Tag Archives: Spain

Cheap Eats: Barcelona Wine Bar

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The Russian and I have recently made the move out to Brighton, and while its farther out than our old place in Fenway, it certainly has given me a whole new group of restaurants and areas to check out, which is awesome. It’s good to know the city in which you live. So after I unpacked and set up me new kitchen (duh) I made the walk over with The Russian to check out Barcelona Wine Bar, which was high up on my list of places to try.  I have been to the one in Fairfield, CT and couldn’t wait to try more rustic Spanish tapas.

Since this place does tapas, of course the prices are low.  I love that.  I also love how their pitchers of sangria are only about $23. Totally fruity and delicious, and the pitcher was not small either.

It was a good time.

It was a good time.

We started off with a plate of Spanish meats and cheeses.  The restaurant has a wide selection, and you can choose 3 for $17.  That alone with a pitcher of sangria makes for a perfect after–work bite. We decided on smoked duck breast, serrano ham (naturally), and a Romao Manchengo cheese with a rosemary crust.  So good.

this plate alone won me over.

this plate alone won me over.

We also had a plate of olives, because I love olives and because the whole plate was $3.

even had a cup for the pits.  Way to think it through, guys

even had a cup for the pits. Way to think it through, guys

We then had the radish and feta salad, $5.  The radishes were so crispy and even though Feta is a Greek cheese, it was a perfect compliment to the rest of the meal, which was very rich.

so fresh

so fresh

How rich, you ask? Well we had the steak in a truffle sauce.  To die for. $10

this picture cannot begin to do it justice

this picture cannot begin to do it justice

We also had the squid and fingerling potatoes in squid ink (about $10), which is hard to find here in the states.  Not many places using squid ink, but many should. It’s awesome, but it does stain.

doesn't matter, it's worth the lost clothing.

doesn’t matter, it’s worth the lost clothing.

Overall, I spent a little more than my usual $20 per person, but it was worth it.  Our table was covered in food.

doesn't get better than this.

doesn’t get better than this.

The best part is, you can come here and spend little to get a taste of Spain.  The food is wonderfully prepared and inventive, and I will definitely be coming back to try the paella.

-L

 

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Recipe: Quick Summer Gazpacho

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It’s HOT.  Very hot.  Certainly too hot to cook (I’m pretty lazy for someone who likes being active). I’m not made of money ya know, so I had to make something that wouldn’t cause me to stand by a hot stove too often.  I’m just making cold dishes til this heat wave breaks.

Gazpacho is a cold soup originally from Spain.  It is tomato–based, and uses fresh summer veggies and can be topped with fun add–ons that make the soup more of a meal.  The soup is refreshing, crisp, and light.  I usually dip my bread into it to add some starch to my meal, but the sky is the limit here. I like to think of the soup as a jumping off point, adding meats and breads to make it feel more homey.

Talking about this makes me miss Spain. Did you know they sell gazpacho in supermarkets there in milk cartons? It’s very engrained to the culture.

It’s even sold at McDonalds. No joke.

Ingredients:

4 Beefsteak tomatoes [$5]

1 cucumber [$1]

1 red onion [$1.50]

1 bell pepper, color unimportant [$1]

garlic [I had this, but its about 50 cents]

olive oil

red wine vinegar

1 can tomato sauce [$1]

1 avocado [$1.50]

white shrimp [about $7/lb]

 

Directions:

Peel and chop cucumber, and chop the tomatoes, about 1/4 to 1/3 of the red onion, 4 garlic cloves, and about 1/2 the bell pepper.  Combine in a blender or food processor and process on high.  Add olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.  Add about 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce and process to add color and extra tomato flavor. Put in fridge to cool while you prepare shrimp.

Tip: leave your tomatoes out on the counter, not in the fridge.  They lose flavor.

add olive oil to a pan a cook shrimp on medium high heat for about 2 minutes per side.  Slice avocado. Pour soup into bowls and top with avocado and shrimp. Serve with bread.

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Enjoy this til the heat wave breaks!

-L

Photo of Gazpacho via: Breakfast in Paris

Check out my culinary Travels through Europe

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Click on the picture of the delicious mussels I had in Barcelona to read more

Click on the picture of the delicious mussels I had in Barcelona to read more

Yesterday, my first of three guest posts was published to Tripologist, a site devoted to giving the inside take on traveling.  Click on the picture to read about the travels (and tastes) of the countries I visited last summer. I’m planning to travel to more destinations with The Russian in the near future, so these articles will not be so rare.  Check out my stuff!

-L

Restaurant Week Bliss: Toro

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So The Russian and I finally went to Toro this week. I have been obsessing over taking The Russian to Toro since he moved to Boston in August. While it is a bit out of my price range, Restaurant week is still cheap eating because patrons get to try the best of Boston food for a fraction of the price. So I’m still keeping with my theme. And did I mention I met a celebrity chef?

So it was the best day ever

So it was the best day ever

That’s Tiffani Faison, of Top Chef and Sweet Cheeks Q fame.  She makes the best BBQ pork belly I have ever had, so obviously she is one of the most talented chefs in Boston and my first celebrity chef sighting in the city as well.  But, I digress. The FOOD, oh man, the food.

the options were limitless. and everything sounded wonderful.

the options were limitless. and everything sounded wonderful.

