A Travellerspoint blog

April 2009

Escape to Deia

La Residencia Mallorca Spain

Mallorca (also spelled Majorca) is one of the Balearic Islands . They are Spanish and Catalan and are a quick plane ride or a longer ferry ride from a number of coastal cities in Spain. I went by plane from Barcelona and it was 30 minutes and about 45 euros.

La Residencia is one of the loveliest hotels I’ve ever stayed in. Deia (which is listed in 1000 Places to See Before You Die) is about a half an hour away from the airport and from the major city of Palma. There is a bus that stops right outside the resort or you can rent a car. Beware the winding mountain roads and especially beware of the roundabouts!

The hotel is like staying at a friend’s very upscale home. It’s warm and gracious with wonderful amenities. There is a first class restaurant called El Olivo (Sting has been known to eat here…yes, that Sting!).

There is also a spa and an indoor pool. The spa treatments are the best and every single person who is employed in this resort makes you feel welcome. Off-season rates are extremely affordable and the weather is not hot in winter, but is definately mild.

The scenery is stunning. You can see the mountains above you and the Mediterranean below. It’s hard to imagine a better place to spend a quiet week. This is a perfect escape venue.
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Posted by teethetrav 12:34 Archived in Spain Tagged lodging Comments (0)

Barcelona: Where to Stay

Great Hotel Great Location

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A wonderful hotel with a great location is the Hotel Colon in the heart of Barcelona in the old town. It's close to everything...you can walk to Las Ramblas and to the metro which is incredibly easy to use. I've never been anywhere before where a yellow (yes, like the yellow brick road) line leads you from one station to another. Barcelona is so easy to navigate.

The Hotel overlooks a plaza and the lovely cathedral. There was a street market right in the plaza while we were staying there. Without asking, we were upgraded to a room with a balcony and a view of the cathedral. There is a sister hotel alongside the Colon that is less expensive and smaller, but still has nice service and a great location.

The staff was friendly and extremely helpful. There is a nice bar where you can sit on a sofa, sip wine and just hang out. There is also an outdoor cafe and a restaurant. I will stay there again when I return.

Posted by teethetrav 16:10 Archived in Spain Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Tapas in Barcelona

Inopia: Best Tapas

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The concept of tapas is so amazing I don't understand why it hasn't caught on everywhere. Tiny plates of amazing dishes. Bread toasted and rubbed with garlic, tomato and olive oil. Gambas (shrimp). Little grilled sardines. An nearly endless array of choices. How great is it that you don't have to commit to one giant plate? I was born to eat tapas. By far, the best tapas bar in all of Barcelona is Inopia. Owned by the brother of the world-renowned chef Ferran Adria's brother, I had seen Inopia on Mario Batali's show "Spain...on the Road Again" with Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Bittman of the NY Times, and Claudia Bassols. We went twice. It's social, it's fun, it's so delicious I cannot describe how good the food is. The wine was not too shabby either.

Posted by teethetrav 14:50 Archived in Spain Tagged food Comments (0)

Gazpacho from Spain: More on Almonds and Mallorca

Ajo Blanco, Mario Batali, Almonds, Mallorca and more...

Almonds, almonds, almonds. On my trip to Spain (affectionately titled “The in Search of Mario Batali Trip” in honor of his recent public television show) I discovered three ingredients I don’t understand how I ever lived without. First, Iberian jamon (ham) which is indescribably delicious and technically not an ingredient since you just eat it. Second, pimenton, which is Spanish paprika and tastes so indescribably delicious it explodes subtle flavor into paella and other dishes.

The third magical ingredient is almonds. The Spanish island of Mallorca is famous for its almonds and I’ve always loved them. They have so many uses. You can throw them into a salad for crunch and flavor. I love them sprinkled on top of asparagus that has been gently cooked and then drizzled lightly with olive oil. I even eat almonds raw and plain as a snack. They are filling, low in trans fat, have no cholesterol, and are an excellent source of fiber.

The most incredible almond recipe was the almond cake that every restaurant in Majorca had its own spin on.

Gazpacho is dish I had never eaten before. Did you know there are three kinds? Red, green, and white. The white is known as ajo blanco and is made with—what else?—almonds. Gazpacho was originally from Andalusia and was peasant food-it used stale bread so there was nothing wasted. Most people think the red gazpacho came first. It didn’t. Tomatoes (and peppers) were imported after the Spanish had discovered the New World. So it is entirely possible that white was the original.

WHITE GAZPACHO

Stale Italian or French bread

¾ cup slivered toasted almonds (toast under the broiler for a minute or two)

1 garlic clove smashed (garlic lovers may add more)

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cups white grape juice

2 cups water

2 cups white seedless grapes

1 cup heavy cream whipped (optional)

Remove the bread crust. Cube the pieces. Place the bread inside a big bowl full of water. When soaked, wring out. Put the almonds, garlic, grapes, grape juice, water and bread in a food processor and puree until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil and blend.

Chill at least 30 minutes before you serve. Add a few pieces of homemade croutons, some grapes cut in halves, and some toasted slivered almonds to garnish. If you want to make it decadent, use whipped heavy cream. Add to the top of the gazpacho when you serve it. Not Spanish but oh so wonderful!

Posted by teethetrav 14:33 Archived in Spain Tagged food Comments (1)

Spanish Pimenton: Paella Recipe Yummy

Sunday dinner

Iberian jamon was by far the best ingredient I discovered in Spain. Second was pimenton; Spanish paprika. It is so far removed from the American paprika that it's hard to know why it is in the same family. There are a thousand ways to make paella. The key to the flavor, however, is the pimenton. It's smoky and mild and has an indescribably distinctive taste. It's worth searching for.

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PAELLA
Seafood-suggestions:
1 lb. of large shrimp
1 lb. of scallops
1 dozen tiny clams (manila or cockles) Scrub well.
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ pureed tomatoes
1 medium sweet or Spanish onion diced
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon saffron
1 tablespoon Spanish pimento (paprika)
1 1/2 quarts fish stock (Kitchen Basics)
2 cups Goya Valencia rice

Heat a 14 to 18” fry pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Cook the shrimp until pink and remove them. Cook the scallops until done (3 to 5 minutes depending on their size) and remove them. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent.
Add the tomatoes and cook with the onions for three minutes. Add the seasonings and the stock and cook for five minutes. Add the rice and stir well to distribute it. Add the clams. Bring back to a boil without stirring. Cook for ten minutes. Add the shrimp and scallops and cook for 10 minutes. Add the clams and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until they pop open. Remove from heat when the liquid is mostly gone. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Nearly all the liquid should be gone and a delicious kind of crust should be on the bottom of your pan. Mmmmm. Enjoy!

Posted by teethetrav 06:21 Archived in Spain Tagged food Comments (0)

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