RSS Feed

What’s to Eat And Do Near Sitges in Catalunya?

 

  Sitges is a popular beach town south of Barcelona. Our friends took us on an adventure nearby to Cordoniú Cava Winery, Montseurrat and St Mon Monastery. So fantastic!

  Montserrat  

Codorníu Cava Winery Tour was unbeatable! This 450 year old family business is the oldest in Spain. The modernistic style architecture and state of the art technology combined with hundreds of years in wine making experience produce the best Cava.

  

7 floors below ground into the old cask caverns!

  

Antique wine cases

   

The best of the Cavas, Spain’s answer to French champagne!

 

St Mon Monastery, part of an estate and foundation including Hotel Mon, 3 restaurants, cooking schools, produce gardens and the expertise of Ferran Adrià, voted the worlds best chef!

The monastery has museum quality video imaging to recreate the original look

Easter lunch at St Mon   

Strawberry and Tomato Soup

 

Flatbread with smoked eggplant, roasted red pepper and anchovies with black olive tapenade and a lettuce frisée.

 

Bacalau, salt cod, over Romanesco sauce topped with chopped hard cooked egg. An Easter traditional food in Catalunya!

 

“Secret pork” with a wine sauce and roasted potatoes

   

Chocolate mousse and cake

 

Citrus cake and cream, an Easter tradition 

Grilled Spring Onions and a sauce, a Catalun speciality! Called Calcot

  

   

The onions are peeled of their blackened outer skins at the table and then eaten by tilting your head back and dropping the long onion into your mouth

   

   

El porrò de vi

Red wine is poured from this pourer straight into your mouth. No glass needed!

 What’s to Eat and Do  in Córdoba, Spain?

It’s been a beautiful warm week in southern Spain. The Holy Week parades have been fascinating. There are 33 of them! Each church congregation has their own, complete with cone shaped hat and robed participants, band members, and 2-3 Easter religious floats carried on the backs of members willing to suffer the pain. 

   

   

   

 

We have been eating out for lunch, which is from 2-4pm. Dinner is 9-11pm or so. Córdoba is less than an hour by train from Seville, so the food is similar. Here are some pics and then travel suggestions at the end.

  

A piece of toasted dark bread with hummus, quince paste and sesame seeds.

  

Traditional salmorejo, with sliced egg and chopped jamon. This cold soup is a purée of fresh tomato, fresh white crusty bread, olive oil, garlic and salt. Olive oil is drizzled over the top. Gazpacho, a more well known cold soup, is made with a variety of fresh vegetables including tomatoes, onion, peppers, garlic, olive oil etc, but no bread.

  

A twist on the Andalusian traditional salmorejo cold soup, this soup has beets instead of tomato with squid ink. On top is squid/calamari rings and quail eggs.

  

 Quail eggs! They are everywhere you find eggs!

Hard boiled quail eggs for dinner! Cover with water, bring to a boil, remove from heat and cover 5 minutes. Run under cold water. Tap eggs on the side of the pan to crack the shells, and then peel.

 Iberian sausage sliced thin with sesame crackers.

  

Quail Foie Gras made with pork and quail liver topped with diced quince paste. Membrillo is quince paste and is very commonly used in Spain. It’s a sweet thick jelly made with the pulp of the quince fruit. It’s a wonderful complement to manchego type cheeses

Traditional Spanish omelet or Tortilla Espanola, which is very plain and made with eggs, potato and onion.

 

Fried eggplant strips served with a dark honey. I’ve also seen squirt bottles of this honey served at the table, like ketchup. 

  

Thick hard crispy sesame crackers served in bags at most tables.

  

A mix of Cordoban cheeses we found at a market. Their cheeses are made with cow, sheep and/or goat cheese. Yes, they do mix the milks! The younger cheeses are softer and the more aged are harder.

  

Flamenquin, a specialty of Córdoba, is like a home made cordon bleu. Chicken, pork or veal is rolled with jamon and sometimes a bit of manchego cheese inside, then breaded and deep fried. Parsley is also sometimes in the filling. These are about 3 inches and considered a tapas for 2 Euros. The larger 8 inch size is a 1/2 ration serving. A full ration is even larger. A variety of foods in some of these 3 different portions are found in most restaurants, bars and tavernas.

 

Fried calamari, lightly breaded and tender! Served with a mayonnaise like garlic sauce. Standard food.

  

Cazon in Adobo, Daves favorite. Marinated pieces of fish that are breaded and deep fried. 

