The gastronomic delights of Spain – part 1

13 Aug

I love Spanish food and my own cooking often has a Spanish flavour to it, even if not always completely authentic. On holiday in Devon a few years ago, we walked into a small, friendly bookshop and ended up buying ‘Rick Stein’s Spain.’ There is just something about the summertime and the holiday mood which makes me long for seafood, gazpacho, Serrano ham and tapas.

There is something curious about eating out on holiday, and this applies to Spain, France and Italy. I single out these countries as they are the ones I have visited most in recent years. The affliction seems to be the worst in France though. Wonderful markets laden with fruit, vegetables and salads and yet in restaurants meat and fish are often served with chips or rather dull salad. It is not always even possible to order vegetables separately. I think what I like the best is the peasant-style food – the bean stews with hearty sausages and big hunks of lamb or pork; squid cooked whole on the griddle, not cut into rings and fried in breadcrumbs.

Happy to say that this year we really seem to have succeeded in finding better food in restaurants. I say this without hesitation, despite my last post on a terrible tapas bar in Salamanca! Eating out is so cheap in Spain that it is also possible to order a vegetable main dish as well as a meat or fish main dish and ask for them to be brought at the same time. At this point I must mention the wonderful ‘El Rinconcillo’ in Seville. We ate lunch there before visiting the Alcazar. Jess is fairly cautious and conservative over her choice of food, so I cannot remember what she had, but Paul and I shared two dishes: Chick peas cooked with spinach, and Cod cooked with tomatoes and spices. They were both beautifully prepared and gave me everything that I had been hoping for and expecting from an authentic Spanish meal.

Other recommended restaurants are: ‘La Carbona Bodega’ in Jerez, and on that day despite it being lunch-time I did sample a glass of fino, as it seemed apt whilst visiting that particular town! I had a beautiful dish of pork there, but it did not come with any potatoes or vegetables. The other really good meal we had was in Lanjaron, at the ‘Castillo Acadima.’ This is a lively spa town close to Orgiva, and it was recommended by our villa owners. The picture on this posting is of my suckling pig cooked with mashed squash, roast asparagus and chips which were more or less crisps. That truly was the first dish which had the perfect matching of meat and vegetables. Paul also had a pork dish at this restaurant. Jess enjoyed her spaghetti bolognaise. Paul and I also both had gazpacho to start with.

In Granada one evening we ate in the ‘Little Morocco’ area and Paul and I both enjoyed a lamb tagine. I did think that could have been served with couscous.

On average dinners for three including drinks have cost us around 60 euros. Usually this is for two courses for Paul and me, and one course for Jess, plus one or two glasses of wine for me and soft drinks all round.At the current exchange rate this is about £48, which we think is remarkably cheap when you are used to UK prices!



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