We enjoyed "tapas" frequently while visiting Spain. One of our favorite options was Patatas Bravas (or Papas Bravas in some dialects). It's incredibly basic - just crispy chunks of potato with a slightly spicy sauce and sometimes garlic aioli - but when done right is pure magic. Our favorite was at the roof-top café at the Reial Cercle Artístic de Barcelona (Royal Artistic Circle of Barcelona). We enjoyed them with a glass of sparkling cava - a great mid-afternoon snack. Since returning from Europe we've hosted a number of socially-distant tapas meals - a perfect option because everyone can have their own plate to help keep your distance. Patatas Bravas was always on the menu. After a bit of research, here's a recipe that Richard has pulled together taking the best ideas from various sources. Rather than deep fried, the potatoes are oven "fried".
After spending so much time in Spain, we are hooked on "tapas". One of our favorites is "Gambas al Ajillo" (Shrimp with Garlic).
We like this recipe (adapted from the Boston Globe) that serves the shrimp on a bed of wilted spinach. The key to this is to avoid over-cooking: garlic can quickly turn bitter and shrimp can lose their crunch when cooked too much.
When done right the shrimp has just the right texture and garlicky oil is irresistible - so have plenty of crusty bread on hand.
One of the best experiences of our European adventure was enjoying an authentic Paella cooking class at "Mi Paella en el Huerto" ("My Paella in the Garden"). Our friends Hop, Douglas, and Dan raved about the class and insisted we add it to our plans. Our paella experience began when Maria, our guide / instructor, picked us up in the City Hall Square, and began passionately weaving the story of paella from the viewpoint of a native who lives in the very region of its origin.
We came away from the day with recipes and techniques that we've use frequently since. It's particularly great because everything can be done in one pan!
While we were in Spain one of our favorite Tapas was a steaming, salty plate of "Pimientos de Padrón". We would often stop into green grocers and check to see if they had any in stock and made them for ourselves as a quick and easy snack or tasty appetizer.
Like Shishito Peppers - which are a perfect alternative and easier to find in the USA - every now and then you will get a hot one. The waiter at a sidewalk restaurant in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria joked, "If you get a hot one I have to charge you double!"
Recipes from the Road
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