Quick Recipes and Easy

Andalucia Spain – a Great Place to Eat!

Andalucia is an brilliant destination for those who are truly interested in excellent food. In Andalucia the emphasis is on the freshest of ingredients, simply prepared so that the quality can be really appreciated. The Mediterranean diet, with its emphasis on fresh fruit and vegetables, exquisite seafood and extra-virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest in the world.

In addition, what really makes eating out in Andalucia different from anywhere else is the sheer enjoyment and informality that prevails in the restaurants and bars. Here you will find no hushed silences or pretentious surroundings, just family and friends enjoying each others’ company. What we particularly appreciate is that children are welcome everywhere, even in the smartest of restaurants. The staff are always pleased to prepare something special for their youngest guests. Spanish children stay up as late as their parents, particularly in the summer, and they learn to appreciate excellent food at an early age.

Everyone is familiar with paella, that classic of Spanish cooking, but properly made with Spanish small-grain rice, saffron, and the freshest of seafood it is an unforgettable experience. Gazpacho is also well known, but you should also try the Antequeran ‘porra’, a thicker type of Gazpacho with a garnish of Serrano ham, egg and tuna?

Moorish spices are heavily used in Andalucian cooking – a reminder of Spain’s Arab past – and they add a tasty but subtle touch to meat dishes, from ‘pinchitos’ (small kebabs) to casseroles. Most meat is simply prepared on the grill or barbecue, flavoured only with olive oil and garlic. A favourite with children is always ‘pollo al ajillo’ – tiny pieces of chicken cooked with lots of garlic and olive oil with bread to soak up the juices.

It would take more space than we have to describe the variety of fish and seafood available in Andalucian restaurants. The coastal city of Malaga in particular is well-known for its tasty fried fish. Choose the ‘fritura malagueña’ for a variety of fried fresh fish. Most frequently encountered is hake (‘merluza’) served fried or grilled or cooked with clams, garlic and parsley. Depending on what has been caught that day you will also find sole, cod, sea bass, bream and many others whose names you cannot translate! Two favourites with children are small pieces of ‘Rosada’ (a firm white fish) crisply fried in a light batter and served with ‘Ali-oli’, a very garlicky mayonnaise and ‘Cazón en Adobo’ ( a kind of shark!) cut into small pieces and marinated before being fried. You will not often find buttery or creamy sauces as generally the Spanish believe that the flavour of truly fresh fish should not be obscured! Seafood aficionados will find prawns of every size from tiny to gigantic, together with langoustines, crayfish and lobster.

Most visitors arrive determined to sample the many tapas available in the bars and restaurants. One notable thing about the tapas in rural Spanish areas is that they are usually included in the price of your drink, something which has all but vanished in resorts with many foreign visitors. Tapas can be either hot or cold. The choice of cold tapas will often include a piece of tasty manchego cheese or Serrano ham, a tiny plate of seafood salad or some ‘pipirrana’ – a refreshing salad made with finely diced peppers and tomatoes and of course a piece of the well-known Spanish omelette.

But most memorable are the hot tapas. It could be a tiny piece of fried fish served with some perfectly dressed salad leaves, or a couple of grilled prawns or fried fresh anchovies. All kinds of small sausages are served as tapas, especially the spicy ‘chorizo’. You might also try a miniature casserole of pork cooked in a fresh tomato sauce or with Moorish spices and served in a tiny earthenware dish. Small pieces of steak also feature as tapas, either served on their own or inside tiny buns. One or two meatballs or chicken wings are also well loved with children. These are only a fraction of the tapas available as every bar has its own unique specialities and at some, particularly in Antequera, you can choose from more than 20 different tapas. Do spend some time on a “tapas tour” of your local town or village – it will be an unforgettable experience!

After running a villa rental business in Andalucia, Spain for several years, Heather McMillan is now expanding andaluciacoastandcountry.com andaluciacoastandcountry.com, a website for those interested in food and drink, lifestyle and property in Andalucia.

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