After much deliberation,

We drank half a pitcher of sangria trying to decide

We drank half a pitcher of sangria trying to decide

We decided on some delicious eats.  To begin (the pinchos, or very small plates), I had the sweetbreads with blood orange, fermented black beans, and peanuts.  It had an interesting citrus anise flavor, which I normally don’t like, but it worked perfectly with the fatty sweetbreads.The peanuts added a nice crunch.

So So Tasty

So So Tasty

The Russian had Rabbit pate wrapped in serrano ham.  It was perfect with the mustard they served on the side.toro3

Then came the tapas, beginning with the most delicious ham I’ve had since Spain.  It brought me back to the streets of Barcelona.

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We had the marinated oysters for another cold tapa.  For the additional $2, they were perfect.  Creamy and topped with lemony–tasting foam.

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Then we had smoked beef tongue with lentils.  So tender.

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We were already full by this point, but the food kept coming! The duck drummettes were topped with quince glaze, a sweet, thick sauce that was so incredibly rich, one was enough.

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Finally the corn.  You can’t go to Toro and not get the corn, everybody loves it.   So tasty, you cannot forget to squeeze the lime over the top.  It adds that perfect last hit of acid to the rich sauce.

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We finished with some manchego cheese and mebrillo (quince paste) and a churro.  My only complaint is that I wish there was more churros.

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The Russian and I will be back very, very soon to try the Paella.

-L

Tapas vs Pinxtos: cheap food battle

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In my introduction to my website, I wrote that I want to focus my blog on food and sometimes travel. I have yet to talk too much about traveling, so I figured I would ease my way into it. I am traveling to Jamaica in two weeks with The Russian and I will most definitely be writing about that as well, so there is more talk to travel coming up to look forward to!

For now, however, I would like to talk about cheap food in Spain, which is everywhere and delicious (thank god).

Thats a pint of beer and a huge portion of stewed cod and tomatoes for three euro. Awesome.

Thats a pint of beer and a huge portion of stewed cod and tomatoes for three euro. Awesome.

My travels in Spain began in Bilbao, San Sebastian and Pamplona in Northern Spain. Aside from being gorgeous,

I lived about ten minutes walk from this. Total heaven.

I lived about ten minutes walk from this. Total heaven.

San Sebastian is a small beach town whose restaurants have more Michelin stars than Paris.  Just Sayin’.

Foie Gras, Spanish style. Eat your heart out, France

Foie Gras, Spanish style. Eat your heart out, France

Then I went to Pamplona for the running of the bulls. Whoa.

Not sure how we got this pig head, but a liter of wine had something to do with it

Not sure how my friend and I got this pig head, but a liter of wine had something to do with it

In northern Spain, they do this lovely thing around 7 p.m. where locals and tourists bar hop in hot food spots in the area.  Each bar serves Pinxtos, these awesome bits of food served on a crostini or in very small portions in a bowl.  They cost about a euro or so each, so about $1.50 US dollars.

Serrano Ham and Shrimp pulled out of the ocean that morning

Serrano Ham and Shrimp pulled out of the ocean that morning

You can’t get food this delicious this cheap anywhere else.  I ran around to every bar I could find, trying everything I could get my hands on.  Here are some highlights:

Pig's Ear. Crunchy and delicious

Pig’s Ear. Crunchy and delicious

Gazpacho topped with hard–boiled egg, serrano ham, and basil oil. $1.50.

Gazpacho topped with hard–boiled egg, serrano ham, and basil oil. $1.50.

A typical setup at a bar in Northern Spain.  You grab a plate, fill it up, and the bartender tells you how much you owe. Simple.

A typical setup at a bar in Northern Spain. You grab a plate, fill it up, and the bartender tells you how much you owe. Simple.

Then there was Barcelona.  The Russian and I had delicious tapas every night.  Tapas are small dishes of delicious food.  You order a whole mess of plates, then share amongst the table.  They are similar to Pinxtos in northern Spain, just a bit larger and a bit more expensive, about $5 a plate.

Fried Anchovies

Fried Anchovies

Thinly sliced fried potatoes topped with an egg and serrano ham

Thinly sliced fried potatoes topped with an egg and serrano ham

Sauteed mushrooms

Sauteed mushrooms

Don't forget some sangria to wash it all down

Don’t forget some sangria to wash it all down

The banner running across the top of my blog is a photo of some tomatoes and cheese skewers topped with chives, pine nuts and Spanish olive oil that I had in Barcelona, an ode to my love of Spanish cuisine.

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I was so inspired by the food in Spain I bought a cookbook in both northern Spain and Barcelona, because I wanted to bring the flavors of each region home with me.  I also bought some saffron for about $7 for a nice sized container, something that usually costs around $30 here at home (I am ALWAYS looking for a steal).saffron

So maybe I’m just feeling a bit nostalgic on this rainy day here as well, because Spain was an experience I won’t soon forget.  I strongly encourage anyone who is planning on traveling to Spain to go, because once you arrive, the food is wonderful without breaking the bank.  The most expensive part is getting there.

-L