November 25, 2011

Maker's Mark, maple syrup and duck fat - oh joy!

Yesterday, I went from roasting a chicken for 4 people to making an impromptu Thanksgiving dinner for 8, for which I purchased the turkey at around 5 pm (luckily we eat late in Spain). There is something about eating Thanksgiving on the actual day that gets me every year. Of course it is more of a challenge than you might think given that we don't have the day off from work. Actually, the main event is tonight at my friend Sarah's house and her turkey promises to be absolutely stellar. One of the few fortunate people to have a real barbeque in the Madrid city center, she brined her organic turkey in apple cider and spices overnight and is going to plunk the whole thing on the charcoal grill this afternoon to roast.

In any case, my nearly 8 pound bird was so cute and easy to handle that I really went to town doing all sorts of fun things to it (I normally have to sit on the ground in front of the oven with plastic bags over my shoes and literally kick the large turkey into the oven to make it fit). After slathering it with butter and fresh herbs, I decided to try the injector bottle that my ex-intern/chef Cassie gave me years ago. I filled the bottle with a mixture of Maker's Mark bourbon, maple syrup and the duck fat left over from a magret that I made earlier in the week, and then injected this deliciousness into the turkey's breast and thighs. This was supposed to make the turkey juicy, but what I really wanted to do was inject this mixture directly into my mouth. Anyway, my digital thermometer broke halfway through the cooking process, so I think I overcooked the whole thing to be safe,  but it still came out juice-tastic so I'm figuring that this injector bottle may be the nectar of the gods. Now off to make the pies for tonight!

November 23, 2011

Thanksgivings Remembered

In 2007 I wrote a post about my first Thanksgiving in Spain. It was a wonderful debacle of a meal - the memory of which has never ceased to make me smile. Once again, on the eve of another Thanksgiving and just hours from rolling up my sleeves to start on the stuffing, pies, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce (my friend is doing the turkey on her grill), I think back to that first Thanksgiving and all my subsequent years in this country, and I am eternally grateful for the friends, family, good fortune and richness of my life. The wonderful illustration is by Chris Ware for the New Yorker

Spanish Cured Meats in Outer Space!

This is a fun and interesting news item about the Spanish company Campofrío that is doing experiments on launching their products into outer space with an eye towards NASA's future missions to Mars. Read the full article, Campofrío Launches Products Into Space on

November 14, 2011

Sherry Tasting Sampler in Madrid (at the Mercado de San Miguel)

The Sherry Corner at the Mercado de San Miguel offers a tasting menu of six glasses of sherry and a pairing of six different Spanish tapas. I thought a nice way to try this tour would be to send two middle-aged American ladies to experience Spanish culture first hand and report back on the results. The following is their report, as written by my mother, Susan.

The tasting began with a Fino sherry and progressed through Palo Cortado, Amontillado, Oloroso, Moscatel and finally the very sweet, dark Pedro Ximenez. Glasses of sherry were poured and arranged in a brass holder which could be carried around the market fairly easily-although with six glasses of sherry it was easier to find a table in the center of the market and use that as a base of operation. With two people at the tasting, one could guard the sherry and the other dart forth in search of the tasty tapa samples that complimented the various sherrys. Tapas included bacalao, cheese, olives, nuts and sushi. An audio-guide was available (in eight different languages) which clearly explained history and process of sherry making and the importance of sherry in the Spanish culture. This audio-guide was easy to understand, but we recommend visiting the market at an off-time as when the market is packed, it’s a bit hard to hear. Carrying the wine tray and the headset and controller did make us look a bit unusual in the market. The brass tray itself was the start of several conversations with other patrons of the market-what was it and where did one get it? As the sherrys were consumed our Spanish improved immensely and we were able to answer many of the questions we were asked about the tasting and direct people to The Sherry Corner. The small table we shared was with a group of Belgian tourists who were greatly interested in our progressive tastings. As we were leaving, we invited them to a glass of the Pedro Ximenez from The Sherry Corner, and left these tourists happily trying a new aspect of Spanish culture. For more information and a discount coupon: Photo complements of The Sherry Corner.

November 10, 2011

International Tapas Champ!

More news from Valladolid, but this time from the International Tapas Competition for Culinary Students. 15 students from all over the world competed to produce the best tapa! Read more about the winners at Foods From Spain, 2011 International Tapas Competition in Valladolid.

Valladolid Pinchos Competition

I just got back from a few days at the amazing National Pinchos and Tapas competition in Valladolid. The level of culinary talent was mind-boggling and the bite-sized morsels came in all different shapes and sizes, each more stunning than the last! Read more about the winner of this fantastic competition at Foods From Spain, Best Pincho in Spain 2011.
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