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Welcome to the world's most exciting foodscape, Spain, with its vibrant marriage of rustic traditions, Mediterranean palate, and endlessly inventive cooks. The New Spanish Table lavishes with sexy tapas —Crisp Potatoes with Spicy Tomato Sauce, Goat Cheese-Stuffed Pequillo Peppers. Heralds a gazpacho revolution—try the luscious, neon pink combination of cherry, tomato, and beet. Turns paella on its head with the dinner party favorite, Toasted Pasta "Paella" with Shrimp. From taberna owners and Michelin-starred ...
Welcome to the world's most exciting foodscape, Spain, with its vibrant marriage of rustic traditions, Mediterranean palate, and endlessly inventive cooks. The New Spanish Table lavishes with sexy tapas —Crisp Potatoes with Spicy Tomato Sauce, Goat Cheese-Stuffed Pequillo Peppers. Heralds a gazpacho revolution—try the luscious, neon pink combination of cherry, tomato, and beet. Turns paella on its head with the dinner party favorite, Toasted Pasta "Paella" with Shrimp. From taberna owners and Michelin-starred chefs, farmers, fishermen, winemakers, and nuns who bake like a dream—in all, 300 glorious recipes, illustrated throughout in dazzling color. ¡Estupendo!
TAPAS: LITTLE BITES, BIG TASTES
In a compulsively social country like Spain, the tapeo—tapas bar crawl—is a ritual of near-religious importance. And it isn’t just the nibbling and the imbibing: In Spain, the tapeo embodies a whole worldview and a lifestyle. The verb tapear, says the Sevillian tapas expert Juan Carlos Alonso, “is a broad concept that encompasses multiple actions: drinking, eating, chatting, strolling, greeting, seeing, being seen . . .” Indeed.
In its original form, the tapa (from the word tapar, to cover) was a free slice of cheese or jamón that topped a glass of sherry, thus protecting the drink from flies and dust. The tradition originated in the nineteenth century in Andalusia, the center of sherry production, where scorching summers make full meals unthinkable. Besides, a strong, fortified drink such as sherry fairly demands a snack. From these basic beginnings, the tapa evolved into a truly protean concept defined only by size and function: a bite to accompany drinks, normally eaten with one’s hands, standing up. Place a portion of leftover stew in a small cazuela and you’ve got a tapa. Order a beer, chat up your neighbor, and it’s a fiesta. No wonder the Spanish prefer hanging out in bars to entertaining at home.
Although Spain is presently in the grip of a nueva cocina revolution, old-school tapas bars happily remain true to themselves. Imagine a heart-stoppingly atmospheric tiled dive suffused with the musky scent of jamones (cured hams) hung from the ceiling. Its walls are plastered with bullfighting photos. Its floors are scattered with napkins, toothpicks, and olive pits.The crowds stand wall to wall, shoulder to shoulder, exchanging cracks with the countermen, who shout out orders for another round of briny anchovies or batter-fried bacalao. At classic bars all over Spain, standbys like ensaladilla rusa (a mayonnaise-drenched potato salad), embutidos (cured meats), cheese, and potato tortillas seem inescapable. But beyond these stereotypes, tapas vary dramatically from region to region and from bar to bar.
Meatballs, patatas bravas (potatoes with spicy tomato sauce), and cups of broth from cocido (boiled dinner) washed down with beer or vermouth on tap are the stuff of old Madrid tabernas. In the northwestern region of Galicia, the tapeo involves squares of seafood empanadas, paprika-dusted poached octopus slices known as pulpo a feira, and stubby glasses of albariño. Sidra (cider) is the drink in the mountainous Asturias region, accompanied by a wedge of stinky Cabrales cheese and a link of chorizo braised in more cider.
In their Basque incarnation tapas are called pintxos and are almost always mounted on bread—fanciful canapés decorated with frilly mayonnaise borders and arrayed on bar counters like edible communion dresses. Andalusian bars seduce with a vast array of edibles, from small portions of stews or snails in a spicy sauce, to fried fish and delicacies like poached hake roe in a piquant aliño (marinade).
Spain’s Mediterranean regions— Catalonia, Valencia, Alicante—don’t have a long tapas tradition. But this is where you find the best bares de producto: ingredient-driven lunch and dinner counters that offer raciónes or media raciónes, full or half portions. Few things in life are more pleasurable than staking a perch at one of the counters at Barcelona’s colorful Boqueria market and nibbling on flash-fired baby squid, as tiny as a pinky nail; just-picked fava beans with a fried egg on top; or the season’s first asparagus.
Even within one region, bars tend to specialize: Some excel in fried stuff, like croquetas, others in griddled or skewered bites, yet others in montaditos (canapés). Certain bars draw crowds with their inexpensive portions of marinated carrots or roasted peppers, others with seafood delicacies like langoustines or goose barnacles for prices as steep as those at Tokyo’s sushi bars. Some bars have menus, others have ironlunged waiters who breathlessly recite the daily specials. Some lavishly display their wares on the counters; at other bars, each order emerges just-cooked from the kitchen. Wine bars and cheese bars, the breakfast bars of Seville and the beer bars of Madrid, bars out of central casting, and white neo- Moderne haunts with tapas artfully arranged in shot glasses, on skewers, and on spoons— at times, the entire country seems like one vast bar theme park.
