Tag Archives: gastronomy

Witches, Legend, and Queimada

When the Celts first made their migration from the upper reaches of Europe down to the Iberian Peninsula it was the mid Iron Age. With them they brought to this green and familiar seeming land many traditions and stories, only few of which have survived today. Unlike the common view of Spain as a hot, passionate, flamenco dancing, guitar playing culture, the history of the Galician people is marked by ancient nights full of magic and mystery, of witches circled in the darkness, churning fiery brews to ward off evil spirits, and attract the good.

The ‘Conxuro de Queimada’ is one of these surviving rituals (though there is debate if the rite is actually as old as some claim, or if it was in fact a more recent invention around the 1950’s. Entirely possible that even if it was dreamed up in the 20th century, that there was some evidence tying it to an earlier time). Queimada itself is a spirit distilled from wine and then flavored with herbs, then often sugar, lemon peel, coffee, and cinnamon.

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The ritual of the drink is supposed to be a warding one that frightens off any spirits in the area with malintent. The forests of Galicia are often referred to as the Bosque Animada, or the animated wood, where said ne’er-do-welling sprites lie in wait to do travelers harm. It was originally a witches brew, but is now an all occasions kind of event, whether you’re just meeting up with friends or having a big party, queimada is a great addition to the get together.

But of course the most perfect night to have your conxuro is the Noche de San Juan, or St. John’s night (also called Witches’ Night), which is June 23rd. The conxuro demands a certain level of spooky ambiance, so once night falls, after brewing up the queimada, people gather round, turn off the lights, and recite the ‘spell’ meant to ward off evil.

“ …Hear! Hear the roars

of those that cannot

stop burning in the firewater,

becoming so purified.

And when this beverage

goes down our throats,

we will get free of the evil

of our soul and of any charm…”

(You can read the whole thing here )

Then, the queimada is lit on fire. It burns an incredible bright blue, and as the brandy burns off (and is added back in slowly), the fire makes ‘sigils’ and ‘ letters’ on top of the liquid, supposedly writing in the witches’ language (it is actually just a byproduct of how the brandy burns, but it’s neat nevertheless).

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After the fire burns out, the queimada is ready! Poured out into cups and shared among the gathered, making for a happy party indeed.

Colorful Recipes: Paella

Paella is probably the most famous dish from Spain. A mix of saffron rice, vegetables and most normally seafood, it is a great meal to share. It is easy to make a lot of it and so, serve a lot of people.

Some paella purists say that you shouldn’t mix meat and seafood but honestly, that is a matter of taste. Any meat or vegetable (except the onion and bell pepper) in this recipe you can substitute for other things if you like.

This recipe is for cooking in a specific paella pan, over an open flame. Grills work well for it. If you want to do it on a stove top, cut the recipe in half.

This recipe serves 6-8
What You Will Need:
• 3 cups calasparra rice (risotto can substitute)
• 8 cups chicken stock
• 1 large Valencia or yellow onion, diced
• 4 cloves of garlic, minced
• 1 large diced bell pepper (your choice of color!)
• 15 diced green beans
• 4 diced plum tomatoes
• ½ a 4 oz can of tomato paste
• 12 shrimp (or prawns, mussels, as you like)
• 2.5lbs of chicken
• 4 links of Spanish sausage (chorizo recommended), fried and sliced into 1’’ rounds
• 2 tbsps fresh thyme
• 1 large pinch of saffron
• 3 lemons, quartered
• 172 – 1 tbsp paprika to taste

Preparation:

Brown the  chorizo over high heat for 1-2 minutes. Do not fully cook. Set aside.

Brown the chicken for 2-3 minutes. It should not be fully cooked. Set aside.

Brown garlic, onion and bell pepper until they’re softened, adding plum tomatoes at the end.

Push the vegetables to one side of the pan and on the clear side add the half can of tomato paste. Caramelize it, flipping it and spreading it until it begins to loosen.

Mix all of the vegetables and meats together in this pan, stir them into the paste, and stir in the paprika and thyme.

Add rice, mixing together and stirring as the rice browns (1-1 ½) minutes. As the rice browns, stir in the saffron. Make sure to break it up with your fingers so it goes in evenly.
When the rice is a little translucent, add enough chicken stock so that it covers the whole mixture. If it’s been kept warm, it will begin to boil almost immediately. Lower to a medium heat but keep it at a steady boil.

At this point be careful: stir a few times in the first 10 minutes and add broth to keep the rice covered, but after that, leave it alone. Let it cook for another 10-20 minutes (longer on a stove), and watch it, adding broth to keep the rice submerged until the rice on the top is ‘al dente’.

When you have only about 8 or so minutes left, put your seafood on top and turn it over after about 3 minutes so both sides cook.

Once everything on top is al dente and the shrimp is cooked, take it off the heat and cover it. Let it sit for about 15 maybe 20 minutes.

