What’s a Benjamin?
Mario and I saw ‘benjamin’ listed on the drinks menu at Ca’n Joan de S’aigo in Mallorca. We found out that a benjamin is a small bottle of cava, a single serving. Apparently in local slang the benjamin of the family is the smallest child, hence the smallest bottle. Great for sipping with breakfast!
Posted Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Golfing…on the road Again…and Again
Spain has some of the most beautiful golf courses in Europe. I was sure to bring my clubs with me and was lucky to swing them in Galicia, Castilla y León and Valencia. Unfortunately I never got to play in Mallorca on this trip – but it’s got some of my favorite courses. Next time on the road…again.
Posted Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Some of the world’s best salt – huge crystals with a clean, round flavor – is harvested on Mallorca’s coasts. There’s a fun trend of grinding different flavors with the salts – hibiscus and black olives, for example. Mario and Claudia tried them at Felipe Jordi’s apartment in Mallorca with Chef Benet Vicens. The mixtures lend wonderful flavor to meats and fish, pastas and salads. A fun addition to your spice shelf. You can buy them here: http://www.tienda.com/food/products/sp-14.html.
Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Recipe of the Week: MALLORCAN COAST MIXED GRILL
Mario and Gwyneth grilled seafood with a local chef at a stunning coastal spot. Simple and unbeatable, this recipe is a lesson in great ingredients.
*1 large Mallorcan lobster (or Caribbean or Maine lobster)
*A few whole mackerel, cleaned and scaled
*1 rouget, cleaned and scaled
*12 large head–on shrimp in the shell
*Extra–virgin olive oil
*Mallorcan or Maldon sea salt
To kill the lobster, hold it firmly on a cutting board with its head toward you, plunge a sharp heavy knife into the center of the head, and quickly bring the knife down to the board, splitting the front of the lobster in half; turn it around and cut it completely in half. Rub the lobster, fish, and shrimp with olive oil and season with salt (including the cavities of the fish). Put over a hot grill fire (start the lobster shell side down) and cook the shrimp for about 2 minutes, the lobster and rouget for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the flesh is starting to become opaque; don’t give in to the temptation to flip too soon. Use a spatula to gently turn the shrimp, and then the lobster and fish, and cook for a few more minutes more, until just cooked through. Transfer to a platter, sprinkle with salt and olive oil, and dig in.
Posted Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Something Special About This Week’s Episode
In this week’s episode, Mario and Claudia eat Mahón cheese in Menorca while the Fishermen’s Lobster Stew is bubbling away. Mahón is a cows’ milk cheese made in the Balearics, and it’s worth seeking out. It’s strong but not too assertive; firm, but not hard; and it’s delicious on a piece of good bread, alongside a glass of wine, or simply in thick slices straight from the wheel. Apparently in Menorca they usually eat it with a highball of gin and sour lemon juice.
Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2016
What to Eat When Everyone’s Eating Jamón
Spain is known for its jamón, or dry– cured ham – many say it’s the best in the world. My travel companions regularly indulged their porcine affection. Claudia eats jamón every morning at breakfast, Mario and Mark both slipped slices onto their pan con tomate. I got a lot of slack for not succumbing to the jamón temptation, but there are a TON of special, particular Spanish foods that I’m thrilled to fill my plate with. After all, the more jamón they eat, the more anchoas (cured anchovies), berberechos (a type of clam), and Manchego (the renowned cheese) for me.
Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Bean, the Mule Without a Name
When we went up in the mountains to make fabada, there was a mule on the property. He was very cute and a bit skittish, and while the beans were cooking, we found out that he didn’t have a name. And he’s forty years old. We figured it was about time he got a name, so we called him Bean, in honor of the fabada.
Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Mario, Mark and I ate Can Pineda in Barcelona, a perfect old–school restaurant. It’s small and warm and when you walk in, you know you’re entering a place with years of experience under its belt. The guys who run the place are easygoing, fun and full of personality. When the waiter realized he forgot to bring us our wine, he rushed to fill our glasses and told us a story about how someone in his hometown started eating without wine and then drowned. He’s superstitious, for sure, but lively and quirky too.
