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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!

One of Spain's finest wineries
31 July 2017

In 1927,  the love a group of local vine growers felt for the land achieved the union of their best efforts, creating a winery, now a symbol of the Ribera region. A project that has continously grown and multiplies year by year, taking its name proudly to the highest international levels. Protos, which comes from the Greek word for "FIRST" is without a doubt one of the great wines from what is now known as 'Ribera del Duero'. The 30s represented its definite settlement at the international level. The 1929 World Exposition in Barcelona gave a particularly strong impulse, awarding Gold Medals to its red wines and establishing it as a benchmark for the region.

The company's rapid growth brought about the problem of lack of space for the first time and the winery began its expansion throughout the region. The construction of a wine-aging cellar began in the heart of the mountain, literally beneath the Castle of Peñafiel.

 

The quality and prestige this winery acquired in the eighties led a highly recognised vine-growing area to take on its own name, Ribera del Duero, to identify the D.O. Control Board that watches over the quality of area wines. In 1995, the wine-aging cellar was enlarged and the winery succeeded in the international winemaking panorama.

The project continues growing: In the town of Anguix (Burgos), Protos has acquired a winery that has the latest cutting-edge technology. It can produce up to three million kilos of grapes, of which 1.5 million kilos go through the sorting table.

It is in Peñafiel, a Valladolid town held together by the Duero River, where this gift of the land is born. Protos has the privilege of having been engendered in the heart of one of the most important fortresses in the area – Peñafiel Castle –. This castle is a landmark for the Castilla y León region since the wine museum is housed in it.

The new winery  is an architectural jewel that has already become a symbol of the Ribera del Duero D.O.- and the area's interesting culture and gastronomy have placed Protos at the centre of a new trend known as "Wine-Related Tourism".

 

Tradition and vanguard were combined in the designing of the new winery where guided visits and special events can also be arranged. Only few can resist the temptation to discover the Duero's Heart, an incredibly beautiful place.

 The new Protos winery facility is located at an interesting historical crossroads: the extension of the Camino de las Eras and the San Pedro sheep drove road, an ancient Roman road. It is on the edge of a low-lying area that, in the past, was partially covered by a small pond fed by waters from the nearby Botijas stream. It is also located quite near the existing winery facilities, connected to them via an underground link, and buried into the Peñafiel Castle hill.

The project was conceived as a contemporary reinterpretation of traditional wine cellar construction in the region. On the one hand, the base of the building is excavated into the land, reminiscent of wine cellar construction methods that have been used since time immemorial in the Peñafiel Castle hillside. With this reference in mind, and for practical reasons that are commonplace to vernacular architecture in relation to making the best use of the lower temperatures underground, most of the facilities used in the preparation and aging of wine are buried underground.

On the other hand, the aboveground structure, technically known as the “light structure”, is a reinterpretation of vault-shaped winery construction methods. This structure is made of parabolic arches of laminated wood. The shape and materials were chosen because they are structurally efficient and appropriate for the production process, as traditional winery construction has shown.

The roof is the most noteworthy visual feature of the outside of the winery. This is the result of the exceptional location of the winery at the foot of the castle. In the project concept, the roof was considered as yet another façade, to be viewed from the privileged position afforded by the castle.

Therefore, it was designed with the five vaulted bays oriented towards the Castle. In the treatment of the roof materials and construction, using large format terracotta pieces, it represents a contemporary reinterpretation of typical vernacular roofs. In effect, seen from the Castle, Peñafiel offers muted red tones that range from orange to brown, typical of traditional tile roofs. This is the colour that is also used for the winery.

Protos allows you to visit its two wineries: the oldest that extends through the interior of the mountain, and the new one that was designed by the architect Richard Rogers. All visits include a tour of the two wineries and a wine tasting at the end of the tour which is higly recommended. Visits must be arranged in advance by calling +34 659 843 463 or by sending an e-mail to: enoturismo@bodegasprotos.com.

Visits are 1.5 hours long on average, including a tasting of one Verdejo white wine and one crianza red wine. Please note that our tours are available upon demand for individuals or groups and visits require a minimum of 8 people.

Protos does not produce any bad wines at all. They are all fantastic so it will be your budget that determines which wines you will want to try. They are all great but I will stick my neck out for the Protos Crianza a wonderfully velvety smoot red which is not too oaky. It is great with meats and cheeses alike and should cost more than €13. 

PROTOS CRIANZA:

GRAPE VARIETY : Tempranillo 100 %

VINEYARDS : More than 25 years old.

FEATURES : Hand-picking harvest in 20 kg crates. Sorting table. Skin contact maceration and fermentation for 21 days at 28 ºC.

