end
Percentage of Cocoa in Chocolates are essential for them to have a Combination with Wine

Turon for Christmas Dinner but are available all year long, Great Gifting Option
Rectangle or Round shape made with Nuts White & Brown Chocolate

Artist Couple Team of the Escriba's use Chocolate Marshmellows Roses for Paintings

Spanish people like to cook their Meat, Fish & even Ice cream over Fire with Wood, Coal and even Grapevines!

In the Northern Asturias region, help is offered to cook Spanish-style steak as well as Chuletas Treks through Vineyards to collect Grapevine cuttings for Vine Roasted Lamb

Romesco Sauce is a very typical and beloved Catalan sauce that originates from Tarragona in Northeastern Spain.
Made with Roasted Tomatoes combined with ground Toasted Hazelnuts, Olive Oil & Vinegar to make a smooth, rich sauce that is especially delicious as an accompaniment to Roasted or Grilled Seafood or fire Roasted/Grilled Vegetables- but it can even be simply spread on a slice of country Bread!

In Basque, Euskara is the language spoken
Dishes including grilled Caviar, grilled Baby Eels and smoked Ice Cream

Toast is raised to Fire with Queimada (a 40-proof alcohol spiced with Coffee and Citrus Peels) that is set afire in a Pot after which this drink is poured from some distance producing a Bubbling Effect & is served immediately!

Steak in Spain has to be cooked perfectly, so in most Restaurants the Waiters bring the Steak out for approval just as they do for the Wine!!
Steak is often consumed as part of a Meal with a group Standing up

Granada Southern Region


famous for its Local Olive Groves

Cazuela de Habas (lima beans casserole) or Albornía (a mixture of Vegetables, Spices and Olive oil)

Papas a lo Pobre  

The Albaicin region has a strong Arab/Moroccan influence in their Cuisine like the Spice Mix Ras el Hanout (blend of about 40-50 spices)

Lamb & Vegetable Couscous:
Fresh Couscous is prepared in the traditional way
Use of Spices, Ginger, the Aged Butter has a flavour of Blue Cheese because of Ageing

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon & Green Olives is a slow cooked Stew cooked with Onions Garlic Cinnamon Salt Water Oil

Served with Fresh House Lemonade:

Sephardi Jewish Cuisine:

Jews kept this tradition of Stew by replacing Pork with Beef/Lamb
Pork Tail Ribs Salted Pork Belly Fennel Greens Gelatin (gives texture to the Stew) Beans Rice & most important ingredient Pig Face!!

Tortilla Sacromonte (Omelette with a mix of Lamb/Pork/Veil Brain, Testicles Legs Bone Meat & Vegetables!!)

Cod Salad with Oranges, Black Olive Salad with lots of EVOO

Catholic Speciality Sweet Pastry Pionono

The origin of Pionono is said to be in Santa Fe, a town near Granada

This is a small Spongy Cake popular in many Latin American countries
It comprises of a cake with the filling (mostly Sweet & made with fresh Fruits and Whipped Cream)

Dishes with Pomegranate (Granadino) like the Pomegranate Salad:
Heat EVOO, Garlic Toasted & mixed Hot with Greens, Pomegranate Seeds

Habas con Jamón (Lima Beans with Ham) has EVOO, Spring Onions, Raw Fava Beans, Salt, Chopped Ham & Served with Thin Ham Strips

Thick (Stirgin) Analusian Cold Soup is served with Ham Finely Chopped & Thin Ham Strips

Bar FM Joint is a Seafood Tapas Bar run by a Couple that offers best Seafood like the Dried Octopus (Pulpo Seco) using the age old Air Drying Techniques

Southern Spain:
Region of Andalusia:

One of the best Olive Oils & Seafood is a specialty of this area along with Pimenton Pepper Powder which is used abundantly here

