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.

Romesco Sauce

prep time: 30 minutes ~ cooking time: 20 minutes ~ assembly time: 20 minutes

  • 2 large heirloom Tomatoes, cut into thick slices
  • 6 cloves Garlic
  • 3 small dried hot Chiles
  • 12 Almonds
  • 24 Hazelnuts
  • 1 slice of thick, stale Bread (I used whole wheat pain au levain to great effect)
  • 2 large handfuls Mint
  • 2 large handfuls Parsley
  • 2 tbsps Pimenton de la Vera
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsps Sherry Vinegar
  • Salt

Set your oven to 450°F. Arrange the tomato slices on a tray or sheet of aluminum foil and set in the oven to roast for about 20 minutes or until becoming brown on top. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Set a small pot of water to boil on the stove top. Add the almonds and hazelnuts. Allow to cook a few minutes. Drain and spray with cool water. Slip the almond skins off. Struggle to remove the hazelnut skins (I don’t know if this is necessary but I did it, if anyone knows of an easier way to remove hazelnut skins I will love you forever).

Add the cooled tomatoes, garlic, chiles, almonds, hazelnuts, bread, mint, parsley and Pimenton de la Vera to the bowl of a food processor with a heavy glug of olive oil. Process, adding more olive oil as necessary to a thick, creamy paste. Remove to a bowl. Add 1 tbsp of vinegar and a healthy pinch of salt. Whisk to incorporate.

Taste.

Does it need more of anything? We added a second tbsp of vinegar, but you might want more olive oil, or maybe some more garlic or some more herbs. Adjust to your taste and then allow to cool in the fridge until needed. Or just eat it out of the bowl. It’s okay, I won’t tell anyone.

Ann’s Arroz con Costra

prep time: 30 minutes ~ cooking time: at least 1 hour

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves Garlic, sliced
  • 20 Pimientos de Padron, sliced
  • 3 large fresh Chorizo sausages, sliced
  • 1 large or 2 small heads Cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 Avocado Squash, cut into chunks
  • 1 c. Water
  • 1/2 c. Dry Vermouth
  • Salt
  • Saffron, a pinch
  • scant under 1 c. Bomba Rice
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 6 Eggs

Set your oven to 350°F.

Add a glug of olive oil to a large, oven proof sautée pan. Add the onion and sweat over medium heat. Add the garlic and peppers. Cook stirring occasionally until the onions are very limp and beginning to color. Add the sausages. Cover and allow to cook 2 minutes. Add the cauliflower and squash and half the liquid, stir to incorporate. Cover. Cook another 2-3 minutes to take the crisp off the cauliflowers. Add the rice and saffron and the rest of the liquid, season with salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, turn off the burner and carefully move the pan to the oven.

Allow to bake 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and check the rice. It should be tender, yet firm, and have absorbed all the liquid. Mine hadn’t. So I turned the oven up to 400°F, made sure all the rice was touching liquid and allowed it to cook an additional 15 minutes.

Once the rice is done, remove the pan from the oven. Whisk the 6 eggs in a bowl with salt and a little water. When nice and frothy pour the eggs over top of the rice. Allow to bake an additional 10 minutes or until the eggs form a golden crust. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes.

To serve: Give each person a nice big scoop of rice and eggs and free access to the romesco sauce. An arugula salad simply dressed with olive oil and lemon would be an excellent accompaniment. Enjoy!

22 Responses to “Te Amo”

  1. Andrea August 7, 2007 at 9:50 am #

    Oh.. I’ve always wanted to try romesco sauce and even more now! I’m moving it to the top of the list..
    I’ve never been but my bf raves about this burrito place in San Fran:
    El Farolito
    2779 Mission St (near the corner of 24th street).
    http://sanfrancisco.citysearch.com/profile/888465/san_francisco_ca/el_farolito.html
    http://sanfrancisco.citysearch.com/profile/888465/san_francisco_ca/el_farolito.html
    He says to get an agua fresca too. (Also, El Farolito has a bar next door with the same name but you want the restaurant/burrito place.)

