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IAN & SPAIN

WELCOME TO MY BLOG. I WILL BE WRITING ABOUT SPANISH FOOD AND DRINK AND IN PARTICULAR MY OBSESSION FOR OLIVE OIL, ONE OF SPAIN'S MAJOR ASSETS AND GREATLY MISUNDERSTOOD BY THE MAJORITY OF CONSUMERS WORLDWIDE. I WILL ENDEAVOR TO PROVIDE YOU WITH ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO ENJOY THE WORLD OF OLIVE OIL WITHOUT BEING TAKEN FOR A RIDE! HOPE YOU ENJOY IT AND PLEASE LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS!

The best way to eat bread
20 November 2015

 

For those of you who have been to Spain you've probably seen or tried this dish but for those of you who haven't its your lucky day, because tasty food doen't get any easier. Well, more than a dish it is a fantastic “breakfast” alternative or a starter, side dish for a meal or even  a main meal which can be accompanied with cheeses and salads.

 

Like all great dishes, simplicity rules and here is no exception. “Pan Catalana” or “pa amb tomàquet” as they would say in Catalan is pretty much part of the Catalan’s staple diet. 

 

This recipe is considered one of the best examples that define the Mediterranean diet and has spread all over Spain as a traditional recipe. 

 

 

The only ingredients you need are thick sliced country bread, a clove of garlic, “GOOD” Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I personally prefer to use a very “green” fruity olive oil with fresh grass notes, such as that from the Hojiblanca variety or a blended Picual, “Venta del Varon” is ideal for this, as this dish relies on so few ingredients I like to be able to noticeably savor all of them in every bite! However any good extra virgin will do. You will also need a little salt and Iberian bellota ham (Spanish cured acorn ham). 

 

It is a favourite with all my family and all the visitors that come to stay. Funnily enough, many end up eating so much of it before the main meal that they don’t make it to half way through the main course let alone to the dessert! It is rather moreish, so be careful!

 

Naturally as with all recipes that spread, every area of Spain prepares it in a slightly different way. For example in Majorca, Catalan Bread or “Tomato Bread” is prepared with tomatoes called Tomatiga de Ramillet, which is a specific variety of tomato on the vine, which is smaller and with a little bit more of and intense and bitter taste than normal tomatoes, it is also a tomato that has a longer maturing period, meaning a longer shelf life of up to several months. The important thing here is that the tomato should be very ripe, making it easier to rub the pulp onto the bread. The original base used to be and still is made (in Catalunya) with toasted slices of “pa de pages” ('peasants' bread'), a typical round piece of wheat bread of a fair size (from ½ kg to 5 kg, from some 20 cm to 50 cm in diameter) Nowadays many make a pre-mixture of grated tomato, olive oil and salt and then just spread it on to the toasted garlic bread and top it with a couple of slices of Iberian Bellota Ham, which is much easier if you are serving a large table and especially if you like a lot of tomato on your bread.

 

However if the mixture is not pre-made, there is said to be an “ideal order” in which the ingredients are integrated to yield the best flavour. First, the garlic is rubbed on the bread. Then the same is done with the tomato. Next comes the salt, and lastly the olive oil. The traditional way to get all the flavours mixed well without having to pre-make a mixture is to cut off the heel of the loaf and use it to gently but firmly press all of the ingredients together.

 

 

 

 

 

So, how do I make it? I personally like a fair amount of tomato on my bread so I tend to grate a couple of mature ripe tomatoes into bowl (cut the tomatoes along their horizontal axis, not vertically), I sometime use plum tomatoes which work very well indeed. I thickly slice a country loaf of bread, one with a crunchy crust, about a thickly as the toaster will allow me to and toast them. I then grab a clove of garlic and cut the top off it and then with out taking the skin off, rub the garlic over the toasted bread. I then change the “ideal order” and pour the extra virgin olive oil on next, as I find it tends to slide off the tomato if you put it on last, then I add a little salt, as it is easier to control how much salt you put on, with out the tomato, then I spoon on the grated tomato pulp and spread it evenly over the bread. Finally I top it with a couple of thin slices of Iberian Bellota Ham and that’s it. Done. Ready to eat and enjoy, with a glass of Ribera del Duero red wine or even a coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice at breakfast. Fantastic!

 

 

 

 



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