AGEING : 14 months in French (2/3) and American (1/3) oak barrels and 12 months in bottle.

COLOUR : cherry colour with garnet rim, bright and intense.

NOSE : red fruit expression, powerful, elegant, dry stone, coca bean, creamy oak, hints of spices.

TASTE : Powerful, flavourful, fruity, good acidity, smoky aftertaste, toasty, long finish.

SERVING TEMPERATURE 15 - 18 ºC.



Like 1        Published at 13:37   Comments (2)


Spanish Fish Dishes - Bacalao a la Vizcaina
26 July 2017

Bacalao a la vizacaina is yet another example of the very tasty yet very simple dishes that come from the northern Spanish region of the Basque Country. The main ingredient of Bacalao a la vizacaina is codfish. Cod is perhaps one of the most consumed fish in Spain, although historically this fish was mostly a product eaten during Lent. It is also a fish that is easily fished around the coasts of Spain, of which there is a lot!

Originally from the Basque Country, Vizcaina sauce on the other hand, is a sauce that is extremely versatile and is used in a number of dishes from the region. It is often used for many stews and products such as the pork dish called 'Manos de cerdo con salsa vizcaína'. In some parts of the Basque Country, they even use the sauce in an escargot recipe. However most people will associate the sauce immediately with cod. Nowadays it is a rather polemic recipe - as is the case with most traditional recipes - the argument whether tomatoes should be one of it's ingredients or not is a very alive debate among gourmets and cooks, though many say that the red ingredient is pepper. Either way, the sauce is a rich red colour and is tasty with either ingredients. So when you come to make this dish, the choice is up to you!

The pepper theory seems historically more plausible, as tomatoes were not used as food in Spain even 200 years after they were imported; first they were used as ornamental plants. Perhaps, pepper was used originally and then, once the tomato became more commonly used in Spanish cooking, the sauce was adapated. But it doesn't really matter, in truth there are many formulas to prepare this sauce, and despite how much people may argue about it's historical accuracy, they are delicious anyway.

You might find that certain people use a type of Spanish biscuit, often a 'galleta maria', when they are making the sauce. These biscuits are used to help thicken the sauce, but it can often make it much sweeter. The sauce may be thick or runny, depending on your personal taste. If you don't want to use biscuits to thicken your sauce, you could always use plain or corn flour instead, which I prefer.

One of the great things about vizcaina sauce is that it is fairly simple to make and generally uses common and inexpensive ingredients. This means that it is a great option for those people who love Spanish gastronomy, but want to enjoy it on a budget!

 


Bacalao a la Vizcaina | Cod Bizcaine Style

Ingredients:

1 large salted cod loin (or fresh cod loin)
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves
2 roasted peppers (preferably chorizo peppers
1 tomato
1 tbs of flour
Extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:

  • Soak the cod loin in water for 24 hours, changing the water every 8 hours to get rid of some of the salt.
  • Then put the cod loin in a pan with cold water and heat. Remove from the heat when it begins to boil.
  • Cover the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil. Stir fry the diced onion until it begins to brown, then add the garlic cloves, peppers and tomato.
  • When all the ingredients are lightly fried add the flour, you need to cook it a little.
  • Add some of the broth in which the cod was cooked (two teacups) and let it boil at low heat. This broth has the flavor and jelly of the cod.
  • When the sauce gets a good thick consistency add the cod and keep on a low heat, only enough time to heat up the cod and then serve!

Enjoy!



Like 2        Published at 18:59   Comments (2)


Spanish Names for Fish - Really confusing
10 July 2017

I’ve been in Spain for quite some time now and there has always been an area of language that has always caused me problems and still does today, and that is fish. I have real difficulty sometimes translating the names of fish. The funny thing is my knowledge of fish and seafood before I came to Spain was already pretty limited and when I say limited I mean at most I had eaten Cod, Haddock, Lemon Sole, Trout and Plaice maybe a few others and my seafood was limited to Scampi, Mussels and Prawn, so my fish vocab was not extensive.  We were never big fish eaters in my family so when I came to Spain it wasn’t really high on the agenda of things to learn. However over the years I have come to love many varieties of seafood and fish, the majority of which I have discovered here in Spain and consequently learnt the Spanish name first, it wasn’t until a relative came to visit and asked what we were eating that I even thought about the English translation and that happened so rarely that the English names never really sunk in and I still get confused to this day with a few.  Now, I’m not sure if this is something unique to me but just in case other readers are having difficulty with fish and seafood names, I finally decided to put together a list of the most common varieties you will come across in Spain along with their English equivalent, hope you find it useful!  

I could have done with it a long time a go!! 

