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Food Food Glorious Food! - Spain

I now love olives :D

Spain has been a gastronomic delight. We have tried and loved such a vast amount of food while being here. Each area has it’s own specialities but also there are things that Spain as a whole are known for and are eaten everywhere.

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Barcelona started with Patates Bravas. Spicy tomato sauce with fried crispy shelled fluffy potatoes... It was simply delicious! We also started with ham sandwiches. Simple but delicious anywhere in Spain. They are made with olive oil, a crusty roll and thin slices of ham, Serrano or Iberian depending on your preference. Ham in New Zealand has no similarity to ham in Spain. Spanish ham is cured and not cooked while ham at home is boiled and more processed. The ham just melted when you ate it. Barcelona was about a lot of these ham sandwiches. They were easy and always guaranteed to be delicious.

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We stumbled across a cute bar in one of the markets. Our waiter was adorable. His favourite thing to do while we were there was to scar or patrons with a crayfish. The girl beside us thought it was going to bite her. It was hilarious. He basically gave you two options meat or fish and then he chose off the menu for you. Lewis opted for meat and got a hearty soup. I opted for potato and got a delicious garlicky fry up. The market was decent and had any fruit or meat you could think of including lambs heads and brains.

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At the end of our market visit we had to try something that sounded so bad that it sounded delicious. Catalan Creme on top of a fresh waffle. It was hot, super sweet and creamy with just a hint of caramel.

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We ventured to a vegetarian vegan restaurant, Teresa Charles. The food was out of this world. We started with croquettes of 8 different varieties, mushroom, pumpkin, artichoke. All were crisp and flavoursome.

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I opted for the walnut and pear pasta hearts with blue cheese sauce, Lewis there famous lasagne. Again both were amazingly flavoursome. I would convert to a vegetarian if the food tasted that good all the time. My pasta was light and not drenched in sauce. Lewis lasagne had five different layers with spinach, pumpkin, cashew cream, another form of cheese and a fresh and dried tomato sauce.

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The desert though really topped our meal off. Lewis had the chocolate cake and me the Catalan cheese cake. Lets just say I wasn’t the one with food envy when they came out. My cheese cake was glorious and was made out of Catalan cheese. It was rich without making you feel ill. The biscuit base was soft, the cheese creamy and light, the honey and caramelised walnuts help shape this into a heavenly spoonful. I was sad when it was gone. Lewis chocolate pudding was soft and gooey. Just how a good fondant cake should be. The ice-cream helped balance the rich intensity of the bitter chocolate filling.
We both left happy yet sad knowing we wouldn’t be able to go back for a while.

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Another constant throughout our trip was croquettes, the best were always those that had been drained well and had plenty of filling with the béchamel sauce.
In Seville we had the joy of having a Kiwi (Evie) around to show us the ropes and give us delicious food recommendations. We learnt about summer wine (Spanish don’t drink Sangria they drink summer wine…red wine with lemonade or lift). We had spinach and chickpeas, pork with rice, croquettes and meatballs with a choko sauce. They were all delicious. I guess the thing with trying to figure out foreign menus is that you order things that you aren’t always sure what they are …this was definitely the case for this and I discovered how good the choko sauce was.

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We opted on a village tour the next day. We started with the traditional breakfast of smashed tomatoes on toast with garlic and olive oil and Manteca colorá. Manteca colorá is a lard spread made with paprika and pork pieces. It is smooth and smokey and was delicious on the hot toast. We of course had to have a glass of Seville orange juice to top it off.

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Our lunch was a tapas fest at one of our guides favourite restaurants in a small village. We had tomato salad covered in salt, pepper, balsamic and olive oil. The tomatoes were ripe and juicy. That was followed by sheep cheese porata and honeyed mushrooms with garlic aioli, next was venison stew, and a Salmorejo soup, a Cordoba speciality. The soup is served cold and is made out of tomatoes, garlic and bread which gives it a creamy taste and makes it more fuller. This followed by partridge croquettes and toastas with aubergine ratatouille and raspberry with goats cheese.

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We all thought we were done but our guide has also ordered a trio of deserts. It started with triple chocolate tart. It was a heavenly pudding that was thick and not to rich. This was followed by crème caramel with orange liqueur and egg yolk pudding with yoghurt. All were creamy and delicious. When we arrived back in Seville we found our local pub, which made delicious toasted sandwiches. Pork fillet, bacon and cheese. Yum! They also made a delicious pork with whisky sauce. The sauce was thick and oily and whisky flavour was potent and tangy. This combined with the tender pork fillet was a heavenly combination. We constantly went back for this one tapa.

