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IAN & SPAIN

WELCOME TO MY BLOG. HAVING LIVED IN SPAIN FOR OVER TWENTY YEARS I HAVE TRULY MANAGED TO IMMERSE MYSELF IN THE LOCAL CULTURE AND FEEL TOTALLY INTEGRATED. I WILL BE WRITING ABOUT MY PASSION FOR SPANISH FOOD AND DRINK AS WELL AS ITS CULTURE, PEOPLE AND PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO LEAVE A COMMENT.

My Wine Recommendation No.8 - For under €10
27 August 2018

 Just this week I was given a local white. I have tried many local white wines and they are in fact very good and fairly well priced. I can't say as much of the reds, which seem to be going up in price year on year in the Valencian region, although they are good the price doesn't always reflect the quality. However this white was different to what I have tried to date, it was made with organic grapes, and it was really quite good! 

This wine comes from the inland region of the province of Valencia, which is home to the most important vineyards within this wine region. This is mainly due to the variety of its soils, its different orientations and altitudes between 600 and 900 meters above sea level. 

This habitat gives the vines ideal conditions for winemaking.
Quality wines are also achieved with the Merlot, the Tempranillo, the Chardonnay and the Sauvignon Blanc grape varieties.


The Vegalfaro Winery is located within the province of Valencia, in the region of La Plana de Requena-Utiel.
It boasts 60 hectares of vineyards, divided into three very different areas due to the quality of soil, the microclimate and the grape varieties. All the plots of land are certified with the seal of Organic Agriculture, as are the winery and winemaking facilities, making for a totally organic winery.

La Muela, one of their vineyards with 330 hectares of land, lies right next to the archaeological site of Las Pilillas, which was an Iberian winery dating back to the seventh century B.C. Their vines are being cultivated, as they have been for over 2000 years, alongside the cultivation of cereal, olives and almonds.

In 1999 Andrés Valiente decided to build Bodegas Vegalfaro to bottle his own wines along with his son Rodolfo, Technical Director of Bodegas Vegalfaro. Previously, his great-grandfather Leonardo made wine in his cellar (winery) and his grandfather, Joseph, was an Orujo distiller. Later, in February 2011, the winery received the qualification Pago, which is considered the highest ranking of a vineyard in Spain and from where wines with singular characteristics and qualities are obtained. This is a terroir reference comparable to those in other European countries: Chateau, Cru, Domaine and Clos in France, Castello in Italy and Quinta in Portugal.
 

Pesticides have never been used on their soil or vines so they like to refer to their soil as being 'alive'. It proliferates a micro-fauna which is very important for the decomposition of organic material and nutrient absorption by the vines while helping to control the appearance of any plagues.
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The winemaking process follows a strict quality control and parameters are managed internally to avoid waste discharges back into the environment.

Their white wine, Rebellia Blanco is made with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. It was created by the Enologist of the Year 2017 and offers great intensity with clean tropical fruity notes. Not surprisingly it won a Silver Medal at the International Organic Wine Award: Bioweinpreis.

If you want to try this wine it is available online at this addres for €6 :

https://www.vinopremier.com/vino-blanco-rebel-lia-ecologico.html

I am not sure which supermarkets stock it...but if you can get hold of it, I'm sure you'll love it!

 



Like 2        Published at 19:25   Comments (3)


Barbate Fusion
20 August 2018

The other day, while I was reading an article about Cadiz,Barbate and its red tuna industry, I must admit my mouth started to water thinking of a fantastic red tuna tartare 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 separately 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 mould great but if you don’t you can use a section cut out from a plastic water bottle to serve as a mould, I didn’t and this solution worked just fine!

Take the mould, fill it with the marinated mixture and pour a couple of teaspoons of the marinade over the mixture in the mould (if you are layering the avocado place the cubes at the bottom). Carefully remove the mould 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 4        Published at 22:40   Comments (1)


'Tigres' -A classic but not so famous tapas for everyone
08 August 2018

 

This recipe is a version of the classic Spanish “Tigre”, a mussel and prawn croquette served in the mussel’s shell, which I tasted in Santiago de Compostela many years ago at a friend’s house. It is a very simple recipe and ever so rewarding, a definite hit for any dinner table as a starter. The creaminess of the béchamel (white sauce) and the taste of the sea from the Galician mussels with a touch of garlic and white wine make such a great combination. I must stress that the fresher the mussels the better the result. 

As with most recipes in Spain each region has its unique touch, the recipe I am going to share with you is the typical recipe from Galicia, the home of the Spanish mussels. 

However if you wish to jazz it up feel free! There are some who have them spicy or very spicy, known as “Angry Tigers” by adding a lot more cayenne pepper and chili. But let’s crack on with the traditional recipe and don’t forget to put a bottle of Albariño white wine from Rias Baixas in the freezer to chill off until serving!


Ingredients Filling:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
2 Onions
1 green pepper
1 glasses of white wine
300 grams of peeled prawns
1 kg of Mussels
3 Garlic cloves
1 Ripe peeled tomato (put it in boiling water for a minute and then the skin comes off easily)
1 large Bay leaf
Parsley
1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper 
2 Eggs
Flour
Breadcrumbs

 

To make the Bechamel:

700 ml full fat Milk
80g of Flour
70ml of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

 

Let's crack on :

Wash the mussels really well in cold water and remove all the algae and dirt from the shell and rinse well. 

