When is the best time to buy the most delicious oranges or tomatoes in Spain?
¿Y cuándo es la mejor temporada para comprar fresas o judías verdes?
The Gobierno de España has released seasonal calendar of frutas y verduras in Spain so you can make sure you are buying the freshest produce every season of the year. This way, we can support our local seasonal produce and try to reduce importation in our region.
Similar to Jamón, Manchego cheese is one of those daunting products where we’re never quite sure what we’re purchasing.
Probably the most popular and widely sold cheese in Spain, Manchego originates from the La Mancha region and is made from sheep’s milk. The type of cheese will indicate whether the milk is pasteurized or not. For example a farmhouse Manchego is only made from unpasteurized milk whereas the industrial version is made from pasteurized milk. The traditional use of grass moulds leaves a distinctive, characteristic zigzag pattern on the Manchego cheese. Like jamón, the varieties of Manchego are defined by their curing time.
There are four main types:
A queso fresco is the youngest of the four varieties, aged for just two weeks. Its flavor is mild and, as it’s name would suggest, fresh. This particular type of cheese works great in salads.
This type of Manchego is aged for around three months, it’s semi-firm and has a creamy yet slightly tangy taste.
Aged for six months, Manchego curado has a stronger, sweeter and nuttier flavor then it’s younger versions. Both the curado and semi-curado are great for grating and melting!
As it’s name may suggest, queso viejo (old cheese) is the variety that is cured for the longest time. Aged for a year, its distinctive sharp flavor makes this a great cheese for tapas.
What’s the difference between paella and arroz? I was always lead to believe that they were completely different dishes. Whenever I go to a restaurant, the menu reads paella however in someone’s home, they would always prepare what they called an arroz. One of the first arroz’s I tried was made with more stock and contained potatoes, so I was lead to believe that arroz was more of a soupy rice dish. I decided I needed to ask a Spaniard, leading me to my good friend Rafi, who had invited us around to his house last Saturday for lunch.
After speaking to Rafi’s mum, it turns out there is actually no difference between the two dishes although every family cooks there own version using different meats and fish. The one we had on Saturday was made over a traditional wood fire. She started by adding olive oil, five or six cloves of chopped garlic and then the raw chicken to the pre-heated paella dish.
Once the chicken had browned, half an onion and two green peppers were added to the mixture, followed by two minced tomatoes.
A orange colorant is dusted over the top, giving the paella it’s distinct yellow tone. Rafi’s mum then added a cup of short-grain rice and three cups of water.
The mixture is left to cook for ten minutes and then taken of the heat so that the rice can absorb the remaining liquid. Serve with a wedge of lemon and some crusty bread, yum!
Monda will host its 20th annual Dia de Sopa (Soup Day) this Sunday the 10th of April.
Starting at 12.00 the central square in Monda, la Plaza de la Constitución, the Town Hall will prepare the official soup cooked in a giant wooden pot measuring over a meter and half in diameter and weighing a few hundred kilos. Crafted out of a single piece of wood, this pot is possibly one of the largest in the country.
Made with fresh, local ingredients such as green peppers, garlic, olive oil, pan de pueblo (village bread), tomatoes and eggs, the so-called “official soup” will not be the only soup on offer as other families will also set up around the square to prepare their own versions, creating a homely and energetic atmosphere.
There will also be an artisanal market and live music from 13.00 with performances from Los Carcianos, Lester y Rober and DJ Paco Cantos until nightfall.
This lively and colourful gastronomic event is attended by thousands of people every year and represents an important cultural tradition for the people of the village. See you there!?
The majority of bars in inland Málaga have their own tapas selection, so knowing your way around these small tasters is essential if you want to call yourself a tapas connoisseur. Here are our top five tapas dishes that we feel are a must-try the next time you drop in for a caña or two.
Morcilla con huevos de codorniz
Morcilla is the Spanish version of black pudding. Even if you are not a fan of blood sausage, you soon will be when you try this amazing tapas. A slice of morcilla on the griddle under a fried quail egg is the absolute perfect combination. You can thank us later.
