Spain is a country steeped with culture and heritage, and this is often represented in their rich and diverse cuisine. Chef-Owner of My Little Spanish Place Maria Sevillano, who hails from the Salamanca region in Spain, gives us an 101 on what to expect when dining in her home country.
The Spanish have a saying, “Mi Casa es Su Casa”, which means “My house is your house.” And when the Spanish throw open their homes to you for a meal, you’ll know you’re in for a real treat. Sevillano says, “We always have something in our fridge so that when friends pop by, we’re ready to rustle something up. For the Spanish, we enjoy a laidback way of life and enjoying food is all about having good company.”
Here are some other things you need to know before you embark on your culinary adventure through Spain:
Spanish food is actually pretty straightforward.
“Spanish people value simplicity in our food. We believe in fresh produce and quality ingredients, so we don’t have to cover the taste with complicated sauces or preparation styles.”
That said, here are some of the must-visit regions for food …
“More than 80 percent of Spain is surrounded by water so you’ll be able to get fresh seafood wherever you go. Barcelona and Valencia are arguably the two most popular regions for food and wine. Valencia, for example, is best known for their paella and fideuà. Catalunya is known for their sausages, especially the botifarra, which is made with raw pork and spices. As for Andalucia, it is the birthplace of tapas. They’re also known for their Jabugo ham, sherry wine, and gazpacho. Of course, the other regions are well worth a visit as well. Salamanca, where I come from, is famous for Jamon ham, cold cuts, black sausage, and suckling pig. La Mancha, which is south of Madrid, is renowned for their Manchego cheese.”
Oh, and dinner starts LATE!
“In Spain, people usually go for tapeo (beer and tapas) from about 7pm. This goes on till about 10pm. If you’re still hungry then, there are restaurants still open for dinner. For tapeo, we usually have no more than one or two drinks and tapas at each place as each tapeo bar has their own specialty and we want to sample a few throughout the evening. If there are five people in the group, we may decide to go to five different tapeo bars so that each person takes turn to pay or we may simply start a small pool of money to use that evening.”
If you can’t make a trip to Spain anytime soon, the next best thing would be to visit My Little Spanish Place at their second outlet at Boat Quay. Because of its location next to the Singapore River, Chef Sevillano and Chef Edward Esmero were inspired to create dishes from the Balearic Islands – an archipelago made up of four islands, Ibiza, Majorca, Minorca, and Formentera. With this revamped menu, the two chefs hope to give Singaporeans a taste of previously-unexplored regional Spanish cuisine.
Chef Esmero says, “Every region in Spain has its own distinct speciality, so we hope our menu allows the diner to ‘travel’ through the country. This menu features traditional Spanish recipes, but with a slight twist. We may have modernised the presentation but the cooking styles are still pretty much the same. Also, about 80 percent of our ingredients are imported from Spain — from the seafood and cured sausage right down to the olive oils and spices — so the experience is as authentic as it gets.”
So, what are some of the outstanding items on the new menu? For starters, there’s the Migas, which was traditionally eaten by nomadic shepherds and was known as a “poor man’s dish”. This humble dish has been given a gourmet “level up” with homemade croutons, chorizo, tomatoes, peppers, and topped with a soft-boiled egg for that variation in texture. Another traditional dish given a modern twist is the Fideuà Verde (see main image), which is similar to paella but is made with short noodles instead of Bomba rice. The noodles at My Little Spanish Place come in an earthy green hue as it’s been infused with the chefs’ secret Spanish-based paste.
Another dish we enjoyed was the Secreto Iberico, where Iberian pork is smoked with apple wood (you’ll smell the dish even before you see it) and served with peppers and crispy potatoes. The aroma of smoked apple wood is incredible and with the sweet, almost marble-like flavours of the pork, this is a dish you’ll be dreaming about for days.
The star of the menu, however, is probably the Chef’s Special – roasted veal bone marrow. This is not something typically seen on Spanish menus, but Chef Esmero decided to include this dish on the menu in response to requests from regular customers who have previously tasted it at the My Little Spanish Place wine dinners. Also, he admits to being in love with fatty meats. He’s been known to polish off at least 10 of these bone marrows in one sitting! Soaked overnight in fresh milk, the bone marrow is roasted over high heat and served with a generous serving of caramelised onions and crispy Serrano ham bits. As Chef Esmero says, this is one dish where you just have to ignore your diet for. It’s a lip-smacking dish of greasy goodness and each bite is a mix of flavours and textures. Delicioso!
Win a Happy Hour Tapas Set (worth $104)!
[This contest has ended]
We are giving away TWO Happy Hour Tapas Sets from My Little Spanish Place Boat Quay. Each set includes Migas, a handmade sausage platter, one serving of Secreto Iberico, and one jug of Sangria. Simply follow the steps below to qualify for the draw:
- LIKE Go Away’s Facebook Page as our contests are only open to our fans.
- In the COMMENTS section below, ANSWER this question: “Name one of the four islands that make up theBalearic Islands.“
- SHARE this post on your Facebook Wall. Make sure this post is set to PUBLIC so we can verify your entry. If we can’t see your post, we won’t put your name in the draw.
Deadline: Tuesday 4 August, 6pm