Friday, October 29, 2010
Ferrierola is a small village in the Alpuharra mountains of Andalucia. A tiny community of 26 people, 1 large and tranquile German Shepard, 3 natural water sources-Fuentes, 1 cafe, 1 bar (which is the same place actually), at least a dozen stray cats, and a beautiful guesthouse by the name of Casa Ana.
8 guests came for a week of Spnaish cooking, and a glimpse into the life of a peaceful mountain village.
Many beautiful creations were made at Casa Ana- Cheastnut soup with chestnuts harvested from the trails around the village. Almond cake with figs poached in cava. Seafood Paella cooked outside on a wood fire. Lamb shoulder stuffed with saffron rice and pistachios. Ajo Blanco- cold almond soup. Roasted rabbit with quince. And a chorizo with fried bread tapa, that when enjoyed with a mountain landscape can all of a sudden make all the problems in life just slip away, right down with a glass of crisp Albariño.
Garlic Pan-Fried Bread and Chorizo
7 oz soft chorizo sausage, outer casing removed
4 slices country bread, cut thick
Extra Virgin Olive oil
3 garlic, thinly sliced
2T parsley, chopped
paprika to garnish
Cut the chorizo sausage into 1/2” thick slices. Cut the bread, with its crusts
still on, into 1/2” cubes. Add enough olive oil to a large, heavy bottom skillet
so that it generously covers the bottom. Heat the oil, add the garlic, cook
30 seconds or until lightly browned. Add bread cubes and pan fry, stirring
all the time, until golden brown and crisp. Add chorizo and pan fry 1-2
minutes, or until hot. Use a slotted spoon, remove bread cubes and chorizo
and drain on paper towels. Turn into serving bowl, add chopped parsley
and stir. Garnish the dish with a sprinkle of paprika and serve warm.
Accompany with toothpicks so that a piece of sausage and a cube of bread
can be speared together for eating.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
The central mercado in Malaga is where Kim and I shopped for 2 days in preparation for this culinary adventure in the Alpujarra mountains of Andalucia. Fish so fresh the rigor mortis still present. Incredibley vibrant manderine oranges with shiny, green leaves that call you forth and demand attention. Plump green pears with red wax-tipped stems. Aisles of ornamental jamon legs. Bright orange wild mushrooms..... Hard to find anything wrong with life when surrounded by this desirable botany. Oh, and the pre-market churros y chocolate that opened their arms to me in the early morning light. You're just too damn hard to resist, España.
Shockingly, I am still procrastinating on that detox...
Shockingly, I am still procrastinating on that detox...
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Ok… and aioli.
Or “alli oli” as they say here in Mallorca. I just really couldn’t bring myself to put the word up there in the title. I just finished a month in spreadable-garlicky-bliss, and can successfully say that I have personally consumed enough aioli to feed a small country. So much so, that by the last week I was outwardly stating before each meal, that I would not be eating anymore aioli. Then promptly being the first to raise a hand at the passing waiter and yell- “mas alli oli por favor!” And successfully dragging the last piece of toasted Mallorcan brown bread across the cleaned clay bowl. I’m about ready to legally change my middle name, or at least name my first born after this Godsend of a foodie wonder. I don’t care how many times, or in how many different countries and cities I’ve had it in- the beautiful Balearic Island of Mallorca makes the best damn aioli on the planet. Hands down.
The best thing to cut through all that pleasurable fatty goodness is… roasted lamb- of course. Well, and suckling pig (lechona), but lets just focus on the lamb for now, shall we? Es Verger is a family run restaurant just up the mountain from the city of Alaro. A woman in her 70’s pushing 5’2” stands in front of a large wood burning oven, and pushes and pulls large oval pans filled with lamb shoulders and succulent juices. All with her long, hooked stick, and a pretty face beet-red from standing by the fire for the last 7 hours. She was breathtaking, in my opinion.
