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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.