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Te Amo

7 Aug

I love Spain.

No, I’ve never been to Spain. I’d really like to go though, if only to wallow in the pork.

Rooftop Garden Above Kiehl's

Since I’m about to use up the last of my vacation days for this year*, a trip to Spain in ’07 is highly unlikely. Luckily, I live in New York, and wouldn’t you know it but there’s a next best thing?

Despaña.

There’s a giant bull’s head on the wall. They sell Iberico (when it’s in stock). They make drool-worthy bocadillos. They have an entire wall of tiny tinned fishes and tunas, piquillo peppers, rices, olive oils, white asparagus products, sherry vinegars, honeys, sweets, pickles and mayonnaises. It’s like walking into a physical manifestation of Ximena’s blog.

Oh, and they always offer tons of samples.

Sometimes when the boy and I are out walking around in Soho we’ll get a little hungry and want a snack. The snack options in this ‘hood are priced as stupidly as the rest of the merchandise on offer so we’ve come up with a far cheaper option. First we’ll hit up the olive bar at Gourmet Garage and then head over to Despaña to round out the graze.

South Street Seaport Patio Garden

After a lunch of tacos and tortas at Esquina (whoever invented the mushroom taco, I salute you sir!) we still had enough room in our stomachs for a light nosh. The Boy hit up the cheese (I know, you’re shocked) while I sampled the world of bizzaro alliolis. Spain, have I mentioned that I love you? I love any culture that can invent so many ways to flavor mayonnaise, and then takes the time to bottle them.

Grazing is good, but I had a real goal for being at Despaña. I’d had a random week at the Greenmarket. I impulse purchased some fresh chorizos from Tamarack Hollow Farm, avocado squash and more pimientos de padron from Yunos Farm, plus tiny cauliflowers and tons of tomatoes. I was at Despaña to find a way to tie them all together.

West Village Sunset

I bought some Bomba rice. I had no idea what to do with it, so when we got home I pulled a good dozen books from the collection and sat at the kitchen table, perusing, to no avail. My books had failed me. I was gutted. And so I turned to the internet. I typed in the query “recipe cauliflower chorizo” and on the second page of results was this. Sounds delicious doesn’t it? Until you actually read the instructions. Boil each vege on it’s own? Ugh, how fussy! But I had found a source. These La Tienda people sure have a lot of recipes!

I searched and combed and then I hit on the perfect recipe. It used rice. I had rice! It used egg. I had eggs! It used rabbit and chicken. I had chorizo! It used chickpeas. I had peppers, squash and cauliflower! It was a perfect match, possibly not in the real world, but in the recipe world of Ann’s head, it was.

Arroz con Costra

And since I couldn’t get those alliolis out of my head I decided to make a sauce too. I was going to make this one, but it didn’t solve my tomato problem, so I settled on making a romesco. I’m sure I’ve had romesco before, I know I have, but it’s never made an impression on me. Well, no more!

Romesco is my new favorite sauce on the face of the earth.

Romesco Sauce

I want to bathe in it, wallow in it, eat it on everything. It’s piquant, and smoky, and tomatoey and dear god, it’s just so damn good! If you’ve never had it before, I implore you, make some this weekend. It’s good on meat, and fish, and on vegetables, spread on bread, in salad dressings, and, yes, I’ll admit it, straight out of the Tupperware container while standing in front of the refrigerator while one is supposed to be asleep.

Arroz con Costra

But man and woman cannot live on romesco alone (although I’m thinking of trying). So, about the rice… Good! Delicious! Fantastic even! But I don’t recommend making this in the summer. It just takes too damn long in the oven. Save this recipe for a nice dark, cold, snowy day when the saffron yellow rice and golden eggs will serve as a bolt of sunshine into a dreary grey day.

Te amo Espana indeed!

*P.S. — Slow walking San Franciscans beware!! The Boy and I are flying out to the Bay Area on Saturday for 3 days in San Fran, 3 days in Napa and then a wedding in Sonoma. If anyone has any suggestions as to things to do, places to eat, vineyards to visit, goats to pet, I would LOVE to hear them! Neither of us have spent any significant time in this neck of the woods so all advice would be heartily appreciated! And if anyone wants to meet up, well…

Head below the jump for the recipes for Romesco Sauce and Ann’s Arroz con Costra.

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