Cazuela de Garbanzos con Chorizo y Panceta

garbanzos con chorizo y panceta

Cazuela de Garbanzos con Chorizo y Panceta is a typical and delicious Spanish stew, using fairly basic ingredients. The recipe may vary from town to town and when times were hard, one solo chorizo (no panceta or stock) would suffice to add flavour while water, onions and chickpeas would provide the bulk to feed a hungry family.

pork belly slices

In Spanish, pork belly is called panceta. I made the mistake (several years ago) of ordering the literal translation of pork belly (vientre de cerdo) from a wholesale restaurant butcher in Calella and he brought me pork tripe with kidneys attached! Fortunately he saw the funny side of it and returned later with the required three pork bellies. When I researched this online, I discovered that it’s a common English to Spanish mistake, mostly because cured pork belly is also called panceta, like Italian pancetta! I’d peviously compounded the translation problem by buying pork belly at Cansaladeria La Moianesa, my favourite pork butcher in the Boqueria and when I asked for vientre de cerdo and pointed at the pork belly the butcher said. “Vale!” It’s easy to slip up when you can confirm things visually and vientre does mean stomach or belly!

garbanzos

Chickpeas (called garbanzos in Spain) are an Old World pulse, farmed as long ago as 3500 BC in Greece, Jericho and Turkey. Traces of wild (gathered) chickpeas have been found in French caves dating back to 6790 BC (give or take 90 years either way). Garbanzos can be dried and stored for months (if not years). They can be rehydrated and used in cooking or ground into a flour. Chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus, falafel, farinata, the batter for pakora and as an important addition to many salads, soups and stews throughout the Mediterranean, Africa, India and Asia.

Receta de Garbanzos con Chorizo y Panceta (serves 4):

250g fresh chorizo
250g pork belly slices (panceta)
1 large onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (chopped)
3 medium tomatoes (grated)
300g dried chickpeas
1/2 pint chicken stock
a small glass red wine
a splash red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera dulce
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera picante
a large pinch crushed thyme
2 bay leaves
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

chopped parsley (to serve)

To reconstitute dried chickpeas they must be soaked overnight and cooked the next day for up to an hour depending on size and age. To speed the process up, garbanzos can be soaked in boiling water for an hour and cooked in a pressure cooker for 25 minutes. Chickpeas are available, ready to eat or cook with, in cans and jars. Pulses in jars are cooked at a lower temperature to tins, which means they retain their texture and flavour better (BBC Food Programme on Spanish beans).

chorizos browning

Fry the chorizos in olive oil to give them some colour, then remove to a plate for later. I’ve used raw, uncured chorizo, but there’s no reason why one shouldn’t use cured. In the old days (before refrigeration), fresh chorizo would have been eaten after a matanza while the cured variety would have been the main staple for everything, as it keeps for several years in a larder.

panceta browning

Cut the pork belly slices into thick pieces and fry in the same olive oil until browned. Reserve with the chorizo.

cebolla

Sofreír (poach) the chopped onion, again in the same pan and add more olive oil as necessary – be generous with it! The above looks quite brown, but in fact a lot of the colour comes from pimentón in the chorizo and the previous meat browning. This is all good and adds to the flavour. Do be careful not to burn the onion, cook on a very low heat, with lots of oil and stir …and stir!

tomates

When the onion is soft and sticky stir in the chopped garlic and grate on the tomatoes (cut them in half, grating the wet side – dispose of the leftover skin). Mix in and allow to cook for 5 minutes.

pimentón y tomillo

Add the pimentón and thyme,

caldo y garbanzos

followed by the chickpeas, bay leaves, stock, wine and vinegar. You can mix some of the chickpea liquid with a stock cube if you don’t have home made stock to hand. Season with salt and pepper (to taste).

one hour

Allow to cook for an hour or so, on low, with the lid on.

chorizo y panceta

Return the chorizo and panceta to the pot for a final 30 minutes (if you cook pork belly and chorizo for too long in stock they loose a lot of flavour and texture). Do pour on more libations of wine and/or stock if necessary.

cazuela de garbanzos con chorizo y panceta

Sprinkle on a little chopped parsley and serve with crusty bread. I recommend drinking a glass or two of Castillo San Lorenzo Reserva (a Rioja) with the stew.

I did see a recipe for this from a Spanish processed food manufacturer who added camarones or gammas to the pot. While I won’t be buying their preprepared ingredients in jars, the idea of adding prawns to other fresh provisions, is good inspiration and makes me think of gumbo!

