Any excuse to make a trek down to SoHo and indulge in some goodies from Despaña is a good one in my book, and making tapas and watching Broken Embraces following Spain’s advancement to the Round of 16 in the World Cup was nothing short of a perfect reason. It didn’t hurt that I was also glowing after successfully making two dishes from the Barcelona cookbook for my office’s weekly wine & cheese and Michael, miffed that he was unable to partake of this batch, insisted that I make both dishes again so he could enjoy my mad skills at making gazpacho and mojo verde.
Oh, the things you do to keep your mate happy.
Their early loss to the Swiss notwithstanding, it’s been a pleasure to listen in on La Furia Roja’s matches once they started playing like the world-class team they were touted to be, in particular witnessing the scoring prowess of one David Villa. Not only is he amazing when he’s on his game, he has the best “I just scored a goal” reactions I’ve seen during the tournament. They play again later today; here’s hoping that they continue with their good work.
Soccer and its cute players aside, the food on Saturday was exactly what we needed, given how hot it was all weekend. I don’t know about you, but feeling perpetually sweaty completely kills off my appetite. The one good thing about it is that it tends to make me crave cold, good foods, like yogurt and gazpacho, and has me treat meats and even cheeses as true garnishes instead of making them the centerpieces of the meal.
Going to Despaña always means getting to sample delicious foods, and since we arrived there on relatively empty stomachs, I was a little more voracious in my sampling than I normally was. Michael did make me promise that I would limit myself to one sausage type (because otherwise I would have purchased blood sausage along with chorizo), but I had to indulge in a little jamón serrano after seeing another couple spend $25 on a quarter-pound of jamón Iberico. Michael wanted some boquerones, I wanted to get some delicious Mahón that was on sample…and I ended up spending close to 30 bucks on culinary delights. It was, however, our only real meal of the day (and the chorizo could go into the freezer until the next use), so all in all it wasn’t that extravagant.
As for the movie: I will admit that it isn’t quite as enjoyable as Volver. It is, however, a great film: sensual, passionate, and once again featuring roles for women that are dimensional and fascinating to watch onscreen. The soundtrack is fantastic for its inclusion of Cat Power’s “Werewolf”; a haunting song that makes me want to take a long drive among deserted beaches. The gorgeous scenery will make you want to leave wherever you are and decamp to the beaches in Spain, post-haste. It also makes me wish that Almodóvar would film cooking shows, because he has this deft way of making food sensual and appealing without turning it into blatant food porn–and oddly enough, the food that Lena was making in this case was some pretty tempting gazpacho.
As for the much-lauded gazpacho that I made, well, all I can say is try it. It’s not for the faint of heart, as it does contain a heady amount of sherry vinegar, but the Spaniards know how to use it in order to pack that perfect acidic bite.
It is completely worth trying because it only requires a little prep work to get everything ready for the blender, and its lack of stovetop time should appeal to those in the most oppressive environments, making it a perfect no-cook meal (full disclosure: I made this twice in three days and we do NOT have A/C in our apartment save for our bedroom).
Gazpacho de Cordoba
adapted from the Barcelona Wine Bar Cookbook
Makes 6-8 servings of gazpacho, more if you’re serving small quantities to a crowd
- 3 ripe red peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 5 vine-ripened tomatoes, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 red onion or Vidalia onion, roughly chopped
- 1 loaf Italian-style bread (preferably day-old, but do what you can) with the crusts removed and chopped into a 1-inch dice
- 3 cups tomato juice (note: good vegetable juice also works)
- 3/4 cup sherry vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 teaspoons Spanish paprika
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Sea salt
- (Equipment note: a blender works very, very well here.)
Combine peppers, tomatoes, garlic and onions into a bowl, and have the cubes of bread ready in a separate bowl. Into the carafe of a blender add 1/3 of the bread and then 1/3 of the vegetables and top it off with 1 cup of the tomato juice. Puree, gradually increasing speed, until the desired consistency is reached and pour into a bowl. Repeat with remaining bread, vegetables and juice. Add sherry vinegar and olive oil and whisk vigorously to combine–this may take some effort in order to combine everything properly. Season with paprika, crushed red pepper, and sea salt and stir to combine again. Chill in the refrigerator it’ll hold up to three days prior to consuming.