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barcelona cookbook

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When I’m feeling particularly industrious during a weekend morning hate-watch of the Food Network, I’ll sit down with my cookbooks and start flagging recipes to try with Post-Its. Over time the notes get a little scraggly as the books are taken off and placed back on the shelf and splatters from other cooking exploits land on them, but I can never bring myself to remove them–especially if I haven’t made that recipe. The really decrepit ones taunt me the most, and I’ll get it in my head that there’s something fundamentally inaccessible about the recipe to prevent me from making it, because why else would I continue to avoid it? Read More

Outside Taller de Tapas, L’Argenteria, en El Born

Ever since I started seriously reading through Andrew Coleman’s Catalan Cuisine a few years ago with its gentle rejection of the tapas culture found elsewhere in Spain, the quasi-misnomer of Barcelona Wine Bar here in CT (and now Atlanta!) has kind of bugged me. If tapas aren’t a big thing in Catalunya, then why name a tapas place after its capital city? Fortunately, Andy and Sasha answer that question within the first pages of their cookbook:

We chose the name Barcelona because, while we planned to offer an authentic tapas experience, we wanted to feature a wide-ranging selection of Mediterranean food and wine. Spain’s Barcelona is a cosmopolitan, pan-European city that reflects this outlook.

It’s true: you do see a very wide variety of options in the city of Barcelona, but it’s very easy to get the tapas experience if that’s what you happen to be craving. And frankly, when it’s in the mid-80s and it’s humid and you’re definitely a little parched because there aren’t enough 1.5L bottles of agua sin gas to properly hydrate anyone, tapas are really the best alternative. And if you’re going to go for tapas, why not follow the advice from the best place to get them on the East Coast? Read More

La Boqueria

We came home from Barcelona and Caldes d’Estrac Wednesday afternoon after a long, but thankfully uneventful flight, and I am now in the process of going through the 600+ photos I took between the new camera and my cell phone. It was a restorative trip; swimming in the Mediterranean was as relaxing as wandering through city streets, and having the opportunity to not only see FC Barcelona play in Camp Nou, but to join in the roar of wild excitement, is not something that will be easy to forget as I listen to subsequent games on Radio Barca.

There are so many stories to tell and so many new things to cook as a result of this trip, but as I’m slowly making my way through it all, I wanted to at least give you a glimpse of what we saw, and what better image to share first than one of The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria? If Fairway is my NYC food heaven, then La Boqueria is my food market nirvana.

More to come soon…

Sweet and Sour Fig Pizza with Goat Cheese, Shallots and Thyme

Do you still have “Zou Bisou Bisou” stuck in your head after last Sunday’s Mad Men? (Did I just get it back in your head after you thought you had bested that earworm? Sorry.) While it was inevitable that we were going to celebrate its return after at 17-month long hiatus with food and drink, the fact that you only rarely see any of the characters with food (with none of it looking all that appetizing to boot) meant that I wasn’t going to adhere to any strict theme, save for insisting Michael make us a round of Old Fashioneds. Certain nods to the show, after all, must be made, and cocktails have always felt far more appropriate than food.

Caprese salad and old fashioneds.

Besides: we had finally gotten a couple of new half sheet pans at Chef’s the day before, and I was in the mood for homemade pizza.

Read More

Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms and Ginger

Turning thirty is a big deal…unless you work in market research. While I had no problem milking the day for a few nice things–like two glasses of delicious wine at Barcelona on Tuesday–I can say upon reflection that I think I struggled more with turning 25 (and therefore will do the same once 35 rolls around) because it means I’m in a new demographic age bracket. I’m reminded of the season four premiere episode of Sex and the City when Carrie receives the application to join some singles group and she laments moving onto the next age box, because suddenly you’re now in a group that’s viewed very differently from the one you just left, and somehow that can make you feel older than any one particular birthday.

But since no age-box-shifting took place on this particular birthday, no melancholy is necessary, right? Read More

Chorizos and Morcillas over Caramelized Onions

We’re sort of settling into a new routine here: Fridays have become our designated night to explore area restaurants so weekends can be spent cooking at home and taking advantage of all of this gorgeous natural light that we have in our new place. We’ve already dabbled in American, Italian and Mexican fare with varied results, but one place we have yet to go to is the Stamford outpost of Barcelona Wine Bar. You know–that place whose cookbook we write about on a fairly regular basis? We live within a very easy walking distance (it’s shorter to walk there than it is to walk to Havana Central on the West End from our old apartment) but I’ve resisted going there because a.) it’s not going to be a cheap tab and b.) I prefer to go there feeling and looking more fabulous than I usually do after hoofing it back from the train station on a warm Friday night.

