I don’t want to bore you to death with details of our wonderful trip to Spain, but a web log of some of the more interesting dining experiences does seem warranted, or will at least allow me to justify the 10 pounds I packed on there.
I had studied in Spain a number of years ago, and, while excited to return, speak the language (i.e. show-off in front of PT), and re-visit a number of my favorite sites and cities, I was apprehensive about the gastronomic experience. As a poor student, I had subsisted on low-quality, hastily prepared chicken croquetas (essentially, chicken fingers with cream of chicken, instead of whole meat), tortilla espanola, and ooey-gooey pastries. The last two were quite good, but not exactly a well-rounded diet for 10 days.
However, since my stay there, Spain has undergone a culinary revolution, and is now arguably challenging France as Europe’s country of avant-garde cuisine. Led by Adrian Ferra, Spanish cities now proudly boast restaurants that I would technically deem “fancy-shmancy,” meaning that not only would it be a good idea to break out the cocktail dress and heels, but that your meal will consist of more than potatoes, egg, and olive oil, and the preparation will be inventive, eye-appealing, and delicious.
The following are a number of lush and luscious photos of some of our favorite meals and snacks from the trip. For those of you thinking about traveling to Spain, I’d be happy to furnish restaurant and cafe details for any of the photos – just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment with your question, and I’ll happily respond.
Life is short… eat dessert first. PT and I did not skimp on desserts and pastries throughout our stay, but this remains my favorite. Naranja Amarga – a rich, orange-flavored crème anglaise, baked in a tart shell, with chocolate and a candied orange piece on top. Rich, not too sweet, with an adult bite from the tangy Sevilla oranges.
Olives were are most-oft ordered snack. These aren’t your typical jarred cocktail accompaniment. Juicy, meaty, and full of flavor, Spanish olives are as fresh as you can get.
PT and I ordered a whole fish, baked in salt. Little did we know that the waiter would bring the aforementioned fish to our table for our inspection prior to cooking, and that ‘baked in salt’ literally meant buried in salt. The cooked fish was deboned and filleted next to our table, and the resulting meat was moist, light, and surprisingly unsalty, considering the 10 pounds of salt it had been cooked in.
A pastry or candy shop greets you on every corner of every Spanish city. You can watch calories later, indulge here while the profusion of excellent sweets and treats is so readily available.
The Tasting Menu we had in Cordoba will go down as one of the best meals of my life. I’ve become obsessed with our first course of white bean gazpacho, and the intoxication only increased from there. We had eight luscious courses, culminating in the orange gelato in olive oil that I featured as an excellent dessert for entertaining.
The Berlinesa was our breakfast of choice for quite a few days (yes, I know, it looks like dessert, but we were on vacation!). It’s the lightest, freshest doughnut, filled with custard, and rolled in sugar. You really can’t argue with the Spanish bakers when it comes to the superiority of their pastries – they are in a class all their own.
Sopa Espanola is a classic Spanish dish in the tradition of the French cassoulet and Italian Minestrone – essentially, a dish without a set recipe that can contain any number of variations of meats and vegetables that are in season or otherwise readily available. This version included chorizo, ham, carrots, garbanzo beans, grean beans, and potatoes in a spicy, rich tomato, garlic broth.
This hunk o’ meat is suckling pig, served at the oldest known restaurant, and one of Hemingway’s favorite haunts.
Last, but not least, PT and I found the best bakery cafe in Sevilla and visited them daily. The desserts were out-of-this-world… just beyond beautiful to look at and better to eat. We enjoyed this pomegranate topped orange-soaked poundcake after a delicious meal.