Boquerones en vinagre
The Spanish boquerone is nothing like the anchovies we have in Britain. In Málaga you can order them fried or in vinegar as the locals prefer them. They arrive in a small dish with an olive oil and garlic dressing and are wonderful alternative for really appreciating their rich flavor.
Croquetas are balls of thick béchamel sauce enriched with meat, fish, vegetables or a mixture and then deep-fried until the outside turns a golden brown. The crunchy exterior and smooth, creamy inside make these the perfect bar snack.
Ensalada de mariscos
This delicious mix of seafood, peppers, tomatoes, onions and a light vinegar or mary-rose dressing makes a fabulous light lunch or side dish. One of the most popular tapas dishes in the area, most bars will serve their own variation of the dish.
If you can imagine a Spanish version of parmesan, you’re on your way to Queso Curado. It’s salty, tangy, and works incredibly with olive oil drizzled over the top. Personally, I love a tapas of this accompanied by a glass of cold vino tinto.
What’s your favourite tapas dish at your local bar? Let us know!
A torrija is basically the Spanish version of French toast. Made and sold over the Easter period every year, these sweet treats make a great breakfast or afternoon snack served with a large café con leche. Some people add sweet Málaga wine or Moscatel to the milk infusion, but I prefer them simple so you can really taste the fragrant orange and lemon zest in the finished product.
A loaf of 1 day-old bread
1 litre of milk
1 cup of sugar + extra for dusting
1 cinnamon stick
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
Olive oil for frying
Warm the milk, without letting it boil, with the orange and lemon zest, cinnamon stick and sugar until the sugar dissolves and the flavors have been infused. Set aside to cool.
If necessary, slice your bread into approx. 1.5cm thick slices.
Whisk the eggs until light and fluffy.
Soak each slice of bread in the milk infusion and then dip into the egg mixture before frying them in hot olive oil until golden brown on each side.
Lay your torrijas on kitchen paper to soak up the excess oil and then dust in a mixture of powdered cinnamon and sugar.
Your torrijas are ready!
Let us know if you try giving these a go this Easter weekend.
Give your family a real taste of Andalucía this holiday season with a DIY Andalucian Christmas hamper.
By gathering together a few traditional foodie things, you can create a really special gift set for those back at home.
Here are some ideas of things to include in your Christmas hamper.
Tip: This idea is really great for those actually flying back this Christmas. All you have to do is book a suitcase and fill it with your Andalucian Christmas hampers to save on expensive shipping.
Aceite de oliva extra virgen
Andalucian olive oil is famous for being one of the most delicious in the world, so why not get a small bottle of extra virgin olive oil from your local press? In December the shelves will be freshly stocked with new bottles from this September’s harvest.
Manchego cheese is the Spanish version of cheddar, a hard cheese that melts amazingly and is fantastic just sliced and eaten as tapas with a bit of olive oil drizzled over it. You can buy eighths, quarters, halves or even full cheeses at all supermarkets all vacuum-sealed for freshness.
There is nothing more perfect than a glass of sherry accompanied by a tapas of jamón serrano. Instead of a bottle of wine, fino would make a lovely addition to your Christmas hamper.
I don’t know ANYONE who doesn’t like Chorizo. The smokey Spanish sausage is a Christmas hamper essential and they are many varieties to chose from that are readily available (sweet, smokey, spicy etc.). You could also include other types of Spanish sausage like salchichon or lomo.
Stemming from the Moorish occupation, Turrón is a sweet nougat-like bar traditional around the holiday period. There are two mains types, a soft turrón or turrón blando that’s smooth and peanut butter-like and my personal favourite hard turrón or turrón duro, which is a thick, crunchy nougat candy, studded traditionally with almonds.
This one’s a classic and an absolute must-have in a Spanish themed hamper. Your friends and family will love you for introducing them to Jamón Iberico.
Other ideas: honey with almonds, olives, a jar of roasted and skinned red peppers, polvorones etc.
Have I missed anything out? What are you going to include in your Andalucian Christmas hamper?