Archive for the ‘Food & Drink’ Category

Top 10 Spanish Foods to try

Posted on: July 29th, 2016 by admin No Comments

Each region offers unique cuisine that is worth exploring. Learning is a continuous process, so if you would like to advance your culinary skills, it is advisable to borrow from different communities. The Spanish communities have some of the best recipes that you can learn from to improve your culinary skills. Below are ten Spanish foods you can easily learn how to prepare with simple ingredients.

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1. Pulpo a la Gallega
Also referred to as the Galician octopus, Pulpo a la Gallega is a signature dish in the Spanish culture that dates back to 125 years during a time when Spain had many cattle fairs. The food is made from steaming octopus meat and is cooked with olive oil mixed with paprika. The Pulpo a la Gallega is a typical dish and is among top dishes that the Spanish people identify with, not forgetting it holds historical significance.

2. Gazpacho
The Gazpacho is a famous soup prepared in various colours. Traditionally, the soup was prepared during the summer season and has since become a great delicacy especially among visitors, who find it refreshing and delicious. The soup is prepared using tomatoes, cucumber, olive oil, stale bread, garlic pepper, onion and salt. All the ingredients are mixed together and fried in moderate fire before preparing the thick delicious soup.

3. Croquettes
Almost every restaurant in Spain offers Croquettes. The Croquettes are made unique and the taste depends on the specifications of individual hotel, so you will find them different from one hotel to another. Generally, the food is tasty and there are not many variations from one restaurant to another because they share the main ingredients.

4. Jamon
You can also enjoy some pieces of Jamon from any bar in Spain. The Spanish jamon is prepared using traditional techniques and the ham is labelled depending on the breed of the pig it was sourced from. The ham is dried and cured then prepared to offer tasty pieces.

5. Spanish ratatouille
Vegetarians will also have something to pick from the Spanish people. The Spanish ratatouille is made from tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and eggs. The flavour availed by this delicious combinations are unique and something you can try at home if you have the ingredients.

6. Bean stew
Spain is home to different beans and legumes species. Different regions produce different kinds of beans, so you can have a taste of what each place you visit has to offer. The beans varieties available in Spain are unique and the preparation is also perfectly executed.

7. Paella
The rice based dish is recognized internationally and is available in many variations that are worth exploring. The traditional version of Paella is prepared from a mixture of chicken or rabbit meat – sometimes both – greens beans and some vegetables.

8. Fried milk
This is not a common dish, but you may easily find it in major restaurants. It’s one of the unique dishes that will make you like everything about the Spanish people.

9. Robo de Toro
This is an Andalusian stew that originated in the 16th century Cordoba. It is made from bull/ox tail and other sophisticated ingredients to make it delicious.

10. Arroz Negro
This is one of the best prepared rice dishes in Spain. Most visitors would barely notice any of the ingredients used and this explains the reason it is among top choices among those who have been to Spain before.

The History of Spanish Tapas

Posted on: April 28th, 2016 by admin No Comments

Spanish Cuisine. Assorted tapas on ceramic plates.

The History of Spanish Tapas

One of the big trending culinary delights of the modern age is the Spanish tapas menu. You don’t have to go to Madrid or Malaga to experience the idea of ordering small plates of a variety of delicacies and sharing with friends and family. We are all familiar with tapas, but how many of us know where the idea came from? It’s not as easy as you think to pick up the origins, but here are some of the ideas about how it happened.

Myths and legends that surround tapas

If you delve into tapas history the name is associated with Spanish royalty. The idea of which king it was is rather obscure, but one of the stories is that following a long trip, ‘a king’ visited a restaurant in Andalusia and was served wine and cheese. The cheese was put over the glass of wine to protect it from either insects or dust. The word ‘tapadera’ means cover, and from then on the king always asked for tapas whenever he drank wine.
Another story claims the origins of tapas relate to a sick Spanish King, who could only eat small amounts of wine and food to recover. When he was well again, he ordered that all of the restaurants and bars in Castile would serve food in this way.
One legend that didn’t involve Kings relates to peasants in the countryside. To maintain their energy levels, they would eat small snacks regularly with wine while they were working.

Tapas today

In the current modern society, tapas is just known as a Spanish version of enjoying a range of small dishes with wine. For anybody that is visiting Spain, this is one of the great gastronomic delights and every region around the country will have their own version. The classic tapas menu involves fish, meat, eggs, vegetable, and wine. It is served lots of different ways depending where you are eating it.