 

                         FISH   

 

Anchoa/Boquerón

Anchov

Anguila Eel
Arenque Herring
Atun Tuna
Bacalao Cod
Bonito Bonito
Caballa Mackerel
Calamar Squid
Carpa Carp
Caviar Caviar
Dorada Gilt Head Bream
Eglefino Haddock
Fletan Halibut
Galupe / Mujol Mullet
Lenguado Sole
Merluza Hake
Mero Grouper
Perca Perch
Pez Espada Marlin/Swordfish
Platija Flounder
Solla Plaice
Pulpo Octopus
Rape Monkfish
Raya Ray / Skate
Rodaballo Turbot
Salmon Salmon
Salmonete Red Mullet
Sardina Sardine
Sepia Cuttlefish
Lubina Sea Bass
Trucha Trout

 

 

 

 

                    SEAFOOD

Almejas Clam
Berberechos Cockle
Bogavante Lobster
Buey de Mar Edible / Brown Crab
Cangrejo de Rio Crawfish
Carabineros Scarlet Prawn
Centollo Spider Crab
Cigalas Scampi
Erizos de Mar Sea Urchin
Gambas Prawn 
Langosta Spiny Lobster
Langostinos Prawn (large)
Mejillones Mussels
Navajas Razor Clam
Nécoras Small crab
Ostras Oysters
Percebes Gooseneck Barnacles
Pulpo Octopus
Tellinas/ Coquinas Bean Clams
Vieiras Scallop


Like 2        Published at 21:22   Comments (11)


Galician Octopus - quick and easy!
03 July 2017

 

Pulpo a la gallega - Galician style octopus - takes us back many centuries, not because the recipe was the same, but because octopus has been consumed in this autonomous region for longer than we can count.

Octopus was one of the few types of seafood that was transported from the coasts to the interior towns and in fact it was far more appreciated in these towns than near the sea, as those had other products such as lobster, king crab and a great variety of fish.

When America was discovered many products appeared in the Spanish markets, including a fake spice obtained from some crushed red chiles, in Spanish they call it pimentón, in English: paprika.
Not only does paprika give a tempting copperish tinge, but it's also great for preserving food in those time before frozen products and easy land transportation. Now it would be possible to preserve the meat and fish products without problems of rotting, molds or even worse. 

But it wasn't until a few years later that pulpo a la gallega became and actual dish. Some 125 years ago, when muleteers went to cattle fairs, they bought large amounts of octopus and then they'd prepare it with olive oil and paprika. Quite simple.

The name in galician for pulpo a la gallega is "pulpo a feira" (fair style octopus) for a very simple reason. During the cattle fairs the farmers would buy or sell cattle, sell their farm products, etc, and buy groceries such as salt, sugar and other products they didn't have daily access to.

The trip to the town where the fair took place took a long time and most people would stay for lunch or dinner. Those who stayed near the fair venue could eat octopus (as we've mentioned before, it was a very typical dish in fairs).

The "pulpeiras" (specialized in octopus) would cook the animal in copper cauldrons and serve the octopi on wooden plates. It is said that the copper pot gives it an incomparable taste that it's impossible to obtain with any other material.

 

 

Today the story is a little different, we don't need paprika to preserve food, but in Galicia, which is still a largely rural region, it's possible to go to cattle fairs and eat pulpo a la gallega and watch the preparation process which has it's own special magic. The good news, it's also possible to prepare it at home. This is what you 'll need to do...

 

 

Pulpo a la Gallega | Galician Style Octopus

Ingredients (four portions):
1 octopus of 2 kilos
500 grams of potatoes
Paprika
Spicy paprika
Salt
Olive oil

Preparation:
If it's a fresh octopus first we must soften the octopus, there are two ways to this, you can either beat it with a wooden rolling pin until its texture softens or freeze it for two days and defrost it the day before cooking it in the fridge (put it in a bowl because it will release a lot of liquid)

Dice the onion and add it to a pan with water. When it begins to boil is time to add the octopus. Grab it's head and dip it in the pan three times. After the third time you put it in and take it out add to the pan permanently. Cook for 50 minutes

Once cooked remove the pan from the fire and let it cool for 15 minutes.

Using the same water in which the octopus was cooked, cook the potatoes (previously peeled and diced). While they boil dice the octopus in medium sized slices.

When the potatoes are cooked remove from water and add to a platter. We add the octopus slices on top.

The final touch is adding the olive oil and paprika and abundant coarse salt. 

So, pulpo a la Gallega doesn't present many problems and it always tastes great, however, it is said that all food is better when tasted in its source of origin. Should you ever decide to travel to Northern Spain, ask the locals for the best Galician style octopus in town.

 



Like 2        Published at 21:15   Comments (1)


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