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.
At one of our very first restaurant meals of our trip, at La Bossa in Camogli, Richard had his first taste of the Ligurian pasta specialty called "trofie". These little curly strands of pasta are served with string beans (and sometimes potatoes!) and drenched in pesto - the fabulous Genoese sauce made from fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, grated cheese, and olive oil. When our nephew Patrick came to join us, Trofie al Pesto became his go-to order. Though readily available throughout most of Italy, this type of pasta is seldom seen in the US. So, we decided to make our own.
On our way to visiting Stefan and Ariane in Baden-Baden for Christmas, we stopped off in Strasbourgh in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France. We read about a regional specialty called Tarte Flambée that we just had to try. The place to get this unique flatbread is La Binchstub, a crowded little counter with a great beer and wine list and slamming flatbreads with creative toppings.
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!"
This is a great one for a quick but healthy meal that looks and tastes like you're at a fine restaurant. Also great when cooking for just one or two.
Recipes from the Road
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