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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cosas Madrileña

I just finished watching Anthony Bourdain's show, "No Reservations: Madrid" and instantly felt "homesick". I wish I would have known about the innovative gastrobar Le Cabrera when I was there - definitely seems like my kind of place. The Gambas al Ajillo, a pounded shrimp tapa, looked unbelievable as well as the Potato Puree with truffle oil and a coddled egg served in a jar like baby food. The cocktail list is also extensive and even has a section Para Conductores, for the drivers, which has unique drinks such as the Abacxi with pineapple juice, mint, and condensed milk.

While I'm in San Francisco this weekend I will be looking to feed my craving for
jamón and Rioja. If you know of any great places let me know! Por favor.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Scallop Ceviche from the Minimalist

I absolutely love the simplicity of Mark Bittman's recipes in the New York Times. After watching his video of Scallop-and-Plum Ceviche I had to try it myself.

Ceviche is one of my favorite foods because it's refreshing and packed with flavor from fresh ingredients. This was my first time making ceviche so I was amazed at how quickly the acid from the lime "cooked" the scallops. The result was a complexity of flavors that balanced each other out for a perfect finish. The best part was that it only took 5 minutes to prepare.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Currywurst on Foot could use this for an advertisement! Berliners just can't get enough currywurst!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Budapest's Great Market Hall

My first day in Budapest I checked out The Great Market Hall and it was quite the adventure. I got there early Saturday morning, and it was already packed with a mix of locals and tourists. On the first floor you can buy all kinds of produce, baked goods, and of course paprika. However, the second floor is where I spent most of my time because they sold typical Hungarian street food such as langos.

I had seen people eating langos all over the city and in Prague so I was curious to see how they were made. I put in my order and watched them deep fry dough, slather it with sour cream, and top it with a mountain of cheese. Holy heart attack! With the beast in my hands I sat down at the tiny bar and took a bite while a fellow American and his daughter looked on in horror (they bought one five minutes later). The first bite was amazing. I did the opposite of what I normally do with pizza and only ate the crust. The middle was not light and fluffy like the outside and was overpowered by the density of the cheese. All and all it was something I'm glad I tried, but I never need to eat another one. When in Budapest...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Maoz: Best Falafel

While traveling Europe on a budget, Maoz has become my new best friend. It's delicious, healthy and cheap which is hard to come by these days. The concept is simple; you choose whether you want a salad or pita and then load up on the toppings at the open bar. I always opt for a salad because it's not as messy and you can pack in more fresh toppings. Sometimes they even let you come back to the bar for seconds. This is a great price performer!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Churros con Chocolate

Spain is known for its vibrant nightlife that lasts well into the morning. After dancing all night, crowds of people roam the streets in search of two things: Shawarmas or churros con chocolate. Shawarmas are extremely popular, but eating churros con chocolate with friends after a night out is a longstanding tradition in Spain.

Most Americans are used to the churros smothered in sugar and cinnamon commonly sold at sporting events. The churros in Spain are the same concept except shorter and served in a pile on a plate without anything on them. The next step is to either put sugar on them or dip them in a warm cup of thick chocolate. Whenever I have eaten churros with Spaniards everyone gets their own cup of chocolate to dunk their churros into. People do not hold back and eat churro after churro until all of them are gone and the only thing left is the chocolate in the cup. One might think that's the end, however, this is a rookie mistake since every Spaniard at the table will drink the rest of the chocolate no matter how thick or rich it is. And that is the end to a successful night out in Spain!

Personally, I prefer my churros with sugar as an occasional treat on a leisurely Sunday and would pick Shawarma over churros any day. More on the beauty of the Shawarma later!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Best Sandwich in the World?

There are many different types of jamón, but Jamón Ibérico is hailed as the best due to the pigs' ripe acrorm diet which heightens the flavor of the meat. Mark Bittman, a food critic for the New York Times, claimed that the best sandwich he's eaten is the flauta d’ibéric from Café Viena in Barcelona.

While visiting Barcelona recently, I had to try this hyped up sandwich. My friend Jennifer and I stopped into the surprisingly touristy looking cafe and ordered their specialty. There were only 3 ingredients: a crunchy baguette, grated tomato, and of course the Jamón Ibérico from Jabugo, Spain. Jamón from Jabugo is the Holy Grail of jamón. It is a very dark ruby red color and extremely expensive, but like nothing you have tasted before!

I would call the Jamón Ibérico the best simplistic sandwich I have ever had because of its high quality ingredients, but definitely not THE best. I'm anxious to try Rick Bayless's famous tortas at XOCO in Chicago next time I visit!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jamón, Jamón

Let's be honest, the first thing that comes to mind when I see a leg of jamón is young Javier Bardem portraying, Raúl, a quintessential hombre machismo in the Spanish film Jamón, Jamón. Go see the movie and you'll know what I'm talking about. However, this is a blog about FOOD so let's get to it!

Jamón is a staple in Spanish cuisine. You can find entire legs of jamón sold in grocery stores and a Spanish kitchen is not complete unless it has one sitting on the counter for everyone to see. When you want to make a ham sandwich, instead of reaching for the fridge door, you grab a knife and cut it right off the bone. I saw this happen for the first time when I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich at a café while studying abroad in Alicante, and I was completely shocked. However, since then I have grown to love a perfectly thin slice of Jamón Ibérico with a glass of Rioja. I have even sought out the best places to buy it without breaking the bank. The winner is: Jamones Casa Diego in my hood, the Realejo.

My next post will be about what most Spaniards consider to be the best jamón in the world!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tapas in Granada

One of the many perks of living in Granada is the tradition of free tapas. Granada is the only city in Spain that still practices this custom so I'm very happy to be teaching here! Every time you order a drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) you will receive a small plate of food. Some bars have a list of tapas that you can choose from while others keep track of what drink you are on and have specific tapas for each drink. You can even hear bartender yell into the kitchen primera or segundo so that the cook knows which tapa to prepare. At some bars the more tapas you eat the better they get, but I prefer to bar hop to get more of a variety. I am always on a quest to find places with unique tapas and a friendly atmosphere and so far I have been very successful. Here are a few of my favorites:

Reca: Perfectly situated in a cozy corner in Plaza Trinidad, Reca has the best people watching. On a sunny afternoon a seat outside with a glass of wine and traditional Spanish tapa is hard to beat.

D'Cuadros: This is one of my favorite places to take friends because it has a wide variety of tapas to choose from as well as a fun atmosphere. Everybody can find something they like here and most people stay for seconds or thirds.

: I would venture to say that this is the most international tapas bar in Granada. You can meet people from all over the world and swap stories while sampling a variety of exotic cuisine from all over the world. My favorite is the pinchito made with pork, pineapple and a secret sauce that makes it a ten.

Om-Kalsum: Located just around the corner from Poe you can't miss Om-Kalsum. All the traditional Mediterranean tapas are scrumptious, but I can't get enough of the chicken kebab. The seasoned chicken, warm pita, and flavorful sauce are a triple threat.

La Bella Kurva: If you like healthy and unique food this is your kind of place. The vibe can be described as sophisticated-hippie. I would like to try all the tapas on the menu before I leave, but right now the tomato, pesto sushi is the leader of the pack.

The running theme is that all of these places dare to be different and do so with flying colors.