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We found a local small restaurant where we went for desert. Lewis got his typical chocolate fondant cake with raspberry sorbet and pomegranate and pear sauce. I opted for something a little different. Yoghurt moose with peach and vanilla. It has biscuit cake and pistachio ice cream to accompany it. They were heavenly and served immaculately. Our waitress brought them out so proud when she saw the look on our faces. It was cute.

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Cordoba we had good and bad. It started with the good. Meat croquettes filled with the hearty meat stew. Apparently the stew is usually made out of the leftovers from the day before so it is flavoursome and hearty. The croquettes béchamel sauce wasn’t too heavy and the outside was crispy. They had been drained well so they didn’t leave a fatty felling all over your hands. We followed this with the amazing famous dish of Cordoba. Ham wrapped in pork. It was again amazing. It came with a side salad dressed in balsamic to help break the fat. Delicious!
That evening we opted for our hotels other recommendation. I wish we hadn’t…my pork was dry. My patats bravas was garlic soup with tomato and a few potatoes hidden in. My favourite part was Lewis dessert…triple chocolate tart….so we were expecting the triple chocolate dessert we had in the white village instead he got chocolate sauce, with whipped cream and a chocolate shard…no base, no mousse. I questioned it and they explained that yes we had the right order. I was nearly wetting myself that someone could consider a pool of sauce with cream a dessert…Lets just say that I won’t be remembering that restaurant.

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In Granada we arrived to a massive degustation I had organised. This wasn’t at a restaurant but rather at a little shop where the owner sells wine and olive oil. Francisco has a passion for food and so started making people things to eat while they did olive oil tastings with him. This escalated to the dinner we had. Francisco makes the dinner on a small gas hob at the back of the restaurant with a couple of assistants. It started with a olive oil tasting. This was first to line our stomachs with the oil to help decease the amount of alcohol we absorbed from all the wine…I hoped this worked as we had a early start the next day going to the Alhambra. We had four different types, a sweet olive, a more hearty olive that had a peppery aftertaste, a combination of 10 different types of olives and a new season unfiltered oil from this season.
It was great and I never realised how vastly different all the olives tasted. My favourite was the sweeter version as it was smooth and left no form of a aftertaste. I found the unfiltered tasted the most of fresh olives. Francisco warned us to only dunk small pieces of bread as we had a lot of food to get through that night.

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We had our first wine, a bubbly and sweet yet dry wine. This was pared with crackers covered with partridge pate, mushroom cream and ham cream. Each was delicious and the bubbles worked wonders with it and broke some of the richness of the pate. The next course with the wine was fresh cooked asparagus with mayonnaise. The freshness and simplicity was again heavenly. Our last course with the bubbles was lettuce cups with chickpea, garlic mint paste. It was fiery and crunchy. The bubbles again worked well with cutting the garlic and heightening the flavour.

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Our next wine was a dry white sherry wine whose name changes in every language. We started with pan fried almonds and olives infused with garlic and thyme. The almonds and olives worked wonders with the wine. We next had meats, chorizo, Iberian ham, salami and pork back fillet. The meats were delicious and melted in your mouth. Ham here is on a whole new level compared to what we have at home and I can see why they love it.
Our next plate was a small tomato salad with basil oil. The basil tomato combination is always an amazing one. I was in heavenly with the sweet cherry tomatoes and helped cut the fattiness of the meat.
Our last course with the wine was wine poached chorizo sausages. They again were heaven with all the spices and a completely different flavour experience to the courses before we this wine.

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Our next wine was a Beva white wine from Baza. We started with a toastas covered with chargrilled peppers and fresh asparagus. Yum! The vegetarian flavours were heavenly.. the heaviness and smokiness of the pepper with the freshness of the asparagus was simply stunning.
Next we had a spinach salad with a simple vinaigrette dressing, bacon and fried bread. Oh my goodness talk about salads at their best. This was delicious.
We finished the white with one last salad. Pomegranate with walnut salad. The salad had a garlic like dressing which was interesting with the finely chopped walnuts and pomegranate seeds. The burst of the seed with the creaminess of the walnut worked surprisingly well.

