Just because borders are opening up, for most of us international travel is still a way off. Doesn’t mean we don’t want to feel like we’re going somewhere. While we travel to experience different cultures, explore new places and spaces, the highlight of any trip has got to be the food.
So, this month we’re traveling with our taste buds. Destination Spain!
We’ve got the lowdown on ingredients, recipes and even movie recommendations. Plus, there’s no need to worry about jet lag. From the simple snack pan con tomate (bread with tomato) to tortilla de patatas (potato omelette) and the more ambitious paella, it’s easy to see why Spain is such a unique food destination. Olé!
It All Starts With Tapas
Food shared with friends and family always tastes better and that’s exactly what tapas (and its cousin pinxtos) is all about. Tapas refers to small dishes presented on a plate to be shared while you enjoy a drink. Pintxos are even smaller offerings of tasty treats usually skewered to a bread base.
Explore the almost endless array of tapas with piquillo peppers, boquerones, guindillas peppers, Cantabrian anchovies, as well as cured pork products such as jamon and chorizo.
One popular bite-sized snack is the Gilda. Fill your skewers with a mix of quality ingredients because this snack has nothing to hide behind. Choose from medium-hot pickled guindillas peppers, Cantabrian anchovies, fire-roasted piquillo peppers, boquerones (preserved white anchovies) and quality green olives.
A Little More Effort
Albondigas (meatballs) are another popular choice. Just heat our Cook's Series Free Range Pork & Fennel Meatballs with some canned/jarred beans and finish with a little drizzle of a full-flavoured olive oil.
Another favourite wine bar snack has got to be Gambas Pil Pil. Amp up the flavour of the prawns with some garlic, red chilli flakes and a staple of Spanish cooking, smoked paprika. And it all comes together in under ten minutes.
Explore the vast trove of Spanish recipes over at SBS Food. A few of our favourites are patatas bravas and tortilla de patatas.
Paella is a little more of a project but well worth the effort and once you’ve mastered the technique, you’ll find more and more reasons to impress friends with the visual and literal feast.
We’re not going to enter the contentious argument of what is and what isn’t authentic paella. Traditional versions include rabbit, chicken and even snails. Nowadays, you can also find seafood paella.
Certain parts are, however, non-negotiable. And it all starts with the rice, or as we like to call it King Bomba. Bomba is a high-quality, short grain rice with a very particular shape and one very important attribute. It can absorb up to three times its volume in liquid without bursting, turning to mush or sticking together. This is what makes it perfect for paella.
And a top tip from Rick Stein – ‘With paella you don’t stir it after the initial stirring so the grains swell up.’ This is what helps create the socarrat or crust, the most covetable part of paella for those in the know.
Find your perfect paella recipe here, thanks to our friends at SBS Food.
Sure, you could make some sangria, but City Larder co-owner, Rebecca Bell, suggests you embrace the tipple that locals drink - tinto de verano.
‘It translates as ‘summer red wine’ and is simply equal parts red wine and - bear with me - lemonade or lemon soda served over ice with a slice of lemon. It’s so refreshing and incredibly drinkable.
I remember a trip to Andalucía to visit my best friend and her family in the beautiful village of Cómpeta. There were jugs of tinto de verano in the plaza with plates of Gambas Pil-Pil, sliced chorizo, Manchego and jamon Serrano. Such blissfully happy holidays spent in the south of Spain.’
We’re not suggesting you get the deep fryer out to make churros – though we wouldn’t stop you if you did.
You could always track down the popular Basque Burnt Cheesecake.
If you're in Adelaide here, Brisbane here, options for Melbourne peeps here and Sydneysiders can find theirs here.
Simpler still would be some slices of the iconic Spanish cheese Manchego with a slab of membrillo (quince paste).
Some Visual Inspiration
- Sexy Beast (2000) This black comedy will show you the sun, sea and more of Ray Winston than you may wish to see. You’ve been warned.
- The Trip to Spain (2017) This cult movie follows Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s deadpan culinary tour through Spain.
- The Way (2010) might just get you planning your own pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain.
- Jamon Jamon (1992) A romance drama starring then-newbie Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, and whole legs of jamon – what’s not to love.
- Tags: anchovies, bruschetta, charcuterie, chef, chorizo, city larder, classic recipe, gambas pil pil, gildas, jamon, manchego, meatballs, paella, peppers, pinxtos, robbie bell, sangria, seafood, spain, spanish, tapas, tinto de verano, tomatoes