  2. Yvo August 7, 2007 at 10:49 am #

    I hear the Stinky Rose has garlic ice cream. I’ve always wanted to try it.
    If you’re doing the tourist thing and hit Fisherman’s Wharf, Dungeness crabs – go to Pier 39. It’s pricier than buying from the stands below, but soooo worth it. Get the crabcakes and at least a whole Dungeness crab. YUM.
    Also within walking distance is Ana Mandara, upscale Vietnamese, so delicious and wonderful. Pricy but also worth it.
    And then just up the hill from there is Ghirardelli Square; you must split a sundae (or, if you’re hungry from walking, have your own!). YUMMY.
    Hmm. Well, I’ll be in Sonoma Valley for a wedding in September, so if you see any great places, pleaseeeee take pictures and share :)

  3. Sarah August 7, 2007 at 11:47 am #

    I second the recommendation for Ana Mandara — very tasty. If you can possibly make a trip to the south bay and you want to eat the BEST sushi ever, go to Los Gatos and eat at Sushi on the Run. It’s a wee little place that only seats 8 people, but you must go and try the salmon sashimi, and the shiro (a type of tuna available seasonally) if they’ve got some. In Napa, I really like eating at Bounty Hunter — the place gets BUSY because the food is honestly great, not too pricey, and it’s also a fantastic wine shop. My favorite wineries in Napa are probably Frog’s Leap (fun free tour/tasting, just need a reservation) and Robert Sinskey (they bring out the best little noshes while you’re tasting.) In Sonoma, the Vella Cheese company is not too too far from the downtown square, and they are nice about letting you sample their very tasty stuff. Have fun!

  4. Carolyn T August 7, 2007 at 12:58 pm #

    Oh, I so identify with your love affair with romesco sauce. I love it too. You’ll have to check out my recipe I posted on my blog recently for shrimp skewers (with bread croutons threaded on it too) served on a bed of romesco and some drizzled (blobbed) on top too. Simply wonderful. The sauce keeps for a long time in the refrigerator. And it freezes okay too, you’ll be glad to know.

    I’ve been to Spain, but never had Romesco sauce while I was there. But I’m glad I found out about it a few years ago.

  5. Carolyn T August 7, 2007 at 1:08 pm #

    Oh, more info: Up in Napa Valley, be sure to eat at one of Cindy Pawlcyn’s restaurants. Mustards is the older, tried and true. But her newer restaurant is up hwy 29 in St. Helena, called Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen. Absolutely fabulous food. I re-created a soup recipe from the restaurant after I got home from a recent trip there (Poblano-Tomatillo-Asiago) that was out of this world. You can find the recipe on my blog: http://tastingspoons.blogspot.com If they have it on the menu, you’ve gotta order it. We also LOVED Ravenous over in Healdsburg. Best BLT I’ve ever eaten in my entire life (for lunch). Also liked The General’s Daughter in Sonoma. If you’re up for a cooking class, check out Ramekins in Sonoma. Kinda fun. Lovely B&B attached too. We had fun shopping at the CIA-Greystone too. Worth the walk up the stairs to find the shop.

  6. Lydia August 7, 2007 at 3:13 pm #

    Who needs to go to Spain? We’ll come to your house for dinner next time the urge hits! Beautiful recipes — muchas gracias.

  7. Lisa (Homesick Texan) August 7, 2007 at 3:39 pm #

    I’m a big fan of romesco as well–one of my favorite snacks is cold sauce and a loaf of crusty bread. And I know it’s been a while since I’ve been to Soho but how did I miss this shop?

