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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 Biggest Covered Market in Europe
28 April 2017

Markets are no longer what they were. Following in the wake of the culinary revolution forged in restaurants, they too have chosen to reinvent themselves. Madrid and Barcelona have some of the most significant examples of this new trend, although other cities, such as Valencia and Bilbao, are not far behind. We're no longer talking about a place to sell food, but of spaces for gastronomic experiences. Without renouncing their vocation as traditional markets, they now also include restaurants, book stores and even exhibition spaces.

 

 

Ribera Market, located beside the river estuary in Bilbao, is a reference in terms of shopping for the whole of Biscay. One of its many merits is to have been recognized in 1990 as the most complete municipal food market by the Guinness Book of Records, at that time being the largest in terms of traders and stalls and the biggest covered market as regards space in the whole of Europe, with a surface area of 10,000 square metres. Refurbishment work began en mid-2009 aimed at renewing its structure, stalls and services in order to remain a reference for shoppers in the 21st century. Not in vain, life and business have never stopped in this space where more than 60 merchants manage to provide customers with the finest produce at the best price: meat, fruit, shellfish, cheeses, cooked meats, frozen food, mushrooms and fungi...

 

 

A complex of stands and the arcades of the lower levels of the buildings served as a market in the Ribera of Bilbao for centuries, when this area was an urban centre, with City Hall and the Consulate, right in front of San Antón. A metal market pavilion was built at the end of the 19th Century. It was an example of what was called ‘cast-iron architecture’, in use up through the mid 1920s.

After several proposals, in which even covering the Estuary was proposed, an ambitious project was developed to substitute the old market, then quite rundown. The project by Pedro Ispizua, Municipal Technician, was enlarged and improved from the time of its drawing in 1927 up to its construction in 1930. Issues such as monumentality derived from its representational character are combined with functional aspects and hygienic concerns. Ispizua takes on a nearly rationalist language in this project, in accordance with the functional needs of the buildings and construction issues. His plans include similarities with central-European architecture, more or less moving away from earlier somewhat regionalist views.

A voluminous, modern market with clearly monumental and representative ideals was built to replace the old ‘cast-iron’ market from the end of the 19th Century. Concrete replaced cast-iron to form a grand vessel with ample interior space for all of the stands. With its marked personality (volume, form, details…) the building has become an integral part of the image of this historic enclave along the Estuary.



Like 2        Published at 19:42   Comments (3)


Rustic & Delicious : Pisto Manchego and fried egg!
10 April 2017

Having just returned from a visit to La Mancha, I was lucky enough to get a plate full of wonderful homemade “manchego pisto”, so simple yet so tasty. La Mancha is a natural and historical region located on an arid but fertile, elevated plateau (610 m or 2000 ft.) of central Spain, south of Madrid, spanning the elevated plateau of central Spain from the mountains of Toledo to the western spurs of the hills of Cuenca, and bordered to the South by the Sierra Morena and to the North by the Alcarria region. La Mancha includes portions of the modern provinces of Cuenca, Toledo, and Albacete, and most of the Ciudad Real province. 

The name "La Mancha" is probably derived from the Arab word اal-mansha, meaning "the dry land" or "wilderness". The name of the city of Almansa in Albacete also has the same origin. The word Mancha in Spanish literally means spot, stain, or patch, but no apparent link exists between this word and the name of the region.

Similar to the French ratatouille, Pisto Manchego is a mixture of slowly fried regional vegetables. It is ever so easy to make and conserves well in the fridge so there is no problem making a little extra for the coming days. It is great as a main dish served with a couple of fried eggs or as an accompaniment to poultry, meat, sausages or even rice. I like to serve it with fried eggs and with toasted “glass bread” topped with olive oil, basil leaves and mature manchego cheese, just divine. “Glass bread” (Pan de cristal)  is a relatively recent creation as far as I know and is spreading across Spain as a premium bread, but it is available in some supermarkets too, I buy it regularly from Consum supermarket. With its extremely fine crust and almost zero dough density, its appearance and texture is a revelation. What makes this bread different is that it is translucent, almost transparent. The air bubbles in its dough are enormous and they give it a unique lightness and crispyness. Its taste is very gentle and neutral, and it will bring out the flavours in any good olive oil. A deluxe accompaniment for this very rustic and traditional dish…


So this is what you’ll need to make enough for 4 :

2 Medium courgettes. 
3 Green peppers. 
1 Red pepper
1 Medium aubergine 
1 Large onion. 
1 Kg ripe plum tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons of Paprika de la Vera
Sal. 
Brown sugar. 
Extra virgin olive oil - Oro de Bailén

 

  

Preparation: 

The first step is to cut up the peppers, courgettes and aubergine into small pieces, diced is fine. 

We start frying the diced peppers in a frying pan with a little oil. Once fried, we put them in a pot and put them to one side.
 
It is very important to drain all excess oil well after frying; the pisto should not be full of oil and greasy. 

Do the same with the courgette and aubergine and add them to the peppers in the pot.

Next chop up the onion and fry it also separately. When the onion is almost cooked make a an opening in the centre and add the garlic, cook for a minute or so and then add the paprika, stir the paprika into the oil quickly for about 30 seconds and then mix in with the onion and garlic. Remove from the heat, drain it and add to the pot with the other vegetables.

Now you need to add the tomatoes to the pan. So first you will need to scald them in boiling water to remove their skin and then chop them up finely, also removing the part of the stem so there are no tough bits left in. Add the tomato with a little olive oil, 1-teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of sugar to remove the acid and fry for about 40 minutes over medium low heat.  If your tomatoes are not particularly good in flavour, and nowadays that’s quite common, you may want to add a tablespoon of tomato concentrate or half a brick of “tomate frito”, which ever you can hands on. Hopefully you have great tomatoes in your area and you won’t need it. Now add in all the vegetables and simmer for another 15 minutes or so until all the water from the tomato has reduced and you have a thick consistency. That’s it.

 

 

 

Serve hot with a couple of fried eggs and a side order of toasted “glass bread” drizzled with olive oil, a couple of fresh basil leaves and a thin slice of cured manchego cheese.  To finish it off, a glass of Tempranillo from Valdepeñas and you have a meal fit for a king!  

Enjoy!



Like 1        Published at 15:11   Comments (3)


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