Gazpacho is a Delicious & Refreshing Spanish Cold Tomato based Raw Vegetable Soup
The key to a successful Gazpacho is making it and eating it during the Summer/Warm Months as the Tomatoes are at the Peak of the Season
Since the ingredients remain raw, you should only use the best possible ingredients, including the Best Extra Virgin Spanish Olive Oil available

A perfect Soup has to be shared with love, Tomatoes have to be peeled. Roughly Chopped Red Pepper & Green Pepper, Cucumber half Peeled & half Unpeeled

In a Large Salad Mixing Bowl, add Water, Vinegar, EVOO, Soak the Bread Pieces, Tomatoes, Cucumber, Onion, Garlic & Mix Well with hands, Salt
In a Blender, Mix the Veg, Ice Cubes just before Serving
Strain & Serve Fresh garnished with Green Pepper & Bread Squares!

Sangria is the most famous Thirst Quencher made with Red Wine, Brandy, Seasonal Fruit, Cinnamon Stick, Ice Cubes

Pescaito Frito means Fried Fish which comes in an assortment of Baby Squid (Puntillitas), Cazon, Fresh Anchovies (Boquerones), Chocos (this is like a thicker Calamari)
Dusted with Flour, Strainer & Hot Oil

Town of Sevilla:
Famous for Sevillian Oranges as well as Olives
Hojiblanca Olive (name comes from the White Color of the leaves) also known as Casta de Cabra & Lucentino is produced in the Eastern part of Seville, the south of Córdoba, and the north of Málaga which count for almost 16% of the Andalucian production
Used for Frying, Bread, Pasta, Pastries

They are also used as Black Table Olives because of the Firm Flesh

Cod Fish with Bitter Orange (Bacalao En Naranja Agria)
Blend Bread, Pimenton, Garlic, Olive Oil
Add Fish Stock in Pan, Cod with Skin Deep Fried & covered in Sauce
Squeeze with Orange which would be just for garnish & not to cook!

Monk Fish with Fried Bread (Rape al Pan Frito):
Onion Chopped Garlic Fish Dried Deseeded Parsley Pimenton Paprika Sherry of San Luca, Fried Bread with Crust add Paneotta Pepper soaked in water
different varieties of Fish used depending on the catch of the day
always served with Langoustine is a cross between Small Fish & Lobster or Snails can be sued

Jerez de la Frontera:
Town is famous for its Grapes & finest Sherry
Sherry is aged in strict conditions of Humidity & Temperature in Barrels
for every occasion, there is style of Sherry in Spain

Typical Artichoke's Stew:
Parring down the Artichokes, Fresh Fava Beans & Tender Peas, Sherry
Heat Arbicina Olive Oil fruity flavour, Parsnip, cover to cook Artichokes in Sauce
Cook Peas & Beans & Combine all with Sauce on top

Caballa Con Amontillado:
Southern Spain's favourite Macarel Fish
Marinate with Garlic, Dried Oregano, Sherry Vinegar, Cumin, Amulteago, Stuff the Fish with Boiled Salted Eggs from Fish (Acarel) & Cover with Plastic Wrap, cut in 2.5 finger thick rolls
Heat Oil & Fry the Macarel rolls & serve with  Red Pepper Sauce

Lenguas de Almendras:
Famous Raw Sliced Almonds Tongues baked in Oven
Piping Apple Gelatin between Cookies to make a Sandwich & Icing Sugar dust

Tocino di Cielo:

Caramel on bottom of Pan
Beaten Egg Yolks
(In Sherry Counties, the Egg Whites used to clarify Wines)
Caramelized Sherry Coloured Custard
Refrigerated Overnight

Yemas Sevillanas:
Famous from Sevilla Egg Yolk Candy
Hard Glazed

Few Places to check out while in Spain:

Cafe la Vienna La Rambla Boulevard, Barcelona

Mom Roca's & her 3 Sons, Joan Roca (Fine Dining Main Course) Joseph Roca (Wine Expert) Jordi Roca (Pastry Chef) have their Restaurant a few miles away from Barcelona

Artist Couple Team of the Escriba's Unique Chocolate Items in Catalan Region

Region of Rioja is where the Renowned Winemaker Alvaro Palacios is based in

In the Northern Asturias region, there is a famous Grill House

In Atxondo, Basque County is where the Extreme Grill Master Victor Arguinzoniz has his Basque Restaurant with Open Grill, Open Fire & most importantly an Innovative Menu!