  8. Mary August 7, 2007 at 4:08 pm #

    Oh Ann, I love Spanish food, too. After all of our recent discussion about the Balkans, I’m sure you’ll hate me even more when I tell you about all the time I’ve spent in Spain with my husband the Spanish professor. EVERYTHING THERE HAS PORK! I ordered trout once, thinking that it would be the one “lighter” thing on the menu. It came with a gorgeous friggin’ piece of the best, thickest bacon I’ve ever had in my life running right down the middle of it. Jamón serrano is on my list of top ten foods in the world. Also, the judias verdes (green beans) always come with these huge chunks of pork, I can’t figure out if it’s cooked jamón serrano, or some other porky thing, but I super love them. My husband says the pork in everything is a hold over from the Inquisition – you still have to show you’re not Jewish in Iberia.

  9. Anne August 7, 2007 at 6:25 pm #

    I can’t wait to go to Despana. Thanks for the lead.
    And I’ve never made romesco, but boy, it sure looks worth trying.

  10. ann August 7, 2007 at 7:42 pm #

    Andrea — You know what’s funny, I think I might have eaten there the one and only other time I’ve been to San Fran. I’ll have to go again just to be sure however! Thanks for the info!

    Yvo — I’ve never had a dungeness crab, sad, no? So I’ll have to be sure to try one! and that Vietnamese place sounds awesome! I’ll definitely take notes in Sonoma for you! So psyched :-)

    Sarah — Thanks for those! Looks like we’ve got to try out that restaurant now!!

    CarolynT — I’m not a huge fan of shrimp so maybe I’ll try your recipe with scallops instead! And as to Mustard’s it’s totally on my list after all the times Sher has raved about it on her blog. I’m still hopeful I’ll get a spot at the French Laundry, but I won’t be gutted if I don’t (kinda).

    Lydia — Come on down! But if there’s more than two of you, bring your own chairs, alright? We’ve only got 4 at the moment ;-)

    Lisa(HT) — It’s just ever so slightly off the beaten path, but never fear! You know about it now! I know you’ll love it.

    Mary — That’s hilarious (about the Jewish thing at least). I could have used some Spanish professor assistance today, I had no idea how to say I love en espanol. Silly, huh?

    Anne — I think you’d love both of them. If not, don’t blame me ;-)

  11. Christina August 7, 2007 at 8:04 pm #

    Romesco = good.

    Okay, prepare yourself for SF, because it can be a world of food if you let it. I’d skip some of the touristy stuff (Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghiradelli Sq, etc) and head straight one of the many temples of food: The Ferry Building. Every storefront inside is related to food, from the culinary antique store, to the Cowgirl Creamery outlet, to the shop that only sells mushrooms. A shop that only sells mushrooms! Ah, heaven. I also think a tour of the Oakland Scharffen Berger chocolate factory is in order. YESSSSSS! While in Oakland, could you possibly pass up Chez Panisse? If you can’t get in the main dining room, the more casual room is usually available, and very good as well. I could list a thousand restaurants, but I won’t because it really is hard to go wrong. Oh, you are going to have so much fun. I cannot wait for your report.

    As always, a beautiful recipe. I’ve been digging Spanish food lately and have been going back, over and over, to von Bremzen’s The New Spanish Table. It’s an inspiring, colorful encyclopedia of a cookbook.

    Oh, and one more thing in my long-winded comment . . . I’ll take you up on the offer of the lamb stuffing recipe for the eggplants. I’m sure I could use it. Thanks!

    HAVE FUN!

  12. Christina August 7, 2007 at 8:31 pm #

    Oh, and the Hangar One Distillery on Alameda is great fun to visit. You can get there by ferry (from the Ferry Building, no less)–it’s about a half mile or less from the dock. The tasting room is soooooo much fun. Close to that is the Rosenblum tasting room–lots of good zins and syrahs, but you’ll have plenty of vino in Napa/Sonoma. Okay, I really should let other people comment now.

  13. Grant August 7, 2007 at 9:10 pm #

    What a great post. Spain sounds like it was amazing. I love Spanish food and especially the chorizo. LOVE the chorizo. I too have always wanted to try making romesco sauce. Your looks so good. I love the texture.

