My current position as the ABW (assistant bottle washer) at Gourmet Gallery has given me the opportunity to have many different food experiences–and a little wine, and in the next two weeks, I will get to add to those experiences some new ones. I get to go to Spain and Portugal. The art at the Prado and in Toledo, the architecture all around including the beautiful Baroque and Gothic cathedrals and the Alhambra and other structures of the Moors, the Manueliene (hope I got that right) influenced architecture in Portugal await. The visits to Fatima and Avila, the night in Salamanca where the purest Castillian is spoken–Oh, my, what A FEAST to get to partake. I am thankful for the opportunity.
As you might guess my focus will also be on the food. In preparation I’ve not learned the language as I had hoped, but I’ve been reading a cookbook. MADE IN SPAIN by Jose Andres has recipes from the different states and many of them are not where we are going, BUT some are. We will be in Andalucia several days and expect to have some tapas, wine and a relaxed attitude. I even expect to eat some anchovies. From the Madrid section in the book there are wonderful cold soups, and roast lamb in Castille-Leon
All of the above is anticipation. There will be more about how it really is for me. However, I do want to include a recipe for cold soup from the MADE IN SPAIN cook book.
Cold Almond and Garlic Soup with Figs and Marcona Almonds
Serves 4 to 6
1 1/2 pounds blanched almonds
6 cups flat mineral or filtered water
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup aged sherry vinegar, plus 1 tablespoon
2 1/2 cups Spanish extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
5 slices of rustic bread, crusts removed, about 2 ounces
4 fresh black figs, quartered
4 tablespoons roughly chopped Spanish Marcona almonds
1 tablespoon chopped chives
Put the blanched almonds into a bowl, cover with the mineral water and let soak overnight.
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small pot. Add the garlic and boil for 1 minute, then, drain the garlic and cool.
Drain the soaked almonds, reserving the soaking liquid, and put them in a food processor. Add the garlic, reserved soaking liquid, 3/4 cup of the sherry vinegar, 2 1/2 cups of the olive oil, and bread. Pulse until smooth. Place a colander over a large bowl and line it with cheese cloth. Pour the soup into the colander. Once most of the liquid has passed through the colander, gather the cheesecloth around the remaining solids and squeeze gently to release as much of the liquid as possible. Discard the solids. Pour the soup into a pitcher and chill for 30 minutes.
To serve, divide the fig pieces and Marcona almonds among soup bowls. Pour in the cold soup. Sprinkle with chopped chives, and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoons vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil.
I hope to find this soup or a gazpacho or potato soup to sample.
As I read through this cookbook, I become more and more excited about the adventure ahead.Wish us godspeed, traveling grace, good companionship and good food and wine to talk about when we get home. I also will see if the “rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.”