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APL International Cooking Schools Present a Guide to Food,  Dining, Wine, and Sherry in Spain with an article on Dining in Granada

News Item: Granada, Spain     Within 1 year, Granada will have more 5-star hotels than any other location in Andalusia, reports local newspaper IDEAL (August 26, 2005). These will join several smaller, boutique hotels that have recently opened in this spectacular city, home to the Alhambra Palace, as reported in June by magazine Travel & Leisure.
 
Here's how one author has desribed the city's allures:
 
In fact Granada has everything to offer, from the Alhambra and the Albaicin to the intimate corners of nineteenth century Romanticism; from the enchatment of Oriental art to the dawn of the Gothic; from the flowering of the Renaissance to the exuberant brilliance of the Baroque. And if, from the point of view of the Arts, this rich diversity is overwhelming in its vitality without the dominance of one unilateral theme, Nature for her part provides analagous contrasts. In some places there is ruggedness, in other a delicacy full of half-tones; here is a city neither of the mountain no of the plain. The Sierra and the lowland intertwine in a stange arabesque and this gives the landscape both strenth and extraordinary variety. From the foot of the mountains to their summit there is an ascent of more than three thousand meters and from the region of perpetual snow it is possible to descend, in barely an hour, to a coast where every tropical fruit abounds. It would be difficult to find a land richer in variety and contrasts or one evoking emotions of greater depth and diversity.
 
Antonio Gallego y Burin, Granada: An Artistic and Historical Guide to the City

Europe's least-known and highest wine region shows spectacular potential
Keep an eye on Vinos de la Tierra Norte de Granada

A traditional wine-producing region from before the days of phylloxera, the Province of Granada in Spain is now experiecing a small wine rennaisance. With about 400 hectares currently under vine and new wineries sprouting, the production is already noteworthy for its maturity and quality, with some making comparisons to Ribera del Duero wines.
 
Antonio Vilchez Valenzuela, Naranjuez, 2004
dense red to purple color, flavors of plum and blackberry
Made from a blend of Tempranillo, Syrah, Merlot, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc
Alcohol: 14%
 
Pago de Almaraes

Casas rurales - Guide of rural Tourism, rural houses, and hotels with enchantment in Spain

Internet Resources for Those Interested in Spanish Cuisine and Food Ingredients

Wikipedia entry on Spanish Cuisine

A fuego lento: Spanish recipes in Spanish

Spanish Olive Oil: In Spanish

Excellent site on Spanish wine, olive oil, ham, etc.

Cheese from Spain: An Authentic Resource

Slow Food Movement

Wines from Spain

Spanish Food Page

Tapas information and barandillas recipe from the Culinary Institute of America

Mediterranean Cooking School

Eating Out Dictionary for Spain

Spanish Culinary Regions (courtesy of www.in-spain.info)
 
In general, there are six major gastronomic zones in mainland Spain.

The North is one of the richest culinary areas. The fish and seafood of Galicia, among the worlds finest, are prepared in ways that are simply insuperable. Basque cooking is world famous, and its codfish recipes, "pil-pil" or Vizcayan style, and its delicious baby eels are some of Spain's finest food attractions. In Asturias, try "fabada", a magnificent bean stew, and the excellent regional cheeses with a good bottle of cider.

The Pyrenees is a zone that specializes in marinade sauces known as "chilindrones". Aragon offers an infinite number of dishes with these tasty sauces as well as the fine ham made in Teruel.

Cataluña is the land of casseroles. Besides these typical dishes are its fine sausages, cheeses and regional sauces, some of them world famous, such as "ali-oli", made with garlic and olive oil.

Valencia and the surrounding region specialise in rice dishes. Besides their famous "paella", the Valencians are able to prepare exquisite rice dishes with any type of ingredients - meat, chicken, seafood, vegetables or fish. Also exquisite is the rice dish from the region of Murcia known as "caldera", or caldron.

Andalucia is the land of fried food. Its fried fish is insuperable. There is also gazpacho, the exquisite cold vegetable soup, and Jabugo ham from the province of Huelva which is a true delicacy.

Central Spain is known for its roasts. Lamb, veal, sucking pig, young goat and other meats are slowly roasted in wood ovens to give them an especially delicious texture and taste. The fine hams and cheeses, and some of the Best sausages in Spain, round out this region's culinary offering. Madrid, so closely linked to Castille, deserves special mention. Despite not having a specific cuisine, per se, its strong identity has made a mark on a large number of typical dishes from the city. Among them are "cocido madrileño", a nourishing meat and vegetable stew, Madrid style triple and exquisite sweets. Another important chapter on Spanish cooking must be dedicated to island cuisine.