The importance of tapas

When you think of Spain, tapas is one of the images conjured up and in truth, this has become a part of the country’s national identity. Cities in Spain combat with each other to become known as the best place to eat tapas, but of course, it all comes down to personal choice. The beauty of eating in this way is that no matter what your taste in food, there is always something on the menu that you will like, whether you are eating in Spain or anywhere else in the world.

 

5 Affordable Spanish Wines You Need To Try

Posted on: March 16th, 2016 by admin No Comments

barrel of wine with grape cones

In the early days of package tours, Spanish wine was eagerly seized upon (literally!) as cheap booze, but of sometimes questionable quality. Its reputation has improved greatly since then, with regions being developed and old varieties of grape renewed all the time. The industry has been able to move considerably up-market, but it’s still possible to find plenty of choice available at a very modest price. Young wines are the cheapest but the more mature types are affordable too, with reds generally more favoured.

Tempranillo

Young varieties of this fruity wine, such as Rioja Crianza, are aged for less than a year. They are spicier than more mature versions and the ones produced in the central region are ideal for use in Sangria. Tempranillo that has been aged for a few years in oak and bottle is richer, and boasts a high tannin content.

Garnacha

Known as Grenache in France, this is actually a Spanish grape. A product of northern Spain, its fresh smooth taste makes it another suitable ingredient for Sangria, while fine Garnacha carries more complex flavours. Hillsides around Madrid still support old vines, but the variety is also blended with Syrah, Merlot, Cariñena and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Monastrell

The French wine Mourvèdre also has its past in Spain, where it’s called Monastrell, but the same grape exists in Australia and California as Mataro. Originating in the centre of the country and now its fourth most planted vine, it’s bold and intense with notes of blackberry and chocolate, smoky undertones and plenty of tannin.

Bobal

Another offering from central Spain, Bobal retains hints of herbs and violets, while its dark fruit flavours and high tannins are perfectly matched by a colour that is a deep shade of purple. The grape is native to the Utiel-Requena region of Valencia, where it constitutes 90% of all vines, and is the third most cultivated nationally. Its high acidity level increases its versatility, and it has been used for sparkling wine and for adding colour to rosé.

Mencía

Choose the floral aromas of Mencía for something lighter, not unlike a Burgundy or Beaujolais. Mostly grown in the north west of the country, with some areas blending it with local grapes like Bastardo, it’s very similar to a variety found in Portugal. Younger bottlings are lively and refreshing, while those matured in oak possess more gravitas. Like all the wines mentioned here, it’s easy to buy in the UK.

Spain Loves Olive Oil

Posted on: October 28th, 2015 by admin No Comments


olive oil

Olive oil is synonymous with Spain and its cooking culture. It finds use in virtually every Spanish dish and imparts a vibrant flavour to food. As with all natural products, olive oil varies dependant on where and when the harvest takes place. For example, olives harvested early in the season will produce a stronger and more bitter oil. If they are harvested later in the year, the resulting oil will be smoother and have a more buttery texture.

Oil producers use various methods to advertise their products, so it is worth considering what you are buying when making a choice. The best grade is ‘ Extra Virgin’ Olive oil as this has not been refined or blended. There are strict regulations regarding oil production and it is worth noting that Virgin oils must be processed naturally without the use of solvents and cannot be mixed with other oils. For this reason, Virgin oils are the best choice.

There are many Spanish olive varieties available, with Manzanilla being the best known. Grown in Andalusia, it is a juicy green olive that is served pitted and stuffed with pimento or garlic. The Manzanilla is also commonly served with a Martini. There are other varieties which include Empeltre, Sevillano, Arbequina, Picual and the Hojiblanca. Each variety has its use and individual flavour so there are plenty of options when choosing the Olive oil that suits your palate and your needs.

Using Olive oil in your daily diet is the healthy option. As a naturally produced product, it contain no additives or preservatives and is free from cholesterols. The fact that it is so natural means that Olive oil is not only an excellent alternative to refined oils for cooking, it can be used for a variety of dressing and can be infused with many different vegetables and leaves to enhance further its flavour.

The Spanish love their Olives and produce some of the finest oils available. Take your time when choosing an oil and try a selection of varieties before making your decision. Always buy Virgin or Extra Virgin Olive oil as it is the purest and the best. When you buy your Spanish Olive oil, you are bringing some of the beautiful Spanish sun into your home.

Authentic Majorcan Cuisine

Posted on: September 23rd, 2015 by admin No Comments

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The stunning island of Majorca has had tourists flocking to its golden shores for decades. Although famous for glorious beaches and exciting night-life, Majorca has so much more to offer those who want to explore its delights and indulge in the fantastic cuisine. Boasting a mouth-watering culinary heritage, it would be a wasted opportunity to venture no further than the all-inclusive resorts or spending balmy evenings searching for burgers and chips.

