I don't mean to come over all "Marthrette" on you but I thought I'd do a food post. Terri of Rags Against the Machine asked if we prepared our own meals while on holiday and the answer is yes. Mr V and I love cooking and we love eating even more. We love getting to know the local cuisine of the places we visit and luxury to us is staying in a place near a market which has a kitchen where we can take back local wares and prepare some meals. The town of Jerez de la Frontera has an amazing market where you can buy fresh fish, meat, fruit and vegetables.
Lunch and dinner is usually just a smörgåsbord of simple preparations using local delights. Everything actually takes very little time to make. When I'm running around between dance classes and the beach I don't want to spend all day cooking but here you can manage to eat like a king cheaply and with little preparation. We love fresh juicy giant prawns boiled quickly and served up with a dash of lemon juice. We serve up some of the local cheese, bread and the famous cured ham, jamon serrano, which is so soft it just melts in your mouth. We also like to do as the Andalusians do and have bread with olive oil, tomato and ham for breakfast.
This picture is especially for Vintage Vix who commented on my last post about loving Spanish tomatoes. One of my favourite dishes is tomate aliñado salad, made using the large tasty red salad tomatoes you find in Spain. Literally all you need to do is slice one of these up and dress it with a bit of olive oil and the locally produced sherry vinegar and you have an instantaneous side salad which is both delicious and healthy.
I also tossed some sardines in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil and white wine and we ate them for dinner and lunch the next day.
The fish market is the most impressive part of the market offering an impressive variety of fish, shellfish and crustaceans. Many of the fishmongers are from gypsy families, some also well known flamenco artists. It's not unusual to hear flamenco singing or some flamenco palmas on a market day. I'll have some duende with my fish please.
I also like going to the spice man in the market to buy fragrant spices - extra long sticks of cinnamon, star anise, coriander and cumin seeds, delicate ruby red fronds of saffron, plump heads of blush pink garlic and large dried bay leaves. I pack them up in my suitcase and bring them back to England with me.
For dessert and to cool down when the mercury climbs over 35 degrees C, we eat chilled seasonal fruit. Cold dark purple plums, even darker black cherries, or the local favourite, a sweet juicy watermelon which also makes a great snack for the beach.
One of the meals I like making when I am in Spain is Pollo al Ajillo (Chicken with Garlic). This is a recipe from the cookbook Moro, written by the chefs who run the London restaurant of the same name. I noticed that the authors know this town well and in one recipe they make mention of the market in Jerez and the little gypsy lady who sells her produce. When we spent some time down here last year we brought the book along with the intention of trying out some Spanish recipes especially those inspired by the produce of the region. I think this one was the only one we managed as it is so tasty and easy to prepare that we made it a lot!
For this recipe you'll need a chicken cut into small pieces, an entire head of garlic, a few bay leaves, white wine and olive oil.
Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan and fry the garlic cloves whole with the skins on until they go slightly brown and a little soft. Remove from oil and add the chicken pieces. Fry until golden brown. Add the garlic back to the pan with some bay leaves and mix for a few minutes, season to taste and then add enough white wine to make the oil emulsify into a cloudy, pale gold sauce when you shake the pan.
I like to serve it with rice to soak up the tasty sauce, but potatoes or bread would probably work just as well.
Some of you have noticed that Mr V is quite a colourful dresser and bang on trend I must say in his yellow tee and orange shorts. They say opposites attract! But look - here I am working some yellow on chef duty with some sparkly sequined black Fit-Flops thrown in for good measure (had to get black in there somewhere) - it's probably the only outfit picture you'll ever see of me wearing yellow!
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