Swordfish in orange wine – Casa Paco, Sevilla.

sworfish1

Down south in Andalucia, you’ll often  notice an arab flair to the food you’ll eat. Adding nuts and fruit gives some dishes a flavorful touch that results in a lighter and sometimes citrusy  meal. Such is the case of a fantastic swordfish  I had in Sevilla where tapas are plentiful and cheap; much cheaper than  anywhere else in  Spain.

Pez espada (swordfish) has been a part of Spanish cuisine for centuries. A meaty and somewhat oily fish that is usually grilled  but  at Casa Paco in Sevilla it’s  sautéed  and then simmered in orange wine, a white wine that has been infused with orange rind.  Of course, the oranges used are the famous Seville ones known for their bitter taste which are commonly used to make marmalade and wine. To give their pez espada al vino de naranja  an even more Andalusian touch, they add chopped dates and pine nuts, thus  incorporating different textures  to create  a great combination of perfectly moist fish with some crunch and  a sweet and sour taste. All for only  €3.50!

Price range €4-€11

casapacoCasa Paco

Alameda de Hércules 23

Sevilla

Spain

Tel:34 954 900 148

 

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Suquet de rape y almejas – Boca Grande, Barcelona

suquetxSuquet is a typical  stew that was originally made with leftovers from the local fish markets along Costa Brava.  Fishermen took home all the beaten up fish they couldn’t sell and came up with their own casserole. For a long time, Suquet a term that in catalá means juice, was considered a poor man’s meal but soon after, it  became a staple of Catalunya’s cuisine.  Nothing compares to it! It’s not a soupy dish like bouillabaisse or cataplana, but  more like a  Catalonian “tease”of a seafood delicacy that will leave you wanting more.

At Boca Grande, it’s one of its specialties and for good reason: they make some of the best in town! Although pricey  for €27,   it’s well worth it.  Among the varieties offered, I picked the suquet de rape y almejas – made with perfectly cooked morsels of meaty monkfish and tender clams served over a creamy mix of potato foam and seafood broth sprinkled with pine nuts. Light yet succulent, absolutely delicious! I could’ve easily ordered seconds but I had to contain myself. After all, I am in trendy Barcelona, not Disney World!

bocagrande3Boca Grande

Passatge da la Concepció 12

Barcelona, 08008

Phone: 93/467–5149

Website: http://www.bocagrande.cat

 

 

 

Fried eggs with Iberian ham and chopped asparagus La Pepita, Barcelona, Spain

friedeggslapepitaUnlike  in the Unitied States, in Spain eggs are mostly served as a main course and not just for breakfast.  In many restaurants around the country, you’ll find a variety of  choices like the “tortilla”, an omelet made with potatoes and onions or the “huevos a la flamenca”  , baked eggs with vegetables and ham or chorizo.  But one of the most popular options is huevos fritos or huevos rotos – fried eggs.  They have been a staple of Spanish cuisine for centuries, even renowned Spanish painter Diego Velazquez painted  Vieja friendo huevos – Old woman frying eggs  back in 1618, and playwright and poet Lope de Vega mentions this dish in a letter he wrote to the Duque de Sessa around the same time. Also known as huevos estrellados, this dish  is  served almost everywhere in an assortment of variations.  The trick is how they are  fried, which usually happens to be in plenty  of oil allowing  for a crust to form around the egg white while keeping the yolk runny. La Pepita’s are one great choice served with homemade potato chips, thin slices of Iberian ham –  and chopped asparagus for €10. Just make sure you have plenty of bread within reach!

lapepitavitrinaLa  Pepita

Carrer de Córsega 343

08037 Barcelona

Tel 932 38 48 93

Website: http://www.lapepitabcn.com

 

Baked cod with aliolí and quince meringue – Las Fernández – Barcelona, Spain

cod fernandezSmack in the middle of ciutat vella, Las Fernaández will surprise you with its delicious homemade fare. From the outside, it might look like a hole in the wall but wait until you walk through its funky red door. Red walls everywhere – they say this color stimulates your appetite so it might be a deliberate move to make patrons eat as much as they can. But truly, their food alone can make you do it without any help. A menu that is just as eclectic as its decor:  daily seafood stews, innovative salads such as the ensalada de espinacas con confit de pato, fresh spinach with duck confit  and apple  for €11.50 or the rollitos de lacón con aguacate  for €6.50,  broiled pork shoulder ham rolls stuffed with avocado in a creamy béchamel sauce, among many others. I chose the bacalao con alioli de membrillo al horno, codfish fillet covered in a light alioli and quince merengue au gratin for €12.00. The unorthodox combination of the tangy alioli sauce and the quince gives the fluffy meringue a unique sweet and sour taste that will have you coming back for more, even if you decide to blindfold yourself to avoid all that red.