WHAT’S ON OFFER?

Many traditional dishes are enjoying a revival and for anyone seeking a real taste of the authentic, the local bars and restaurants will not disappoint. Fruits and vegetables bursting with flavour grow abundantly in the Mediterranean climate and are enjoyed at their best when used simply but lovingly to create the perfect accompaniment to local meats, cheeses and fresh fish. Rural tourism is on the increase in Majorca and farmhouse accommodation provides one of the best ways to experience traditional cooking.

SNACKS

Tapas bars are a great place to sample a range of tasty morsels, such as Calamares (squid rings in batter), cured hams and spicy sausages. Indigenous to Majorca is sobrasada, a spicy sausage made from cured pork and bacon, spiced with paprika, aniseed, salt and pepper – delicious with a salad of olives, tomatoes and peppers.
For something sweeter, another speciality from Majorca are ensaimadas, a sweet spiral pastry bun dusted with icing sugar and sometimes filled with a fruit jam. Perfect as a snack, dunked in coffee or even enjoyed as a dessert, they are quite irresistible!

MEALS

When something a little more substantial is required, there are many seafood dishes to choose from, such as sea bass baked in rock salt, or the timeless paella. Authentic Majorcan paella, fideua, is made with noodles instead of rice.
Pork is a staple of main dishes in Majorca and apart from a mouth-watering selection of sausages, pork parcels wrapped in cabbage and served with raisins and pine nuts – known as Llom amb col – are another favourite.
If you’re visiting Majorca in the Autumn when it’s a little cooler, you may feel inclined to tuck into tumbet, a rich ratatouille-style vegetable dish of aubergines, peppers tomatoes, garlic and potatoes. While this is sometimes served as an accompaniment to meats, it makes a hearty and healthy dish on its own. Wash down with an award-winning wine for a truly memorable taste of Majorca.

 

5 Spanish Wines You MUST Try

Posted on: July 29th, 2015 by admin No Comments

spansih wine
Spanish wine has come a long way since the advent of package tours in the 1960s, when British holidaymakers first uttered the words el vino along the Costas and then in its historic cities. Although the industry cannot boast the centuries of tradition from which some of its neighbours benefit, today its vineyards can rival the quality of those in some other European countries and there are treats to be enjoyed.

Marqués de Riscal Gran Reserva

Take for instance this blend of Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo made from grapes that are more than thirty years old, with the wine being aged in American oak. With its complex aromas it ages well – the 1945 vintage is said to be one of Spain’s finest ever. One of the first bodegas to employ the Bourdeaux method, the Rioja estate also stands out for its Frank O. Gehry-designed silver and pink City of Wine building.

Compañía de Vinos Telmo Rodríguez Altos de Lanzaga

Gypsies have always played an important part in Spanish culture, so it’s fitting that one of its best winemakers should wander the country in itinerant fashion, to find and preserve a tradition under threat from commercial interests. Telmo Rodríguez respects both his budget and high-end bottlings, and this top-end offering is mostly Tempranillo with some Garnacha and Graciano.

2013 Rioja Valdepomares

Take a drop in price but not in taste with this modern rioja. Grapes growing in the cool Avesa sub-region produce reds free from hints of oak ageing, which is obvious from its underlying fruit flavours of cherry and raspberry on a tannin base.

Martires 2013 Finca Allende DOCa Rioja 100% Viura

Being barrel-fermented in new French oak brings touches of lime, lemon, peach and honeysuckle to this fresh but powerful white. Produced from 1970-planted vines in one hectare of loamy clay soil in Briones (Rioja Alta), Martires debuted only in 2008. It was worth the wait and even the higher price tag.

Vinarius Viura-Verdejo, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León 2010

This much more modestly-priced unoaked viura is mixed with fragrant verdejo, and its hints of tropical fruit offset by crisp notes of acidity are reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc. This area in the heartland of Spain around Madrid endures hot dry summers and cold winters and is best known for its reds. Whites are produced on a smaller scale but they deserve just as much serious attention.

¡Salud!

Top 5 Majorcan Wines

Posted on: March 10th, 2015 by admin No Comments

In the past, Majorcan wines have been looked down upon as inferior to Italian or French varieties. In recent years, however, there has been a boom in Spanish wines, and the sunny Mediterranean island of Majorca can now boast many delectable vintages.