 

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Caldereta de Cabrito extremeña

caldereta de cabrito

Caldereta is a typical goat or lamb stew from Extremadura, a large landlocked region in the South West of Spain which borders Portugal. Extremadura is famous for it’s Pimentón de la Vera (smoked paprika) and Jamón ibérico. The region contains vast swaithes of park and farmland along with beautifully preserved Roman and Moorish arcitecture. Extremadura has suffered from a rural flight in the last 70 years, as many famillies left farming for better paid jobs in cities. Many small towns are practically deserted now and Extremadura has become the cheapest region in Spain for house buying.

Caldereta can also be found in the neighbouring Spanish regions of Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León and Andalucía and as Extremadura is an Iberian pig farming region, you will sometimes find it cooked with pork.

Receta de Caldereta de Cabrito (serves 4):

1 kg kid goat (chopped on the bone)
1 large onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (chopped)
3 medium tomatoes (grated)
1 large carrot (chopped)
1 small red pepper (chopped)
1 small green pepper (chopped)
4 medium flowery potatoes (cut irregularly)
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera (dulce)
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera (picante)
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons ground thyme and rosemary
1 pint (500ml) lamb or chicken stock
a large glass of dry white wine (Albariño or Pitarra)
a splash of sherry vinegar
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

This recipe is interchangeable using goat or lamb.

carne de cabra

Season then brown the goat in plenty of olive oil – it’s better to do this in two batches rather than crowd the pan.

cebolla

Reserve the meat and sofreír (gently poach) the chopped onion in the same pan and oil (add more if necessary).

tomate

When the onion is soft and sticky, add the chopped garlic and grate on the tomatoes (cut them in half and grate the wet side – dispose of the leftover skin).

zanahorias y pimientos

Stir in the carrot and sweet peppers.

hierbas y pimentón

Sprinkle on the pimentón and herbs, with a splash of sherry vinegar.

patatas

Using a small sharp knife cut and break the peeled potatoes into the pan. This is a Spanish technique which allows more starch to escape from the potatoes and thicken a stew.

cabra con caldo

Return the goat to the cazuela and pour on the stock and wine. Submerge two bay leaves in the stock.

después de dos horas

Cover and cook gently for 2 hours or until tender.

Majado (thickener and flavour enhancer):

200g goat’s liver
2 small pieces fried bread
4 cloves garlic
15 blanched peeled almonds (toasted)
2 choricero peppers (soaked in boiling water for an hour)
1 guindilla or other hot chilli pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
a splash of sherry vinegar

In the meantime, prepare the majado, which goes in towards the end to thicken and enhance the flavour. You will notice that this is similar to a Catalan picada.

pan frito

Fry a couple of pieces of stale bread in olive oil or lard. In Spain the heat and humidity makes bread go stale within a few hours, so there are many recipes which use up the leftovers.

hígado de cabra

Fry about 200g of goat or lamb’s liver, until it is done (to your taste) – slightly pink inside is good for me. It was a fat piece, so I cut it in half for cooking.

hígado frito

Goat’s liver is a complete revelation and not like lamb’s at all. IMHO it’s far more like goose liver and incredibly tender – definitely not goaty or gamey! When I went to buy the goat I asked for some liver too, half expecting not to find any and would have happily used lamb’s liver instead. I will have to buy more, to cook as a main dish, with bacon!

deglazing

Do deglaze the pan with a little wine and add this to the caldereta.

almendras

Toast the almonds in a frying pan,

comino

followed by the cumin seeds.

soaking choriceros

Soak the choricero peppers in boiling water for an hour or so. If you can’t find these, you can buy choricero pepper paste in jars. Otherwise use pimientos – roasted red peppers (which are also available in jars). Remove the stem and seeds from the choricero pepper.

Deseed a guindilla or hot pepper of your choice, otherwise use cayenne pepper (to taste).

majado

Traditionally, one would mash/crush the majado ingredients with a mortar and pestle, but it’s easier (especially with the liver) to put everything into a blender, do grind the almonds with the cumin first though first. Add water, or better, the pepper soaking liquid to make a thick paste.

la pasta

When the goat is nice and tender, stir in the majado to thicken the sauce. I came across a recipe here for caldereta, where someone uses liver paté to thicken the sauce and I can see some sense in that if you don’t have the other ingredients to hand.

espesada

Cook for another 10 – 15 minutes

caldereta

and then serve with a sprinkle of chopped parsley or coriander (cilantro).

