Thursday, 6 December 2012

Foodie destination: Andalusia + Gazpacho recipe

Another high on my ‘places-I-want-to-travel-to’ list was Andalusia; and it was not disappointing!
We started our trip in Sevilla, famous for its tapas tradition, there is a saying about that city that says: ‘In Sevilla you don’t eat, you tapear’.  It means so much as eating on the go; moving from one bar to the other having a drink and the tapas which that bar is famous for.
And after arriving on Saturday evening  off course that’s what we started with in the neighbourhood close to our hostel.  We ended up in the bar which turned out to also be the oldest bar in Sevilla from 1670. 
It was packed with people, locals as well as tourists, and we got ourselves a place at the bar from where we could see all the action.  The orders came out really fast, one bartender was slicing thin pieces of Iberico ham from a big leg all night long and everyone’s bill was written down on the bar with chalk.
Besides the great ham my favorite tapa there was a plate of warm spinach with chick-peas and a lot of garlic! I’m not sure what kind of spinach was used, because it was so soft I guess they used a canned one.

Spinach with chickpeas in bar El Rinconcillo, Sevilla
The next morning we headed for breakfast and ended up by chance in bar Alfalfa where we had the most amazing Andalusian breakfast; tostada (toasted bread) with fresh tomato salsa, Iberico ham and olive oil.  A real treat to begin the day with. 

Andalusian breakfast with cured ham and tomato salsa on toast
We loved Sevilla right away for being a  tapas-city but it’s also extremely stunning to just walk around in the old streets, see the greatest Cathedral ever (according to the Guinnes book of world records), the Alcazar palace and,  my personal favorite;  the Plaza Espana. 

Beautiful Plaza Espana in Sevilla
After 2 days we picked up our rental car and drove to Granada, famous for the Alhambra and not so much for the food.   Nevertheless we had some tasty and really cheap lunch in the old Islamic quarter Albayzin; 3 courses for only  12 Euro.  We got to choose from various dishes and had the filled bell peppers, a big pan of paella for two and some kind of pudding like desert.
There is still a big North-African influence in the city and the food . After tea in one of the many tea houses in the ‘little Morocco’ district we went for Moroccan inspired tapas in the evening at Om Kalsum . We were again surprised by the great value for money we got here; 1 bottle of Rioja wine and 7 warm tapas for only € 14,-! If only we could eat and drink this good in the Netherlands for that less money. Also nice to know about Granada is that it is one of the very few cities in Spain where you still get tapas in some bars the way they used to be served; free with a drink. 

Maroccan style tapas at bar Om Kalsum, Granada
For the last days of our one-week-is really to short- holiday we drove from Granada to Cordoba  through the Route of  olives (Ruta del Aceite).  It’s obvious where it got this name from; as far as we could see there were olive trees all over the place. One of the most well known olive oils from this area is from Nunez de Prado in Baena,  but because of their closure during siesta times we did not visit it.

Olive trees all over!!!
An absolute wonder to see in Cordoba is the Mezquita; an old mosque turned into a church.
Even if you’re tired of seeing a lot of churches and palaces this one will still amaze you, at least it amazed me.
As for the culinary part there are some typical Cordoban specialties to try and there are good restaurants and tapas bars in the city.
The cold soup’ gazpacho’ is well known in the world but it’s Cordoba-sister soup ‘salmorejo’ is not that well known. And I really wonder why because it’s at least as good as gazpacho; a bit thicker (almost creamy) and with pieces of hard boiled eggs and off course cured ham in it.
A fun place to try the traditional recipe and then some more innovative versions is salmorejeria  Umami
They serve over 30 different salmoreja’s such as ‘avocado with smoked salmon’ and ‘Thai’ cold soups. Even some desert-salmorejo’s although I was not really enthusiastic about it because they were very sweet. With every kind you can choose if you want a whole portion( racion) or a half one (media). That is not only the case in this restaurant but in most of Andalusian restaurants and tapas bars; really convenient for persons who cannot choose and would love to try most of the menu ;).

Half portions of different salmorejos in Umami restaurant, Cordoba
Another not to miss in Cordoba thing is Bar Santos famous for it’s tortilla, which is huge!. You will definitely see a big line with people outside, next to the Mezquita,  eating there piece of tortilla and flushing it down with a beer. You really can’t miss it even if you were not looking for it. 

Huge tortillas at bar Santos, Cordoba

People eating their tortilla on the street in front of Bar Santos, Cordoba
After a week of tasting great Andalucian food, seen many beautiful things and just relaxed a bit and enjoyed being there we ended our trip with a tour and tasting at Bodegas Alvear; a Montilla winery. Montilla is a sherry like wine but then without extra alcohol added. Unfortunately the tour was only in Spanish, so we didn’t really understand the process of how it is made. But for the tasting in the end not so much Spanish words were needed; the sweet and syrupy Ximenez (PX-sherry) was just ‘muy rico’! 


Based on gazpacho recipes from Allerhande & Foodies Magazine

This is not an authentic Andalusian recipe but it’s my version of gazpacho; a cold tomato based vegetable soup. Only make this in the summer when it’s hot outside and the tomatoes are really red & ripe. 
It’s also full of healthy ingredients!

Makes 4 portions as a starter or lunch

  •           2 slices of white bread
  •           1 kg ripe tomatoes, in pieces
  •           2 bell peppers (red and yellow), seeds removed and chopped
  •           1 red pepper, seeds removed and chopped
  •           ½ cucumber, peeled and in pieces
  •           1 little onion, quartered
  •           2 cloves of garlic
  •           4 tablespoons extra virgin Spanish olive oil
  •           4 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  •           salt and pepper
  •           sugar
Remove the crusts from 2 slices of bread and soak them in cold water for about 10 minutes.
Peel and chop the garlic. Squeeze the soaked bread.

Puree the vegetables, garlic and squeezed bread with 4 tablespoons cold water (if needed) in a food processor or blender.
Stir the oil and the vinegar through the tomato soup.  Season with salt and pepper and a little sugar to taste.
Put the soup covered at least a few hours away in the fridge, or in the freezer for at least 15 minutes if you don't have enough time.

Serve the gazpacho with finely sliced tomato , cucumber, bell pepper and onion and maybe some croutons.

You can make the gazpacho easily 1 day before, and keep it covered in the fridge until you need it. 

For a Dutch touch I put in some little Dutch shrimps and parsley at the end. (see picture).

My homemade gazpacho with Dutch shrimps and parsley

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