Spain is famous for many things: beautiful beaches, fairytale castles, cracking festivals and not forgetting some of the best cuisine in the world.
With an extensive and varied menu, Spanish food is full of flavour and you’re bound to find something to suit your tastebuds. From Michelin star chefs to homemade dishes passed down through generations, the Spanish pride themselves on knowing how to eat well. So go on Skyscanner‘s tour de food, revealing recipes you’ll only find in Iberian lands.
1. The Queen of traditional Spanish food: Tortilla de Patatas (Spanish omelette)
Legend has it, the first recorded recipe for the humble and hearty Spanish omelette dates from 1817, from the Navarra region. However, long before that, in 1519, it was chronicled that the omelette was born in America and Europe. Whichever century they come from, the fact remains that they are the dish that all Spaniards adore to their core, and varieties can be enjoyed in many Spanish cities, from Seville to Barcelona and La Coruna. It is well known, that the ‘deconstructed’ version of this recipe is what kick-started the career of the internationally renowned chef Ferran Adrià. We recommend two classic places: La Casa de las Tortillas (Zaragoza Street, 23, Guadalajara) or Panela (Square María Pita, 12, A Coruña).
2. Andalusia and its resuscitating remedy: Gazpacho
There is no way you could survive a Spanish summer and its high temperatures without the help of a chilled gazpacho; the main ingredients are tomato, cucumber, onion, olive oil, garlic and a little bread. In Andalusia, the unofficial home of gazpacho, there is also a similar recipe for salmorejo, a thicker soup than gazpacho, but just as refreshing. If you want to have some quality gazpacho, check out these cool spots for some pretty tasty chilled soup: The Doña Elvira (Plaza Doña Elvira, 6, Sevilla) or Bodeguita Casablanca (Calle Adolfo Rodríguez Jurado, number 12, Seville).
3. Valencia: acclaimed for their Paellas
The word paella was originally used to describe the pan used to cook this famous Spanish rice dish. Traditionally paella was a mish-mash of different ingredients that local farmers had at hand: chicken, rabbit and vegetables typically grown and produced in Valencia. Over the years, the recipe has evolved and it’s now common to find seafood mixed with the rice. Where can you enjoy this dish? The classic option is to visit a beachfront restaurant for the freshest plate – try La Pepica (Paseo Neptuno, 2.6 and 8, Valencia).
4. Navarra and Calamares en su tinta
It may not look like the most appetising dish – white rubber rings floating in a sea of black squid ink – but one mouthful and any apprehension you had will disappear (along with what’s left on your plate). If you’d like to try rustling up a batch, note that it takes about an hour and a half to prepare and cook. Apparently, the secret to scrummy squid is to use proper squid ink, as this provides the richest, most distinct flavour – however, artificial ink can also be added afterwards to achieve an even darker colour. Beside slippery sea creatures, other Ingredients include: onions, garlic, parsley, cayenne and a glass of wine. Here you’ll find the most authentic recipe, but if you’d rather let someone else do the hard work then dine out at Bar Koistha (Olite Street, 35, Pamplona).
5. Taste the chicharro al chacolí in the Basque Country
When you think of Spanish wines you may automatically think of rioja, but have you ever heard of chacolí (or txakoli), a type of white wine produced mainly in the Basque Country. Many regional recipes include a glug of this tart but refreshing wine, and one of the most popular also features locally fished mackerel or chicharro. This classy fish casserole is made with tomato, onion, carrot, leek, garlic, oil, and of course a glass of chacolí. The result is a delight for your tastebuds, and you’ll get none better than at Restaurante RK (Plaza Jose Maria Sert 2, Donostia), where they’ve been perfecting this traditional dish since 1998.
6. Migas from Teruel
You can’t go through Teruel without trying a plate of migas. This dish is reportedly derived from the sixteenth century hormigos, or wheat stews based on bread. The original method for cooking the famous migas of Teruel is: slice some bread and let it soak in salted water for a day, fry with oil and garlic, turning continuously to prevent it from sticking to the pan. Usually it’s accompanied with chunks of ham, chorizo, or even grapes. One of the best places for migas is La Fondica (Calle De la Estación s / n La Puebla de Valverde, Teruel). But beware, one bowl of this and you’re sure to drop like Goldilocks after her porridge, so plan a siesta after you stuff your face with this delicious Spanish food.
7. During both summer or winter, enjoy an Escalibada in Catalonia
Sometimes it’s best to just keep things simple, and this dish certianly does, delivering big flavour with the smallest amount of food preparation. Its main ingredients are red peppers and aubergine, chargrilled until the skins blacken, covered with a plate to cool, then peeled and sliced into strips for presentation. Here’s a trick: do not put them under cold water – they’ll lose the juice that gives them so much flavour. In many places, people enjoy escalibada on toasted bread smeared in tomato, oil and salt, with anchovies and onions or tuna. One of the most traditional restaurants where you can try this dish is Origens (Calle Ramon y Cajal, 12, Barcelona).
8. The best dish for a winter day: Cocido Madrileño
If you’re looking for real comfort-food then look no further than a steaming bowl of cocido madrileño, the prefect winter warmer – believe it or not, the sun’s not always shining in Spain! Ingredients include: chickpeas, meat jelly, half a chicken, chorizo, black pudding, salted pork foot, a meatball (ground beef, bread crumbs, 1 egg and spices), cabbage, onions, green beans, rice, bacon, ham, olive oil and garlic. It needs nearly three hours of preparation, but the result is a hearty, very satisfying stew, which you can show off to your dinner guests when they arrive. If you don’t want to go to all the hassle of cooking it yourself then one of the best places to try this dish is at Restaurante Casa Carola (Padilla Street, Local 54 Right., Madrid).
9. A snack in Galicia: Tarta de Santiago
Although Galicia is well known for its seafood specialties, save some room for dessert, as it is also home to one of Spain’s most famous sweets: the tarta de Santiago. This traditional dessert is made from flour, butter, almonds, sugar, eggs and lemon. It has an unmistakable nutty flavour and its origin dates back to the sixteenth century. The classic image of this cake is dusted with icing sugar with the cross of Santiago. Wash down your slice with wine Licor Regueiro, typical of Galicia. It also travels well, so it makes a great souvenir that you can share with your friends and family, or scoff yourself, when you return from your holiday. One of the bakeries where you can find it is in Acesta Tenda (Rua do Franco, 52, bass, Santiago de Compostela).
10. Finish up in Castilla with their famous Hojuelas
Last but not least, we finish with one of the most acclaimed Spanish sweets, especially in the Castilia, hojuelas. Typically people gather to enjoy this sweet treat on celebration days, such as the Day of All Saints, Lent and Easter. To describe its exquisite taste, many locals would use th phrase "miel sobre hojuelas" (honey on hojuelas or, in English, hunky-dory) meaning that it’s simply unbeatable. You can’t go to to Spain and not taste them! To make it easy for you, we recommend a bakery where you will find hojuelas galore: the Pastelería Frías (Calle de Marcos Salgueiro, 2, Valladolid).
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