Archive | Food and Wine

Paella Valenciana

Paella-ValencianaMy podcast on paella is now up! Listen to it here and sign up for the free recipe below. Adapted from the winning recipe of one of Spain’s greatest paella chefs, two-time Word Champion Julián Garcia. Trust me, you can taste the difference…

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Mystery Thing (Solved–see Update)

What the heck?

Best when sliced thin.

Do you know what these are? I mean, aside from delicious? Be the first to name this mystery food and win a free 8×12 print of your choosing. The answer must be the full name in Spanish or English (or latin, if you want to show off). Leave your guess in the comments section below. Good luck! Photos ©Mike Randolph

UPDATE  We have a winner, EnriqueB, author of the Spanish food blog www.dorarnosella.com. They are criadillas de tierra. That is how they are known in Extremadura, where they are most common in Spain, but they are also known as turmas in Murcia and papas crías or criadas in the Canary Islands. In English they are most commonly called desert truffles. They are related to the white truffle, though I bought mine for 12 Euros a kilo whereas white truffles are a tad more expensive–3,000 Euros a kilo. They grow in arid, sandy soils in Spain as well as parts of North Africa and the Middle East. Fungi expert Antonio Rodríguez has an excellent post on them here.

While not nearly as aromatic as white or even black truffles, they do have a wonderful mushroomy, earthy, hard-to-define taste. Some people slice them thin and use them in place of potatoes in a tortilla. But most people prefer them with scrambled eggs. They are moist, but dense, and fried in olive oil they are quite lovely. March and April is the season for fresh desert truffles, though they are also sold in jars, minus their soil-covered skin. As Julvic noted in the comments, they don’t look very appetizing. Last fun fact: Criadillas means calf’s testicles, so the rough translation for desert truffle in Spanish is calf’s testicles of the earth.

Thanks to all who participated.

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The King of León

Every Wednesday and Saturday in the city of León, vendors set up stalls in the Plaza Mayor to sell meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables and even socks and underwear. In the past, prices weren’t always fixed and haggling was the norm. Today however, you might have a harder time shaving off a few euros from your bill, but many abuelos still insist on negotiating the price of their cheese.

León’s most famous delicacy is  Continue Reading →

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Back to School

Vacation is over. Of course, like many Spaniards, I took the entire month of August off. I added Labour Day, because in Canada that’s sacred and well, why not. But time to get back to writing posts. (I took time off from writing but not from taking pictures or doing things that will hopefully provide some entertainment to my faithful followers. (Okay, there were a few days there that I really did take off but who’s counting?))

Here’s an image from one of my recent culinary adventures, a tapas lunch at Dani Garcia’s Manzanilla bar in Malaga. Garcia’s restaurant Calima holds two Michelin stars and Manzanilla borrows some of his famous dishes. I chose to eat over the glass tapas counter, which I thought was a good idea at the time but really it just made me hungrier…and cost me more money in the end because of it.

This is a Hot Dog Malaga style. Sausage made of pringá (pork, chorizo, pork fat) with caramelized tomatos and a mayonaise made with macadamia nuts. This, for less than five Euros.

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Madrid para Comérselo

My friend Iñigo has no sense of direction. I realized that after he got lost even though he had a windshield-mounted GPS that uttered clear directions in a soothing female voice. Janet or Sara or Melinda, whatever her name was, knew where she was going. Iñigo, however, had no idea. On our first wrong turn, Iñigo turned to me and said with a smile, “I’m the worst with directions.”

I thought the fact he admitted that, and still had the confidence to ignore the GPS woman’s instructions, was really quite admirable.

I wasn’t any help either because I didn’t even know what we were looking for. I thought we were going to visit a chicken farm west of Madrid near El Escorial. I got up early on a Saturday and took the Metro over the Iñigo’s place, wondering whether I had made a wise choice of footwear. (I was thinking, rubber boots would have been ideal.) Turns out we were going to a tomato farm on the road to Valencia. Okay then.

I must have thought chickens because I knew Iñigo’s friend Higinio was coming. Continue Reading →

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