Once it is ready, squeeze a little lemon over top and garnish with the wedges.

Colorful Recipes: Shrimp Pil-Pil

Ready for this week’s tapa? Hope you like seafood, because we are doing gambas pil pil, or shrimps in a hot garlic sauce. Here we go!

Gambas Pil Pil

You Will Need:

  • About 40 or so fresh, peeled shrimps
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic (to taste)
  • Parsely
  • Whole mini cayenne peppers
  • Hot paprika
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

Mince the garlic and a little bit of cayenne pepper (to however hot you want it), and parsely to taste (usually we do half a tsp), and mash it with a mortar and pestle until it is well mixed.

In an earthenware pot, mix in the oil (enough to cover the bottom). Put it on the burner and, when the oil is hot, put the garlic mixture in.

Once all the ingredients are golden brown, put in the shrimps carefully and leave them in the pot for about three or four minutes.

Lastly, sprinkle a tsp of paprika (or less to your taste) on top of your dish. Serve hot and immediately.

Colorful Recipes: Alioli Sauce

Alioli Sauce

If you all remember, a few weeks ago we gave you a recipe for Patatas Bravas. You can use the same recipe to make Patatas Alioli, or even mix the sauces and make Bravioli. Here is the recipe for the zesty Spanish garlic mayo sauce. Have fun with it!

Makes enough for a 4 servings of roast potatoes, prep time is about 10-15 minutes.

You will need:
• 4 medium to large garlic cloves
• salt to taste
• 2 egg yolks
• 1 ½ Tbsp fresh lemon juice
• 1 cup olive oil

Preparation

Mince the garlic, then crush it with the flat part of a knife.  Then, adding your salt to taste, grind it (best if you have a mortar and pestle) until it is a paste.
Crack the eggs and separate the yolks in a small mixing bowl, then whisk in the garlic paste. Using a hand mixer, pour in the olive oil in a slowly in a thin, steady stream until a creamy sauce forms. Add the little bit of lemon juice at the end, and keep blending so the sauce stays smooth.

Colorful Recipes: Mushrooms al Ajillo

Mushrooms al Ajillo

Mushrooms al Ajillo, or garlic fried mushrooms, are found all over the country, but their specific spices and ingredients vary from place to place. This style is a little more southern, and have a bit of a zing! They are a great starter.

This recipe serves 4 and the cook time is about 10 minutes. Just be careful not to burn the mushrooms or the garlic!
You will need:
• ¼ cup of olive oil
• 4-5 cups of mushrooms, your choice of what kind, cleaned.
• 6 cloves garlic, minced
• 3 tbsp dry sherry, your choice of which kind
• 2 tbsp lemon juice
• ¼ tsp hot paprika (if you care for it)
• 2 tbsps chopped parsley

Preparation

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the mushrooms, stirring continuously.

Set heat to medium, then add the garlic, sherry, lemon juice, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook for about 5 minutes or until the garlic and mushrooms have softened.
Remove from the heat, sprinkle with chopped parsley, and serve immediately!

Colorful Recipes: Tortilla with Chorizo

Tortilla with Chorizo

The Spanish Omelette, or Tortilla, is a staple of almost all regions in Spain. It´s a little tricky to get it right the first time without toasting it too much, but with a few run throughs, it´s easy enough to get the hang of.
This recipe serves 6 and takes 30 minutes approximately to prepare.
You will need:
• 5 tbsp olive oil
• 6 oz of thin sliced spanish sausage (chorizo preferably)
• 1 ½ lb potatoes, thinly cut
• 2 yellow onions, halved and thinly cut
• 4 extra large eggs
Preparation
In an 8-10” pan, heat 1 tbsp of the oil and fry the sausage until cooked through and browned. Place on paper towel to dry.
Add another 2 tbsp of oil to the pan and fry the potatoes and onions until cooked and slightly browned (the pan will be pretty full). It will take about 20 minutes, turn them every so often.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, add in salt and pepper to taste, and the sausage.
Without breaking up the potato mix, add it carefully to the bowl of egg.
Rinse the pan and then add the rest of the olive oil. Then add the entire mix from the bowl slowly over low heat. Wait for the eggs to set. Then turn with a spatula so the tortilla does not stick to the pan.
Once the base of the omelette has set, turn gently. Continue until it cooks through.
You can, if you have a grill/broiler, also set it to high and put the tortilla underneath of it, protecting your pan handle with foil. This can be slightly easier, as turning the tortilla sometimes makes it fall apart.

Happy eating!

Colorful Recipes: Patatas Bravas

Want a few easy to make Spanish tapas for your next meal or party? Try some of our favorites!

Patatas Bravas

Bravas are a staple in Spain, from elegant restaurants to your local village bar. They are simple and easy to make and a great starter to whet the appetite.
This recipe takes approximately 30 minutes and serves 4.

