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Montserrat

Well, it was a whirlwind of a week, but we’re back and rested and tanned. This trip was exactly what we needed: days spent sitting on the beach and swimming in the sea, long walks around neighborhoods both familiar and new, and meals filled with delectable food and drink. We covered a lot of ground and still didn’t manage to fit in everything I wanted to see…but then that leaves plenty to explore on our next visit.

La Riera in Caldes d’Estrac

Michael likes to tease me that I’m always content to go back there versus trying somewhere else new, and it’s true that if I could go there as often as I pleased I would, but this trip convinced him of the value of revisiting a place that is already somewhat familiar. This time we were not only able to revisit favorite restaurants, but also try out a bevy of new ones and squeeze in a half-day trip to Montserrat, in addition to indulging in significantly more beach time than the last time around.

Plaça de Sant Felip Neri

Another difference from the last trip is my eagerness to write about this one. I’m still not sure what prompted the writer’s block that plagued me two years ago—I still think the cold and grey weather was the culprit in addition to the shorter days—but despite feeling a familiar twinge of melancholy, I’m also incredibly eager to capture all of our experiences to paper. I won’t subject them all to you in this space, but you’ll have to forgive a number of Catalunya-specific posts likely over the course of the next few months as daylight becomes shorter and plumb this trip and its many meals for inspiration.

¡Jamón jamón!

Baked eggs with sobrasada at La Tasqueta de Caldes.

Baked eggs with sobrasada at La Tasqueta de Caldes

One of the aspects of Spanish food culture that I love is how they eat eggs at any time of day, with no need to cloak it in the really irritating “breakfast for dinner” trope.* The tortilla is perhaps the most famous way they cook eggs–check out Le culs en rows for her rather brilliant mini-tortillas that you can make in a muffin tin, by they way–but I’m convinced that the Spanish version of any egg preparation is the best. When we do have some eggs on Saturday mornings, Michael follows the technique that José Andrés calls for in his scrambled eggs with shallots and scallions recipe and they always are really creamy and tender because he makes sure they are still a little runny when he pulls the pan off of the heat. And then there is the baked egg variation, which I first enjoyed at La Tasqueta de Caldes in Caldes d’Estrac and I’ve been trying to recreate ever since.

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Shrimp with garlic and cava reduction/gambes a l'all amb reducció de cava

Shrimp with garlic and cava reduction/gambes a l’all amb reducció de cava

The last few weeks have not been particularly kind to us here at The Manhattan [food] Project, thanks to a series of injuries, illnesses, and mounting work stress that inevitably comes at the end of the calendar year. While everyone is physically fine (or at least close to it) now, in the last few weeks I had to deal with a husband who had a nasty sinus infection and a father who smacked his head against a curb when he tripped on a slippery ramp in Danbury during a weekend visit. (They are both fine now, but I feel like my sanity was hanging by a thread there for a while.) Even before all of that excitement I had been feeling discouraged, frustrated, and uninspired, and had it not been for an email exchange with a lovely reader, I’d be a lot crankier right now because I wouldn’t have this dish, straight from La Boqueria, in my repertoire. Read More

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If you’ve lived in New York for any stretch of time, you understand the dynamics of crowds all too well: the tourist presses in Midtown and down Broadway in Soho, the dSLR-wielding would-be photographers swarming Union Square on a Saturday morning, the crush of commuters on a weeknight 4 train. I live with eight million other people, you think, so naturally I’m ready for any crowd, anywhere.

Visiting El Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria (otherwise known as simply La Boqueria) on a Saturday is an excellent way to test that theory. I’ve spent weeks now trying to come up with some sort of analogy to what the Boqueria experience is like, but the problem is there really isn’t a pure analogue. Fairway is a full-fledged brick and mortar store, the Greenmarket feels positively airy in comparison, and Eataly is…well, we’ll get back to Eataly in a bit. In the meantime, let me try to give you an idea of what it’s like to wander around this massive market.

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Vieiras con romesco/Scallops with roasted Catalan sauce

Ever since we got back from Spain, the number of grey, rainy, and unseasonably cold days we’ve had at home has been significantly higher than we usually get this time of year. I think it temporarily stymied all of that wonderful inspiration that accompanied me home from Barcelona and Caldetes because last Tuesday I mulling over what I wanted to make for dinner that night and had absolutely no ideas whatsoever. Remembering that I now had the first season of Made in Spain on DVD, I immediately went to the website to see if any of the recipes posted would provide a bit of inspiration.

And then I found this recipe and resolved to pop a DVD in while I made dinner and waited for Michael to get home. Suddenly, my grey and chilly Tuesday looked so much brighter. Read More

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