Friday, April 8, 2011

Flavours of Tarragona: salads, patisseries, fruit, vegetables and a little wine

Foreign markets are fun to explore, but I wasn’t ready to make any actual purchases this morning. There were crowds of people who would have been very impatient with my poor command of the language and the coinage. Lots and lots of meat and fish but also olives, cheese, fruit and vegetables.

I’ll have a refrigerator in my hotel room in Alicante, and I’m looking forward to sampling the fresh cheese that has been molded in a shallow round bowl. Fresh cheese with honey was one of the dessert options at lunchtime today, but I chose the almond cake.

I thought the children’s ride outside the market was great fun.

I was in Andalucia two years ago, and the vegetarian options were really limited. So far, I’ve been favourably impressed with Mediterranean Spain as most of the restaurants have salad options. Yesterday I had a huge bowl of lettuce (unfortunately they were out of spinach) topped with a really generous helping of walnuts, almonds, raisins, sliced tomato and goat cheese.

Today’s salad was a mesclun mix with chunks of apple, pineapple, sunflower seeds and black olives. And of course both were served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Valencia and Alicante provinces are the “huerta” or market garden of Spain, so it’s not surprising that vegetables are better represented on the menu. And almonds grow plentifully around Tarragona.

Spinach Crepe
My second course at lunch today was a spinach crepe. It reminded me of the thin Breton crepes, and there was a generous filling of freshly-cooked spinach seasoned with pine nuts, raisins and Havarti cheese. The sweetness of the raisins was disconcerting, but I was delighted to have a change from the standard Canadian combination of spinach and feta.

The waiter adapted the set menu (12 euros including wine and dessert) for me by serving two vegetarian first courses (Ares Restaurant, Placa d’en Rovellat).

Fruit and Vegetables
The eggplants look amazing – I hope that I’ll manage to eat some as I head further south. Green tomatoes appear to be very popular here.

I’ve been enjoying local oranges. I had strawberries from Huelva, Andalucia, but they looked better than they tasted.

I didn’t see many bakeries when I was in Andalucia, so I was delighted to find patisseries on almost every street corner in Tarragona. Lots of croissants and danishes. Yum!

I had a fabulous chocolate cake at lunchtime yesterday. Thick layers of chocolate ganache sandwiched between paper-thin layers of cake and served with tart lemon gelato. In addition, the waitress was pleasant and helpful (Toful, Placa de Sant Bernat).

I had a late breakfast this morning – a bocadillo with cheese and tomato spread and hot chocolate. Oh, the joys of Spanish hot chocolate – in Canada we’d call it warm chocolate pudding – great chocolate flavour!

I chose the only bottle of wine with a screw cap in the nearby deli. It’s a local rose from Buil & Gine, and I’ve really enjoyed it. I had a look around a couple of wine stores. There are certainly plenty of local options. One place had big barrels with spouts for filling your plastic jug.

Many more photos if you're interested. Bon appetit!

Flavours of Tarragona

1 comment:

Jen said...

Barrels of wine for filling your plastic jug, awesome, that's all there is to say.