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Photo by Tara Stevens
Tomatoes at TorrentTomatoes at Torrent
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Photo by Tara Stevens
Sal d'Es TrencSal d'Es Trenc
One of the best things about living in a country that only relatively recently started to take itself seriously when it comes to food, is that there’s always something new to discover. Think about it.
While Spain has always had a strong tradition for country cooking and certain emblematic dishes like paella, but also patatas a lo pobre (poorman’s potatoes slow cooked with olive oil, peppers, onions) or pollo al ajillo (chicken roasted with lots of garlic), it was not until Ferran Adrià popped out of the woodwork with his molecular gastronomy that the world sat up and took notice.
Fast forward a decade or so and Spanish gastronomes are still big on experimenting, but it’s the products themselves that are allowed to shine. These days it seems I can’t leave my front door without discovering something new and wonderful when it comes to gourmet products.
Last week it was the Santa Caterina market. It’s amazing, isn’t it, how you can live in a city for years and years, and yet so quickly get sucked into the ebb and flow of your own barrio. Now that my local Mercat de Sant Antoni is being done up I decided to strike out for pastures new.
Small the Mercat de Santa Caterina may be, but boring it isn’t. I discovered a stall called Torrent with the best range of tomatoes I’ve yet seen in Barcelona, ranging from the bulky, pinkish Montserrat variety, to tiger striped Raf, to tiny orange and yellow pear tomatoes. The poultry stall had the fattest little birds I’ve seen in a while and inspired a weekend barbeque of Moroccan-style grilled quails with rose petal sauce.
And salt (see full article in the July edition of Barcelona Metropolitan).
Not just any old salt mind you, but an extraordinary range of Spanish salts from old-as-the-earth Sal de Gerri, which is harvested from mines in the Pyrenees and which, I’m assured, is the best day-to-day table salt, to a newcomer called Sal de Delta, from the Ebro. Meanwhile the folks at the d’Es Trenc salt pans in Mallorca have been busy as bees making limited edition salt infusions like orange and chilli, and lemon and lavender (both great on fish) to complement a range that already includes black olive (sprinkle on tomato salad), hibiscus (on chicken) and Sri Lankan spice mix (on lamb). You can buy them all at Olisoliva (www.olisoliva.com), who, at the risk of stating the obvious, also stock the best range of Spanish olive oils in the city. TS.