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Archive for October 4th, 2012

I was very excited about our trip to Barcelona, Spain because I was hoping to be inspired to create new and innovated tapas. As you all know, I enjoy having tapas dinner parties and this little inspiration will make a wonderful addition to my repertoire. Although we didn’t really have anything like it in Barcelona, I created this hors d’œuvres the first day of our return, I was just so darn excited about it. It’s relatively simple, and if you have polenta left over, even better. I made a small batch and cooled it with ice and our heat sucking stone (our Canadian Soapstone counters have the ability to suck heat out of anything you put on it). JT thought they were just OK, but I think he would love them if I had just put some bacon on them! I really enjoyed them; you can top them with anything, including prosciutto or even a crispy fried sausage slice but I just used some simple Sharp Cheddar with Horse Radish. You can also serve this warm or at room temperature. I froze the left over polenta squares and will use them for a future tapas dinner party! Cheers!

Polenta Cheese “Crisps”

Crispy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. The cheese was just the icing on the cake!

Original recipe modified from Epicurious

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup polenta (not quick-cooking)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 2 tbsp canola oil for frying
  • 25 small square slices of cheese, your choice
  • Chives for garnish

Directions:

  1. Spray an 8″ square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Combine water, polenta, herbs, and pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly with a long-handled wooden spoon, until polenta begins to pull away from side of pan, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in cheese and butter until incorporated, then transfer polenta to baking dish, spreading evenly with a dampened rubber spatula. Chill until set, about 45 minutes (to speed up the process, I put a piece of plastic wrap over the top and lined ice cubes along the top. Once the cubes started to melt, I pulled them off and then carefully lifted the plastic wrap so the water didn’t spill onto the firm polenta).
  3. Turn out the polenta from the pan (should fall out easily, mine did) and cut into 2-3 cm (1.5″) squares. Preheat a cast iron frying pan and add about 2 tbsp canola oil. Fry one side until golden and then flip. Cover the second side with a 1-2mm slice of cheese, garnish with chives.
  4. Serve warm or room temperature.

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We travelled from Vienna to Barcelona with one of the intercontinental airlines, Berlin Air; it was efficient and relatively inexpensive (less than $100 pp Canadian). The terminal in Vienna is being overhauled and I don’t know about you, but JT and I have the uncanny ability to chose a flight that departs from the absolute farthest terminal in and out of the building. This was no exception; fortunately we were able to dump our weighty luggage early and manage the walk (and hobble) to the extreme farthest part of the temporary portable building (yes, this terminal was even farther from the actual terminal — it was outside the terminal!). Our drive from Budapest took two hours longer than it should have and we were both anxious not to miss the flight, we made it but we’re being boarded within 15 minutes of arrival! Thank goodness my dear Aunt made sandwiches which we gobbled down while speed-waiting! For some reason security did not care about food, just our documents which were pulled out and scrutinized. Oh, and my shoes! (nudge, nudge wink, wink my shoe buds Kristy and Charlie)

We rented an apartment with AirBnB that was in the Barri Gotic area (thanks for the tip for AirBnB, Charles – I’ll have a little surprise about Charles later!). The apartment was great, much as described on line and the bed was comfy, the kitchen had a coffee maker and a good fridge and the bathroom was modern and we had free wifi! The location was great too, within a short walk to La Rambla with the pedestrian boulevards with restaurants and shops.

The living room overlooked a quiet pedestrian street-no noisy mopeds!

This is the pass through to the small ‘office’. We were streaming music from Martini in the Morning a lovely Jazz station in Southern California.

The bed was a king which is unheard of in Europe! Nice and roomy.

The dining area in the kitchen. That’s an interior window that opened to a fairly large shaft. People hung their laundry out there!

Modern appliances and a N’espresso Machine. Mind you we did have a bit of a challenge finding the cartridges for the machine. To save calories we ate a simple breakfast in our apartment most mornings (plain yogurt, a little bread and coffee)

Our first full day was kind of a bust, full fledged rain so we opted for a bus tour of the city — a great way to get to know what you want to see. We ended up getting the two day pass so that we could go back and see things more in detail, but we ended up just seeing new things. So much to see, so little time.

The architecture is very interesting — this is the Olah hotel with strange eyeballs/Security cameras on the exterior.

Designed by Gaudi a famous Spanish architect and a leader of Catalan Modernism.

Personally, I find Gaudi architecture somewhat disturbing and upsetting

The organic shapes almost seem to make the building come alive…like it’s an alien.

JT had read about this place and indeed it was an excellent lunch

Views from the bus tour

This undulating roof was a market just around the corner from our apartment. Sadly it was open only until 4pm every day and we kept missing it.

Just around the corner from our apartment

They were setting up a stage for later that evening when the Catalan’s would protest for separation. Québequois are not the only one’s who wish to separate!

The Cathedral of Barcelona interior a wonderful example of high gothic architecture

A restaurant that once was the cellars to another cathedral.

It was a really cute place, but the food was just so-so.

Statue of Christopher Columbus. Yes, he was indeed Italian, but his boat was Spanish!

We had a lovely lunch on the shores of the Mediterranean!

A selection of tapas…I did happen to ‘borrow’ the menu for future ideas!

Part of our hood

Along La Ramba, the pedestrian avenue

The weather became brighter and warmer as the evening progressed

The protestors who want to separate. All peaceful.

Walking back…so many motorbikes and scooters!


And that concludes our trip to Barcelona. I had additional photos showing a vista from a fort high above the city, but sadly the light didn’t really provide enough contrast and the photos were dull and boring. We’ll just have to return to Barcelona to get better photos!

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