Gaudí’s Barcelona: Gaudy or Gorgeous?

14 Jul

Originally posted on Everywhere Once:

Guadi Barcelona La Sagrada Familia

The facade of Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia

Barcelona wouldn’t be as colorful without Antoni Gaudí. Hailed as a visionary by some and a madman by others, the innovative architect left his mark across the city, from lampposts in the Plaza Real–one of his earliest commissions–to his last, still-unfinished work, the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia.

Gaudí threw classic architectural rules out the window. At the forefront of the 19th-century Modernisme style, he drew inspiration from nature and organic forms. He combined vibrant colors, curved lines, and Moorish and Gothic elements with a healthy dose of creativity. Trees, flowers, fruit, and seashells fired his imagination and so did more dramatic images like dragons and skulls.

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10 Tapas to Try (Other Than Jamón) in Spain

14 Jul

As an American, I am dying to get my hands on the banned Jamón Ibérico (ham from black Iberian pigs that have been acorn fed) and Jamón Serrano (a dry, cured ham from the mountains) each time I visit Spain.

The thinly sliced ham is more than a cultural institution, it’s a way of life.  When you hold it up to the light, it’s as beautiful as looking through stained glass in the massive, imposing cathedral where you should be praying and hiding out from the inquisition. The jamón was a life saver of sorts at one time, as the one true way to prove your conversion was by eating pork…

BUT – there’s more to life than ham (probably).  Here are ten other tapas that are worthy of sharing the spotlight with jamón:

1. Aceitunas - Starting simply, aceitunas are olives.  Here in America, we are taught to praise Italy for their olive oil but little known fact is that most “Italian” olive oil comes from Spanish olives.  They are really the best in the world.  Many tapas bars will marinate them to be more savory, or stuff them with anchovies, as if they need more flavor.

2. Patatas Bravas - These fried potatoes are served differently at every bar you go to, but the one consistent thing is the spicy tomato based sauce covering the potatoes.  Spaniards love mayo, so it is not uncommon to also see these with a mixture of mayo and the spicy tomato sauce.

3. Pimientos de Padron - These peppers come from La Coruña and come skillet fried in oil.  Most are mild, but every once in a while you will find a spicy one.  It’s the best kind of gambling.

4. Chorizo - Spicy Spanish pork sausage that is usually pan fried in olive oil. The sausage itself is seasoned with smoked paprika and other herbs. It goes exceptionally well with a nice white wine, or vino blanco.

5. Queso Manchego - This is a sheep’s milk cheese that is firm and salty.  It has pretty serious regional restrictions, and only cheese made inside certain areas in La Mancha can be called Manchego.  Often, you will find it sliced, soaking in olive oil.  It will then be served on top of a slice of bread.

6. Tortilla - This is my absolute favorite and the only similarity it shares with a Mexian tortilla is that both are round.  Tortilla Española is made with first drenching potatoes in oil and frying them until they are soft.  Once the potatoes are soft, eggs are added and then flipped to make a frittata or quiche-like “pie.” It often also contains heavy amounts of onions and garlic and often even last night’s leftover vegetables.

7. Croquetas - Ask an Expat Spaniard what they miss most about home and 100% of them will mention food.  Some will say jamón, others will say tortilla, but most will say croquetas.  Croquetas are quite time consuming to make, which is why indulging on them at the bar is perfect.  They are made with a bechamel-like filling that is refrigerated and then breaded, mixed with jamón and then fried.  The result are little pockets of heaven.

8. Bacalao - cold, breaded cod served on bread.  I grew up land-locked and still don’t really trust fish.  Bacalao however, isn’t fishy and even at the diviest tapas bar, it will be fresh.  I only wish I could have more of it.

9. Albondigas - Meatballs.  As nontraditional as meatballs sound for Spanish cuisine, they have actually quite a history.  Spain was conquered for around 700 years by the Moors from Africa, and with them, they brought many new foods and additions to the old Spanish language. Al-bunduq (literally hazlenut, then used for things that are round) were spiced meatballs thought to be of Berber origin, then introduced to Spain during occupation.  They are typically soaking in a tomato sauce, and then served with a piece of bread as tapas.

10.  Boquerones – Anchovies.  I personally do not care for anchovies but the Spanish are wild for them.  You will see them everywhere, and tapas bars are the best place to try them out.  These are not your typical American grocery store tin of anchovies. These are larger, and always fresh.  They come fried and served with bread.

 

 

Link

Between Heaven and Hell

2 Jul

Waiting on a time traveling machine…

I don’t spend too much time wishing I could revisit any past, but I am making an exception in this case.  At the turn of the 20th century on the Boulevard de Chilchy (near the Moulin Rouge), there was an incredible Cabaret called, L’Enfer (meaning “hell).  You would enter through the mouth of the devil, essentially selling your soul for a coffee or perhaps something more ‘sinister.’

