Beautiful, vibrant Spain. The people and the place. The sun lives here, ( well most of the time!).
If you are missing a visit to Spain this year, or simply just adore this country with its wide open spaces, acres of olive trees, shocking pink bougainvillea ,higgeldy piggeldy white villages, passionate flamenco music, tiny local tapas bars and glorious beaches, I am going to suggest ideas to bring Spain to your own home; a few of my recommendations of what to eat , drink, watch, read ,and listen to, to surround yourself with a true taste of Spain. I hope my love of Spain sings out to you!
A Late Dinner by Paul Richardson– Paul is a brilliant writer, building vivid pictures of a culture in which food is a religion, family, and a love affair. It is an affectionate and well-informed account of Spain`s food culture, and tells the real story of this food; also discovering some of the lesser-known and best kept culinary secrets.
Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart- an oldie but a goodie too. The retired drummer of Genesis, wrote this funny, insightful book about his move to a remote farm in Andalucia. He bought a patch of mountain studded with almond, olive and lemon groves; with no electricity , road access or water supply. This is his best-selling story.
As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee- this book was written in 1969, when Laurie Lee leaves his Cotswold village and spends a year in Spain. Travelling from Vigo in the north, to the southern coast, in fact he ends up in the stunning horseshoe bay (set between two mountains), of La Herradura, in the province of Granada ,which is ten minutes drive from us here in Maro; a favourite place of ours. The book is charming and conveys the vitality of a humble and very different Spain, up until the outbreak of the Civil War.
Rick Stein`s Spain-I am a great fan of Rick , in fact his are the only cookery programmes that I watch. This, like all three programmes/films that I recommend, is available to buy as a DVD. He travels from Galicia, the Basque country, Catalonia, and Castilla to Andalucia, sampling his way through the specialities from each region, and drinking in the atmosphere of vineyards, garlic farms, cheese caves, flamenco and fiestas.
The Spanish Gardener-I love this 1956 film starring Dirk Bogarde and Michael Horden. Harrington Brande ( Horden),is posted to a small port in Spain ,taking with him his young son, a shy boy forced to live a quiet life by his domineering father. The gardener Jose befriends the child ,and his father becomes jealous and bans him from any contact…. It was filmed in Palamos and S`
Agaro on the Costa Brava in Catalonia. S`Agaro, surrounded by pine trees and wild aniseed plants was very different in the 1950s, but the lovely house and the bay where the film was set is still visible today, albeit a tad busier.
Art of Spain-If , like me, you are an art lover, you will enjoy this absorbing series where Spanish art ( some with a surprising edge), takes centre stage. Andrew Graham-Dixon travels from north to south,exploring some of Europe`s most important artists from Renaissance to Modernist. He reveals rich insights into the culture and people who live and work with the greatest Spanish art and architecture every day.
Fabulous Flamenco, by Paco Pena-I have many flamenco albums and indeed have created a Spanish playlist, but this is one of the most outstanding and enjoyable. Flamenco guitar is very different from other sorts of Spanish guitar, and this album is purely instrumental. The influences of the Moors, the Gypsies, Arabic and the traditions and customs of Andalucia all shine through.
Gipsy Kings ,The Very Best Of– To be perfectly honest this group hails from the south of France, but nothing means
our house in Spain more to me, than listening to the upbeat tempo of this Spanish/Latino styled music. I love it!
Traditional Gypsy Flamenco, by Los Alhama-Andres Fernandez Amador. I love Flamenco, I find it mesmerising, the passion, the
Duende, the heart-rending emotions it engenders and the sheer skill of it. I still don`t know which music is a Sevillana or a Buerias or a Tarantas, but this music conjures up sultry evenings sitting in the square here in Maro, watching the twirling frocks of the Flamenco dancers. Ole!
I highly recommend the wonderful books written by chef/restaurateur Jose Pizarro. This first book Spanish Flavors, is most definitely one of the best Spanish cook books ever written, and we have made and enjoyed many of his recipes. They are easy to recreate at home, and throughout the book you will find recipes and stories that will make you wish you were in Spain. So tuck in to some very authentic dishes such as Spanish Tortilla, delicious with a glass of vino, pimientos de padron-tiny fried green peppers, (some with a kick) sprinkled with sea salt, the ubiquitous slivers of sweet, fatty Spanish jamon -none better, and hot, crispy Croquetas, a favourite in our house, be they jamon, gambas or queso. Yum!
We have always loved Spanish wines, long before we spent so much time here. It is unbeknown to many, the most widely-planted wine-producing nation and the third largest producer of wine in the world.
Sangria, I guess, is one drink that would make a true Sommelier run away and hide, but it remains a popular refreshing, fruity, red wine punch all over the country.I cant stand it, but many people can, and the supermarkets, bars and beaches are full of it, and it remains a must-drink at the many festivities throughout Spain.
Vina Sol– we love this Catalonian wine produced by the Torres winery. It is clean, green and fresh ,and we drink gallons of it! They do a good rose too.
Rioja Serna Imperial– Rioja is a wine region in northern Spain divided into three regions; Rioja Alta, Rioja Oriental and Rioa Alavesa, and many wines have traditionally blended fruit from all three regions. This young fruity wine, with cherry juice flavours, is a well-priced , appealing Rioja, perfect to drink by the glass.
Buy a jolly , colourful Tapas print from my artist husband Andrew Ruffhead,
http://www.fish-and-ships.com to put on the wall in your kitchen and then you really are in Spain!