Spain is one big ‘YUM’! Between the jamon, chorizo, paella, tortilla, pan con tomate, pinchos, it’s hard to take a breath. Add to that that Barcelona has at least one of every other sort of restaurant imaginable and we found ourselves in for a treat. Though, admittedly, the food in Barcelona was basic and simple, the abundance of fresh and cheap seafood and fruit and veg make it a delicious city for the palate.
Paella was a favourite and we now know how to make it ourselves! Apparently, Paella really is the Spanish equivalent for American barbeque or potato salad. Everyone can make it and has their own variation. Though I felt a bit touristy ordering it at times, the locals also seem to love it and eat it at least once a week. Even in our very non-touristy borough in Barca the grocery had a special package of seafood pre-packed for the perfect paella! It’s just as easy to make as Jambalaya…and as tasty. Yum!
With jamon, we’ve learned that the trick is in the skill of the one who cuts it. To us, the best cuts are done by hand (not ours, but the shopkeeper’s, of course) and in long, thin strokes. While machines can be used, in our opinion, the hand cut is a bit nicer overall–they are less ‘slimy’ and because the hand cuts are a bit thicker than by machine, you’re able to savour a bit more of their flavour.
Jamon iberico is basically worshipped here. And while we’re also fans, we also find the cheaper breeds/types nice, as well. It just feels wrong somehow to put iberico on a sandwich, so we’re keen to have two types about the house. One for savouring (iberico) and one for casual use (sandwiches).
Pinchos are an artform in Basque country, but also in Barcelona. Many little hole in the wall bars have pinchos lined along the bar for the taking. You pick up a plate from the barkeep and count your toothpicks (one for each sandwich) and pay up when you’re finished. But, when you’re eating pinchos don’t walk in hungry…afterall, they’re tiny sandwiches!
My favourite pinchos were crab. Generally, fresh crab with mayonnaise, finely chopped onion, salt and pepper–or some also included a bit of paprika. Then, the trick to a perfect pincho is the garnish…the Basques have a crazy attention to detail and appreciate aesthetics (afterall, they are right next door to the french ). For example, my favourite crab pincho included a bit of the crab salad piled high on a thin slice of baguette. Then, on top they placed a small bit of pickled red pimento and a filet of anchovie–all topped with a bit of a fresh green herb.
Here are a few other pinchos that we enjoyed (assume all are on top of a very thin slice of baguette):
Sounds strange, but there’s some sort of potato salad that they place on these bits of bread. It’s like an American mayonaise-based salad with a bit of sugar added. Then, in addition to the usual bits, they add ham, of course. Topped with an anchovie filet and a fresh shrimp and a tad of paprika.
They take the typical Spanish tortilla, slice it in half, place a bit of crab salad (sans the paprika) in the middle. Whah la!
This one’s plain and simple…a tiny bit of green leaf lettuce, a ring of goat cheese, a bit of olive tepanade (the type with sundried tomato).
A tiny thin slice of iberico jamon topped by 3 pre-roasted mushrooms which are still firm to the touch. Topped with a bit of bechamel sauce and served warm.
Not quite sure of what’s in this one, or what to call it. But it’s delicious! Looking at it and tasting, it would seem to include julienned [plain] ham in very tiny cuts, scallions very thinly sliced, mayonnaise and salt & pepper. All topped with a slice of hardboiled egg.
Most pincho places also serve warm and cold racions (a half portion of a main dish intended as an appetizer). Our favourites, so far, have been seafood (ssteamed shrimp OR octopus) marinaded in lemon juice, olive oil and thinly chopped onions and fresh peppers. I would assume that a bit of s&p is also mixed in…