Mallorcan Salts

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.

–GWYNETH

Posted Tuesday, March 18, 2014

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.

Serves 4
*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, March 11, 2014

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, March 4, 2014

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.

–GWYNETH

Posted Tuesday, February 25, 2014

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.

–MARIO

Posted Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Can Pineda

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.

–CLAUDIA

Posted Tuesday, February 11, 2014

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.

Serves 6
*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, February 4, 2014

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, January 28, 2014

Pimentón

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

–MARIO

Posted Tuesday, January 21, 2014

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!

–CLAUDIA

Posted Tuesday, January 14, 2014

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.

–MARK

Posted Tuesday, January 7, 2014

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, December 31, 2013

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.

– MARK

Posted Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Spanish Wine 101

Spanish wine is labeled according to the amount of aging the wine has received. A bottle labeled vino joven (“young wine”) or sin crianza (“without aging”) will have had little–to–no wood aging. These wines are often intended for consumption within a year of release. The three most common aging designations on Spanish wine labels are Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva.

* Crianza red wines are aged for two years, with at least six months of aging in oak casks.

* Crianza whites and rosé must be aged for at least one year with at least six months spent in oak.

* Reserva red wines are aged for at least three years with at least one year of aging in oak casks.

* Reserva whites and rosé must be aged for at least 2 years with at least six months in oak.

* Gran Reserva designation is typically reserved for the highest-quality vintages. Reds require at least five years of aging, 18 months of which must be in oak. Whites and rosé must be aged for at least four years with at least six months in oak casks.

The vintage year or cosecha on any bottle of Spanish wine indicates that at least of 85% of the grapes used in the wine come from that specific year’s harvest.

Posted Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tejeringos

In addition to Spanish and English, I speak a few other languages, Swedish among them. There’s a great Swedish word, lagom, which has no exact translation in English. Basically, though, it indicates sufficiency, the satisfaction of something being just right. Well, terjeringos, a sort of churro, are totally lagom. They are, in fact, the royalty of the churro world – not too salty or sweet or heavy. Just perfect. Just lagom. We had them in Andaluciacute; a and I’m still thinking about them.

–CLAUDIA

Posted Tuesday, December 10, 2013