Canned tuna isn’t held with particularly high esteem. It’s usually hidden under gobs of mayonnaise and sandwiched on bad white bread. Spanish canned tuna is a totally different story. It’s harvested in northern Spain, cooked in seawater, and packed in good quality olive oil. It’s not at all dry – in fact, its texture is almost silky. Best left in its olive oil with maybe just a bit of good salt and freshly ground pepper. Perhaps a piece of toast or some good sliced tomatoes, but a fork alone is just fine.
Posted Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Dali and Rafa’s
Dali was not a particular favorite of mine, so I took incredible delight in discovering works by him that I’d never seen in the amazing Teatre–Museu Dalí in Figueres, near Girona on the Costa Brava. (The Costa Brava itself is among my favorite parts of Spain – really a must.) I don’t remember a more joyful part of the whole trip than the morning we spent here. Check out Abe Lincoln if you get to this place.
We then hit Roses, which is where El Bulli is. Ferran we’ll cover elsewhere, but what was interesting in this trip is that we ate at Rafa’s, what he’s called his favorite restaurant in town and “the best place in the world to eat fish.”
Pretty great. A place with five tables and two cooks, and Claudia and I ate until we nearly burst. My favorite: the shrimp on a bed of salt.
Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Patatas bravas, fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce and aioli, are heaven. They’re one of my favorite tapas and the ones at Inopia were some of the best I ever had.
Posted Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Something Special About This Week’s Episode
Gwyneth, Mario and Michael Stipe enjoy an out–of–this–world meal of tapas at Inopia in Barcelona. Watching the episode, you might not be able to grasp the amount of tapas they ate: a long ceramic dish of olives–delicious little malagueñas–is brought out first. Then a boda (literally a wedding) of anchovies, both salt–cured and vinegar–cured. Pan con tomate, of course. Then icy–cold bacalao on crunchy bread (pan de aire, which translates as “bread of air”) with olive paste. Next, perfect wedges of green but sweet tomato with tuna belly and scallions. And then jamón, seared tuna, fried gambas (shrimp), tiny fried mullets (“this is my favorite, because I have to work,” says Michael), and anchovies infused with lemon, dredged in flour, and fried. Gwyneth says she’s full and I tell her she’s only started to see the edge of full. We’re not done yet, not even close. Out come baby cuttlefish cooked a la plancha; croquettas de jamón made with Ibérico ham; eggplant with cane sugar; patatas bravas; spiced lamb brochettes; torta Cañarejal cheese; pineapple with lime zest and molasses; strawberries with black pepper and sherry vinegar caramel; finally, small glasses of homemade red peach wine. Michael perfectly renames it: “I’m going to call this place Utopia.”
Posted Tuesday, January 5, 2016
RECIPE OF THE WEEK: GAMBAS A LA PLANCHA
Mark and Claudia loved these gambas (shrimp). Rafa explains that he cooks the gambas on a bed of salt because it preserves their moisture and keeps them juicy. Whatever the reason, his were some of the best. Claudia eats only the shrimp bodies, and Mark loves the heads – like Jack Sprat and his wife, they make a good team.
Serves 2 to 3 * Coarse sea or kosher salt * 1 pound large head–on shrimp in the shell
Heat a plancha or large cast–iron skillet over a hot grill fire or medium–high heat until hot. Spread a 1/4 inch–thick layer of salt on the plancha (or in the skillet). Lay the shrimp on the salt and cook until opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve with plenty of napkins.
Come join us Wednesday, October 29th from 6–8pm where Mario will be signing copies of the book, which was published by the Ecco imprint of HarperCollins. Wine will be provided by Frexienet and Barneys in–house restaurant, Fred’s, will be serving Spain–inspired Mario concocted appetizers from the book.
See you uptown!
Posted Tuesday, December 22, 2015
BLOG: Mark on Juan-Marie Arzak
For some reason, Juan–Marie Arzak (whom I know loves me like a brother), decided to start calling me ‘Grumpy’ (or, as he pronounced it, ‘grahmpy’) when we visited him this time. (I suspect he was prompted by some of the grumpy crew members.) In any case, it was – as usual – an amazing visit to his restaurant, incorporating a fantastic lesson in making pil–pil, one of the truly miraculous dishes of Basque cuisine, a fun trip to the port, a sampling of a few of the local pinxos bars, and of course a quiet meal at Juan-Marie’s restaurant at the end of the day.
