Archive for the ‘Spanish’ category

Pinchitos (Pinxitos!) – Tiny open-face sarnies

January 3, 2008

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Catalan has proved to be somewhat of a nuisance for me with its funny ‘X’s and French/Portuguese/Italian nuances… my Spanish is not yet so good that it can nonchalantly handle the challenges of these new inflexions and rather mysteriously spelled words.  The one thing I have grasped in Catalañ, though, is that ‘x’ sounds like a Spanish ‘ch’.  Pinchitos, are, well, little things you erm, pinch?  Lovely little open-face sandwiches, in fact, skewered through with a toothpick.  In restaurants serving these it is awfully easy to entirely fill yourself up, I have discovered, by noshing many of these before your main course.  They tend to cost €1, which is not bad considering the generous toppings.  Pictured are bombas (fried potato dumplings with a meaty filling), punchy chistorra sausage, black caviar paste with anchovies, and a nice cheesy pizza thingy with a perky jalpeño on top.

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Churros – naughty, illusive batter sticks

December 31, 2007

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I had been dying to try these calorific deep fried batter sticks, which are rolled in sugar and then dunked in a thick hot chocolate drink to eat, but hadn’t been able to find them anywhere.  I recall on my last trip to Barcelona I tried to find churros in the centre of town, as I did again this time, but likewise to no avail.  They seem like the ideal tourist draw – they are traditional, instant, filling and very cheap to make – not sure why no shop on La Rambla has cottoned on… Anyhow, last night a frost was setting in, but we wrapped up regardless, and went out for a local stroll to Igualada.  Just about the time I was beginning to lose all feeling in my thighs (my jacket’s short) we came across a stall selling the illusive churros!  They were just amazing, freshly fried, steaming, and washed down well with the tasty hot chocolate.  The experience reminded me of a couple years ago when we came across a donut stall when freezing in windy Liverpool town centre – hot, sugary dough in the cold – heaven!

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La Boqueria – Deservedly Famous Market in Barcelona

December 30, 2007

The primary joy of cooking must be, of course, the ability to procure perfect, burstingly fresh ingredients.  Markets are surely, then, absolute foodie heaven!  La Boqueria is a wonderful food market just off La Rambla with a lengthy history and loads of character – the wafting scents of herbs crushed underfoot and recently caught fish assault your nostrils; the colourful fruit and vegetables are arranged for the highest visual impact; the immaculate female vendors wear prettily embroidered aprons and gossip freely across the crowded aisles.  La Boqueria represents an enduring love of market shopping as a way of life.  How I would love to live near a market like this, calling in daily for my groceries! 

I just love the way this lady’s jumper acts as camouflage amongst the peppers.

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Haughty looks from the beautifully pinafored shellfish seller.

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Montañas of frutas!  Damn, I wants the one at the bottom….

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These gorgeous ‘frutas escarchadas’ (candied fruits) are so vividly hued that they don’t look real…

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Iberico Ham

December 28, 2007

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Check out these splendid specimens of cured Iberico ham hanging out in the supermarket.  Arturo insisted on buying in a whole one as he claimed last year a single ham lasted him six months.  We’re making well sure that this year it won’t!  In Cataluña people eat lots of ham finely sliced with bread rigorously rubbed first with a clove of peeled raw garlic, and then with a juicy chunk of ripe tomato.  Bread prepared in this way is known as ‘torrades’ and it’s certainly an outstandingly handy way of making sure your toast is moist.  That’s something to consider, as the bread here seems to be solely white, crunchy and refined.  We have it toasted every morning which is lovely for a change… as we never eat white bread at home, but I think it would tend to lose its novelty after a short while of waist expansion.  We have hardly seen a fruit or a vegetable for days.  However, we’ll certainly see some tomorrow, as we are off to the exciting and colourful La Boqueria food market in the central of Barcelona.  Last time I went – four years ago with my mum – we were unable to have a really good look around as we were being followed by a shady man intent on snatching our valuables.  This time however I will be with two fairly large Peruvian males and I will surely not be able to resist taking lots of pics, so please stay tuned!

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Gloriously Gastronomical Getaway

December 25, 2007

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We’re spending the holidays in Spain, enjoying a gloriously gastronomical getaway and staying with Tito’s brother Arturo and his girlfriend Silvia.  We brought my mum along, Silvia’s mum has joined us, and Santa’s here too, apparently.  Below is a typical Catalonian bread called Coca, decorated with pretty preserved fruits and pine nuts.   It’s more usually enjoyed for a summer festival, but it’s so beautifully festive we couldn’t resist eating it for Christmas breakfast, with strong, freshly brewed coffee. Bon Nadal!

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