Tortilla de Camarones

It’s easy to get in a rut when dining in Spain.  However, Spanish cuisine is incredibly varied when you decide to extend beyond the staples.  Factor in that most of Spain is bordered by the sea and it increases your chances of finding something you had never heard of.  On my last trip there, one such discovery was the tortilla de camarones.  When my wife told me, according to her pre trip research, that the place in Sanlúcar in which we were seated was famous for them, I was skeptical.  Shrimp in a tortilla?  It sounded kind of low on the texture scale.  Plus, I’m a tortilla purist and the thought of sticking anything other than the essentials (egg, potato, onion) in a tortilla is just a distraction.  Luckily, a couple of tables down, the folks ordered an unidentified plate of something heaping and fried and it piqued my curiosity.  I went to the counter at Casa Balbino and ordered a plate of the tortilla de camarones for two and another couple glasses of La Gitana.  I waited and was greeted with this:

Tortilla de Camarones
Tortilla de Camarones

It’s not a tortilla in the classic sense but an incredibly airy, perfectly seasoned, fried nest of whole baby shrimp.  The crunch of the batter mixed with the shell of the shrimp reminded me of softshell crab – without the unfortunate mush that sometimes accompanies the latter.  It was incredible.  The Manzanilla cut though the grease perfectly and I had no problem devouring the majority of the plate.  My wife enjoyed it as well but is not quite as adventurous of an eater as I am especially when it comes to baby shellfish.  Still, she said she loved it.  (Maybe I just didn’t give her a chance to eat more!)

Spain is a big country and the amount of culinary diversity is immense.  Tortilla de camarones is a standout, however.  If you ever find yourself in a restaurant where it is served, order it – and don’t forget the manzanilla.

Return of the Spanish Caravan

I know where treasure is waiting for me.
Silver and gold in the mountains of Spain
I have to see you again and again.

We’ve just wrapped up another trip to Spain.  That’s three trips for me in just a little over a year and my obsession with Iberia shows little sign of abating.  On this trip we covered about 1000 miles through Andalusia, snapped about 1300 digital pics, consumed countless cañas, tintos de verano, finos, manzanillas, tapas of all stripes and saw some stunningly beautiful countryside.  I probably have enough material for 15 posts over the next few weeks so prepare for NotHemingway.com to shift into serious Iberiophile mode.

The road outside Grazalema, Spain
The road outside Grazalema, Spain

 

A Slight Change of Plans

We’re sitting on the balcony tonight after putting “el rug rat” to bed. We made a trip to the supermarket today and picked up jamon, queso curado, bread, wine and picked up a little amontillado from the hotel bar for dessert.

We took a side trip to Sanlúcar today and stocked up on a couple bottles of La Gitana Manzanilla – (the stuff they serve at Almendro 13). We also got to try the Shrimp Fritters (tortilla de camarones as they call them). A whole review with pictures is coming on those babies.

Off to Sevilla tomorrow. Looking more and more like Cordoba after that. It’s hot and sunny and the rebujitos are going down like water!

Almendro 13 – One of the Spanish Seven Wonders

Almendro 13 - La Latina - Madrid, Spain
Almendro 13 - La Latina - Madrid, Spain

I can’t count how many times I’ve been to Almendro 13.  I can’t even count how many people I have sent there when they tell me they’re going to Madrid.  You would think with all of that exposure, I’d be over it.  You might never guess that I would go there twice in the course of three days with a near miss of a third time.  Well, we did.  It is just that good.  Not only did we go there twice, we had the exact same thing twice.  Manzanilla, olives, and Huevos Rotos.  Simple flavors and an incredible parade of richness over the palette.  The green painted interior matching the flavor of the olives, with the shiny brass fixtures highlighting the bite of the Manzanilla and the wood bar and yellow painted walls capturing the savory essence of the bright yolks of the eggs, saltiness of the jamón and perfectly cooked, just thicker than a potato chip, slices of potato.

Yes, I realize the prose is a bit heady but I think it’s befitting of a place that is so deceptively casual as to ambush your senses with color, flavor and smell and make you even consider a third visit in one short trip to Madrid.  Go – and return often.