Ideally one should drink a Pitarra with the caldereta – Pitarra is an artisanal wine, made in clay jars, predating the arival of the Romans in Spain. This wine is still made using traditional methods and with most local grape varites. You may have trouble buying Pitarra outside of Spain, in which case I reccomend an Albariño – Camino de Cabras would be an obvious choice!

While eating the caldereta, I couldn’t help noticing some similarity in texture, plus the almond flavour alongside goat (which is like lamb), to Indian and Persian dishes – particulalry Lamb Korma. Obvioulsy there were no peppers, potatoes or tomatoes in Spain under Moorish rule (nor anywhere else, outside of the Americas), but they have been invited into most old world cuisines since 1492. There is a recipe for lamb, onions and pounded almonds (White Tafâyâ Stew with Almonds) in an anonymous 13th Century Al-Andalus Cookbook online and you will find a similar lamb stew with turmeric and apricots cooked in North Africa. …and of course, there’s a distinct connection between the thickening of caldereta with ground almonds and soups like Ajoblanco.

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Botifarra d’ou

botifarra d’ou

Botifarra d’ou (butifarra de huevos in Spanish) is a Catalan sausage made with pork and eggs. This is a variation on the regular meat botifarra, created about three or four hundred years ago, specifically to be eaten on dijous gras (jueves lardero in Spanish) – Fat Thursday, the Thursday before Lent (at the start of Carnival). Botifarra d’ou is made by combining pork sausage meat (typically shoulder, bacon and head) with eggs, salt and pepper and occasionally truffles. The mixture goes into natural sausage casings and is poached for 75 minutes at 80ºC – see here for a video of the process.

uncooked botifarra

Botifarra sausages date back to the time of the Romans. They are probably related to Linguiça Calabresa and Cumberland sausages. Botifarra come in many forms, the regular one above contains pork and seasoning, but they can be made with tongue, ears and nose, blood, rice, truffles, etc. They can be sold raw or cured.

butifarra de huevo

Botifarra d’ou is typically sliced and served cold with pa amb tomàquet or chopped and cooked in a truita (tortilla), but it’s also delicious cooked a la brasa (over hot charcoal). The nearest thing to charcoal in a home kitchen, on a chilly March day, is griddle pan. Heat this until it starts to smoke.

scorched

Scorch the botifarra for 5 minutes  on both sides, then rest for a few minutes.

jus

In the meantime, cook chopped garlic in the pan, then pour on stock with a little sherry vinegar and butter to make a jus.

cortada

When cut open the Botifarra d’ou has an omelet like texture and tastes distinctly of egg and sausage. I saw a fabulous video (a few of years ago), where the Meat Hook butchers, Ben and Brent, created a breakfast sausage, but in reality, the Catalans were several centuries ahead of them!

Serve the Botifarra d’ou with seasonal vegetables and a glass of Fosc – a natural vi negre from Alt Penedès.

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Devilled Kidneys

devilled kidney

Devilled meats became very popular in Victorian England – possibly to disguise poor quality food. The process involves marinating the meat with hot spices before cooking and typically includes cayenne pepper, English mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Devilled kidneys were a very common breakfast, still served today, though they’ve since been elevated to the supper menu.

Devilling can be traced back to the Romans, who served spiced boiled eggs as a starter (recorded in Apicius). The more modern deviled egg, where the boiled yolk is mashed and mixed with spices, before being reunited in the hollow of the white, dates back to an anonymous Andalusian recipe book from 13th Century – pound boiled egg yolks with cilantro, onion juice, and pepper, then beat them with murri (a sauce made of fermented barley or fish), oil and salt. Today we might be more inclined to mash the yolk with mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, paprika or Tabasco, but the principle remains the same.

lamb’s kidneys

Kidneys are nowhere near as popular in the UK as they used to be, but you will still find devilled kidneys and steak and kidney pie (or pudding) on restaurant menus. There should be no problem in finding kidneys in butchers shops and supermarkets. When develling kidneys there’s no need to soak them in brine or milk beforehand – the overwhelming taste here is satan and he won’t let you down!

