The summer feels like it showing itself, in my little corner of england and not surprisingly it has me thinking about taking a short break away in europe.
Four days I normally find, is the maximum I want to spend in any particular city and one short break a month, combined with a long holiday in a year, from my point of view as an experienced Therapist and Wellbeing Practitioner, is a good way to balance out the old with the new. The stimulation which is delivered from new smells, places and experiences, keeps the mind active and allows for mental and physical wellbeing to arise.
Visiting Barcelona – I made the most of my three day break here to explore the food of the city and meet a few of the people. Barcelona Shopping Scouts owner Victoria, was on hand during my break away, to assist me in my desire of a bespoke food exploration of the little city.
Salad with ventresca de atun was one of my favourite dishes. A very simple salad dish, made with premium tuna fish – which means the flesh of the fish is cut and served from the underside of the belly. Tossed with a little olive oil its delicious.
If you’re a real meat lover how about trying a platter of iberico ham. I saw many men sitting, simply eating ham and nothing else in the little café, with people queuing out of the door and a waitress keen on us to leave, to allow the next customer to sit in a busy lunchtime service.
There are four grades of jamón ibérico, categorised primarily by the diet of the pigs. The curing process remains the same, but the length for which they are aged will differ with the lower grade hams receiving little more than a year of hanging and the very best up to four years.
The age difference can be seen in the finished result with the flesh of the younger hams having a lighter pink colour and those of older hams being a deep, ruby red. The taste too is very different with the acorn richness of the jamón ibérico de bellota lingering on the palate like a fine wine.
Jamón ibérico de bellota
From pure Iberico pigs fed on a diet of acorns during the Montanera and granted DO status. These hams are aged for at least three years before being released and often labelled ‘reserva’ and ‘gran reserva’ to denote their age.
Jamón ibérico de recebo
Fed on a diet of cereals and acorns and aged for at least three years.
Jamón ibérico cebo de campo
Free range, but fed only on a diet of cereals.
Jamón ibérico de cebo
Commercially reared pigs fed on a diet of cereals. Guardian.com
At Pepe Tomate, I experienced one of the strangest dishes of my whole time in Barcelona but one of Victoria’s personal favourites. Esqueixada de Bacallà is a traditional dish in Catalonia. Made up of a raw cod salad – served in a storage jar with haricot beans. Inside, is an olive oil dressing, topped with a frisee salad. Pick the dish up, shake it to mix it up and lightly cook the cod with the dressing. It can be called a Catalan Ceviche!
Last but not least what about meatballs. Oh, I love meatballs and recently have began to make a turkish kofta out of 7% fat turkey meat, as opposed to my normal italian meatballs. Maybe it’s the thought of whacking them on the BBQ which makes them more enticing. Yet these little delights, are cod fritters made with spinach and potato – covered in a sweet honey glaze.
Writing this post is definitely making me hungry.
Time to go in and cook my turkey burger bagel, with sun ripened tomatoes for dinner. Delish.
What spanish food do you enjoy or would like to try?