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Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

One of my favourite things to do in just about any place in the world is to visit the local farmers or produce markets. I am as happy inspecting an unglamorous produce market hosted in a car park with the wares sold direct out of the trucks or trailors, as I am with the exotic markets in Asia or the gorgeous produce displays found in Europe.

Every now and then there is one that causes me to lose the plot and cast around wildly for my favourite le creuset pan and best cooks knife.

I don’t care if the La Boqueria Mercat in Barcelona might be deemed a tad touristy with its location bang off the side of Las Ramblas. It’s lush and gorgeous. And filled with locals purchasing their dinner.

La Boqueria is very much based around food and contains the full range of local Catalan and Spanish artisanal wares (Jamon, cheeses, olives); through to the freshest seafood, great fruit and veges, and some rather daunting displays of meat. Not a lot seems to be wasted in this country so displays of trotters and heads were alongside glorious racks and roasts.

The photos…

Nick M gave me a lecture on different types of jamon and I duly purchased the prince of ham – the jamon Iberico bellota (pigs fed at least 50% on acorns).

Jamon! Hand sliced with no machine.

Jamon! Hand sliced with no machine. An absolutely lethal looking machete. What's nice is that the poor quality offcuts are turfed out and you aren't charged for them.

Not for the fainthearted.

Not for the fainthearted - no part of the animal is wasted.

Glorious seafood

Glorious displays of seafood

I suffered a real pang when I saw the displays of salt cod. You simply cannot get it in New Zealand but it is very much a staple of many Spanish recipes. I was trying to work out if there was any way I’d be allowed to bring a piece back home.

Salt cod

Sigh. Salt cod

The egg before the chicken?

I have never seen a free range egg display where you could select the eggs based on the breed of chicken (or type of bird).

And loads of glorious fruit and veges on display. Nick M bought 1KG of juicy sweet strawberries for about 4 euro.

Nick M and Ollie

Nick M and Ollie buying strawberries

Fruit and veges

Fruit and veges

And last but not least…

Chocolate

Chocolate. We didn't buy anything as we were too overwhelmed

In the end we bought jamon, cheese, olives and strawberries to have over drinks in the evening.

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Nigella Lawson’s Feast is a total stalwart in my book collection. At her best her approach seems to involve slapping a walloping piece of meat in the oven, suggesting substantial and interesting sides, and stuffing people to the gills. Dinner party guests roll home after consuming recipes from this book. This is by far my favourite of her books.

In some of Nigella’s others the cooking effort and skill seems to be reduced so far down the evolutionary chain I am unclear whether she is targeting preschoolers or chimps. Any recipe that involves tipping a load of Mars bars into a pan and melting them does not deserve to be printed.

I also have How to Eat which frustrates the heck out of me. I cannot stand recipes that seem to involve a chatty  stream of consciousness  with all the ingredients randomly mentioned throughout. I like a nice list of ingredients at the top for shopping purposes. Then instructions. If the writer feels the need to chit chat about their life and experience do it as a paragraph at the beginning of the recipe or the end. Just give us the list of ingredients or I will forget some. Nigel Slater needs a hand slap for this as well for The Kitchen Diaries. In his case though the recipes are sufficiently good, and the verbage is so charming that it is worth sifting through the diary entries to find them and locate the ingredients amongst the burble.

Back to Feast. It is a great book. Broken down into themes (Christmas, Easter, chocolate cake hall of fame). Tasty food that is pretty straightforward to throw together. Great if you have a celebratory dinner or Christmas to plan for.

Her chocolate gingerbread also deserves special mention. Really outstanding and good for freezing in chunks.

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