When I got home, I made this sort of rough shrimp equivalent of pil–pil, with similar flavors but fewer challenges.
Roasted Shrimp with Herb Sauce Makes 4 servings Time: 30 minutes
2 cloves garlic, peeled 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil 6 scallions, trimmed and roughly chopped 1 cup parsley (thin stems are okay; discard thick ones) Salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 pounds shrimp, in the 20 to 30 per pound range, peeled 1/3 cup shrimp, fish, or chicken stock, white wine, or water
1. Preheat the oven to 500dgF. Combine the garlic and oil in the container of a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add the scallions and parsley and pulse until the mixture is minced. Toss with the shrimp, salt, pepper, and chilis.
2. Put the shrimp in a roasting pan that will accommodate them comfortably. Add the liquid and put the pan in the oven. Roast, stirring once, until the mixture is bubbly and hot, and the shrimp all pink, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
Posted Tuesday, December 15, 2015
At the Marqués de Riscal Hotel & Vineyard, Gwyneth and I had a funny breakfast together. She had yogurt with honey on the side, fruit, and coffee with soymilk. I, on the other hand, had torta del Cesar cheese, tongue terrine, eggs, sausage, thickly sliced rye bread with olive oil and crushed tomatoes, melon, and espresso with sugar.
Posted Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Boquerones are the great Spanish white anchovies pickled in vinegar and stored in olive oil. Since they’re not preserved in salt, like most anchovies, they don’t have the intense saltiness usually associated with anchovies. Instead, they’re mild and tender. Great on pan con tomate or just a toothpick!
Posted Tuesday, December 1, 2015
RECIPE OF THE WEEK: MUSHROOMS WITH EGG YOLK
Mark and Claudia ate these in a pintxo bar in San Sebastián with Juan Mari Arzak. This is one of the easiest ways to prepare mushrooms, but it is also decadent and impressive. The Basque Country is known for its mushrooms, and you find this dish in pintxo bars all around the region.
Serves 4 * 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra–virgin olive oil * 1 pound porcini or mixed wild mushrooms, cut into 1/8 inch–thick slices * 1 garlic clove, minced * 4 large eggs * 2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley * Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a large skillet over medium–high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are nicely browned and softened. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
Fry the eggs sunny–side up in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny. Transfer to a cutting board and cut away the whites from the yolks (discard the whites). Spoon the mushrooms onto four plates and sprinkle with the parsley, salt, and pepper. Make a little space in the center of each portion of mushrooms, and nestle the yolks in the mushrooms. As you eat, mix the yolk with the hot mushrooms to create a rich, silky sauce.
Posted Tuesday, November 24, 2015
What’s in My Suitcase: The Joy of a Uniform
It’s very easy to pack when you wear the same thing everyday. Throw a few pairs of Crocs in the bottom of your bag, some funky colored socks and shorts, a stack of crisp button-down shirts, a vest or two, and you’re good to go!”
Posted Tuesday, November 17, 2015
BLOG: Bitty in Basque Country
“I’d been in Bilbao before, and wasn’t impressed. Just goes to show what an idiot I can be: This trip was amazing. It wasn’t just that Mario and I got to eat tapas at like four different places in an hour; it was that they were all in the same plaza, and they were all good. (I went back con mi amor the next night.)
Hanging out with Gehry wasn’t bad, either, though I didn’t get to see the museum. I did, however, get to taste grilled caviar in the Basque countryside. Not bad.”
Posted Tuesday, November 10, 2015
There are large billboards all over Spain shaped like bulls and painted black – huge silhouettes looming over the highways. It’s fun to count how many you pass on the long drives. We nicknamed them ‘bullboards.’ –CLAUDIA
Posted Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Frank Gehry and Mark Bittman on Matazh Brei
Frank Gehry and Mark Bittman chat about Matzah Brei at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain
Posted Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Episode 104: Landmarks, Legends and the Lap of Luxury
Gwyneth and Mario meet up with architectural legend Frank Gehry for a tour of the Bilbao Guggenheim. Meanwhile, Mark and Claudia head into the woods where they discover the ultimate grilling restaurant. The foursome reunite at the Gehry-designed Marqués de Riscal Hotel and Vineyard in Rioja wine country. Gwyneth and Claudia opt for oppulent spa treatments while Mario and Mark sneak back into Bilbao to spend a boys’ night out eating and drinking.