Devilled Kidney recipe:

1 or 2 lamb’s kidneys (per person)
2 dessertspoons plain flour
1/2 teaspoon Colman’s mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce
2 mashed anchovies or a large squirt of anchovy paste
a splash sherry vinegar
a splash of chicken stock
ground sea salt and cracked black pepper
a knob salted butter
a slice of toast (or fried bread) per kidney
chopped parsley to serve

Rinse the kidneys under a cold tap and pat dry with some kitchen towel. They normally come with a very thin film around them which is quite easy to peel off. Sometimes, like today, you will find that the butcher has already done this for you. Cut each kidney in half, as per the picture below. Cut out the white fatty core and discard it.

butterflied kidney

Combine the dry develling ingredients and flour in a bag or bowl.

butter

Get a frying pan very hot then melt a knob of butter in it. Introduce the kidney halves to the devil and give them a light dusting.

dusted

Fry the kidneys for 2 minutes or so per side. Don’t overdo it, they should be slightly pink inside when served.

scorched

Remove to a warm plate, put the toast on and add Worcestershire sauce, mashed anchovies, chicken stock and sherry vinegar to the pan. Be careful not to let the juices evaporate – add more butter if necessary. Butter the toast, put the kidneys on top, pour on the juice from the pan and sprinkle with chopped parsley. The kidney will be extremely tender and the umami in the sauce will have you craving more. Don’t try to convert the kidney phobic – these are too good to share!

Since this is a breakfast dish, I recommend serving it with a nice cup of tea!

…and an alternative recipe.

devilled kidneys with mushrooms and garlic

Devilled kidneys with Mushrooms recipe (serves 2 or 3 people):

4 or 5 lamb’s kidneys (quartered)
6 closed cup mushrooms (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
2 dessertspoons plain flour
1/2 teaspoon Colman’s mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon pimetón de la Vera dulce
1 teaspoon Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce
2 mashed anchovies or a large squirt of anchovy paste
a cup of chicken stock
a splash sherry vinegar
ground sea salt and cracked black pepper
a knob goose fat or lard
chopped parsley to serve

Prepare the kidneys as per the first recipe above, then cut them into quarters.

frying kidneys

Dust the kidneys in devilled flour,

fried kidneys

flash fry them in hot goose fat and reserve.

mushrooms and garlic

Fry the mushrooms with garlic and when they’ve become moist, add Worcestershire sauce, the mashed anchovies, chicken stock and sherry vinegar.

reduction

Allow the liquid to reduce. Return the kidneys at the end –  just warm them through, don’t overcook them or they will become rubbery.

fried potatoes

Sprinkle with parsley and serve as a tapa or with fried potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

I recommend drinking a glass of Casillero del Diablo tempranillo with your devilled kidneys and mushrooms.

See also: Devilled Pheasant.

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Caldo Gallego

caldo gallego

Caldo Gallego (Galician soup) comes from Galicia, in the north of Spain and on the Atlantic coast. Galicia has a  strong Celtic history and it’s own language – Galician, which is closely related to Portuguese. The traditional economy of the region (aside from fishing) is farming and this broth is what keeps the farmers going through wet winters. I’ve seen it written, that in times gone by, the soup was so popular, people ate it three times a day, particularly when there was a scarcity of vegetables during the long dark months. It’s not hard to imagine the ingredients going into a cauldron in the morning and simmering over an open fire throughout the day. Caldo Gallego is a very common sight on Galician menus and well known across Spain.

This dish is said to date back several centuries. While white beans and potatoes only arrived after 1492, it’s quite feasible that the soup was cooked with turnips and dried broad beans prior to the discovery of the Americas.

Caldo Gallego recipe (serves 6):

1 gammon knuckle (ideally smoked)
250g alubìas blancas (dried white beans)
400g flowery potatoes (cubed)
half a large cabbage (torn or sliced)
2 litres (3 1/2 pints) water
cracked black pepper
coarse ground sea salt (if necessary)

Optional extras:

2 cooking chorizos
a large piece (not slices) of smoked bacon in place of the gammon, plus a ham bone
unto – salted pig fat
grelos – turnip greens in place of cabbage

You might also include pigs ears, tail and ribs for a luxury version!

gammon knuckle

Soak the gammon in cold water, overnight in the fridge – this removes some of the salt.
Alternately, using a cast iron casserole, immerse the gammon in cold water, bring a the boil and immediately throw the water away, rinse the gammon and clean the pot before commencing with the recipe.