Posted Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Recipe of the Week: BAKED APPLES
Pilar baked apples for Mario and Mark for dessert and they were soft and delicious. She gave them some to try in their raw state and they were incredibly crisp – almost too hard. The apples came, unsurprisingly, from her backyard. Use the crispest apples you can find, Macouns or Crispins would be good options. These are especially good with sour cream, ice cream, or even yogurt.
*6 crisp apples
*2 tablespoons sugar
*A small glass of cider (about 1/2 cup)
Core – but do not peel – the apples and put in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with the sugar and cider. Bake in a 375°F oven for about 1 hour, or until very soft. Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold.
Posted Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Something Special About This Week’s Episode
In this week’s episode, Mario and Mark visit Oviedo, the Asturian city. In Oviedo, you’ll notice a certain fondness for Woody Allen – there’s even a life–sized statue of him in the center of the city. No one could really figure it out at first, but we learned that he was the recipient of the Prince of Asturias Award in 2002. The awards, presided over by Felipe, Prince of Asturias, are an annual group of prizes given for achievement in science, humanities, and public affairs.
Posted Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Pimentón is smoked paprika that can be found in nearly every kitchen in Spain – and should be in yours too. It’s full of smoke and strength, wonderfully powerful, and a little fruity. The color of dark rust, it lends a hint of reddish–orange anywhere it goes. There are three types: picante (hot), dulce (sweet), and agridulce (bittersweet), but even the picante is not that hot. I keep tins of picante and dulce in the house at all times. You can buy it here on latienda.com
Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Find the Frog
In the classrooms of Salamanca’s famous university, Columbus gave lectures about his explorations, Cortés studied geography, and Cervantes took courses in the humanities. Mark and I just came to look at the frog. The outside of one of the school’s main buildings is ornately decorated, and legend has it that the student who was able to spot the image of a frog without assistance did not have to take final examinations. Needless to say, it’s now become a game among tourists. You’ll find the frog…as if I’d give that kind of information away!
Posted Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Mark in Andalucia
I’d been to Andalucia before, but not like this. Aside from the amazing company – I’ll never forget the day I spent driving and eating and napping with Gwyneth and Claudia – I saw and learned and enjoyed so much in such a short period of time, it was really incredible. The highlights, oddly enough were not the Alhambra (which was breath–taking, but I prefer smaller things), but a home–grown mango from the Granadian coast, which has a near–tropical microclimate; an all–fish meal on a breezy, cloudy seashore as early winter was making its presence felt; the torjitas, local churros that were the best I’d ever tasted (from a secret recipe I couldn’t pry out of the guy); and Lebanese food in a tiny plaza in Cordoba.
Posted Tuesday, March 15, 2016
RECIPE OF THE WEEK: COCHINILLO ASADO
Mark and Claudia ate this at Mesón de Cándido and it’s pretty much all you need to know when you’re there – maybe a little green salad with raw onion, but otherwise don’t even consult the menu. The skin of the suckling pig is so crisp that it can be famously shattered with a dinner plate.
Serves 6, with leftovers
*A handful of fresh bay leaves
*1 suckling pig (about 12 pounds), cleaned
*1/4 pound high–quality lard, melted
*4 garlic cloves, minced
Put the bay leaves in a large roasting pan and lay the pig on top, belly up. Add about a cup of water to the pan. Cook in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes. Turn the pig over. Prick the skin all over with a sharp paring knife, then brush with the lard and rub with the garlic. Cook for another 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size of the pig, until the skin is very crispy and the meat is tender and succulent; a thermometer inserted into the shoulder should register 145°F. Let rest for 15–20 minutes. Carve and serve, making sure each diner gets some of the crispy skin.
Posted Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Something Special About This Week’s Episode
Be sure to look out for the incredible Segovian aqueduct in this week’s episode. It stands in the center of the city and it is one of the most important and well preserved Roman monuments in Spain. It’s constructed of more than 20,000 granite blocks that were fitted together without any mortar or even clamps. I can’t believe it’s still standing.
Posted Tuesday, March 1, 2016