As most know I returned a few days ago from a very nice two week vacation to Spain. As amazing as this trip was, and the awesome sites I got to see this is not a travel blog so I won't bore anyone with minute details of my trip and all the things you should see when you go. However, I do want to mention my thoughts on the food and beer of Spain, two things very near and dear to my heart and this blog. First the beer. In short, not so good. Whether in Barcelona where Estrella Damm and Mortiz reign supreme, Vallencia and Sevilla where Cruzcampo is everywhere, or Grenada where Alahambra is supreme, its pretty much the same beer, pale lager's. While none are bad, none are that great. The best of them is probably Alahambra beer which I found to be a bit fuller bodied. The food though was amazing, and I tried as much as I could. In Barcelona I loved the tortilla (the ubiquitous Spanish dish of eggs and potatoes), and the butter sauteed little green peppers that were so tasty and a popular tapas dish. In Valencia, we had paella, where surprisingly rabbit was a big player, blood sausage (different from Barcelona where the blood sausage contained rice). Also different was the paella where there were huge white beans mixed in adding an amazing depth and almost meatiness to the rice. Also another of my favorite dishes was partridge pate with macadamia nuts.
From there we traveled to Grenada where you start to see an arabic influence in the foods. Middle easter flavors, but also a lot of offal. Two of the more interesting dishes was the Sosas which was brains fired in puff pastry (first time eater but not to bad) and tortilla Sacromonte, a tortilla made with potatoes and offal. Grenada was a great city not only for the amazing Alahambra but of what I have always considered tapas to be. Streets of bars where bars supply tapas for the first beverage you buy. This allowed you to hop from bar to bar trying a beverage (whether it be a glass of beer or wine or vermouth which was supplied from a cask). Grenada was also more beer centric then Barcelona, where you could go to bars and get some German and Belgian beers along with the basic Spanish offerings. Finally we headed to Sevilla where Seafood reigned supreme. Squid and Salted Cod being the biggest players, but shrimp and other fishes were in most dishes as well. As much as I enjoyed the seafood dishes my favorite had to be the cured Iberian Pork. The cured meat was from pigs that had fed on acorns which created an incredibly rich meat. I just mentioned a few dishes from each of the city I visited but I don't want anyone to think that's all I had or all that there is to offer, it was those things that made the biggest impression on me.
I'll close my relatively brief summary with a few quick observations. A great way to try meals at more expensive restaurant was to get their Menu del Dia or Menu of the day. It included bread, drink (water, beer, wine, or cola), 2 courses, and a desert. This was all for anywhere between 7 and 15 euro's. Not bad, although what I did find humerous was all the second courses were basically a well prepared protein with fries on the side (note: Spain is not known for its fries). One thing I always think about when traveling is how much I love experiencing each regions food and drink. Throughout my traveling around Spain I enjoyed seing the diversity of food from each region and even what the predoment drink was. It made me think do travelers to the states see and enjoy the same thing? Do they travel to the south for a taste of true soul food, or to the New England area for seafood dishes, or Kansas City and Texas for BBQ, etc?