The Balearic Isles have created certain celebrated specialties that have been exported around the world. Among them are mayonnaise, originally created in the city of Mahon, in Menorca. In Mallorca, "ensaimadas" are exquisite light pastries, while "sobrasada" is a tasty sausage.

The Canary Islands offer a very imaginative cuisine that has had to overcome the limitations of the islands produce. Many dishes include fish and a famous hot sauce known as "mojo picón". There are also magnificent tropical fruits from the island such as bananas, avocados and papayas.

Granada Cooking & Wine School

Spanish Gastronomy
by Charles Leary and Vaughn Perret

The heart and soul of Spanish gastronomy lies in its ingredients. In this way it is a first cousin of Italian cuisine. Spanish cooking celebrates a gustatory and cooking tradition that must be understood and enjoyed within its social and cultural context, fiestas, the family, la vida dulce.

The Iberian Peninsula, fixed between the Atlantic Ocean, the Pyrenees, and the Mediterranean Sea was always a relatively poor place, and a world unto itself (and the New World, after 1492). Today, regional cuisines provide for a rich traveller's experience, while the country is held together by common culinary threads and fibers. Wine and olive oil remain important to more than half the country. Wild game, seafood, ham, local cheeses, and preserved meats and sausages make for unavoidable richness. The extensive use of delicious sweet red peppers along with the common cooking base of sofrito—a varying blend of chopped sweet pepper, garlic, onion, and/or parsley sometimes mixed with ham and sauteed in olive oil—help define the range of Spanish cusine. Almonds are another common and very important ingredient, including the wonderful variety known as Marcona, and find their way into both savoury and sweet dishes.

Other than perhaps in the Basque and Catalan regions and Madrid, Spain has not fallen prey to the Star Chef syndrome. Much of the cookery is stil home style, and traditions run deep.

Many overlook the profound Moorish influence on Spanish cookery, which was immediately followed by an influx of New World ingredients, particularly fruits and vegetables. Chocolate, vanilla, tomatoes, squash, beans (as opposed to peas), chilies and peppers, and corn all came from the New World after 1492. Artichokes, cardoon, eggplant, chard, spinach, dates, and sugar all came to Spain and Europe via the Arabs and their occupation of Andalusia and other more northern regions throughout the Euorpena Medieval period.

Spain also has an incredibly strong and diverse artisanal foods tradition, particularly in the area of cheeses and meats. These includes hams and a wide variety of "sausages" and other cured, smoked or dried meats. In fact, the daily use of ready-to-eat specialty items like cheeses, almonds, thinly sliced ham, and hundreds of kinds of sausages from salchicha and chorizo, to morcilla and butifarra. Saffron is another Spanish culinary specialty of high quality.

The most typical of all national dishes include the rice-based Paella, Spanish tortilla (a type of potato omelette), and perhaps flan, a caramel custard. Tapas have become an international obsession, and occur in various forms in different places, including cities as far-spring as Granada and San Sebastian.

Tapas are basically accopaniments to drink, usually wine or beer, provided at bars and cafes. In Sevilla you must pedir and pay for your Tapas, which are often just smaller tastings of regular menu items. In Granada, tapas should be free with your drink and the choice is usually left up to the barman, though you can sometimes express a preference. The unfortunate trend in the Granada region is for the more touristy establishments to make you order and pay for tapas. In San Sebastian, tapas are an elaborate affair, decoratively displayed, and charged for, though with reason, since San Sebastian tapas are more than mere snacks.

Hours of dining are quite different from North America or other parts of Europe, having retained a traditional pace similar to that found in Mexico. The first meal of the day may just be a small pastry and a cup of coffee. Desayuno will be relatively late, around 9 a.m. and consists of tostadas spread with fresh tomato, butter, cheese olive oil, and/or garlic. the main meal of the day, lunch (almuerzo) will be at around 2:30 or 3 p.m. followed by a siesta until 4:30 or 5 p.m. Drinks and tapas may get underway around 8:30 p.m., and if you are going to have dinner (cena), do so at about 10 or 10:30 p.m. to not apear un-Spanish.

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