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Sing Me Spanish Mackerel

7 Dec

Apologies to fans of the poppiest band in the world and to those who appreciate truth in advertising.

Brooklyn Heights

I am a huge (huge!) fan of the New Pornographers. After years in the music industry, listening to all my friends and co-workers babbling incessantly about them, it was Isaac who actually got me to sit down and listen to them. One go round with Twin Cinema and I was a goner. The goofy lyrics, impossibly catchy guitar hooks and Neko‘s voice are a power pop lover’s triple threat.

(Wow, looking back at that last sentence makes me realize why I failed as music writer at my college newspaper.)

Brooklyn Heights, The Promenade

Whenever I’m in a bad mood at work, I’ll switch over to my New Pornographers station on Pandora. It’s really hard to be pissed off at your co-workers when you’re chair dancing in your cubicle to songs like “Use It,” “Letter From An Occupant,” and especially, “Sing Me Spanish Techno.” It’s from this last song that I’ve borrowed the title for this post.

You see, the idea of Spanish techno is funny already. I mean, I used to like techno, a lot. American techno was okay, the Brits got it right from time to time, but it was the French and the Germans that made the good stuff. Never the Spanish.

Brooklyn Heights, The Promenade

But what’s even funnier is the idea of a song about Spanish mackerel. And when this song gets stuck in my head (which it does frequently, I’m very susceptible to ohrwurms) I tend to half-hum/half-sing it aloud, and when I do, I change the lyrics to “Sing Me Spanish Mackerel.” It tickles the hell out of me and confuses the bejezus out of anyone within ear shot. That makes it even funnier.

The point I’m trying to make is that I made a soup this weekend that makes me as happy as listening to the perfect New Pornographers song during a hellacious commute home after a long day of work. They both make me do a goofy little dance. And while the soup may be Spanish in origin, it contains no mackerel (I suppose it could, but it doesn’t). That’s where that whole truth in advertising thing comes in.

Brooklyn Heights Mews

I initially conceived of it one day late last week while relaxing on the couch with a glass of good red wine. Isaac was sitting at the computer and asked what I wanted to cook this weekend. I said I had no idea and asked him to pass me a few cookbooks for inspiration. I don’t remember which book or recipe it was that lit the soupy fire, but I started formulating a potage of sorts of squid and scallops and shrimp in a saffron-y broth, kind of like a bouillabaisse, but with a little extra something.

The very next day, while I was attempting, in vain as usual, to keep up with all the blogs I love to read (see! even if I’m not leaving comments, I’m still reading!) I stopped by Ximena’s Lobstersquad where she had posted this recipe for Cazuela. It was exactly what I was looking for. Kind of.

Cazuela

There are three main points to consider when making Cazuela, as I see it, based on Ximena’s instructions:

  1. Feel free to adapt at will based on local ingredients and seasonality.
  2. Use a sofrito (something I love doing but often forget to do).
  3. Let the fishies have their due. As Ximena says, “The veg is again a matter of taste, but keep it in the range of asparagus, artichokes, spinach, that sort of thing. Not too many, this is a Spanish dish after all, it won’t do to make it all green. “

With those points as my guiding principals, I adapted the already adapted recipe and bent it to my will.

Cazuela

And oh boy, let me tell you one thing, this soup rocks.

Isaac and I had the leftovers for dinner again last night, and there is something so special about this soup. Neither of us can put our finger on what it is though. There isn’t a single ingredient that stands up and says, “Look at me! I’m the star!” It’s the New Pornographers of soups: the tomatoes are Neko, the shellfish are A.C. Newman and the spices are Dan Bejar.

(Ugh. Once again reminded by that last sentence that I should leave the music writing to the professionals!)

It definitely benefits from a day in the fridge, but, who wants to wait. For optimal deliciousness, enjoyment and happiness; bake the perfect loaf of kneaded no-knead bread, make this soup, download Challengers and combine.

Just try to keep the chair dancing to a minimum while you’re eating. No one likes soup stains on their shirt.

Cazuela

Editor’s Note: I’d like to draw everyones attention to a comment I received yesterday from Lou at Hangar One. Some of you may remember that on our trip to San Francisco in August I was very disapointed by an attempted, and aborted, trip to visit the Hangar One distillery. Apparently someone brought this post to the Hangar One guys’ attention and they left me this nice comment yesterday.

I think it’s an incredibly classy move and I appreciate the heck out of them taking the time to write to me and explain what was going on that day.

So lets all raise a glass to Lou and his team. Thanks again guys. It means a ton to me that you took the time to write, and you can be damn sure I’ll be taking you up on your offer of a tour and a tasting when I’m next in San Fran.

And remember, anyone willing to go to Alameda (where they film a lot of Mythbusters segments I believe!) can go visit the distillery. Just make sure you go Wednesday-Saturday from 12-7 or on Sunday from 12-6.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Challengers Cazuela.

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