As summer is now finally here, you might be dreaming of faraway lands to satiate your appreciation for good food and wine. Now, when it comes to culinary capitals many people think of France, yet the second and often overlooked competitor in the foodie destination rankings is in Spain.
If you’re waiting to break out of your culinary comfort zone and fully embrace life… you can’t just sit still in your comfort zone and expect life to bring you an incredible feast - you have to break free from, take life on, and get adventurous.
Spain and France both offer some amazingly appetizing food, just like the First and Oak closer to home, but some options when traveling are perhaps a bit too adventurous for most, from frogs legs and snails to testicles and tripe - but most of what’s on offer will be perfectly aligned with the majority of tourist palettes.
Now, to tempt your taste buds let’s have a look at what’s on offer in both countries.
1. Beef Bourguignon
This hearty beef stew that originates from Burgundy comprises of tender pieces of beef braised in red wine along with garlic, shallots, smoked bacon lardons, pearl onions, and mushrooms. It is deceptively simple yet incredibly tasty.
2. French Onion Soup
This sweet, rich, melt in your mouth soup served with an obligatory slice of french bread often smothered in salty grilled cheese is a favorite throughout France and many other parts of the world. For instance, in Hungary, they will serve a similarly rich soup in a hollowed out loaf of bread, that serves as the bowl.
A simple pot of fresh mussels, white wine, fresh cream, sweet braised shallots or white onions and a touch of garlic is many a person's idea of heaven, particularly when you throw in pomme frites and crusty french bread into the mix. Then, if you head down to the South of France in the region of Provence, you’ll find mussels with a rich tomato sauce that are equally as delicious.
Gazpacho is a cold tomato soup that originated from Andalusia in Southern Spain. It combines fresh ripe tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, stale bread, red peppers, and cucumber. It is then blended until silky smooth and chilled in the fridge for several hours.
When fresh and flash fried, calamari melts in your mouth. When cooked too slowly, or not fresh from the sea, it has a tendency to get a little rubbery and chewy, but in Spain, particularly on the islands, they perfect this fine art with tender calamari rings in a light and tasty batter; served hot with a slice of lemon and a punchy garlic mayonnaise dip.
3. Prawns in Garlic (Gambas al Ajillo)
Of all the offerings mentioned on this list, the sweet and succulent, meaty white flesh, served sizzling in a terracotta dish basking in olive oil with tons of garlic and a hint of chili - is the most compelling reason to travel. Indeed, it might be worth the journey just to get at these juicy little prawns. If you’re looking for the best place to try this, head down to the Canary Islands or Seville in the South of Spain.