I love Spain. There are many things to love about it, not the least of which is the passion and extravagance of its people and the intensity with which they gesture, speak and love. One can easily understand that this same intensity and passion finds its way into the food, and I can certainly vouch for that.
London - Sep. 19, 2011 - I love Spain. There are many things to love about it, not the least of which is the passion and extravagance of its people and the intensity with which they gesture, speak and love. One can easily understand that this same intensity and passion finds its way into the food, and I can certainly vouch for that.
If grape vines are influenced by terroir, then the same must be permitted to be said for vegetables and other produce. There is something special about Spanish soil that imparts an extraordinary vibrancy and flavour to its bounty and therefore to the animals that graze upon it. The landscape and climate are diverse, creating pockets of unique growing environments.
One of my favourite food writers is Claudia Roden, who is blessed to have journeyed to many different countries for several months at a time with a view to learning about the people, their culture and all that impacts and influences various regional cuisines. It is no surprise then, that I was rubbing my hands together in anticipation of her latest cookbook release, "The Food of Spain". When the book arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by how big and beautiful it is. Far larger than her previous releases, this book takes you on a journey of Spain's diverse regions, its rich culinary history, and even Roden's own family links to its past.
Of equal interest is that its takes you to the doors of people who generously shared their family recipes. Thankfully the biggest challenge I had last weekend was in selecting which of the recipes I wanted to try first. I settled on a dish from Murcia in the southeast - baby lamb cutlets with pan-roasted potatoes and onion seasoned with garlic vinaigrette.
While I am not able to share the full recipe with you here due to copyright, I encourage you to buy the book. It truly is a must-have addition to any serious cook’s collection, whether you are familiar with Spanish cuisine or not. You can easily find it at your favourite local bookstore or online provider.
In the interim, the photo reflects the results of my time in the kitchen on a Saturday afternoon. Called “chuletitas de cordero con patatas”, the dish involves pan searing tiny cutlets of a very young and tender lamb for mere minutes, and serving them with slow-cooked onions and sliced new potatoes roasted stovetop with a luscious, dark Spanish olive oil and some sea salt. It is a accompanied by an aioli or a tangy garlic vinaigrette, which is the variation I chose.
The simplicity of this dish belies its depth of flavour and earthy richness. As we move towards fall, this dish is perfect for those cool evenings when you just want to curl up with a rustic meal and a glass of great wine.
Follow it up with a luscious flourless walnut cake made with Spanish brandy - another of Claudia’s delicious recipes.