Hola, España!

Hola, España!

Hola, amigos! Flamenco, sangria and lots of tapas filled my days in Barcelona on a weekend trip with my friend Tyler (you can check out his blog here). Spain has always been on my “must see” list and I am so thankful that I got to take the trip. Although it rained every day we were … Read more

Hola, amigos! Flamenco, sangria and lots of tapas filled my days in Barcelona on a weekend trip with my friend Tyler (you can check out his blog here). Spain has always been on my “must see” list and I am so thankful that I got to take the trip. Although it rained every day we were there, it was easy to see past the gloomy, grey skies and realize how beautifully colorful Barcelona is.

sagradafamilia

To my surprise, there was a Starbucks right around the corner from our hostel, so I started off each morning perfectly with a chai tea latte. Our first day there, we tackled both my and Tyler’s number ones. Since our hostel was also a minute walk from Tyler’s number one, the Sagrada Familia, we started there. The Sagrada Familia, a church designed by Gaudi, has been in the works for over a hundred years and is planned to be completed in the year 2026. I am so glad we got to see it because it was absolutely beautiful! Colorful stained glass windows towered along white walls and lit up the whole building inside. I loved it and hope to come again when it is completely finished! After the Sagrada Familia, we made our way to Park Guell, my number one! I have seen so many pictures of Park Guell in the past and was so excited to see it for myself. It was very colorful and fun! A huge mosaic lizard in the park reminded me of my brother because he has a little lizard that looks just like it, that he painted during a family vacation to Jamaica when we were younger. The first day in Spain we also got our first taste of paella, a typical Spanish rice dish.

paella

The second day we ventured to many Gaudi sights in the city, including the famous Casa Batllo. It was so funny to see such a unique and colorful building in between “normal” buildings. Along with doing some shopping along the streets, and stumbling across Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf (what little copycats of the Arc di Triomphe in Paris!), we also ventured into the park, where we saw the Gaudi Fountain. Tyler immediately stated that the Gaudi Fountain is Barcelona’s own Trevi Fountain and I couldn’t agree more. I actually like this fountain over the Trevi Fountain! It is beautiful!

parkguell

Our next move was to take a funicular up to Mount Juic. Once there, we could take a cable car to the castle, but we opted for the walk, through the gardens, to get to the castle instead (which was much needed after our afternoon snack of sugar covered churros dipped in chocolate). After seeing a breathtaking panoramic view of the city from the castle, Tyler wanted to check out the Olympic stadium, where the 1992 games were held. Afterwards, we headed back down the mountain to the Magic Fountain! Every night there is a water show at the fountain. Fun pop music played while everyone gathered around and enjoyed the fountain spouting out water high into the sky in all directions.

Our last day in Barcelona we made sure to walk up and down the famous street “La Rambla.” There were many vendors selling gorgeous flower bouquets, jewelry and small trinkets. I fell in love with the hand painted fans I came across (like the ones Flamenco dancers use) and decided on buying a turquoise and white one for in my room! La Boqueria Market, an open air market, was also on La Rambla. This market was just like the others in that it had fresh fish and fruit, but it also had so much more. From fresh fruit popsicles to frozen fruit drinks on ice to empanadas, this market had it all. Of course when I came across a crepe vendor packed with customers lined up, I had to check it out. Although it wasn’t my intention, I ended up walking away with a strawberry banana crepe with white chocolate and milk chocolate chips, and a fresh kiwi banana coconut frozen fruit drink, for lunch.

The rest of the afternoon was spent slipping into little shops, in order to escape the rain and cold. I came across what are now my favorite souvenirs that I have purchased since arriving in January (although I can’t say what they are, in case some readers might be receiving the gifts).

We ended our trip to Barcelona the perfect way. The night started off with a flamenco show! It was so much fun to watch. I was really surprised to hear that there are actually more flamenco shows in Japan now than there are in Spain, because it is so widespread. The guitarists played such pretty songs and you could tell the dancers were so passionate. When I thought of flamenco I thought of girls in big poofy, red dresses, but there was actually one female and one male dancer.

After the show we were taken to a nearby restaurant/bar where we were served endless tapas and sangria! My favorite tapas (a variety of appetizers) were the patatas bravas and cheese and potato croquettes. We met many other travelers at the bar. From an Australian man traveling through Spain for a conference that included bungee jumping one day and rock climbing the next, to two sophomore students participating in a study abroad experience on a ship, who had to sleep in cots with hundreds of ants crawling all over them in India, we could have stayed there for hours exchanging stories. However, we had a 4:30 a.m. wake up call to catch our plane back to Italy. Adios Barcelona… until 2026 (I have to see the Sagrada Familia completed, don’t I?).

Spanish Food (With Fideuá Recipe!)

Spanish Food (With Fideuá Recipe!)

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I would like to share some of my favorite recipes I have made in Spain, including the most savory tastes. Before I dig in, the main differences are the abundance of jamón and pan, and every meal my host mom diligently asks ¿Quiéres más pan?, or do you want more bread? If it’s a soup, sure, but if not I am fine without carb loading every meal. But really, the food here is awesome, you should check out these photos, and if you have the chance travel to Granada and try a kebab, it’s pure deliciousness.

A few other things commonplace are bocadillos which are just big sandwiches usually with jamón or tortilla de España (compared to a thick potato omelete – recipe). Montaditos are popular too for tapas, and are mini sandwiches (great restaurant – 100 Montaditos). To top off your meals for dessert I recommend turrón a la piedra (recipe), a great dulce here in Alicante.

Now I would like to share a recipe of fideuá which I made in my cooking class. It has shrimp, crayfish, clams, oysters, and vegtables all over a bed of macaroni noodles and is very famous in Alicante. You may be familiar with paella, what Spain is know for, but just substitutes the macaroni noodles for rice! Get cookin.

Ingredients:

  • 450 g/1 lb. firm white-fleshed fish fillets, skin removed
  • 450 g/1 lb. fideos, capelli d’angelo or vermicelli noodles
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika, pinch of saffron threads
  • 450 g/1 lb. medium uncooked prawns
  • 125 ml/4 fl oz olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 350 ml/12 fl oz basic fish stock
  • 24 small mussels, cleaned
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

  1. Cut the fish into 4 cm/1-1/2 inch pieces. Peel the prawns and remove the veins, leaving 6 unpeeled. Clean the mussels. Crumble the noodles into a large saucepan of lightly salted boiling water, stir well and return to the boil for 3 minutes.
  2. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside in a colander. Heat the oil in a paella pan, large frying pan or wok. Add all the prawns and cook for about 5 minutes until pink, stirring often. Remove with a slotted spoon.
  3. Add the fish and cook briefly, turning once. Gently stir in the garlic and cook for several seconds. Add the paprika, cayenne pepper, tomatoes, saffron and fish stock and bring to the boil over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the mussels and simmer for 4-5 minutes, until they open, stirring often; discard those that do not open. Stir in the peeled prawns and noodles and heat through.
  5. Smooth the surface of the Fideuà with a knife or spoon, then place under a hot grill until a light brown crust forms. Arrange the unpeeled prawns on top…. and serve.