 

Fried marinated anchovies. Crispy and hot without a strong flavor. The marinade is light.

  

Chorizo in a wine sauce. Best when fried crispy and brown.

  

Black pudding, similar to the Cajun boudin sausage. Filled with rice and other unknowns? Tasty and mild. Crispy fried potatoes on the side.

   

 

A little more unusual is the diced raw RED tuna, mixed with ground cashews, scallions, pimento, Dijon, soy sauce and olive oil. Formed into a mold and served cold, unmolded. Delish!

  

Grilled calamari over lettuce salad with aioli and lemon vinagrette.

 

Aubergine  or eggplant cut crosswise into 4 inch wedges and simmered in water, vinegar, and sugar. Then layered with a strong soft cheese and baked and topped with a red pepper sweet chopped chutney. Yum! 

 

Another tuna, diced and mixed with a stronger mustard marinade, topped with a crisp thin toast and bamboo shoots. The mustard marinade is poured around the plate. 

  

Pisto, a traditional warm salad similar to ratatouille, is a cooked mixture of chopped pumpkin (which is like the US butternut squash), eggplant, tomato, onions, peppers, summer squash, cumin, garlic, olive oil. All this served with a fried egg. 

  

Paella with squid ink, baby squid, and shrimp. Not as good as Valencia and L’Abufera, also known as Albufera, where paella was born. The authentic paella sticks to the bottom of the pan, is crusty, and is scraped off the bottom of the pan.

  

Traditional pastry of Córdoba, Pastelon Cordobes. This is like a firm crusted apple pie with a thick jam like filling that has additional citrus fruits. Then it’s sprinkled all over with cinnamon and sugar.

  

Torrijas, is like French toast. It’s fried bread that’s layered with custard. Then it’s covered in honey or cinnamon and sugar. Chocolate may be spread over the top. These are made for the Easter season.

 

Pestino, also made for the Easter holidays.  Crispy and fried then covered in cinnamon and sugar.

   

This is a deceiving dessert from the pastry shop. It’s basically a wedge of a 2 layer white cake with a thin chocolate icing on top and sides and a plain custard in between the layers. The cut side of the cake is covered with custard. 

Fried Milk Dessert with cinnamon ice cream and cinnamon cream sauce. The fried milk is actually wedges of firm flan fried and then rolled in sugar and cinnamon.

   

Brownie and ice cream! Gourmet in Córdoba!

 

Fancy cappuccino with whipped cream. Caffe con Leche is more common here. Many places don’t offer cappuccino! If they do, it’s always dusted with at least chocolate and maybe also cinnamon, cocoa and or chocolate syrup.

Sights not to miss:

The Cathedral of Cordoban/Mezquita 

Jewish Quarter and Synogogue

Roman Bridge and Calahorra Tower With audio tour

Patios of the Alkazar Viejo

Courtyards of Viana

Archeologie Museum

Museo Julio Romero de Torres and Courtyard

Alkazar Royal Stables and Show

Capilla de San Bartolome

Andalusi gourmet food shop

Casa de las Cabeza

Dining:

El Banista

Bodegas Campos

El Churrasco

La Casa del Viejo

Taverna del Potro

Pastry Shops:

San Francisco Confiteria (near Viana Palace)

What’s to Eat in Seville?

Seafood, bulls tail, pork cheeks, squid ink, jamon, puréed tomato and bread soup, tapas, fresh bread, pastries, gelato….here’s my favorites.

 This lumpy crusty bread looks like the crenelated tops of the Moorish castle walls. Its served everywhere and has a soft white center. 

This was my favorite food in Seville. Rice and shrimp in squid ink sauce with squid stuffed with rice. The squid ink has a mild seafood flavor.  

Bulls Tail in a rich red wine sauce over roasted potatoes. So memorable we ordered it twice! Bullfighting is HUGE in Seville! Similar to oxtails available in the States. 

This also is Bulls tail, but it tasted more like beef chuck pot roast with tomato, peppers and carrots. Very mild.  

Pork Cheeks in a rich sauce over roasted potatoes and topped with goat cheese. Garnish is fresh rosemary, green onion and red pepper. Amazingly tender and lean!  

This is a Serranito, a new twist on a sandwich made with a crusty baguette. Layered inside are thinly sliced grilled pork, a thinly poured omelette, and a slice of mild white cheese. Over the top of the bread is a slice of jamon. A char grilled pepper is on the side to add to the sandwich. 

A tapas of toasted bread layered with tomato purée,  one anchovy and olivada, a puréed black olive spread.  