In the Northern Region of Galicia, Chef Marcelo Tejedor specializes in Queimada (a 40-proof alcohol spiced with Coffee and Citrus Peels)  

In the Southern Region of Granada, Town of Albaicin has a Moroccan Restaurant which can be tried

Chikito Restaurant has a traditional Cuisine with Tapas Bar & offers outside Teraza during Summers

Carmen Mirador de Aixa Restaurant Mirador de Morayma (means Locale) is a Magnificent Palace with a typical Home built with Courtyards, Garden etc.

Bar FM Joint is a Seafood Tapas Bar run by a Couple Team

In Seville, there is a Famous Underground Flamingo Bar which was an Industrial Warehouse turned into a Bar now serves Drinks like Agua de Sevilla & a Great Brekafast as Night life starts very late with Dancers especially the energetic Dance Form Flamingo!

In the Seaside Town of Sanlucar de Barramundo, there is Casa Bigote Owner Paco Bigote (literally means Moustache)

Check out Spain's Oldest Confectionery since 42 Years!

Chef Manuel Valencia, La Andana Restaurant in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

Royalty Señorita Rosa Vañó & her Father Señor Luis's Majestic Medieval Castle in the Town of Jaén is the Castillo de Canena

Alioli Expert Chef Mari Carmen Vélez

Adolfo and Javier Muñoz are a Father-Son Team who own Casa Adolfo, Calle de la Granada & other Restaurants in Town of Toledo

Olive Oil Expert & Chef Maria José San Román is also known as the ‘Queen of Saffron’ & owns La Taberna Del Gourmet restaurant in Alicante

In the Town of Elda, Famous Master Pastry Chef & Chocolatier Paco Torreblanca uses Olive Oil in his Decadent Sweet Creations

In Madrid:

‘Liming’ means an all Night long Spree in Spain

In the Historic Town of Mercado San Miguel:
Mas Gourmets De L’Embotit:
Hand Sliced Ham with Red Wine

Chef Javier's Mariscos Morris Conservas y Moluscos:
Goose Barnacles (Percebes) and Sparkling Wine like Champagne (Cava)
Slow Roasted Pork with Mandarin (Cochinita Pibil)
Roasted Octopus with Mushrooms
Fresh Razor Clams with Arbequina Olive Oil and Albariño Wine
Crystal Bread topped with Tomato and an Anchovy (Pan Tumaca) with Cana (Draft Beer)
Aperitivo, Red Vermouth and Olives

Tapas Bars:
Jamón Ibérico, Bocata de Calamares (Calamari Sandwich) with Beer

El Fogon de Trifon has some Fantastic Meal options

Owner/Chef Trifón Jorge Esteban

Raff Tomatoes, Bonito Belly Tuna (Ventresca de Bonito), Onions and Roasted Peppers
Bull's Tail Stew (Estofado De Rabo De Toro)
Cheesecake with Olive Oil Glaze (a Creamy Smooth Dessert with just some Balsamic Kiwi Reduction)

Chocolateria Churreria serves Churros and Spanish Hot Chocolate

When in Barcelona, there are many paces to visit:
Breakfast can be tried out at one of the Oldest Tapas Bars in the City

Weekends has open roadside Food Markets 'Market Grazing' or (Ferrys) literally means Street Fair with Artisan Cheeses, Cured Sausages & some varieties of the Catalan version of Pizza
Great thing is that everything can be sampled before buying

La Sirena Marie, Petrer Owner Marie Carmen

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