Majorcan Wines

Binissalem in Majorca’s central plain is now the most widely-known area for vineyards in Majorca, and was the birthplace of the new wine industry in the 1990s following decimation by pests and blight. Grapes grown here include Manto Negro, Callet, Tempranillo, Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot for the red varieties, and the whites include Moll, Premsal, Parellada, Macabeo, Muscat and Chardonnay.

1. Crianza
With more body than Merlot, this locally produced wine is most commonly aged in oak barrels, which lend their flavours to the wine. This type of red wine is the most common in the Binissalem area, and usually comes at an accessible price. It’s a high-quality wine for everyday drinking.

2. Manto Negro
This wine is almost exclusively found on Majorca, meaning it’s a must-try for travellers and holidaymakers. The wine produced is commonly light-bodied, soft, and fruity.

3. Muscat
There are various kinds of Muscat or Muscatel grapes grown in Majorca, and wines produced from Miquel Oliver’s bodega in Petra village are considered especially fine. These sweet white wines are perfect with cheeses or creamy Majorcan desserts after a meal.

4. Cabernet Sauvignon
One of the world’s most recognised red wines, this grape variety is also grown locally in Majorca. This wine is again known for its affinity for oak, where it is most often aged. In Majorca, the grapes are grown in the foothills of the mountains in Serra de Tramuntana and the Costa Nord.

5. Callet
This grape has been known in the past as a rustic red, best used for making rose wine, but the grape’s spice has more recently made it a popular blend with other varieties on Majorca. Bodega Miquel Oliver and Bodega Pere Seda both use this grape to add complexity to their reds and roses.

Want your taste of Majorcan wines? Head on over to our website to get your car hire sorted (remember no drinking and driving!)

Top 5 Most Delicious Spanish Dishes

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by admin No Comments

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Spain is famous for its delicious cuisine. If you are planning a trip to Spain or simply dining at your local Spanish restaurant, these are some Spanish dishes that you should not miss.

Paella (as seen above)
This delicious rice dish is one of Spain’s signature dishes and can be enjoyed either as a main meal or as a side dish. The dish is traditionally made with saffron rice with seafood such as prawns, calamari, mussels and fish, although meat versions are also available. One of the great things about paella is that the variations are almost endless and it can be cooked with onions, olives, tomatoes, chillies, mushrooms or just about any combination of meat, fish and vegetables that you like.

Cochinillo Asado
For a really decadent dinner, roast baby pig is a mouth watering option and features a crispy rind with juicy meat on the inside. The best place in Spain to sample cochinillo asado is Segovia.

Chorizo
This spicy sausage is rich and delicious and makes the perfect accompaniment to any meal. Chorizo is usually served thinly sliced and cold or cut into pieces and cooked in wine or cider and is delicious with fresh bread or Spanish-style potatoes. Many bars in Spain serve chorizo as a snack and this sausage is great with a glass of locally made beer or wine, while it can also be eaten for breakfast with a traditional Spanish egg dish.

Fried Milk
This sweet treat is called leche frita in Spanish and is a traditional Spanish dessert that features a cold and firm milk pudding centre contrasted with a warm and crunchy coating of flour and egg that is dusted with cinnamon and sugar. This dessert is sometimes flavoured with lemon or orange and can be eaten at any time of the day.

Patatas Bravas
This satisfying potato dish is the perfect accompaniment to dishes such as chorizo and cochinillo asado and features chucks of fried potatoes smothered in a spicy tomato sauce. There are several variations of patatas bravas just waiting to be enjoyed in Spain such as potatoes served with ali oli garlic sauce or paprika.

A Guide to Majorcan Wines

Posted on: June 30th, 2014 by admin No Comments

Majorcan Wines

Wine has been produced in Majorca for almost two thousand years and the industry saw a major expansion towards the end of the nineteenth century. However, until very recently Majorcan wines have been something of a well-kept secret beyond the shores of the island.

The three major vine-growing regions of Majorca are Binissalem on the central plain, Pla i Llevant in the east and Serra De Tramuntana and Costa Nord in the foothills of the western mountains. The Majorcan wine industry has benefited from considerable investment and modernisation in the last decade and the Binissalem region has been awarded the coveted DO status.

Some seventy-five percent of the wine from Binissalem is red, of which the best known is Crianza. Pla i Llevant produces excellent white wines, particularly those made from the Chardonnay and Muscat grapes. Serra De Tramuntana and Costa Nord is known for its fresh-tasting white wines and single-variety reds.

Whilst Majorcan wines are still not widely available outside Spain, they are without doubt the first choice wine to enjoy with local food when visiting the island.