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Our next wine was a red…the one lewis had been waiting for. We started with a pork and ham stew that was made by boiling pork and ham together with soaked chickpeas. Carrots and other vegges are added at the last moment with sherry vinegar. It is a very common dish of Spain. It was a delicious stew as it had the smokiness of the ham with the strands of pork.
This was served with a omelette with bitter greens in it. The greens reminded lewis of puha. I wasn’t a fan but as it reminded him of home he was more than happy to chow into mine as well. We also had mushrooms, cooked to perfection.
Next were a trio of cheeses, aged, tender and olive oil infused sheep cheese, the aged with its serious flavour hit was definitely my favourite. I love how it crumbles with each bite.
We finished our course with cherimoya. It reminded me of home. My uncle has a tree and grows them at home. Francisco was highly surprised that they grew in New Zealand let alone that I knew what they were. The fruit wasn’t overripe and the sweet pear passionfruit cross flavour was powerful over the palate.

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Our last wine was a dessert wine/port.We started with fruit salad. Fruit salad is usually finely chopped in Spain I have noticed..my guess is so that the flavours can spread and fuse together. Next was a olive cake, a dry bread like cake. I have to say that olive oil isn’t a great substitute to butter in my opinion. I guess it is what you have grownup on. Our second to last dish was especially for thanks giving. Sweet potato cream. The spoons of this was heavenly and tasted sweet and mousse like. It was basically mashed potato, cream, vanilla and brown sugar.
Our last dish was a selection of Turrón, a delicacy of Spain. It is crumbly and has an interesting texture as it is made out of ground nuts.
Our time with Francisco was like visiting a friend, we left with hugs and thank you's for a beautiful night and amazing company.
Granada has an amazing concept where you get free tapas whenever you order a drink. This was how most of Spain was originally but Granada is one of the few places left that follows this tradition still.

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We had some amazing tapas in Spain. Meatballs, ham toastas and pork toastas. They were usually salty or oily..so you wanted to drink more.
We discovered a delicious wine bar where we ate numerous times. The food was outstanding. The tapas meatballs were delicious with a hearty sauce and bread to mop up the left overs. They also made some of the best pork we have had on our trip. The pork was marinated and served on tomato toast with asparagus. My goodness it was soft and easy to cut, it was smoky but still full of the normal pork flavour and the chargrilled asparagus helped with that flavour. When I consider it meatballs were another constant that we strived to find on our trip. Most were tender and the sauce thick and intense. Not all of them were served in tomato sauce but no matter what they were always delicious. They were always a guaranteed winner!

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Our time in Madrid started with lentil stew, a MASSIVE urn of it. It was hearty and delicious just as a good stew should be. It was full of ham, pork and chorizo with the brown lentil pieces. The empanadas also from the same place were heavenly. Thin light pastry filled with spiced meat with the smallest hint of a sauce. They were baked and so had a crunchy outer layer. Heavenly without being overly heavy or oily.

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We tried churros on numerous occasions (but sadly never for breakfast). The thick chocolate came in numerous forms, sweet, spiced, thin, thick. All versions were amazing. The churros in Madrid were thin. The porras (doughnuts ) thick and full. In Granada a churro was a porras except that the mixture seemed more air-rated and a lot more oily than the Madrid version. In Madrid the churros seemed to be drained better and as I said they were always served hot and steaming. They were crunchy yet soft in the centre. The best part was definitely drinking the rest of the thick chocolate mixture at the end.

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On our free tour we got to see the oldest restaurant in the world. Seeing the old fire, there famous three week old suckling pig cooked and waiting to be served was great. The old cellar was exceptional with all of the bottles covered in grime and dust. It looked ancient.

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On our final day in Madrid we spent the day with James, a Kiwi that runs a food tour in Madrid. The tour was great. We went to numerous places and we learnt so much history while we were at it which made the experience all the better. We started off in the Plaza Mayor, the centre before being a square was a old market that was just outside the city walls so producers didn’t have to pay the city tax. The square is involved in numerous parts of history, it hosted bull fights, it was a square used in the incusistion. We left there for Confiteria El Riojano, one of the oldest bakeries in town. This shop was one of the first immigrant shops and has always been passed down owner to employee and started as the baker for the queen. James explained that a lot of the food in Madrid is from immigrants to Madrid who came from other parts of Spain to make their fortune in the big city. Third generation Madrid people are called cats (and they are hard to find apparently). The current owner is likely to pass the shop to her son and so buck the trend that has occurred for over 100 years. The shop still makes biscuits for the monthly meeting. We had home-baked soletilla with warm chocolate. The soletilla was light and very much reminded me of a sponge finger. The chocolate was sweet milky and thick. It was lushious, especially on the light sponge finger biscuit.