alubias blancas

The dried white beans should also be soaked in cold water overnight. Rinse and drain before using. Add the knuckle, presoaked beans and potatoes to the pot with 3 1/2 pints cold water. The Spanish way to cut potatoes is to use a small knife with which you cut and break them, so that the surface is uneven. Sprinkle on cracked black pepper.

gammon, beans and potatoes

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and scoop off any foam. Cook for 2 hours, at which point the gammon should be quite tender, if not cook for another 30 minutes or so.

chopped ham

Remove the knuckle, allow to cool in order to handle, then chop the meat and discard the fat, skin and bones (do use them in making stock, there will still be lots of gelatin and flavour in them). Return the ham to the casserole. By this time the beans and potatoes should be soft and the broth should have taken a little colour from the potatoes. Some will have dissolved, but there should still be small potato chunks.

cabbage

Cut or tear the leaves of half a cabbage (or use turnip greens) – discard the thicker part of the stems. Allow the cabbage to steam on top of the soup for 10 – 15 minutes, until tender, then stir in. I’m not a huge cabbage fan, but when I put the lid on and the cabbage started to cook, the smell was amazing! Add more black pepper if necessary and in spite of the brined gammon, you might need salt – but don’t add any until the chopped meat has been returned to the pot and the soup has been tasted!

If using chorizos, add them to the pot after 1 1/2 hours of cooking time. If using a piece of smoked bacon (with the beans and potato), chop it up as per the gammon.

caldo

Serve with crusty sourdough bread and butter. I recommend drinking a glass of Maeloc Sidra (a well known Galician cider) with the Caldo Gallego – you could even add a splash to the soup!

Xa vai sendo hora de cea, bo proveito – It’s time for dinner, bon appetite!

 

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Calderillo Bejarano

calderillo bejarano

I set out to make a typical veal/beef stew from Béjar in Salamanca, but the butcher didn’t have any chuck (the specific type of cut required), however, he did have diced pork belly, so I thought I’d make lemonade with that instead! While Calderillo Bejarano is traditionally a beef and potato stew, I have seen a version made with pork ribs in The Spanish Woman’s Kitchen by Pepita Aris (which is a decent recipe book), so using pork isn’t entirely unreasonable. Béjar’s prosperity comes from beef and sheep, but Segovia is also in the same autonomous region (Castile and León) and it’s famous for suckling pig.

Receta de Calderillo Bejarano (serves 4):

500g diced pork belly or veal/beef neck (aguja)
3 slices of smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
3 medium potatoes (800g) (diced)
1 large Spanish onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
3 small green peppers (250g) (chopped)
3 cavolo nero leaves (finely chopped) or parsley
a large squirt anchovy paste
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera picante
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera dulce
a pinch ground cayenne pepper (to taste)
1 pint pork or chicken stock
1 glass dry white wine
a splash or two of sherry vinegar (to taste)
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
extra virgin olive oil (as required)

Calderillo Bejarano is a fairly simple stew to make, there’s not much fiddling about once all the ingredients are in the pot.

Using a terracotta cazuela or cast iron casserole, heat the olive oil and brown the bacon, then remove it to a plate. Next, season the pork or aguja de ternera (veal or beef chuck) with salt, pepper and a little pimentón de la Vera – brown this in the same hot oil and reserve. Again, using the same oil, sofreir (poach) the onion on a low heat until it goes soft and sticky. At this point stir the bacon back in, along with the garlic and chopped green peppers.

Break the peeled potatoes (ideally floury ones) into chunks with a small knife, straight into the stew. This is a Spanish technique which helps the potato pieces release more starch, and thicken the sauce. Give everything a good stir and and sprinkle on the pimentón along with the anchovy paste, thyme, bay leaves and cayenne. Return the pork to the cazuela, pour on the stock, a glass of dry white wine and a couple of splashes of sherry vinegar. In a traditional Calderillo Bejarano one would add parsley now. Since I’m using cavolo nero, which doesn’t need a huge amount of cooking time, I’ll add it later.

cocinando

Bring the stew to a simmer and taste to check the seasoning. Cover with a lid or foil and cook on low for 1 – 2 hours, until the meat and potatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened. When ready, sprinkle on 3 finely chopped cavolo nero leaves (discard the thicker part of the stem) and stir it in. Most Calderillo Bejarano recipes contain peas, so if you wish add a cup or two now. Cover and cook for 10 minutes more.

servido

Check the seasoning and serve with a sprinkle of chopped raw cavolo nero and crusty bread with butter. In the north west of Spain (which is cattle and dairy orientated) butter is quite popular, whereas in the areas where olives are grown, people are more likely to drizzle olive oil on their bread.