Don’t have a crowded, food-filled tapas bar on your street corner? Create one at home with the delicious tapas recipes that follow. ¡Olé!
Falling in Love with Spain . . . . . xiii
THE REGIONS OF SPAIN
Some fast facts on the history, food, and wine of each of Spain’s regions
LITTLE BITES, BIG TASTES
Bar hopping, complete with a vast array of tapas, is essential to the social scene in Spain. Smoky Fried Almonds, Eggplant Stacks with Tomato Jam, Grilled Shrimp with Pepper Confetti, Moorish Kebabs, Patatas Bravas—all are perfect accompaniments to a glass of beer or wine spritz.
FROM COZY TO COOL
Enjoy hearty bowlfuls of both traditional and innovative, modern soups including Roasted Vegetable Soup with Anchovy Toasts, Tomato and Bread Soup with Fresh Figs, Castilian Garlic Soup, Silky-Textured Chicken Soup with Mini Meatballs, and six refreshing gazpachos—from the classic to an adventurous Spicy Gazpacho Sorbet.
SO FRESH, SO GOOD
The Spanish take on salads: beautiful vegetables, simply dressed with the finest quality olive oil and vinegar.What could be better? Try Green Salad with Apricots and Hazelnuts, Mesclun with Figs, Cabrales, and Pomegranate, a Fava Bean Salad with Jamón and Fresh Mint, and a Roasted Pepper Salad so good that “addictive” is part of its name.
MORE THAN BREAKFAST
In Spain the egg is beloved—and more likely to show up at lunch or supper than first thing in the morning. The iconic Potato Tortilla. Tasty Eggs Over Smoked Bread Hash. A luxurious Wild Mushroom Revuelto in an Egg Carton. Use only the freshest, best-quality eggs for these heavenly dishes.
CANAPES, COCAS & MORE
Canapés, tostadas, cocas, and empanadas—breads find their way onto the Spanish table in a remarkable array of tasty bites. Serve up Pastry Puffs with Roquefort and Apple Spread, Basque Triple Seafood Canapés, “Deconstructed” Tomato Bread, Galician Tuna Empanada with Melting Onions, and a crusty pizzalike Coca with Candied Red Peppers.
Roasted Halibut on a Bed of Potatoes. Monkfish with Eggplant Allioli. Fresh Sardines with Garlic and Parsley. Seafood Stew in Romesco Sauce. Cadiz Clams with Spinach and Eggs. Incredibly fresh seafood is at the heart of the Spanish diet and translates into recipes that are welcome on any seafood lover’s table.
PORK, LAMB, AND BEEF
Pork Tenderloin with Lightly Seared Strawberries. Salt-Baked Pork in Adobo. Braised and Glazed Pork Ribs with Applesauce. Pork is the number one meat with the Spanish, but they also make glorious lamb dishes (Lamb Shanks with Five Heads of Garlic) and beef dishes (Grilled Skirt Steak with Almond & Caper Salsa).
A N D G A M E
Just wait until you try Grilled Chicken with Piquillo Gazpacho Sauce, Smothered Chicken with Vegetable Jam, and Lemon Chicken with Honey and Saffron. Plus Duck Legs with Prunes and Olives, Hunter’s-Style Baked Quail in Escabeche, and a robust Rabbit Stew with a Touch of Chocolate.
BEANS AND POTATOES
R U S T I C E L E G A N C E
Originally thought of as poor man’s cuisine, bean, legume, and potato dishes flourish in Spain. Enjoy Lentil and Wild Mushroom Hash with Poached Eggs, Chickpea Stew with Chorizo and Meatballs, White Bean and Clam Casserole, Pyrenean Potato and Kale Cake, Smoky Mashed Potatoes, and Wrinkled Potatoes with Spicy Chile Mojo.
RICE AND PASTA
ASpanish cookbook without paella? Impossible. And this chapter includes a Classic Valencian Paella, a Black Paella with Squid, Mussels, and Peas, and a Paella with Pine Nut Meatballs, Sausage, and Potatoes. Plus there’s a Toasted Pasta “Paella” with Shrimp and a Spanish take on Spaghetti and Clams in a Skillet.
On Spanish tables, vegetables are frequently eaten as a first course rather than a side dish, and choices range from beautifully Batter-Fried Artichokes to Eggplant Ham and Cheese“ Sandwiches” to Andalusian Spinach with Chickpeas to Zucchini “Boats” with Tuna and Roasted Tomatoes.
THE GRAND FINALE
Fragrant tarts, luscious mousses and ice creams, refreshing granitas—including one made with espresso and another with Campari and blood oranges—plus a full array of sensational chocolate treats like Adolfo’s Warm Chocolate Soufflé Cakes, Chocolate Custards with a Citrus Cloud, and Hot Chocolate with Meringue Stars. Sensational!
CONVERSION TABLES . . . . . . 454
THE SPANISH PANTRY . . . . . . . 455
UTENSILS . . . . . . . 460
SOURCES . . . . . . 461
PHOTOGRAPHY CREDITS . . . . . 463
INDEX . . . . . . . . 464