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Our next stop was to a Corpus Christie Convenant to buy dulce from the nuns. Most of the nuns in the convenant are old so it takes them time to answer the door. We opted for almond cookies. They were soft, chewy and not to sweet, a perfect treat after the chocolate. The nuns creating cookies apparently follows a lot of Jewish recipes as the cookies started to be made when Jewish were forced to convert to Catholicism in Spanish Inquisition The cookies are basically egg, ground almond, sugar and almond essence. It was such a cool experience. You tell the nun what you would like and put your money on a turntable. The nun turns the turntable and the cookies appear as she takes the money. She then obviously returns the change. The nuns are not meant to be seen in this particular convent and they are not allowed to step outside. It is a interesting thing.

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Our next stop was to Mercado de San Miguel. The market was originally a traditional market but as it was not making money it was to be torn down and since has become a restaurant type market and more successful. The market was originally a fish market. We stopped in for red vermouth. Vermouth is fortified white wine with caramel added and spices. It is approximately 15% alcohol and is meant to help induce appetite and digestion. It is usually paired with something pickled. Lewis and I opted for a stuffed olive. We also had marcona almonds with sea salt and rosemary and Campo olives that had been marinated.
While here we discussed two important factors that have influenced Spain's culinary image. The first was the visit to the Americas where new things were discovered – chocolate, tomatoes, peppers. These are all massive in Spain's cuisine. The second was the Moorish influence. It was at this point that pickling became a bigger thing. Another important part of the Spanish cuisine, olives, peppers, fish.

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We headed to an old wine bar. Its name relates to the King and so had to be changed when the Dictatorship occurred. This was another immigrant story. The now owners father used to work in the bar before he was 18 and wasn’t paid (at that time this was normal and the boss would feed and cloth him). He ended up owning the bar Most bars were red in the olden times so that those who were illiterate would know where they were. There we had a traditional dish with a modern twist. Oxtail stew in filo. The little parcels covered in the broth were mouth watering good. They were savoury and meaty. The spicing didn’t take anything away from the richness. It was a rjoba red to accompany it. Delicious.

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We headed to La Bola, a place famous for its Cocido Madrileno. The owner decided to start a business making the Madrid classic rather than dishes from her own area. We got the pleasure of looking through the kitchen and tasting the delicious soup part of this dish. The dish is served in three parts, the soup, then the meat with pickled onions, peppers and cabbage. Getting through it would be a mission. The dish is made my stewing pork, beef, chicken, fresh chorizo and pork fat with chickpeas and Madrid water in a urn over the heat for four hours. The soup is eaten first and usually has angel hair pasta in it. Then it is followed by the meat and pickled vegetables to break the fat.
We got to try the soup. My goodness it was delicious. It was smokey, meaty and flavoursome. Lewis was in heaven and I think it may have been his favourite thing on the whole tour.
Originally the owner of the restaurant couldn’t accommodate everyone at one time as who restaurant was to small and it was custom at the time that a restaurant had three rooms, one for the lower class, one for the middle and one for the upper class. She fixed this by changing the time they would eat. Lower class would eat at 11 and would get soup with minimal meat, the middle class would eat at 12.30 and get pork added to the meat,the upper class would eat at 1.30 and they would get everything in there stew. This place is famous and you can see why when you taste the delicious dish.

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Our next shop was in an area around the palace (a well off area). The shop is owned by Carmen who makes home-cooking like delights and sells them. We ended up with peppers in a ratatouille form. Sweet and delicious followed by a Spanish meatball…one of carmen’s specialities. The meatball was moist, flavoured and fresh. I aim to make meatballs like Carmen.

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We went off to the carnicería Ferpal to see how they cut the meat and the delicious types of jamón(ham). We learnt Serrano is any ham off a white hoofed pig and Iberian is black hoof native pig. There are two types of Iberian, ones that have been feed pig feed and then acorns (Iberico de recebo) and then ones they have lived in nature and eaten the acorns around (Iberico de bellota). Obviously the second is more expensive and you would be looking at 100 euro/kg. Massive money!
The Serrano is usually feed pig feed too. Jamón is a massive thing in Spain. If you don’t like jamón…there is something wrong with you.Due to pigs eating acorns it is meant to change the fat in the pig so they have good fats (good cholesterol) rather than bad cholesterol.
The hams usually are cured for 1 year. 3 is usually the maximum that they are left.