This little frying basket was a fun way to serve fried bites of fish. They fry fish a lot. We had fried calamari also, but this was marinated bites of fish lightly breaded and deep fried. It’s called Corzo in Adobo.  

This is eggplant believe it or not! It’s cut into thick strips and quickly fried and then brushed with a dark honey and balsamic vinegar glaze. 

Salmorejo is a puréed cold soup made with fresh tomatoes, fresh bread, garlic, olive oil and salt. It can be purchased at the local fresh food markets or made at home. We also saw this served as a dipping sauce with bread in Lisbon.  

This salmorejo is served with the traditional sliced hard cooked egg, sliced jamon and drizzled with olive oil.

 

Delish cold soup made of ground almonds, garlic and cream and topped with the most tasty raisins. It can also be made with bread and olive oil instead of cream.  

Grilled squid served with a parsley and olive oil sauce.  

Sautéed clams with lemon and garlic. 

Marinated quail legs, garlic slices, onion and carrot served over lettuce. The marinade had lemon juice, olive oil and Dijon style mustard. Lots of fresh parsley added too.  

Cool dessert! Orange and orange blossom cream sauce with mint ice cream and gin slush over all. The orange like garnish was amazing. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but some kind of orange like fruit.  

Let’s talk about oranges in Seville. Here is an orange from the orange trees all over Seville. They were blooming and fragrant for us.They tell us in Seville that only the tourists pick them because they don’t know they are sour and are only used to make orange marmalade which is sent to England. Also you can get fined 1 Euro for each orange you pick! We found this one on the ground . They taste slightly sour, but not as sour as lemons. I’d make juice out of them if I had a tree to pick from!  

 

Cafe con Leche or espresso with milk. This is the most common coffee served. You can get decaf. Sometimes it’s served as a glass of steamed milk with an individual packet of instant decaf for you to add.  

Cappuccino is always served fancy with chocolate powder or syrup. You can get decaf too!

 

Loved Seville! If you go, make sure to take at least a day trip to Granada to see the Alhambra. Absolutely also go to Córdoba, our next stop!

What Else is There to Eat in Lisbon?

Our 11 day stay in Lisbon continues here with more tasty bites to share.

Cheese is big in Portugal. Here is a small round of hard aged goats milk cheese, a light yellow medium aged cows milk cheese and a creamy soft goats milk cheese with an edible moldy rind. All are not pasteurized, so we can’t buy them in the US. The red jelly is quince paste, a thick, sweet,  fruity, sliceable match for cheese. 

Here is a medium aged cheese with an orange edible rind that was baked and topped with chopped jamon, a salted cured ham. The surprise is a drizzle of truffle oil! Magnificent! Truffle oil can jazz up a mellow food in a flash! Spread the warm cheese tapas on bread. 

Jamon can stand on its own. When a food tastes as good as this, it needs no accompaniment. There are many varieties and prices. Most expensive is the jamon made from free range pigs who eat nothing but the large long acorns from the cork trees. That’s the wine bottle stopper cork made from the bark of cork trees.  

These fried fish balls are extremely popular. They are made fresh at the markets and sold to fry at home. Fillings are a variety of chopped fish, cheese, vegetable and breadcrumbs. Deep fried and lightly breaded fish are also a favorite at the tapas bars.  

Thinly sliced raw/tartare scallops layered over an avocado purée, and then sprinkled with finely diced red onion, toasted bread crumbs and cilantro. Excellent! A perfect tapas for me!! 

This is a salad with crispy fried jamon pieces, croutons, and a poached egg. You drizzle on olive oil and vinegar.  

Thinly sliced calves liver that’s been quickly sautéed with a wine sauce over roasted potatoes. Hearty food the Portugese love!  Not so common in the US anymore, but it should be! 

  Grilled lamb chops with couscous and zucchini. A Middle Eastern influence.

  

A cute dessert layered in an old style canning jar. This was a “light” mix of whipped cream, a cream cheese and raspberry purée with graham cracker crumbs on the bottom. 

Tasty memories from Lisbon, a beautiful city!

What’s to Eat in Lisbon

As we explore the main sights of Lisbon, we taste the foods too. Dave prefers the meats and I the seafood. There is plenty of both here, from big chops of beef, lamb, goat etc to grilled whole fish, octopus and calamari. Sweets are everywhere. Even their cappuccino is dusted with cocoa and cinnamon

Appetizers



Boiled and Salted Shrimp and Beans

Peel the shrimp and pinch the skins off the beans before popping them in your mouth!