We’ll rectify all of this soon, but in the meantime we’re mining the cookbook for gold. And the above recipe–blood sausage, caramelized onions, bread (and our addition of chorizo) is golden. Much like the caramelized onions. Read More

Wild King Salmon with Sweet-and-Sour Shallots

 After all there’s a lot in that vegetarian fine flavour of things from the earth garlic of course it stinks after Italian organgrinders crisp of onions mushrooms truffles. Pain to the animal too. Pluck and draw fowl. Wretched brutes there at the cattlemarket waiting for the poleaxe to split their skulls open. Moo. Poor trembling calves. Meh. Staggering bob. Bubble and squeak. Butchers’ buckets wobbly lights. Give us that brisket off the hook. Plup. Rawhead and bloody bones. Flayed glasseyed sheep hung from their haunches, sheepsnouts bloodypapered snivelling nosejam on sawdust. Top and lashers going out. Don’t maul them pieces, young one.

Hot fresh blood they prescribe for decline. Blood always needed. Insidious. Lick it up smokinghot, thick sugary. Famished ghosts.

Ah, I’m hungry.

–James Joyce, Ulysses (chapter 8, “The Lestrygonians”)

Happy (belated) Bloomsday, that wonderful day that celebrates the majesty and the weirdness that is James Joyce’s Ulysses and allows the people who slogged through it (self included) to feel smug for a day while they quote it! The rest of the post doesn’t really have anything to do with Joyce or Ulysses, but I wanted the excuse to share one of my favorite food-related quotes that is both delightfully hilarious and grotesque.

Onward!  Read More

Red Wine Sorbet, prior to the addition of Coca-Cola. Flashes were going off everywhere, leading to this blue light.

In a city overflowing with unique fine dining options, deciding on which ones are worth the splurge can make for a daunting task. While ideally you’d treat it as some sort of culinary bucket list, checking each location off with glee as you lean back into your chair satisfied and smiling, unless you have a fairly generous budget it’s generally not prudent to be spending triple digits (or more) on a single meal on a regular basis. This is why the list of marquee places we’ve been is relatively short–and most of the visits were made when we still lived in New Haven, and since we’ve moved here we’ve made the conscious decision to mainly focus on home cooking.

But as much as both Michael and I enjoy cooking, we do enjoy a break from the kitchen and a chance to let off some steam now and again. We tend to prefer the laid-back ease of a Dinosaur Barbecue over one of the fussy white tablecloth establishments found all over the Upper West Side, but there is something to be said to getting dressed up a bit and going someplace nice for a knockout dinner. So when an email turned up in my inbox a few weeks ago inviting us to the James Beard House for a special dinner being prepared by the Barcelona Wine Bar team, it took all of a few hours of debate and a few perusals of the menu before I was calling them up the next day to place our reservations for April 2nd. As friends of the restaurant we were generously given the member rate which made the justification a bit easier in the end, as was the knowledge that we’d be getting a fair amount of food paired with top-notch wines.

In the end we enjoyed 15 dishes (plus five or six passed appetizers)–even served tapas-style, it was a substantial feast that certainly deserved the analogy to “marathon” that was being tossed around at the end of the evening. We don’t want to bore you with the details of absolutely every dish we enjoyed, but we do want to offer both our perspectives. Continue with us (and forgive us for some blurry photos) after the jump. Read More

Barcelona's Empanadas with Smoky Pepper Sauce

I must admit I have been avoiding writing about this particular dinner. However, I am a firm believer in resolving problems via confrontation, and thus, it’s time to start avoiding the issues and begin the healing.

Drama aside, I do think that one of the most challenging aspects to cooking is planning and timing (I refuse to type the phrase ‘time management’) . If you’ve ever had a large dinner party, planned a multiple courses or just cooked a multi-faceted dinner, then you know how tricky it to make sure all the components are ready at the correct time, without having food sit for too long, or worse still, having the cook sit around waiting for something to finish wasting time and postponing your dinner. Read More

bartaco's menu

[FULL DISCLOSURE: the folks at bartaco kindly invited us to a press dinner two Thursdays ago as we are great fans of its sister restaurant Barcelona (and in particular the Barcelona cookbook) so this is not a review as much as a recounting of the experience from both our perspectives.]

Elizabeth: Living in New York introduced me to the traditional taqueria via La Esquina in SoHo and a local spot that is a favorite takeout option on Friday evenings and more importantly, introduced me to exotic tacos made with variety meats such as tripe and tongue. Those have become my absolute favorite ones to eat, so when the invite to bartaco came into the inbox I immediately went to their website to see if the menu boasted any interesting tacos. Seeing tongue and veal cheeks among the options, I knew I wanted to give them a try. It’s the true test of a taqueria: if they make their offal tacos well, you know you’ve found a quality spot. Read More

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