    As far as San Fran goes, I currently have a library book written by the chefs of a really interesting looking Mexican restaurant called Doña Tomás. http://donatomas.com/ It’s located in Oakland and the food looks so amazing. I really want to check it out the next time I’m up there.

  14. Luisa August 8, 2007 at 9:16 am #

    I have to also chime in and say that romesco is one of the world’s best sauces. Try it mixed together with some roasted and smashed potatoes (there’s a recipe on my blog somewhere for this, by Suzanne Goin) – it is OUT OF THIS WORLD. Have fun in SF! I’m so envious.

  15. izzy's mama August 8, 2007 at 3:11 pm #

    Izzy and I will have to check that Despana out one of these days..I have never heard of it. We have been to La Esquina and I love that place.

  16. s'kat August 8, 2007 at 5:05 pm #

    I just adore romesco sauce, it is truly wonderful, satisfying stuff.

    Funny that you mention tienda, they are perhaps 20 minutes away from me. Well, on a really good day.

    You should really plan that trip to Spain. It’s always easy to never find the time…

  17. ann August 9, 2007 at 6:38 am #

    Christina — You’re funny! I can’t wait to go to the Ferry Building. I’m so bummed we’re arriving too late to see the Farmer’s Market, I was really (really!) looking forward to meeting Steve from Rancho Gordo. Oh well, next time! Chez Panise and Hangar One are definitely on my list of things to do if we have time. So excited!

    Grant — That sounds awesome. Oakland sounds like a happening spot! And to think all I thought it was good for was the Raiders ;-)

    Luisa — How did you know that’s what we had for dinner on Monday night? I found the teeny tiniest weest ‘taters at the greenmarket last week. They were amazing smooshed together with the romesco!

    Izzy’s Mama — I bet Izzy will love the cow head!

    s’kat — Really?! They;re in Virginia? Wow, next time you go in there thank them for me for their recipes! And yeah, I know I should go to Spain… I’m working on it!

  18. Chris August 9, 2007 at 1:53 pm #

    Ann,

    Stinks that you’re going to SF and will miss the Farmer’s Market. That stinks. Still worth a visit to go to Cowgirl Creamery in the Ferry Market.

    Check out the restaruant Canteen in SF. The hash for breakfast and the dessert soufflé are both killer: http://www.yelp.com/biz/Yc0qnc6qRIlnbQFtVOwC0w

    Zuni is one of my all time faves . . .:
    http://www.yelp.com/biz/oqsu3pKpgRMGHj9QItsx0A

    Hayes Valley is a creative, fun stop, and less touristy than most of the other shopping options, plus Citizen Cake is there:
    http://www.yelp.com/biz/0nnIx1y89iPopf8eawFaoQ

  19. Rose August 9, 2007 at 2:01 pm #

    Now I feel bad about never trying romesco sauce. Although it looks, judging by the ingredients, like the Harissa sauce that my hubby makes. Except for the nuts. Spain is such a gorgeous country. If you do go there someday, which I hope you will, try to visit Seville. You can’t go to Spain without going there.

  20. Erin August 10, 2007 at 8:43 am #

    I share your romesco love. In Suzanne Goin’s cookbook Sunday Suppers at Lucques she has you make a romesco sauce to accompany pork/lamb burgers–fantastic. Also, thanks for the tip on Despana.

  21. sher August 10, 2007 at 1:53 pm #

    Oh my God–that looks so fabulous! Have fun in SF. You might want to call The French Laundry and see if there were any openings on the waiting list. I’ve gone there 3 times, but was only able to do it by getting on the waiting list. It was incredible, each time.

  22. ann August 10, 2007 at 8:52 pm #

    Chris — Zuni! I nearly forgot about that place! I totally want to go there. Thanks for the 411 :-)

    Rose — It is like harissa! A little less firey, a little more smoky, good stuff.

    Erin — My pleasure! I hope you love it as much as we do.

    Sher — I need to call FL and bug them about my wait list request again, thanks for the reminder :-) I hope all’s well…

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