Savoring Ronda

May 25, 2014 § 4 Comments

Andalusia is undeniably one of Spain’s most diverse, stunning, and enthralling region.  I knew that.  Yet it didn’t prepare me for Ronda.

rock-outcrop

This city in Malaga sits on a plateau of a massive rock outcrop, creating a dramatic terrain and a seriously picturesque vista.

picturesque-vista

However, its charm extends to more than just the landscape;

charming-mountain-town

the cuisine, linked to a deep history, was a revelation, a real delight with more than a handful of fine restaurants and tapas bar to indulge in.

One of the most enjoyable ways to understand Andalusian food is to follow the crowds into a typical bar and try their tapas,

taperia

savored with a glass of vino tinto. Did you know that the region produces the best wines in Spain?

vino-tinto

And the ham!  The Iberico ham from Jabugo in Huelga is known to be (and I can attest to that) Spain’s best ham.

Tapas at Doña Pepa

Ten days in Morocco have induced (in us) an immense appetite for pork and where else do we go? Into a restaurant that has this on display.

Jamon

Restaurante de Doña Pepa, right around the Plaza del Socorro, called out to us.

El-Bodegon-de-Dona-Pepa

We entered and never left—our server, Javier, never gave us a chance. With his help, we ordered and devoured plate after plate of lovely Andalusian dishes (mostly pork oriented).

Jamon-Iberico

Our first Andalusian meal may not have been a bar hopping experience,

Dona-Pepa-tapasClockwise: Montadito, Crullentito de chorizo, Croquettas, Cochifrito, Flamenquin, Gambas ala Rodena

but every plate that came out spelled happiness, cravings satisfied and more. Then after all that, Javier delighted us with a sampling of a plateful of desserts,

plateful-of-dessert

ending a long day of traveling with happy spirits despite the gloomy weather.

The Breakfast at Hotel Colon

Waking up to breakfast of sublimely simple tostada con tomate y aceite (toast with crushed tomato and olive oil) is almost haunting.  With just a pinch of salt, the sweetness of both tomatoes and olive oil marries into something magical. This seemingly simple, bland breakfast transforms into a delectably complex feast in the mouth.  Haunting, I tell ya… haunting!

hotel-colonView from the balcony of the room.

The family run, centrally located Hotel Colon seemed to be a go-to of the locals.

hotel-colon-coffee-shop

Halfway through breakfast, the coffee shop filled up quickly with people tucked in their favorite corner, browsing through the daily, leisurely enjoying their coffee and breakfast.

coffee-and-pastry

Good coffee and wondrous pastries draw crowds into this unpretentious eatery the whole day.

Rabo de Toro and Bullfighting

Ronda is where modern bullfighting began but because it is tucked away in the mountains, bullfighting season in this city is intermittent.

bullring

But that does not stop its people from celebrating the sport. It is known as the home to bullfight after all. Many establishments in this town serve superb Rabo de Toro (tail of the bull)—an Andalusian medieval dish using tails of corrida-slaughtered bulls.

rabo-de-toroRabo de Toro

Restaurante Pedro Romero, opposite the bullring, is where you want to have your first taste of the celebrated oxtail stew.

partridge-patePartridge Pate

secreto-ibericoIberian pork in basil oil and capers

Turning out classic rondeño dishes, this restaurant, named after the legendary bullfighter from the Romero family, was a fine prelude to a profusion of Andalusian meals to come.

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Summer Salad

May 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

We’re in the middle of summer and fruity salads are my thing of late.

Nectarines. I don’t see them often in my tropical world but once in a while I chance upon them. Like last week. And so before it get all mushy, I am on apricot overload. I’d bring have it for breakfast with cottage cheese (another thing I can’t live with but, unfortunately, Nestle decided to not sell them anymore and so I wait for this whenever available). But I digress. Of course, I have to have it on my salad.

salad-2

Nectarines and beef tapa is not surprisingly a winning combination. The sweet fragrant freshness of nectarines complement well with the salty, slightly sour beef. And the peppery, spicy arugula caps to the whole flavor adventure. Mangoes will be a good substitute I think for when nectarines or peaches aren’t in season.

salad-3

Nectarine, Beef and Arugula Salad

What You Need:

o   50 grams of beef tapa, cut into strips (you can make your own or used this)

o   A few button mushrooms, sliced

o   1 pcs. nectarine, quartered

o   Arugula

o   Salt and Pepper to taste

For the dressing:

honey-cider-vinegar

o   ¼ cup Honey Cider Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar

o   1-2 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

What You Do:

  1. On a frying pan, fry the beef until done. Set aside.
  2. On the same pan, leave just about a tablespoon of oil from the beef and discard the rest. Cook the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Combine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bottle with the cap closed tightly. Shake to combine.Honey-Cider-Vinaigrette
  4. On a salad bowl, toss the nectarines, beef, mushrooms and arugula. Drizzle dressing on salad before serving.

salad

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