The decor is like the wet dream of every metal child (i.e. me) who grew up in the 90’s and worked diligently after school on their drip  candle altar to piss their parents off.  In a kind of ‘Melty-Baroque’ style, the facade, ceilings, bar and stage all swirl with devils and demons that  Hieronymus Bosch or Matthias Grunewald would have been proud of.

The wait staff dressed as satan and had shows featuring ‘devilish attractions, torment of the damned, round of the damned, the boiler, metamorphoses of the damned.’  Next door was it’s sister Cabaret ‘Le Ciel’ (heaven), but being that this was the red light district of Paris, it was admittedly less popular than it’s sexier, rebellious brother.

 

 

Nothing Fancy – Part 3

25 Apr

My mood is entirely weather-based, and today’s gloom in Nashville started my day off worse than waking up on the wrong side of the bed.  I had to take action, and luckily, Yeast Nashville bakery is on my way into work.   They have changing daily specials that always includes some sort of amazing egg casserole, soup and baked goods, but the stars of the show are their kolaches.

Never had a kolache?  Like the mighty armadillo, kolaches have made their way up to Tennessee by way of Texas and now there’s no turning back.  Although kolaches are traditionally Czech and Polish pastries, most Americans know them from the world famous Czech Stop, in West, Texas.  They can have a savory filling or are topped with sweetened cream cheese, fruit and/nuts.

jalapeno

Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to:

1. BUY ROOSTER BREAD NOW FOR LATER.  They always, always, always sell out before the end of the day.  What is rooster bread you ask?  Why, it is only the finest sriacha and cheese blend loaf of bread this side of the Cumberland.

2.  Start with the classics.  While (seriously) everything Yeast Nashville makes turns to gold, the kolaches really are the best.  Try the jalapeno/sausage/cheese kolache to spice up your morning.

Also, as if you needed more of an incentive, they have incredible coffee. They serve Drews Brews which is pretty much the only coffee shop coffee that doesn’t either taste burned or like cigarettes.  And it’s local. Boom.

 

 

“Nothing Fancy” Series – Part 2

4 Apr

The next person who tells you they eat McDonald’s all the time because, “It’s so cheap,” tell them to eat more tacos!

Tacos should be simple – small corn tortillas, filled with meat and topped with onions and cilantro.  No exceptions.  However, to determine who has the “best” tacos, one should look to the sauce in my humble opinion.  A place has a bottle of Tabasco for your tacos?  “Getthefuggouttaheya,” or of course the Southern equivalent is, “Oh honey, bless your heart.”  Give me unlabeled containers of creamy green and dark reds with visible chili peppers in it, I’ll love you forever.

I’ve described the tacos at El Tapatio (4801 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, TN 37211 – next to Whitt’s BBQ) as, “So good I forgot to look at my phone,” which, in these modern times, is really saying a lot.  But the sauce, the sauce!  For $4.90 I got two spicy pork tacos, one shrimp, pickled carrots, radishes, a green sauce and a red sauce.

tapatio

I have no idea what’s in the sauce, but I can tell you that it’s homemade, spicy as hell, and is better than anything else you’ll find on Nolensville Road. ¡Yo Quiero El Tapatio!

The word of the day is…

2 Apr

The word of the day is...

When English is lacking in a word to describe something, thank god we have German to pick up that slack.

What are some of your favorite words to describe something that has no direct English equivalent?

“Nothing Fancy” Series – Part 1

28 Mar

Some of the tastiest food in Nashville can be yours for five dollars or less.  In part one of my “Nothing Fancy” series,  I ventured out to Reina la Bendición, “The Queen’s Blessing,”  on 330 Timmons Street, just up from the Nolensville Pike/Thompson Lane intersection if you’re heading away from downtown.

Reina specializes in El Salvadorean food, and for those in the know, thaReinat means pupusas.  Pupusas are made from masa flour that has been stuffed with beans, cheese, pumpkin flower, meats, etc. and grilled to crispy perfection.  I asked for two bean and cheese pupusas and sat back to watch their tiny, busy kitchen as they hand made all of the food to order.

While their menu is fairly small (and entirely in Spanish), it makes up for it in big flavors.  Pupusas traditionally come with a cabbage slaw, and Reina’s is the best I’ve ever had.  It’s fresh, with hints of lime and spice to it.  Pupusas are a humble $2.25 each and come with a massive portion of (the best ever) slaw and hot sauce. Add a side of yuca frita (fried yuca) and nothing can ruin your day!

Come back next Friday for more in the  “Nothing Fancy” series to get the beat on what to eat, cheap!

 

 

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