Travel around Europe is slowly relaunching, with Spain set to be reopening its doors to tourism again soon. Whether you have a holiday booked for this summer or not, this week we’re looking at the best of Spain, highlighting the must-have food and drinks in your home.
We start first in Galicia in the northwest Iberian peninsula of Spain. We kick-start the travels with a local beer, which in this area is Estrella Galicia. Brewed in A Coruna, this premium pale lager has been made in the area since 1906 when José María Rivera Corral returned to Galicia after travels in Cuba and Mexico. Produced using pilsen and roasted malts, and hops of the Nugget and Perle Hallertau varieties, the result is a traditional flavour of marked bitterness and refreshing aftertaste with every sip. As well as the classic Estrella Galicia, there’s also the 1906 – a rebellious dark amber beer – and the Black Coupage – an alternative considered the black sheep of the family, as well as gluten free and non-alcoholic options.
Galicia is a good region for wine, particularly Rias Baixas. You & Me 2018 (£7.26) is pale-yellow in colour with greenish nuances. On the nose you will find an intense and fruity wine with scents of pear, apple and apricot, combined with a floral background. This wine is smooth, structured and well balanced, and pairs beautifully with seafood or Asian cuisine.
Castilla y Leon
While we have a taste for wine, Castilla y Leon is another good region for it in Spain. Located in the northwest, it consists predominantly of a high plateau ringed by mountains. The Pradorey Roble Origen 2018 (£6.57) is from Ribera del Duero – one of 11 ‘quality wine’ regions within this autonomous community. The Ribera del Duero was revolutionised when Pradorey launched the first Roble wine on the market in 1997. The wine has been aged for two months in barrels and aged for a further month in Pradorey’s hall of century-old earthenware jars. The wine retains its freshness with a mineral, earthy facet and takes you back to the origins of traditional vinifications. Purple-red with a bluish rim in colour, on the nose you’ll get fresh notes of red and dark berries, like blackberries and cherries, and balsamic notes of vanilla. It’s balanced, with soft, pleasant tannins on the palate. It’s an interesting ensemble of spicy notes with a forest berry aftertaste.
We leave behind the northwest of Spain and head east to Barcelona – a fun city buzzing with life, energy and excellent food and drink. At the Nobu Bar in Nobu Hotel you’ll find the Sants Square cocktail. Named after Barcelona’s emerging Sants district – where Nobu Hotel Barcelona is located – this cocktail is the hotel’s most popular. Refreshing and balanced, the Sants Square mixes notes of cucumber and rose petal of Hendrick’s Gin with the herbal flavour of Elderflower liqueur. The secret ingredient? A special Shiso syrup, derived from a Japanese plant similar to mint, and a touch of lemon.
- Hendrick’s Gin (3 ounces)
- Elderflower liqueur (3/4 ounce)
- Shiso syrup (1/2 ounce)
- Lemon juice (1/2 ounce)
- Cucumber (to taste)
- To serve: champagne coupe like glass
- Muddle the cucumber in a cocktail shaker until completely pulverised
- Add the remaining ingredients along with a cup of ice
- Shake vigorously for 10 seconds
- Strain into a glass
- Garnish with a cucumber ribbon
Cinco Jotas, the Spanish premium brand of acorn-fed 100% Ibérico ham, is a farm-to-fork process of approximately five years, and has been developed like an art form. Considered Spain’s national treasure, this delicious jamón Ibérico is favoured by some of the world’s top chefs and restaurants. It was served to Hollywood’s VIPs at last year’s Oscars by Chef Wolfgang Puck, is José Pizarro’s Ibérico ham of choice featuring in all of his acclaimed London restaurants and cookbooks, graces the menu at Nieves Barragan’s Michelin-starred Sabor (as well as 47 other Michelin-starred restaurants around the world) and is an official partner of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants!
The Puente Romano – a 5-star hotel in Marbella – is home to a classic Spanish paella dish, which they encourage visitors to learn during their stay. With travel restrictions in place, they’ve generously shared their recipe with us here:
- 200ml extra virgin olive oil
- 14 pcs prawns
- 300g kingklip
- 7pcs Norway lobster
- 25 king prawns
- 14 big scarlet king prawn
- 300g mussels
- 2 red pepper
- 3 green pepper
- 2 fresh onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 large tomatoes
- 300l raw tomato sauce
- 2 litres fish stock
- 14 green asparagus
- 100ml white wine
- 2 tsp. paprika powder
- 1 kg paella rice
- Salt and pepper
- 1 sliced lemon
- Peel and fry seafood with extra virgin olive oil and put to one side
- Chop and fry garlic, fresh onion and peppers in a large pan
- Add raw tomato sauce, white wine, saffron and paprika powder in the pan
- Pour fish stock, salt and leave to boil
- Add the rice and cook it!
- Add the seafood cooked earlier and the green asparagus to top it off
- Decorate with lemon slices
Frankie & Rita
One of the first signature drinks of a famous hidden bar in the heart of Budapest, the talented mixologists of Black Rose the Bar in Kempinski Hotel Bahia have taken this treasured recipe and mastered the Frankie & Rita, which they serve at their luxury Esteponan resort. Here’s the recipe so you can make this cocktail at home over the summer.
