I had a few key negotiation points when it came to the move–I wanted to live someplace more urban than suburban and on the Metro North New Haven line–but one of the most pressing, at least from a timing perspective, was being able to watch FC Barcelona in the Champions League final on the 28th. After all, I had spent all season following this tournament (in addition to La Liga play) and the match was guaranteed to be a good one–they were going to play Manchester United! Good to his word, Michael took care of it and I was able to watch the Catalans win the Cup in a most triumphant fashion, unlike the clásicos from April that were just bitter and awful and so heated. Watching Barça slowly decimate Man U, sapping their energy in chunks (and then finishing them off with a decisive third goal courtesy of David Villa) was just what I needed as we started sifting through our things and emptying boxes.
So naturally I made sure that I had Catalan Cuisine unpacked in due order so we could make a lovely victory spread of tapas.
With the heat going from grey, cloudy and unseasonably cold to sunny and hot (no springtime weather for us!) we were both craving foods that would refresh and not weigh us down, so naturally our thoughts turned to tapas and seafood. I can get Michael to agree to almost anything if squid is somehow involved, and when I found a recipe for an incredibly simple sautéed squid with garlic and parsley I knew I had one plate down. We hadn’t eaten much of anything that was substantial all day (that was the case over all three days of the long weekend) so I knew we’d have to eat something that had a little heft to it–when I flipped through the pages and found these warmed goat cheese toasts, I had my answer. They are absurdly easy to make, and in spite of going into the broiler, they don’t heat up your kitchen since everything happens relatively quickly. Best of all: since the cheese you’re using is goat cheese, you get to enjoy a healthy round of the stuff without feeling much remorse about it.
The mussels were the most complicated of the three because they required a little planning: mainly, I had to have the wherewithal to remember that two anchovy fillets needed to soak in water for an hour, patted dry and then mashed and dumped into to a measuring cup filled with dry vermouth (our current sub for white wine) and white balsamic vinegar. And even then there wasn’t much to it–just chopping garlic and basil and parsley, cooking them in olive oil, adding the liquid and mashed anchovies, nestling them into the pan, covering and then steaming the mussels for four minutes until they all open.
It wasn’t the earthy Catalan food we’ve enjoyed over the winter and “spring” but it was really delicious, and an excellent send-off to a side that is the best in Europe if not the world.