Monday, June 1, 2009

Spanish Cuisine

One thing that I love about Spain is their food. When traveling out of the country sometimes it is hard to find things that you may enjoy. Different cultures enjoy different things. I will try pretty much anything, but am not a big seafood fan. For the most part I like things prepared to where I know what it is that I am eating, but not to the extent where I still see feet, hair, skin etc. I have to say that I really enjoyed eating on this trip. I thought I would share some of the things to make sure to try if one ever makes their way to Spain.

Churros con Chocolate- all I can say is DELICIOUS. Now before you start thinking that they taste like the nice big ones that you get from Costco...think again. They don't put any sugar on it, but you can get it with this nice thick chocolate to dip it in. Apparently there is a place known for their churros called "Chocolatería San Ginés." (I actually Googled 'churros con chocolate' trying to find a photo and came across Jorge Garcia's aka 'Hurley' (LOST) real life blog...where he visited Madrid). Next time we go to Madrid I will have to check out that place...instead we were able to enjoy our churros con chocolate at the La Pradera de San Isidro (the San Isidro Meadow). Our visit to Madrid actually coincided with one of their holidays. Every year on the 15th of May they have a big celebration in San Isidro. It was originally a festival to honor a farmer named San Isidro who was very generous to the poor...but over time it has been turned into a huge bash that lasts a whole week. A few of the couples from the reunion made our way through the festival. The street was lined with different vendors selling all sorts of souvenirs, children all dressed up in traditional outfits, and of course food.

This is where we got our first helping of churros con chocolate. We sat on the grass or should I say meadow, and enjoyed the yumminess of its creation. You would have thought that I would have taken a picture of it, but all I got was a picture of Shawn. If you notice, the background is full of people. This is definitely an event that Spaniards make time for.
Paella - (pronouced pie-ay-ya) My first trip here, I was introduced to paella. For those of you that know me well...know I just don't do seafood. A family had taken the time to make this specialty dish only for me to have a hard time even downing any of it. I am sure that it was really good, but I was not able to really enjoy it because, for me, it was just to fishy.
So when James had suggested La Paella Real Restaurante I was a little weary because of my memory of the first time. Yet this restaurant came with high recommendations, and after our visit there...I would have to agree. This place really is the place to enjoy paella.

Paella is a traditional Spanish dish that consists of saffron rice, olive oil, and various types of seafood. I have to say that I had to opt out of the 'traditional' paella, and shared a chicken one with Nancy (Bruce's wife). I just couldn't fathom eating something that still had its eyeballs staring at me!!!Seriously was one of the best meals that I had here...plus the company couldn't be beat!

Magnum Bars - a treat that we got multiple times was a Magnum bar. It had to be the Frigo brand. They even go to the extent of 'branding' their bars to show its authenticity. I know you are thinking...it is just an ice cream bar, but trust me, it is pure heaven!
We were able to enjoy one while strolling through Retiro Park. This park is one of the biggest (350 acres), and has alot of charm. You can even rent a boat to ride out on their lake (we were planning on doing that, but run out of time).I was amused with all these different 'statues' through out the park. This one was actually at San Isidro, but you get the idea. These people cover themselves in some of the most odd things (mud, mirrors, tar like stuff etc.) and sit as still as can be until you drop money in their bucket, and then they move. Talk about interesting. Jamon Serrano - a type of dry cured Spanish ham which is generally served raw in thin slices. Yes...it is raw...but very good. It is often compared to Italian proscuitto. There were shops like this everywhere, and one thing you can get ANYWHERE is a ham and cheese sandwich. They even shave the ham off the leg right in front of you.I personally preferred going to shops where it had already be sliced. Really, who wants to actually see the feet of the animal they are eating from.I did a little research of how they actually prepare this to sell, and found it quite interesting.

"Fresh hams are trimmed and cleaned, then stacked and covered with salt for about two weeks in order to draw off excess moisture and preserve the meat from spoiling. The salt is then washed off and the hams are hung to dry for about six months. Finally, the hams are hung in a cool, dry place for six to eighteen months, depending on the climate, as well as the size and type of ham being cured. The drying sheds (secaderos) are usually built at higher elevations, which is why the ham is called mountain ham."

So even though it isn't really cooked...it is prepared and safe to eat. Kinda like salami. :)

Tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelette) - again a signature dish that can be consumed at any meal, not just breakfast. Super simple consisting of eggs and fried potatoes. Cola Cao - a type of hot chocolate drink. The first time I was in Spain, I had this every morning with a special biscuit that you can use to dip it in. It is also very common to have this in the evening after a meal. It is thicker than regular hot chocolate, and oh so yummy.
So those are just a few of the many wonderful food options there is in Spain. I can honestly say that I didn't have one meal there that I didn't enjoy.

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8 people know I LOVE comments!:

Rhi said...

Crystal, when you were there in Spain did you guys go to the Temple? I have a neighbor who's parents are serving at the Madrid temple. So I thought I would see if you met Elder and Sister Shaw at the Madrid Temple. If you didn't that is ok.
I love your travel log of your trip.

Patrice said...

I gagged just LOOKING at the seafood dish! I would have been the one sharing the chicken dish.

I bet the statues were so awesome!

TIFFANY & CO. said...

I'm sure it's not the same, but we like to get churros and chocolate frozen yogurt from Costco and dip our churros in the yogurt. :)

Matt & Staci said...

yummy!!! Looks like you got to try some different...but still good foods! We need to start the whole churro dipped in chocolate thing HERE! I would LOVE that!:)

Jody said...

Chrystal,
I got the email from Anna V. about your search for a dance or gymnastic place. Don't know about gymnastics, but one of the best dance schools in the valley (IMO) is Jeanne's School of Dance. They have 3 (I think?) different locations: Gilbert & Southern (SE corner in stripmall), Alma School & Galveston (just north of Chandler Blvd., west side) and Brown & Higley (I think?), don't know what corner. I've only been to the Gilbert Rd. & Chandler studios. It's a school that has been around for more than 40 years and it's great. We know Jeanne personally and she's wonderful. She hires the best teachers and has a huge selection of classes. Alot of members go there and all of their costumes are VERY modest, no bare midriff or really short skirts. If you want to know more, give me a call. (I was a dancer my whole life and majored in it in college.)

Jody Rogers 279-2729

(just checked, they have a Queen Creek studio now, too)

jeannesdance.net

Julie P said...

I've been digging your Spain posts, but this one made me want to jump on a plane. Yum.

Kristin said...

OOHH YUUMMYY!!! You're making both of us want to go back! Jaron's got a recipe for churros con chocolate, we'll have to make some and have you over! I myself will eat paella-but only with Jaron's 'edited' version! It's funny, I showed Jaron the picture of Toledo with out telling him what it was. It took him all of 1 1/2 seconds to say 'Hey, that's Toledo!' so, what swords did you buy??

Shannon said...

I didn't like the food as much as you did. But I did have some great salads and I loved the oil and vinegar. Oh oh and the magnum bars.

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