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Our second to last stop was to Bar Cerveriz. The owners are originally from Northern Spain where cider is a big thing…Northern Spanish cider is different to New Zealand cider. It is not fizzy. The cider must be poured a certain way to aerate it. It is from up high and basically a mess on the floor and all over you is expected when you pour the stuff. The bars actually pour it like this and have drains on the floor to ensure that the place doesn’t flood. Carlos makes a delicious tortilla de patata. It is moist, flavoursome and not overcooked. It is heaven and I could eat it for every meal it was that good.
The tortilla must have slow cooked potatoes done before the eggs are added and it is delicious. He showed us how he flipped the frittata. Carlos and his frittata is one of the top in Madrid. We also had cured manchego cheese from the north. It was crisp and crumbly.

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We stopped at La Campana for Bocadillo de Calamares. Calamari sandwiches are massive here. Madrid is well known for having great seafood…it is hilarious considering that they are no where near a river or the sea! The seafood all gets brought here as it is a main city and thriving. This has been the case for a long time.
As we couldn’t have the sandwich overflowing with freshly fried calamari we had pork fillet that was marinated. It also was delicious and just what we needed.

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Turrón is a Christmas treat in Spain. It is made out of ground almonds or hazelnuts with egg and sugar and any extras. It is now making a comeback throughout the year. We tried turrón and I have to say I was not a fan. It was gritty and extremely sweet. I think the grittiness was the main thing I wasn’t a fan off. Our tour with James had ended and we had gorged ourselves enough that it was time for an afternoon siesta.

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San Sebastian was sadly our last stop in Spain. We were both pretty sad as Spain has been an amazing place to stay and visit.
We started off with Pintxos. Pintxos are basically really fancy tapas. I think the fancy looking of them comes from the French influence that San Sebastian has. Pintoxs usually cover the bar counter and you choose which ones you like the look of. They are usually beautiful to look at and it is a great way to advertise your food. We went to Azuella, a bar with an amazing selection of tapas. The assortment sitting on the bar was beautiful. We opted for a few. One of mine was pistachio encrusted meat (I think it was black pudding…I was trying not to think about what I was eating) with plum sauce. I also ate a deep fried artichoke and a toasta with mushroom and jamón. Yum!

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Lewis went for the safe options and was fairly happy too. I had desert of Bob Limon. A creation which was made to look like an egg. It started with a passionfruit pearl that exploded when it hit my mouth. My mouth was coated with the delicious flavour for the rest of the dish. It was followed by yoghurt mousse and a dried passionfruit stick. It was delicious.

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The next day we headed off for the famous Basque Cheesecake from La Vina. The cheesecake deserves its reputation it was delicious. Light, creamy and with hints of caramel from the burnt sugar on the end. It was heavenly. So heavenly that I will go back to San Sebastian just for that cheesecake! The pintxos at La Vina were amazing also. The potato tortilla was heaven and similar to Carlos in Madrid, flavoursome potatoes, just cooked and warm. Yum!
Lewis had meatballs with a rich tomato sauce. They were firm and not dry. The sauce was perfect to mop up with the baguette. Excellent!
The cheesecake, potato tortilla and meatballs were our last meal in Spain. To be honest I couldn’t think of a better one. Flavoursome small dishes that each had there own unique identity. Delicious food done well.

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When I consider Spain and the range of cuisine we have eaten it is massive. Each region had its own speciality or delicacy. Fish and seafood were a massive part of every cuisine here but as there were so many different types of dishes it was never a issue to find something delicious without this form of protein in it.

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I can’t wait to get back to Spain for more wine and tapas…paid or free. The food is heavenly and so cheap in comparison to some of the areas we have been too.
The Spanish idea of numerous small snacks and eating late seemed to be picked up easily by us. Siesta time where businesses closed and no food could be ordered were a great idea. Everyone needs a break and I liked this concept.
Spain thank you for getting me to love olives!

Posted by chellebelle 03:04 Archived in Spain Tagged food wine porn tapas pork olives jamon ham churros potatoes sandwich cheesecake pinxtos frittata Comments (1)

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