I recommend drinking a glass or two of  Black Pig Albariño (from the Rías Baixas region of Galicia) with a pork Calderillo Bejarano.

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Restaurant Victoria

restaurant victoria

The weather was good today, so I arranged to have lunch with Jonas at the Victoria. This is an old favourite, the food is good, the Menú del Día is incredibly cheap and we get treated like old friends. This restaurant is very popular with local people and a table outside is a good place to watch the world go by.

vermut

I arrived first, but all the tables outside were occupied – the proprietor patted me on the shoulder, assured me there would be seats in about five minutes and rushed in to get me a vermut.

menú del día

I stood and looked at the menú and sent a picture to Jonas – we both chose the same dishes! Note the price of the Menú del Día – it’s €9.95 for 3 courses including wine! At the weekend and on Días Festivos the price goes up to €12.95! There’s usually something good to choose from and their paellas, fideuàs and hearty stews are always excellent!

pèsols saltats amb gambes

Within a few minutes we had our table and plates full of pèsols saltats amb gambes (sauteed peas with prawns). This is a moreish dish – I’ve had something similar (recently) with bacon instead of prawns – I believe some chefs combine the two.

vino rosado

We ordered a bottle of Batuta vino rosado, which proved to be a very drinkable wine.

xurrasco a la graella

Our main course was xurrasco a la graella (grilled churrasco) – churrasco is beef short ribs cut across the bone, served here with potatoes, pimiento (grilled and peeled) and a blob of allioli. Churrasco can also mean grilled beef or meat, but in Catalunya it’s a specific cut.

quallada amb mel

For pudding we ordered quallada amb mel – this is a curd cheese with honey, similar to mel i mató.

hierbas

Before we’d even ordered coffee our affable host brought us out chupitos de heirbas (a strong herb flavoured liquor from the Balearic Islands). This is a digestif, often served at the end of  a meal.

carajillo

To finish we ordered carajillos de coñac …and you get a very generous measure of brandy in your coffee here!

la cuenta

The bill was astonishingly cheap – if you look above, we had 2 menús (with a bottle of wine), 2 beers, a vermut and 3 carajillos and the total came to €33.95! Jonas cheekily said to our host, “I thought it was €9.95 each, inclusive!” The poor man exclaimed, “¡Qué cabrón!” and then we all laughed heartily.

Restaurant Victoria is at: Carrer dels Angels, 8, 08001, Barcelona.

Other Bar Victoria visits

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Bones Festes 2021

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Caga tió,
Caga torró,
Avellanes i mató,
Si no cagues bé
Et daré un cop de bastó.
Caga tió!

Caga tió,
Tió de Nadal,
No caguis arengades,
Que són massa salades
Caga torrons
Que són més bons!

Traditional Catalan Caga Tió song.

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Aribau 3

aribau 3

I spotted a good Menú del Día at Aribau 3 a few weeks ago, while en route to another restaurant. The food looked promising and all the people eating outside were locals. I have been keeping an eye on their menú ever since – the options change on a daily basis. A few times they didn’t have what I fancied and a couple more times all the seats were occupied. Today I got lucky – there were lots of dishes I wanted to eat and a table with my name on it!

menú del día

If you look closely, you’ll see that Aribau 3 does a three course Menú del Día, including wine or beer for €12.90 inclusive.

plaça de la universitat

Aribau 3 is conveniently located at number 3 Carrer Aribau, just above Plaça de la Universitat and opposite the university building.

vermut de la casa

I sat outside and drank a Vermut de la Casa – I had my mind made up regarding lunch choices but reviewing the menu, I was very spoiled for choice. The ones that got away were Empanada de Atún (tuna empanada), Churrasco de Ternera (beef short ribs, cut across the bone), Rodaballo a la Plancha (turbot cooked on the griddle) and Cazon a la Andaluza (Andalucian style dogfish) – I wanted to order them all, but hearty local dishes got the better of me.

habas a la catalana

For my primer plato I had the classic Habas a la Catalana – a Catalan stew of broad beans, pork and sausage. This was excellent!

pan

The bread included in the menú was similarly good.

vi rosat

I drank a vi rosat – Celler d’en Calaf, a very drinkable young rosado.