 

fernadezfachadaLas Fernández

Carrer de les Carretes 11

Barcelona 08002

Tel: 934 43 20 43

 

 

 

 

Ensalada de Ventresca- Café Emma, Barcelona

ventrescaI took an early flight to Barcelona and  was starving by the time I arrived. As soon as I dropped off my stuff off at the hotel, I went anxiously searching for a good place to eat but I knew it wouldn’t be easy. In Spain, most people have lunch around  2 pm so  at noon, I knew  the options would be few and far between. Luckily, I spotted an older woman who looked liked a local and asked her where to go.  She kindly recommended a small brasserie called Cafe Emma down the street on Career de Pau Claris. So, I followed her suggestion and headed for what  happened to be a  very cute eatery named just like my daughter. It was bound to be good!

As I ordered a small caña ( glass of draft beer), I was served some toast and sardine mousse made with mustard and tarragon, slightly pungent yet smooth enough to pair well with the ice cold  beer. On the menu,  I chose one of my favorite salads – ensalada de ventresca which could easily be compared to a Niçoise but, in this Spanish version, the key element is the tuna belly or ventresca. This salad is served with black olives, onions,tomatoes, sliced boiled potatoes,  hard boiled egg and scallions. All dressed with a mild combination of white wine mustard, olive oil and tarragon. Trust me, once you try ventresca, you’ll never want any other kind of tuna. 

Cafe Emma

Carrer de Pau Claris, 142,

08009 Barcelona

Phone:932 15 12 16

Hours · 8:00 am – 12:30 am

http://www.cafe-emma.com

 

 

 

Alkalde – Madrid, Spain

chipironesFor over fifty years, Alkalde has been serving some of the best in Basque cuisine to local patrons in elegant  Salamanca neighborhood. Right on calle Jorge Juan, showcasing a  lovely  terrace of traditional linen covered tables and hip Ghost chairs, this eatery holds  a cool combination of classic and modern decor. A sort of keeping up with the times approach that is also reflected in the menu where the main stars are old favorites that have been slightly updated like the chipirones served over a bed of caramelized onions, gently braised baby squid  exquisitely tender and succulent, and of course excellent for bread dipping, something you’ll find yourself doing quite often in Spain.terrace

croquetasThe croquetas de jamón were plentiful delicious morsels of creamy béchamel and tiny bits of ham. And of course we had to order the revuelto de boletus,  scrambled eggs with local mushrooms that have a distinctive nutty punch.  Why would you order scrambled eggs at a restaurant like this? Well, don’t ask and just do it, it’s worth every bite.foie

For the main course, we chose the foie  a la brasa, light and fluffy liver mousse grilled  over quinoa and a touch of pumpkin sauce.  As far as the lamb dish – cordero prensado, I was very surprised when it was served.  lambterrine

Although it resembled a terrine, it was simply pressed  in that shape served with a dressing of gooseberries.As I carved my fork through it, moist and tender flakes of meat fell apart onto a light sauce dotted with tiny diced apples. Another great Spanish delicacy!

 

alkaldesignX

Alkalde

Calle  Jorge Juan 10

Madrid, Spain

Tel: 915763359

Website: http://www.alkalderestaurante.com

 

 

 

 

Mandolin Aegean Bistro – Miami’s Design District

doorOnce you pass all the fashionable shops through the ever so trendy Design District, you’ll find  one of the most rustic restaurants in Miami. A true Greek patio filled with feisty eaters who drink, eat and, unfortunately smoke…just like in Greece. If you can get pass that small inconvenience,which by the way is almost unnoticeable thanks to the electric fan system set up to keep patrons cool, you’ll fall in love with this place!

As soon as I walked through the blue wooden door, I new it was my kind of restaurant. Relaxing, fun, casual  and quaint with soft lantern lit tables, lovely grapevines and  blooming bouganvillias every where.  Right away,we got a table and were taken care of by a lovely waitress named Freddie. Even though there is a great selection of wines, including Greek, Italian, German, Spanish and Argentinian, on this warm june night we opted for a glass of  white sangria made with rosewater and  stone ipa beer, citrusy and refreshing for $10.salad2

For starters, I  ordered the Greek salad….the best one I’ve ever tasted! Chunks of locally grown tomatoes and cucumbers, julienned green peppers and red onion wit lovely olives, mild feta cheese, capers and  fresh oregano.  All dressed in a light red wine vinaigrette for $14

pulpomandolin

As my main course, I ordered the  grilled octopus for $18. Two large and tender servings marinated in red wine, olive oil, Turkish spices and oregano. Great choice! Along with it, I had to try the french fries dressed with  garlic yogurt with a sprinkle of hot paprika,  a fantastic  combination for $9! They should bottle the dressing!

fries

I also tried the grilled lamb chops for $32 . Four robust chops cooked medium rare, served  over fluffly orzo pilaflamb

Of course for a sweet ending to my meal, I reluctantly  chose the Baklava, I just didn’t want anything too sweet or too rich late at night. Surprisingly it was neither.  Fresh thin sheets of phyllo dough drizzled  with a light syrup sprinkled with pistachios, sweet and buttery but by no means cloying. An absolutely delicious ending to a great Greek meal!

 

baklava

Mandolin Aegean Bistro

 4312 2nd Avenue

 Miami, FL 33137

 305 7499140

 Open:

 Mon-Sat 12-11

 Sun 12-10