Heat a glass of white wine in the pan, when the wine begins to boil add a bay leaf , a few sprigs of parsley and then the mussels.  Put the lid on and shake a little until all the mussels are open. Once all the mussels have opened remove them from the pan.  Wait a few minutes and then remove all the mussels from the shells with a spoon. Let them cool on a plate. Reserve the liquid in the pan for later (wine with mussel juice). If you want, just pour the liquid into a glass and keep it to one side.

Now we need to finely chop up the mussels and keep to one side.

Thoroughly wash and scrub the empty shells because we are going to use them to hold the filling the and thus put them in our mouths! 

I usually buy prawns already peeled but uncooked, so all I have to do is chop them into small pieces. So chop them up and put them to one side too.

Now you need to chop the onions, garlic cloves, peeled tomato and pepper into very small pieces. Add Extra Virgin Olive Oil to a frying pan and fry the garlic first for about half a minute, then the onions and green pepper, then cook over low heat for about 10 minutes until it is all soft, it should not be crunchy at all. Taste and season the mixture with salt and pepper. 

Now add the chopped mussels and prawns followed by a glass of the ‘mussel and wine broth’ we put aside earlier! 

Add the chopped tomato and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Let it all simmer on medium heat for about 10 minutes until the liquid has pretty much evaporated. Stir with a wooden spoon for a couple of minutes and then remove the pan from the heat.

To make the bechamel, add the extra virgin olive oil to a pan, add the flour, and lightly cook on low heat for a minute or so and then slowly pour in the milk, stirring constantly. Then  add  salt and pepper and cook for about 10 minutes over a low heat, stirring it from time to time.

The next step is to mix the bechamel with the mussel and prawn filling and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. It should be of a very thick consistency. Let it cool down a bit.

Finally fill the mussel shells with the filling and leave them in the fridge for a couple of hours so they have completey cooled down.

   

 

    

 

Now we need to dip one in flour, then dip it in egg and finally dip it in breadcrumbs. Make sure the breadcrumbs completely cover the filling. Put to one side and repeat for all the rest.

The last stage is to fry them in Extra Virgin Oilve Oil.  Heat the oil, use a piece of bread to judge the temperature. First place them face down in the pan until they are Golden and crisp, the turn them over  for a minute and then remove from the pan and set aside to serve with a glass of nicely chilled Albariño White wine. 

Enjoy!



Like 2        Published at 23:05   Comments (2)


What do you rate most highly about Spain?
02 August 2018

 

Spanish cuisine is what tourists say they like best about the country. In fact, in 2017 alone, more than ten million of the 82 million tourists who visited Spain did so purely to undertake a food-related activity.         Despite the universal fame of Spain’s creative and cutting-edge cuisine, tourists who come to the country are attracted by its traditional fare, for example, widely-known dishes such as paella, gazpacho, cocido (stew), menestra (vegetable soup) and suckling pig.

This is hardly a surprise, given that less than 100 out of the 250,000 restaurants, bars and eateries in Spain focus directly on the most innovative types of cuisine.

It would be extremely beneficial for all chefs, both traditional and creative, to constantly praise and speak out about the high-quality products they use, raising awareness about them among their national and international clientele, and so achieving greater knowledge of Spanish foods and a wider market for them. 

The figures clearly show that food is one of the prime motivations for modern tourists and that the range of products on offer today is very diverse. Spain is reclaiming its heritage of popular and traditional cuisine, and also the need to preserve the habits and customs of its people and cities, as well as the fine dining served up in restaurants where great artists of the restaurant world ply their trade.

Good cooking is one the features most frequently sought by tourists of the 21st Century. The country’s culinary offerings to tourists must, therefore, strike a balance between respect for traditional and popular cooking while also promoting fine dining and auteur cuisine, in order to satisfy curious and unconventional tourists who want an intensely enjoyable experience on every holiday. 

The cultural and gastronomic inheritance of Spain makes its naturally-based diet a leading export which is recommended around the world. The Mediterranean Diet so characteristic of Spain was listed on the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2010.

The Mediterranean Diet, one of our country’s own, goes way beyond being a mere nutritional plan. It is a lifestyle that combines a way of eating which links traditional cooking to fresh products and a way of sharing meals and traditions, a moderate amount of daily exercise and a pleasant climate. The result is an excellent model for a healthy life that has gained international recognition.

In fact, in 2010 UNESCO registered the Mediterranean Diet on its intangible Cultural Heritage list.
The Mediterranean Diet is the result of an invaluable cultural inheritance, which through simplicity and variety, has resulted in a balanced and complete diet, based on fresh, local and seasonal products, insofar as it is possible.

It is characterised by an abundance of vegetable produce, such as bread, pasta, rice, vegetables, legumes, fruit and dried fruit and nuts. Olive oil is another essential ingredient, along with moderate consumption of fish, seafood, free-range poultry, lactose products (yoghurts, cheeses) and eggs. A moderate intake of wine and red meats are also included in the diet.

The benefits of the Mediterranean Diet, especially those related to health and the prevention of chronic illnesses are a scientific fact. The majority of the guidelines that the World Health Organization offers are in line with the Mediterranean Diet: an abundance of fruits and vegetables, moderation in salt and sugar, low levels of fat consumption and the use of fresh products.

What do you like most about Spain? The food?


 



Like 1        Published at 00:44   Comments (3)


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