3 hours, 4 bowls of aioli, 4 lamb shoulders, and a bottle of house vino tinto (to also assist in cutting through the excessive fat consumption,) it’s no wonder why this country has a mandatory nap mid day. We barbarically piled our completely cleaned, lamb shoulder bones atop one another, as if a prized carnivorous trophy. And ordered cortados (espresso cut with milk) as we laughed out loud, drunk with gluttony. It was raining as we walked past a pack of sheep down to our car, the restaurant still buzzing behind us with Mallorca’s Sunday best. One of my favorite days to date.
It’s the figs on this Island that really get my juices bubbling. As a Californian, I do love my mission figs, and I peer out my Santa Barbara window everyday in August to check in with that there tree. But in September here in Mallorca, my favorite type of fig is unveiled. A couple named Pepe and Angela whom own a sweet little shop in the Santa Catalina Market, take pride in their Higos De Mallorca con Anise. Dried figs, pressed into beautiful fat disks, massaged by Angelas hands with Anise liqueur, wild fennel, and honey from Pepe’s bees. I got Kim Schiffer and Peggy Markel to join me my last week in Mallorca, and I think enough dried figs were purchased to put Pepe and Angela’s first child through college. Excessive weight fare on AirEuropa- 60 Euro.
With figs in tow, a ceremony to initiate aioli into it’s own food group-done, and a small village town of Ferreirola in the Alpujarra mountains on the horizon. Falling deeper and deeper in love with España.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Recently introduced to a beautiful place by the name of Sevilla.
A city of 1 euro tapas in perfectly crowded and smoky bars. A city of cobblestone streets too small for cars. A city of divine passion, exuding a feeling in motion known as Flamenco. A city spoken of as 'The Gypsy City'. A city that took my hand as I entered it's walls.... no, actually it cradled me in it's Spanish nook for the entirety of my stay. I have never experienced anything as powerful as this city before. I can genuinely say that everything I wanted from this city, I got. And I got it on a platter of gold- Sultry, Spanish, Seville gold actually. This was the first time in all my travels that I felt like the city itself was actually taking care of me. A truly beautiful experience.
A powerful, traveling, yoga teaching, gypsy, wonder woman friend of mine was also in Spain working on a retreat center. She and I met up, rented a Smartcar from Malaga (which by the way, would move more efficiently if you just punched out the floor and ran Flintstone-style in that thing!) and 2 1/2 hours later and we were in Sevilla. We enjoyed heart-shaped sticky, sweet Palmeras with our cortados at La Campana. Baños de Arabes- Turkish baths tucked under ground in a maze of candlelight and Moroccan lanterns. Spent time wandering through Triana- the Gypsy city within the city. Was encouraged by cosmic Sevilla forces to buy a pair of 3" red high heels, and easily broke them in over the course of a 10 hour night galavanting and dancing through the streets of lopsided cobblestones. And was completely consumed by the intoxicating trance of a Flamenco experience, which not only brought me to an unexpected emotional state, but also had me walking away from that building with numb hands and feet as I still tingled with amazement.
The amazing thing about Sevilla, was how feminine it made me feel. I had superwoman powers there, and although I am obviously not a Spanish woman myself (which breaks my heart everyday...) the city of Sevilla made me feel sexy and goddess-empowered. It was as if women ruled the show there, like this city was made special for them. My friend and I sat at cafe tables and tapas bars, and almost every single time had an incredible conversation and connection with women, local and foreign. One pair of ladies from Ireland talked with us for an hour, and then handed us a pair of U2 tickets for that evening to a sold out show. Just because they felt connected to us and our journey. That stuff doesn't just happen- Super Powers, i tell you!
I started to notice in particular, the vast amount of Virgin Mary dedication in the city. Images of the Madonna were ardorned all over the walls of bars and cafes. Mary was dressed in a velvet cloak, or a soft blue head dress and placed behind the altar of churches, where the crucifix would be. I was raised catholic and the sight of Mary has always been a sense of peace and comfort to me. Her story is that of a strong woman with a beautiful soft face, and I loved seeing her there, like the governess of beauty and feminine power looking over this incredible Spanish city.
Ave Maria.... Sevilla Sevilla.