A Spanish Feast

c5de3432c1c211e2a2e222000a9e48a3_7We talk a lot about food but when it comes to sitting down for dinner, or breakfast or lunch, for that matter, it is often more about the company you share it with than the dish you eat. In the best of cases, both food and company are outstanding which is how we concluded this past weekend. After two hard days of camping in Mt. Tamalpais State Park, we returned home last Sunday afternoon pretty beaten up. How great it was when my dear friend Arantza’s mother and younger brother came over for dinner. And lucky for us all, they brought plenty of delicious Spanish food and also prepared it for us to eat while we shared stories of our weekend adventures. Come and cook with us!

You’d think that Italians have figured out how to best prepare tomatoes. After all, our cuisine is known the world over. We use them in sauces for pasta, pizza and lasagna, various salads and soups or simply in the form of a bruschetta. But if I have to be honest, the Spanish out-do us with their Pan con Tomate. It’s fast, it’s easy and goes with pretty much any topping from cheese to anchovies and various meats. On the back of last week’s post on being vegan, I gladly admit that it was way past 6:00 pm when we dug into the jamon and the chorizo. To top off the dinner, Arantza’s mother made a delicious Tortilla de Patatas (similar to a frittata) that tasted great and perfectly complemented the rest of the meal. Best of all, they were at the kitchen island to prepare it all!

We learned that the key to a good Pan con Tomate dish is clearly the quality of the bread as well as the quality and ripeness of the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes in half (we counted about one per person) and grate the flesh using a fine grater. Make sure to place the grater over a bowl to capture all the juices from the tomatoes. You will be left with only the skins that you can discard or use in a soup. Generously add some good quality olive oil, a little bit of red wine vinegar and/or lemon juice and then salt and pepper to taste. Once the bread slices are toasted, you liberally spread them with the tomato sauce and eat it plain or with some cheese or charcuterie. Best to use either a baguette or a hearty sourdough… we’re in San Francisco after all. If you want to add an extra kick, grate a halved garlic clove over the toasted bread before you add the tomatoes. Give it a try, you can’t go wrong!

Whether Italian, Spanish or Middle Eastern, it’s fun to expose yourself to the cuisine of a different culture. When you don’t have the money, time or both to travel to these destinations to savor these flavors first-hand, you can prepare the dishes in your kitchen and pretend, at least for the duration of the meal, that you are far away visiting and catching up with your dear friends! Come and cook with us!

Potato Frittata (also called Tortilla de Patatas)

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