Cheese and Quince Paste

This is Sao Jorge cheese, but any medium dry hard cheese would work, like manchego.



Deep Fried Cod and Shrimp Cakes or Pastel de Bacalhau and Rissol de Camarao 

Similar to the croquettes in other countries, except there is a whole piece of shrimp inside with the chopped shrimp and breadcrumb mix. No dipping sauce required

Main Dish



Pork and Clams with Fried Potatoes

Dave ordered this twice. A stew of pork shoulder bite size pieces in a rich white wine and tomato broth with garlic, bay leaves, paprika and cloves.



Stuffed Calamari

The calamari body is stuffed with a mix of chopped calamari and rice, similar to stuffed cabbage. They are sealed with toothpicks and simmered in a tomato green pepper sauce, similar to creole sauce. I suspect there were other meaty type items in the stuffing too. Maybe other fish?



Steamed Octopus

Yes, I did eat this, or part of it. Very mild and not rubbery



Sautéed Whole Shrimp with Garlic with Fried Potatoes

Dave and I could not finish this, but took the leftovers home. The potatoes were super crispy and hot! Not greasy at all!



Grilled Calamari

The calamari were whole and maintained their rounded shape. Very fresh!

Dessert





Travesseiru, an almond filled puff pastry and Queijada, a round cheese filled tart

These desserts should only be purchased at the pastry shop that founded them. All others are a poor copy. 

Travesseiru is from Piriquita in Sintra, a town outside of Lisbon.

Queijada is from Sapa, also in Sintra.

We took an all day mini bus tour to Sintra. Nadia was a fabulous tour guide who advised us to eat at Piriquita II for lunch and for the Travesseiru pastries! We arranged through Viator and Inside Lisbon.





Pastel de Nata, custard filled puff pastry

These are from Pasteis de Belem, just west of Lisbon. Don’t run away from the long lines! They are for take away. Go inside where there’s plenty of room and wonderful service and ambiance!



Pastel de Nata Copycat

This was from the local grocery store and are available everywhere in Lisbon and nearby. Very good, but no where close to the real thing.

Beverages



Green Wine or Vinho Verde

This wine was on tap which made it effervescent! The green refers to the young white wines of the northern Minho region.



Porto Wine

This is a high alcohol (20%) fortified wine that was developed to make the long passages to England. We bought port wine, quince paste and Sao Jorge cheese on our Walking and Tasting Through Lisbon Tour organized with Viator and Inside Lisbon. Thank you Sophia! It was fantastic!



Ginjinha, a Cherry Liqueur

Made of sour cherries, ginja berries, and sometimes served in an edible chocolate cup.



Cappuccino and a Pingado

The sweet loving Portugese sprinkle cinnamon and cocoa over their generous milk foamed cappuccino.

Pingado is an espresso with a drop or ping of milk. The drop can be more or less depending where you go.

Enjoy the tastes and travels!

What’s to Eat in Paris

What’s to Eat in Paris



Parisians have a true love and enjoyment of food which they take seriously. You can see it on their faces as they walk down the street biting into a slice of flan or sitting close together literally rubbing elbows at cafes for lunch. 

Rosa Jackson from Edible-Paris designed a fantastic walking tour itinerary for us which led to the most intriguing eateries. Cheese, chocolate, charcuterie and truffles, open air markets and boulangeries. We loved every minute of it! Then she recommended cafes and restaurants for us too! This was a very efficient and helpful travel tool. Worth every penny! We started at this pastry shop/ boulangerie, Le Moulin de la Vierge, pictured above.




The Petit Gaygry was so soft it needed a wood box to keep its shape. The blue cheese also was soft enough to need a wax like coating. The ash covered goat cheese was more aged and harder. All were heavenly. They were purchased at the official best cheese shop in Paris, Quatrehomme on 62 rue de Sevres.



The French style of espresso with just a drop of steamed milk, cafe noisette.



This a new way to eat salmon for me! Diced and tossed with olive oil, lots of coarsely chopped fennel fronds, shallots and then formed into a mold. Mine was quickly seared on each side and raw in the middle. Most Parisians eat it raw or tartare. We ate this in the St Germaine quarter near our apartment at Cafe de l’ Empire.



Hugo &Victor is a high end artistic chocolate shop in the 6th arrondissement. Get it? Book, Victor Hugo?



Many unusual apples at the open air market, Marche Saxe-Breteuill, among everything else from fresh fish to Middle Eastern prepared food.



