Friday, January 27, 2012

More than Tapas - a Weekend in Madrid

Back from a weekend in Madrid I just have to share my favorite tapas and a few foodie impressions with you:

Favorite tapa: deep fried little green peppers sprinkled with sea salt. So simple but so good!

Next best - big green olives stuffed with mussels and roasted red peppers. My secret and please don't tell on me: I much prefer Spanish olives to the ones we get here in Provence. 

What a beautiful advertisement - a bakery close to the Royal Palace 

The hands of the baker

and valet service for their client's best friends....

 Ice cold Fino Sherry served out of a kettle by the charming "patronne" of the "El Patio" tapas bar where we also ate

the freshest and very simply grilled fish and

melt in the mouth Jamon Iberico that we had already seen at one of Madrid's best foodie destinations the fabulous

San Miguel market hall

where the ceiling hangs full of this delicacy.
But take note of the price: € 18.50 for just 100 g - it is worth it though...

Tapas bar El Patio: 1 Calle Arlaban, Madrid - not only an excellent and informal place to eat (lunch and dinner) but also the place for bullfight aficionados. The place is like a bullfight museum (even the ceilings are full of bullfight posters) and the owners speak very good English in case your Spanish (like mine) isn't all that great.  

Bullfight memorabilia at "El Patio"

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Roasted Butternut and Garlic Soup

Butternut Squash
We are lucky - this winter so far has been sunny and mild but we still leave it to the smokers to take their coffee (or pastis) on the terraces of the cafés on Vaison's Place Montfort. As far as I am concerned it is cold enough to cook hearty warming winter soups and this one has fast become a firm favorite.
All you need to serve 6 generous portions is a nice little butternut squash, a head of garlic, some vegetable stock and a dollop of cream. But first you have to drizzle the main ingredients with a little bit of olive oil and then roast them for about 30 minutes or so  in the oven to really bring out the flavor.
Roast for 30 minutes

Once cool enough to handle, just peel the skin off the squash (far easier now than if you try to peel it raw) and squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins, puree all in a cup or so of vegetable stock, season to taste with some chilli flakes and pepper fresh from the mill and stir in a bit of double cream. Because it is roasted, the garlic will not make you smell but give the soup  a wonderful earthy flavor.

Roasted Butternut & Garlic Soup

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Springtime in Provence?

Would you believe what I found in my garden this morning? The first daffodil of the season! Although it has been unseasonally warm to have daffodils flowering on January 5th is ridiculous, even in Provence. But kind of nice, too!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I just saw a posting by my blogger friend Özlem of  Ozlem's Turkish Table that I'd like to recommend to all my dear readers. Yes, okay this is the first time I am promoting something and - full disclosure - I do not have any interest in this - but for all of you who enjoyed reading about my Istanbul adventures (see October and November 2011 postings) - here is the perfect opportunity to enjoy some of the same and much more. So have a look at
and if you go send me a link to your blog when posting about your Turkish adventures!

Monday, January 2, 2012

How to beat Cooking Fatigue

The holidays over I am suffering an acute attack of cooking fatigue. So the first evening of the New Year we had a real lazy dinner.

I just cut a small opening into this wonderful unpasteurized Vacherin cheese, stuffed it with some garlic cloves and moistened the cheese with a few drops of white wine, then wrapped it in aluminum foil and off it went into the oven for about 30 minutes,

slowly melting and giving me just enough time to boil a few potatoes, cut some gherkins and tomatoes, set the table et voilà: cheese fondue for two! All you need is some freshly milled pepper and a good glass of wine, bien sûr!