- 1.5oz Mild Mezcal
- 0.5oz Tequila
- 1oz Cointreau
- 1.5oz Agave Syrup
- 1.5oz fresh lime juice
- A pinch of black pepper
- To garnish: Wedge of lime
- To serve: A tall highball glass
- Fill a cocktail shaker with crushed ice
- Add the mezcal, tequila, Cointreau and lime juice
- Securely fasten and shake well
- Pour the mixture into your prepared glass and add agave syrup
- To garnish add a pinch of black pepper and a wedge of lime
Wherever there is great food, you will find great wine. Nowhere is that truer than the laidback shoreline of the province of Cadiz. The Atlantic coast of Cadiz province is a treasure trove of some of the best possible fish, shellfish and seafood in the world. This same province is also home to one of the most loved wines of international gourmands, Sherry. For many years Sherry had the reputation for being the sweet and sickly drink of old ladies and was by passed by a generation. But now it’s come to the forefront of top chefs and sommeliers worldwide as a wine with great complexity ranging from extremely dry styles to the extremely sweet. It’s also now loved by mixologists adding an extra layer of flavour into great cocktails.
When pairing Sherry with food a useful note to remember is, if it swims, Fino or Manzanilla, if it flies, Amontillado or if it runs, Oloroso. Fino & Manzanilla is always served chilled. Here Annie Manson of Annie B’s Spanish Kitchen pairs must-try local dishes with Sherries.
Albondigas is a generic term for any meatball. In Andalucia, not only is it beef or pork but the could be albondigas de atun (tuna) or chocos (cuttlefish). The meat or fish mixture is ground together and mixed with a generous dollop of smoked paprika, lemon zest and freshly picked thyme. The fresh tomato sauce is laced with dry Fino Sherry. No salt or garlic required as when Fino meets tomatoes, a flavour explosion occurs.
Pair with Oloroso Sherry or a red wine from Ronda.
Platos de cuchara:
Very typical Andalucian lunches are platos de cuchara – dishes you can eat with a spoon. One of the favourites is a guiso de pescado, a fish “stew” with incredible depth of flavour. The cooks here are very clever and don’t continuously stir vegetables or meat when browning, allowing the caramalisation to bring on tons of flavour. It also helps that Andalucia is awash with delicious tomatoes. In this dish, the potatoes are cooked in the sauce and when ready, the fish is added. This is eaten all year round and in summer, served with a chilled red wine.
Pair with a chilled Rioja crianza or an Amontillado Sherry.
When the Moors from North Africa conquered Andalucia in the 8th century, they brought many staples, which formed part of their daily diet. Almond trees were widely planted in Andalucia and they continue to be of culinary importance to this day. Part of the remaining culinary culture are cakes made with ground almonds instead of flour. The most famous almond cake in Spain is Tarta de Santiago. Here in the citrus growing south, the cakes tend to be infused with lemons or oranges as well as spice laden syrups. It’s a good idea to decline the offer of any cream alongside, unless crème fraiche or ice cream as there is no dairy herd in the south of Spain and creams are almost always synthetic.
Pair with a Moscatel Sherry or any late harvest Moscatel from Malaga.
Annie B’s Spanish Kitchen (anniebspain.com ) offers cooking courses (from 1 – 7 days) in the beautiful Andalucian white town of Vejer de la Frontera, as well as a variety of food holidays further afield.
Spanish Islands – Mallorca & Ibiza
We conclude our travels of Spain by leaving the Andalucian coast to go island-hopping, where Mallorca and Ibiza in particular have gained a reputation for some of the country’s tastiest cocktails.
The Zafiro Blue is a cocktail inspired by the endless shades of blue that characterise the Mallorcan landscape and Zafiro Palace Palmanova, with its kaleidoscope of pools. The main pool features a wet bar where you can order the Zafiro Blue cocktail and all the other refreshing drinks on the menu, without leaving the pool.
- 1.5 oz Sauza white tequila
- 1oz Mangaroca coconut liqueur
- 1oz blue Curaçao
- 1.5oz lemon juice
- 1.5oz. sugar syrup
- 0.5oz coconut cream
- 6 ice cubes
- Peppermint and lime to garnish
- To serve: A tall highball glass
- Blend all the ingredients together except the blue Curaçao
- Put the blue Curaçao in the cocktail glass, possibly use a highball glass.
- Pour the blended mixture in the glass with the blue Curaçao
- Add a drop of coconut cream and 1 cl. of blue Curaçao
- Decorate with some peppermint leaves and a slice of lime
The Penicillin is a classic and this juicy variation from famous bartender Diego Cabrera is the perfect drink for hot summer nights. And it’s definitely Instagram-friendly! Here’s the recipe from Amàre Hotel Ibiza’s Belvue Rooftop Bar.
- 2/3oz blended whisky
- 2/3oz Islay single malt Scotch whisky
- 0.5oz Lemon juice
- 2 spoons orange blossom honey
- 0.5oz ginger liqueur
- To garnish: ginger cookie, raspberries and melted chocolate
- To serve: Octopus shaped glass or old fashioned glass (short and broad)
- Stir honey with lemon juice in base of shaker until honey is dissolved
- Add the remaining ingredients to the mix
- Shake with ice and strain into iced-filled glass
- Garnish with the ginger cookie, melted chocolate and raspberries