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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 Peach in the World
26 September 2016

I have always loved peaches, but they haven’t really been one of my favourite fruits while living in Spain. I think because most of the peaches I have tried in supermarkets lacked flavour and aroma. I remember as a child eating peaches that were full of flavour, far more than they do today. That was at least, until I tasted the Calanda Peaches.

There are peaches and then there are peaches. These are something special.

 

 

In order to guarantee their properties, the genuine Calanda peaches are pampered to an extent that seems almost silly. The producers use what is called a thinning technique to make sure the quality is supreme. This means removing 70% of the existing fruits on the tree in order to leave a distance of 20 cm between each fruit. This means the fruits are better nourished. This original cultivation technique offers us a more bulky and fleshy fruit.

To give you an idea, If you had in your hands is a real Calanda peach, its diameter would be a minimum of 73 mm.

These peaches with Calanda Peach Certificate of Origin (D.O.) have achieved a certain level of prestige in the fruit market, primarily because of its excellent flavour and sweetness and also due to their unusually large size.

Each peach carries a genuine black label, which guarantees a minimum sweetness of 12º Brix. This is the minimum quantity for peaches to give off their attractive odour. Something that is missing from almost all supermarket peaches these days.

What’s more the attention to detail is very important. Every peach of the D.O. Calanda is put in a bag one by one in the tree itself during the last 2 months of growth. Thanks to this step the peach ripens inside a protective bag guaranteeing its pureness, as it doesn’t make contact with any kind of phytosanitary product or external agents.

The cultivation area of “Calanda Peach” is mainly located in Lower Aragon region. This D.O. is located in the southeast of the Ebro river valley, between Teruel and Zaragoza provinces and it is made up of 45 towns.  The season for genuine D.O. Calanda peach covers from middle of September to the end of October, depending on the climate. Before this time, you must be wary as it is very unlikely that they will be authentic, always check fro the black sticker. However we are at the end of September,  you are in luck, this is the prime of the season!

 


The tradition of cultivating peaches across the Aragon region goes back hundreds of years. There are documents which reference the production of Calanda Peaches from the Middle Ages and in 1895, the botanist J. Pardo Sastrón gave a detailed description of the production process for this unique fruit. The increase in production didn’t develop until the fifties.

So if you fancy tasting a truly juicy, sweet and aromatic peach, don’t forget the Calanda peach the next time you pass by a fruit market.



Like 2        Published at 15:40   Comments (2)


Cadiz Tuna Tartare
13 September 2016

The other day, while I was reading an article about Cadiz and its red tuna industry, I must admit my mouth started to water thinking of a fantastic red tuna tatare I ate in Valencia. It was absolutely spectacular and not at all “fishy” in flavour. I am not a great fish eater and I am very picky with fish, I don’t like the strong characteristic “fishy” taste that some fish have when you can actually taste the sea in the meat, so it is something that tends to make me choose meat or seafood and stick to a very small selection of mild fish such as cod, tuna or swordfish which I find meatier and also more filling. However I do consider myself gastronomically adventurous and I will try everything several times over, but in different places, just in case I find a recipe that changes my mind on a certain product. And this dish did exactly that. I was never a fan of raw fish before and I am still not, really, every time I go to a Japanese Restaurant I end up ordering Beef Teriyaki, Seafood and maybe some prawn and avocado Maki just for the wasabi, which I just love. But when I tasted this red tuna tartar I was absolutely taken by it and another speciality dish was added to my list of favourites.

I thought I would share this very simple and very elegant recipe with you all, as it is a real stunner of a dish at any dinner party or just as a light lunch. It is so simple to make, so full of flavour and of course, uses olive oil. So, for this recipe as all ingredients are raw make sure you use a good quality extra virgin olive oil, it will make all the difference and one that is not bitter, such as an Arbequina or a Serrana de Espadán both have a very low pungency. The bitterness will overpower the dressing and the flavour of the avocado and the tuna. So taste the oil before you mix it in.
 

Ingredients (2 servings):
300 g of Red Tuna loin (or sushi-grade tuna)
120g of Avocado
20g of Shallots
20g of Chives
30g of Peeled Tomatoes
10g Sesame Seeds
Lime Zest

(If the tuna is ‘fresh’ from the market it is recommended to freeze it, just in case, for 48 hours to kill any parasites such as Anisakis)

All of these ingredients should be diced and the shallots should be very finely chopped. The chives should be chopped coarsely. Place all the ingredients together in a bowl, finely grate a small amount of lime peel over the ingredients and mix them up. I have never weighed the lime peel so I have no idea how much it is, I just do it by sight as if I was seasoning with salt. So it is just a little amount to give the flavour a little kick! Reserve a little of the sesame seeds and the chives to decorate the dish at the end. (You can mix the diced tuna, sesame seeds, tomato, chives and shallots and then layer the avocado seperately if you prefer for presentation purposes.)
Now we need to make the marinade for we will need the following ingredients:


10ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
20ml Soy Sauce
2ml   Sesame Oil
10ml Jerez ‘Sherry’ Vinegar (If possible from the variety Pedro Ximenez, it is sweeter)
2 Teaspoons Wholegrain Mustard or a 1 teaspoon of Wasabi. (This should be added according to taste preference, whichever you prefer. If you don’t like either, this ingredient can be removed and it will still be fantastic)
Pour all the ingredients into a bowl to make the marinade and whisk it all together.

 


Use a tablespoon to pour some of the marinade over the diced ingredients. Mix the marinade through the ingredients adding little by little until it is all well covered. Taste and season with salt if necessary. Let it stand to marinate for about half an hour and then serve. A great way of serving this dish is as a 'timbale'. If you have a ring mold great but if you don’t you can use a section cut out from a plastic water bottle to serve as a mold, I didn’t and this solution worked just fine!

Take the mold fill it with the marinated mixture and pour a couple of teaspoons of the marinade over the mixture in the mold (if you are layering the avocado place the cubes at the bottom). Carefully remove the mold and sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds and chives over the top and Listo! Ready to eat! If you want slightly more sauce just pour a couple of spoons into the base of the bowl.

I hope you enjoy it, I certainly did!



Like 2        Published at 09:04   Comments (2)


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