The Spanish Grand Prix – A taste of Catalonia

I have to start off with a couple of apologies.  The first is for having been so quit in the last few weeks.  Although I have the best of intentions, and plenty that I want to say, I have been struggling to find them time to put my thoughts into words.  Moving has been great fun so far, and I’m enjoying myself very much, however I seem to be a lot more busy than I used to, I expect once things settle down a bit more I shall be able to write more regularly.

My second apology is to my local Carrefore as it seems I did it a dis-service.  Having had the time now to properly explore the aisles, I was amazed to discover in their local food section (which, alongside the halal meat and Japanese pot noodles, contains such delicacies as Colmans mustard) the shredded filo pastry I should have used for my künefe!  I now can’t wait to give this another go!

Anyway, onto the purpose of this post, what I cooked for the Spanish GP.  For the past week and a half I have been staying in a hotel with no kitchen (just a kettle!), but luckily I moved back in the Citadine on Friday so I have been able to cook again.  I’ll be here for the next four weeks, and although the kitchen is small and poorly equipped, after not having a kitchen at all I’m very grateful! The race was held in Barcelona and so I wanted to cook something Catalan rather than something generically Spanish.

What I decided on was the bruchetta like Pa amb tomàquet and a Catalan Sauté of Calamari in Onion Marmalade both fairly simple dishes that should contain a lot of flavour.

I started with the calamari and onion marmalade as this would take the longest.  The dish only had 4 ingredients: squid, onions, olive oil and a dried chilli (or cayenne pepper in my case!).  I had to guess all the measurements and went for 5 tubes of squid (of varying size!) and four small to medium onions.

The ingredients for my squid dish!

The cooking was equally straight forward.  I chopped my onions and cut my squid into rings.  I then cooked the squid rings for about a minute before setting them aside.  Next into the pan went some olive oil and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper (probably half a teaspoon if I had to guess).  Once the pepper had fried a little I added my onions and turned the heat down. To begin the slow process of cooking and caramelizing them.  This took place over the next 40 minutes.

Cooking the onions for 40 minutes

When the onions were finally ready I retuned the squid to the pan and heated it through before serving.

I then quickly made the pa amb tomàquet.  I cut two large slices of bread and toasted them lightly to give a crisp surface.  I then rubbed the surface with garlic and then with half a tomato each.

Rubbing with garlic and tomato

To finish them off I sprinkled over salt and olive oil and mixed everything together with the end of my loaf of bread and my second dish was finished.

The finished breads

My Catalan food all served up

I enjoyed both dishes a lot, although I’m not entirely sure they went that well together.  I had thought that the cool tomato would complement the spicy heat of the onions, but in the end I found the raw garlic taste on the bread overpowered both!  The squid dish was unusual but I really liked it.  Given its simplicity the flavours really shone for me and the sweet spicy onions were a great foil in texture and flavour to the salty yet sweet squid.  The amount I cooked proved to be more than enough for two so I shall be eating it again, although I do have slight misgivings over how well squid will re-heat!

Onto the race.  This was once again a thrilling race with an electric start involving home star Fernando Alonso coming through from 4th on the grid to claim 1st place in the 1st corner.  Unfortunately for him his car wasn’t up to the task and although he held everyone off till the first round of pit stops he then lost his lead and eventually finished 5th.  There were plenty of different strategies  being used and Jenson Button used his three stop strategy to claim 3rd after a horrible time getting off the line.  Vettle won once again, but for once he also had to work for it.  He not only making some good overtaking manoeuvres for once, but he responded well to being under pressure from 2nd place finisher Lewis Hamilton for the majority of the race.  A word of congratulations for Nick Heidfeld, who finished 8th after starting 24th due to his car dramatically catching fire in practice three.

One final foodie note, for our evening meal we decided to stick with the Spanish theme and give Carrefours paella in a box a go (I don’t normally go for this sort of thing but having spent a lot of time cooking earlier I didn’t feel like anything complicated!).  The box, it turns out, contains a tin of meat seafood, vegetables and juice, a packet of rice and a sachet of spices.

Paella in a box

This was all shoved in a pan together with some water and actually produced a pretty credible meal.  I was genuinely surprised to find chicken legs and real pieces of meat and fish in there.  Not bad at all for meals in a tin!

The finished box paella

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One Response to “The Spanish Grand Prix – A taste of Catalonia”

  1. greedy rosie Says:

    MMHMMm! Pa amb tomàquet! I love it. Mind you, much as it pains me to say it, I quite like the look of the ready paella.

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