Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tastes Like Spain

One look at my passport and you would know I am due a trip. Last used in China in 1994, my passport gave up hope of travel and expired years ago. I realize I sound pitiful, who's fault is it any way that I chose to chain myself to a stove for a decade? China was great, I'm glad to have gone, but if I get away this century my choice is Spain.

Why Spain? Because the fact that is, it's beautiful, and old, and known for its amazing flavorful lifestyle and cuisine. Of course I don't have first hand experience, but I've heard stories of cities jam packed with restaurants, cervecerias, tascas, sidewalk terrazzas and bars. The scoop I got was bars stay open until dawn serving legendary "tapas", small plates and tidbits of things most delicious.

In an effort to learn more about tapas, I did the usual research, books, articles, internet. I must say however, experience is the best teacher, if I want to learn anything, I get in the kitchen and cook! Soon I was turning out albondigas (little meatballs), crisp bite sized breads topped with olives and chorizo and garlic sherry shrimp. Omelets with spicy sauces and potatoes, mushroom flan, saffron clams and fruity sangria.

Spain made its way onto my catering menu, drawing praise for it's flair and flavor. The small plates where easy for cocktail guests to manage. In a situation where there was no guest seating I developed the "Tapatini", a martini glass filled with bite size tapas instead of the usual beverage. I enjoyed teaching classes on "tapas parties", as well, the food was fun and the sangria...oh, the sangria!

I 'll keep itching to go to Spain for the real honest to God, in your face tapas experience. Until my plane leaves, I'm settling for my version of,"what Spain must taste like." If have a big enough suitcase I will bring Elton John as well, he sang ,"they say Spain is pretty though I've never been"... I can tell, he wants to go too!..

Albondigas - Spicy Spanish Meatballs ( makes a ton, you know everything I make is big!)
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 pound spicy ground sausage
8 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
4 tablespoon oregano, finely chopped
4 tablespoon dry sherry
½ teaspoon ginger, ground
½ teaspoon allspice, ground
½ teaspoon cinnamon, ground
¼ teaspoon cloves, ground
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ground
1 teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 egg, beaten
5 tablespoon flour
olive oil, for frying

Combine all ingredients except flour and oil in large bowl.
Mix together well. Roll mixture into small balls and toss lightly in flour.
Heat oil in pan over moderate heat.
Cook until evenly browned and cooked through, turning often for about 12 minutes.
Drain well and serve. makes about 50-60 meatballs.
Something for the Spanish cheese plate...

Zamorano a raw milk cheese from said region of Spain. The cheese is made from the milk of Churra and Castellana sheep. Now I never met a Churra or Castellana sheep but I can imagine a happy fuzzy, four legged creature lazily munching on sweet grass. The cheese of these blissful sheep is remarkable. When it touches your tongue, you taste....fresh milk and sun. Zamorano is available at Frogs Breath Cheese Store, along with many terrific Spanish cheeses and wine.

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