You will need:
• 3 tablespoons of olive oil (extra virgin not necessary)
• 4 large potatoes, peeled, and cut to 1-inch cubes (we recommend russets but whatever you prefer will still work)
• 2 tablespoons minced Vidalia onion
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 ½ tablespoons of hot paprika
• ¼ teaspoon Tabasco Sauce (or to taste)
• ½ cup Ketchup
• ½ cup mayonnaise

Preparation

The Sauce
Heat 3 tbsps. of oil in a pan over medium heat. Slowly add in the onion, then the garlic, and fry until the onion is translucent. Then, turn off the burner and stir in the paprika and Tobasco. Put the fried mixture in a bowl and stir in the ketchup and mayo. Salt and pepper to taste.

The Potatoes
Salt the potatoes lightly and fry in a pan with 1 cup of oil. You want them to be cooked through and slightly browned on the outside. Remember to stir them from time to time. Then, drain them and set them aside on a towel or draining rack.

When this is done, put the potatoes on a plate and drizzle the sauce on top while everything is still warm. Serve immediately.

Learning the Art of Tapas in Madrid

Of course Spain is known for its incredible food. ColorfullySpain is now offering our clients a chance to intimately learn about the gastronomy and food culture of Spain – by cooking it themselves.

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We are now offering day and night opportunities for small groups to have tapas demonstrations, specially prepared gourmet meals with award winning chefs, or have hands on one evening cooking courses themselves. And, all of these options are of course accompanied by a short explanation given by a professional about the history and culture of tapas across the country.h04

Why just eat when you can dig in yourself? This summer, make your vacation delicious.

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For more information about our gastronomic opportunities, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

4 Things in La Rioja You Can’t Miss This Summer

4 Things in La Rioja You Can’t Miss this Summer

Colorfully Spain’s summer programming has everything you need for a perfect vacation. La Rioja is famous for its wine making, but that isn’t all it has to offer. Here are 4 things that you can’t miss in Spain’s wine country this summer.

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  1. The haunted bodega of El Fabulista. You can get wine anywhere in the province, but wine that comes with a story like this one, told by a native storyteller in the spooky cave like cellars of this unique bodega is not something to miss!
  2. A tapas crawl through the Barrio Laurel. Logroño is not an incredibly famous place, but for its tapas, it should be. It is the hotspot of the north, each restaurant in the neighborhood of Laurel specializing in a different tapa, making for an overall incredible gastronomic experience.

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  3. The Monasteries of Suso and Yuso. Built up and down from each other on the side of a small mountain, these two monasteries are now an UNESCO Heritage Site, as the elder one, Suso is believed to be the birthplace of the modern Spanish and Basque written languages 1,000 years ago.

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  4. The town of La Guardia. If you want a peaceful and picturesque vacation, this is the town to go to – there are no cars allowed in town because the entire village is resting on some 300 underground bodegas! You can see some of the eldest cellars through the glass floors of some restaurants, and many have tours available, and are still functional today. So leave your wheels at the city gate, and take in the medieval architecture on foot.

If you are interested in our summer and autumn tours to La Rioja in 2016, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

Four Great Spanish Wine and Cheese Pairings

Wine and cheese, an inseparable marriage of two great foods. And one that is enjoyed the nation over here in Spain. However, there is a subtle art to creating pairings, especially in a place that offers so many different options of each.

Gourmet Cheeseplate with Wine

One of the biggest pitfalls I see of matching these foods is that there is this stubborn and persistent expectation that cheese should always be paired with a red wine. This is a fallacy for several reasons: one is that as there are so many different tastes, it is a poor move to simply pair them indiscriminately, and two is that when you get down to the chemistry of it, salt and tannin don’t mix well whatsoever.

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I suggest not trying to pair highly cured cheese like manchego with any reds, or any bleu cheeses, as it will kill the taste of both the wine and the food. But that isn’t to say there aren’t good pairings for them, or that no red works out well with any cheese.

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  1. Manchego and Port – Old manchego especially, or curado. The high salt content mixes very well with the sweetness of a port wine. Alternatively, it goes well with richer sherries, anywhere from Amontillado to Palo Cortado.
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  2. Montsec and young Red – if you really do want to have a red with your cheese, goat cheeses from the north of the country work well. But make sure it’s a young red, something soft, and preferably not aged in oak barrels. Often times the bite of a crianza wine or older is too much and overshadows the cheese.
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  3. Sweet whites and smoked cheese – I am a big fan of Albariño in general, and of diametrically opposed tastes, so when I found this suggestion I tried it post haste. Since Albariños are fruity, it does play well off of a smoked cheese. I recommend Idiazábal cheese (native to the Basque Country).
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  4. Sheep’s milk cheese and Cava – Many of the cheeses from the Pyrenees, such as Tupi or Ombra have distinct tastes that linger, and go well with chilled cava, which won’t overpower and thus mask the unique taste of the cheese. Cava is soft enough to compliment, and I recommend semi dry.