Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Spanish Food

It should come as no surprise that while we were in Spain, we ate food. Having small children means we had to compromise on what we were eating. Typically we ate dinner at our hotel/apartment, so we could eat earlier and eat food the kids are familiar with. But we ate out for lunch most of the time and the kids (especially J) were good at trying new things.

When we stopped for a snack in Marbella, I had the traditional breakfast for the region. Toast is served with olive oil and a tomato sauce that is not much more than tomatoes run through a blender. The tomatoes came in a fancy pouring jar and the whole thing was a refreshing snack. Spaniards would typically have coffee con leche with this dish, but not being a coffee drinker I opted for tea.

Bread, olive oil, tomato puree

J had a delicious carrot cake, though he was initially put off by the sauce they had drizzled on it. He had a taste and really loved it. It was a caramel sauce. Usually he's not a big fan of sweets but he loved this.

In Malaga, for our tapas lunch we tried to order the chicken nuggets for the kids, but they were out. We also tried to order a fish dish that was not available. We settled for the Serrano ham, a salt-cured meat that dries in the crisp mountain air. J tried some and loved it in spite of his initial hesitancy. We also ordered a pizza, which was surprisingly unpopular with the children. They gobbled up the cheese plate we ordered (Manchego cheese made from ewe's milk), along with our side of bread.

On our trip to Ronda, we had tapas at one of the local restaurants, Veronica's. Perusing the menu, I spotted something called "dogfish." Having never seen any catfish in England or Europe, I was curious to try this canine icthus. My wife was hesitant. We also ordered Serrano ham. J wanted a Spanish omelet, which is basically eggs and potatoes. A plate of Manchego cheese finished our order. We were a little intimidated by the prices but had the wonderful surprise of full plates coming to our table!

Tapas from Ronda

The other great surprise was the dogfish. It came as deep-fried nuggets. They were quite flavorful and had a wonderful lemony taste. My wife's fears were eased. We all enjoyed our food quite a bit, being the best meal out we had up to that point.

The next day we stopped for a snack in Antequera, where L had the thickest hot chocolate ever and we had the greasiest churros ever. Churros are a light dough deep fried in some sort of curved shape. Ours came like that fish symbol for Jesus. Perhaps they were going for one of those "awareness" ribbons that people wear on their lapels (cholesterol awareness?). The churros were yummy but we could feel our cholesterol skyrocketing. As for L's hot chocolate, chunks of chocolate were floating in it. My wife poured the leftover milk from our tea into L's beverage, and it barely made a dent in the thickness!

J was afraid to try the ominously lit snack

L couldn't wait to try them!

In Granada, we had a snack at one of the local cafes. The locals were ordering bread with olive oil and/or tomatoes, we ordered pastries.

Spanish pastries

My pastry looks kind of meaty, but it is actually coated in strawberry paste and then a thin layer of white icing to get that pink, porkish hue. J and Mommy shared a chocolate-covered cookies (that's already cut up into pieces). L saw a jar of what seemed like M&Ms. When we asked the guy at the service bar for some, he gave us a strange look and a small scoop. L loved them. And, we weren't charged.

Later, we had a fabulous lunch at a restaurant called Martin's near our apartment. We ordered tapas again. L and J asked for salad but we parents were not careful about the salad we ordered. We wound up with a plate of tomato slices and mozzarella chunks drizzled with balsamic vinegar. It was very tasty but the kids only wanted the cheese. We also ordered a plate of cheese and calamari. For some unexplained reason, the waitress (or Waitrose as J referred to her) brought us a small plate of tiny mussels and another bowl of eggplant, tomatoes and onions, which were all very yummy but soon became too much food. We couldn't finish the calamari, which was also quite good. The calamari plate decoration was some fancy green leaves, which satisfied L's salad craving in a way the tomato dish did not. So it worked out. At the end of the meal, J had us all say it was "delicioso," which he learned from Dora the Explorer.

From the store, we bought a box of Spanish cookies, a mix of mantecados and polvorones. The cookies are a bit powdery but not dry. Cinnamon is the standard flavoring, unless the cookie (each was individually wrapped) had some special flavoring, like cacao (chocolate) or coco (coconut) or limon (lemon). We loved all the cookies.

By the time I took the picture, only the box was left

At the Alhambra, one of our courses at lunch was a yummy soup made with egg, Serrano ham, bread, and broth. It was delicious and delightful to the eye as well.

Granada-style soup

On our last day in Spain, we finally had paella. This dish is a spicy rice dish, usually focusing on either seafood, meat (carne!!) or vegetarian option. The cafe had one waitress/cook/barista/cashier, so I think the dish was more pre-fabricated than most paellas you can find. We liked it but it didn't knock us out.

We had mixta (seafood, carne, and veggies!)

The food in Spain was really good though we haven't fallen in love with any dishes enough to try to recreate them at home. We're looking forward to our next trip to Paris and Germany, which will begin soon!

1 comment:

  1. Delicious!
    Paella is one my favorite dish. Recipe you have shared is nice. Thanks!
    Spanish Food