butifarra con judías blanc

My main course was the classic Catalan Botifarra del País con Judías Blanc y Alioli – country sausage with white beans, fried potato and allioli. Botifarra (butifarra in Spanish) sausages date back to the time of the Romans and this dish became popular in small Catalan inns (seises) during the 19th Century. The recipe appears in the 1830 Catalan cook book – Nou Manual de Cuinar amb tota perfeccio. Note that Judías means Jews, who are synonymous with beans in Spain – see my explanation here.

flan

Having had two excellent courses, I was lulled into ordering a very good Flan de la Casa, but forgot to ask them to hold the cream – so it came with lots squirted all around it! No matter, es la vida, I pushed it all to one side and enjoyed the flan no less.

carajillo

…and no menú del día is complete without a carajillo de coñac!

3 aribau interior

…and a little tour before the bill. This is the interior from the back, looking towards where I sat outside. I have to say it doesn’t do much for me, it’s far too much like an airport lounge, however, the food is excellent, as was the service and I will definitely eat here again, albeit afuera.

raciones

On the subject of the food, the raciones (portions/tapas) on offer look to be as good as my menú.

tortillas

Note three types of tortilla, all a slightly different shape, which suggests home made – the one to the left looks like the very popular tortilla de espinacas (spinach).

la cuenta

The bill came to €19 including a vermut, half a bottle of wine and a coffee with brandy! There was a 50 céntimo charge for sitting on the terrace, but that’s neither here nor there for such a great lunch!

Aribou 3 is at: Calle Aribau 3, 08011, Barcelona.

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La Ciudadela

hotel restaurant la ciudadela

It was bright and sunny this week, so I had lunch at Hotel Restaurant la Ciudadela with Nookie. You may remember a previous visit to La Ciudadela a few years ago. The restaurant is on the hotel ground floor and named after Parc de la Cuitadella, which is just across the road. Philip V Spain laid siege to Barcelona during the War of Spanish Succession in 1714 – when the city fell, he built a Citadel on the site of the park to house a garrison and prevent any further rebellion. The Citadel was universally hated by the Catalans and by 1872 it was turned into a contemporary park. Parc de la Cuitadella contains (among other things) the Palau del Parlament de Catalunya, the Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona and Barcelona Zoo.

vermut

I arrived first and ordered a Vermut de la Casa, which turned out to be Vermut Lacuesta a brand made in Madrid (perhaps Philip V is looking down on the park…), but regardless, it’s a decent vermouth!

nubes

Nookie’s often un poco tarde, so I sat and watched the clouds cross the sky and soaked up vitamin D from the sunshine.

fórmula diaria

When Nookie arrived we looked through the menu and realised that they no longer do a Menú del Día, however, the Fórmula Diaria (daily specials menu) looked quite reasonable with a lot of dishes that would make us both happy.

arroz del senyoret

La Ciudadela specialises in arroces (rice dishes) so I chose Arroz del Senyoret (gentleman’s rice) with monkfish, squid, prawns and mussels. It is said that Arroz del Senyoret was created in the Valencian rice restaurant La Pepica, when the painter Joaquín Sorolla asked for peeled langostinos in his arroz, so that he wouldn’t get his hands messy (there’s a very similar story about the origin coming from Alicante, too). The chefs took this a stage further and removed all the skins and shells. In Valencia it is said that a good rice doesn’t need lemon, but I’m not in Valencia and the Arroz del Senyoret tasted fantastic regardless!

revuelto de setas

Nookie ordered Revuelto de Setas-Rossinyols, Trompetas de la Muerte y Rovellons – scrambled eggs with mushrooms – Chanterelles, Death Trumpets (Black Chantarelles) and Bloody Milk Caps, as her starter and main courses.

vi rosat

I drank Martínez Alesanco vino rosado from the Rioja wine region.

caballa fresca a la plancha

My segundo plato was Caballa Fresca a la Plancha – fresh mackerel cooked on a griddle. Again, this was excellent.

crema catalana

I had a superior Crema Catalana for my pudding, this is one of my favourite desserts.

la cuenta

Considering this wasn’t a Menú del Día it sill represents very good value and La Ciudadela is always a very good place to eat. You will notice that I skipped the carajillo – it was getting close to 5pm and Nookie had to go off and meet another friend. We walked up through el Born together and I got my coffee with brandy closer to home, at Bar Principal.

Hotel Restaurant la Ciudadela is at: Passeig de Lluís Companys, 2, 08018 Barcelona.

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