This flan is very firm, not too sweet, and can be eaten right out of your hand walking down the street. We found this at the legendary bakery Poilane.



At Christian Constants Cafe Constant I enjoyed the roasted scallops. Barely cooked and flavorful.



Il Flotante is a classic French dessert I loved at Cafe Constant. Meringue floating in sweet cream sauce.

Three days in Paris is not enough! I will return for a long stay next time.

French Pastry Cake with French Custard Filling

French Pastry Cake with Soft French Custard and Fresh Strawberry Filling

French Pastry Cake with Soft French Custard and Fresh Strawberry Filling

I have been making this cake since 1968. My mom learned to make it from a series of cooking classes she took at the Antoinette Pope Cooking School in downtown Chicago.  This was our family birthday cake Mom made for her large family who would gather at our home. The only cake similar I have tasted is the Yule Log made by the French pastry chef at Café Zinc, Jeremy Lecreuse.

This recipe is taken from The New Antoinette Pope Cook Book. I made a double recipe for this large cake. One recipe is described here for an angel food cake pan or any pan of similar volume. A deep 9 x 13 inch baking pan would work as long as it is at least 3 inches deep.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour

1 3/4 cup sifted granulated sugar

12 large egg yolks (1 1/2 cups white and 1 cup yolks)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

  • In a large bowl combine flour with about 1/2 the sugar. Sift together at least 3 times.
  • Separate eggs carefully. In a medium bowl, beat yolks for several minutes until lemony
  • In a large bowl combine egg whites and salt. Beat until foamy. Sprinkle cream of tartar over surface. Continue beating until whites cling to sides of bowl. Beat 1 more minute.
  • With a plastic spatula fold beaten egg yolks into whites.
  • Fold in the other 1/2 of the sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time.
  • Fold in the flour and sugar mixture, 1/4 cup at a time.
Sonia Sanders folding the flour into the cake

Sonia Sanders folding the flour into the cake

Sprinkle 1/4 cup flour-sugar mixture over top and fold in

Sprinkle 1/4 cup flour-sugar mixture over top and fold in

Folding

Folding

  • Fold in vanilla.
  • Pour batter into a round loose bottom ungreased deep pan about 12 x 3 inches or an angel food cake pan about 4 x 10 inches. If using a pan without a removable bottom, place a 3 inch round of parchment paper on center bottom of pan, holding it in place with a little butter.
  • Bake 1 hour at 300 degrees.
  • Increase to 325 degrees and bake 10-20 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick or cake tester.
Double size cake baking in oven

Double size cake baking in oven

  • Turn cake upside town and balance so the cake does not touch the counter.
Turn cake pan upside down and balance with cups to hold cake above the counter. Cake does not fall out!

Turn cake pan upside down and balance with cups to hold cake above the counter. Cake does not fall out!

  • Let cool about 2 hours or until cold. It is best to remove cake from pan as soon as it is cold.
  • Loosen sides and bottom with a spatula or dinner knife and turn out onto serving platter or cake rack.
  • When ready to ice, cut cake in half horizontally with a bread knife.

French Cream Filling (Top of Stove Custard)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup sifted flour mixed with 2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 egg yolks

1/4 cup cool milk

2 cups warm milk

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

  • In a stainless steel saucepan combine sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt.
  • In a small bowl beat yolks slightly and add the 1/4 cup cool milk.
  • Whisk yolk mixture slowly into dry ingredients.
  • Whisk warm milk into yolk mixture, a little at a time, until blended.
  • Cook over moderate heat until thickened, stirring constantly.
  • Lower heat and simmer 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add butter.
  • Cool and continue to whisk often to prevent crust from forming.
  • Add vanilla when cool.
  • Cover top of custard with piece of plastic wrap to prevent crust from forming. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Constructing the cake

  • Divide the custard in half. Spread half of it on the cut side of the bottom cake layer.
Cake sliced in half and spread with custard and covered with fresh strawberries

Cake sliced in half and spread with custard and covered with fresh strawberries

  • Place fresh strawberry slices over the custard.
  • Spread the remaining half of custard on the cut side of the top layer of cake.
  • Carefully flip the top layer onto the strawberry layer.
Cake Assembled!

Cake Assembled!

It's a beautiful thing! And not super sweet!

It’s a beautiful thing! And not super sweet!

  • Beat at least 1 pint or more fresh whipping cream until spreadable. You can add some powdered sugar before beating if you want it a little sweeter.
  • Frost the cake top and then the sides with the whipping cream.
  • Voila!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 166 other followers