Saturday, May 09, 2015

Andorra - March 21st, 2015

It must have been a bout of laziness that prevented me from writing a blog post about my latest alphabetical dinner... I hosted an Andorran dinner on March 21st, and one month and a half later, I finally get to sit on the sofa, laptop on my lap, and hoping for my creative juices to flow.

This dinner was the first of series 4 of my culinary trip around the world.  Back to A finally... a new binder, a new journey, many new flavors.

Andorra is a small country nested between Spain and France and influences of both countries are present in its cuisine.  I couldn't find a lot of recipes but enough to make a large meal to feed my guests (Chad and Christine - yes, only 2 people but the days of the big dinner parties are suspended until we move somewhere bigger than our rented 870 feet one bedroom apartment - which I appreciate would be quite sizeable in New York City but I am digressing here...).

I discovered that Pinterest is a great source for finding recipes. And it is also a great place to discover that I am not the only person trying to cook my way to the world.  Not sure how many people are doing it in alphabetical order but there are quite a few blogs out there.  Which means that there are now even more resources for recipes.

On account of the fact that we were all having a good time planning our biking trip from Alabama to Atlanta, and enjoying the food (for the most part, there were a couple of mishaps), I completely forgot to take photos and the only 2 I have aren't good enough to publish.  So for this country, you'll have to use your imagination.  I'll do my best to describe the visuals but in the end what counts is the flavor of the food - yes, I know that the eye wants its part but I favor smells, texture and taste over sight when it comes to food and I guess because of this, I'll never become a chef or a food porn photographer.  And that's quite ok.

I started the meal with Pa amb Tomaquet, bread and tomatoes, It was simple and delicious, toasted country bread that I found at the Dekalb Farmers market, fresh tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper.  Eric called it the best "bruschetta" he had in months.  Probably an apt description.  I think we'll make this again, perhaps as an afternoon snack or an appetizer for a barbeque this summer.

I then made Escudella.  This is probably a full meal in itself and great on a cold winter evening. I imagine winters in Andorra are quite cold given that it is a mountainous region, and I think that such a dish would just be perfect to warm up.  It is essentially a very thick soup with beans, ham, chicken, pork sausages, green cabbage, rice, potatoes, pasta and chick peas.  Again a very filling dish.  I cooked it for a long time and it really was very thick.  I'm not sure if I cooked it too long but I personally loved the consistency of it.  Chad liked it and took leftovers home but noted that it was probably too heavy as a second appetizer (or perhaps he meant to say that he shouldn't have had seconds?) and Eric called it “porkalicious”.  If we end up living in a very cold region, we'll probably make it again.  But it's quite a lot of work!

As a main dish I intended to serve Trinxat de la Cerdanya.  These are essentially pancakes made of cabbage and potatoes but I must have done something wrong as they took very long to cook and they didn't taste particularly good.  I served them with bacon rashers and at least those were good... Zilla the cat, liked the bacon too. As expected my guests commented that the pancakes were bland and also a bit scorched (so I guess I ended up overcooking them) but they liked the bacon and they also liked the spinach and raisins with pinenuts that I made as a side dish.
The leftover cabbage and potato mixture was actually good the day after as an accompaniment to our dinner so I really think the problem was how I cooked the pancakes.

For dessert I made Brac de Gitano.  This is a cake cooked in a sheet pan then covered with a mixture of apricot jam and whipped cream and rolled into a tube and served cold.  It was deliciously moist and Christine loved that it wasn't too sweet.  As is typical, Eric skipped dessert but Chad liked it.  I loved it and to ensure I didn't eat the leftovers while filling the dishwasher, I gave them to Chad and Christine to take home to the kids.

In the goody bag, I put homemade panellets which I also ended up making a bit of a mess of.  These are sweet potatoes marzipan cookies but I think I was too generous on honey and so they didn't hold the shape very well.  I did like the mixture that I rolled them in (cocoa, coconut flakes and pinenuts).

I am thinking that I am really rusty on my cooking these days.  Since Eric retired, I haven't done much cooking at all and when I was in Myanmar I never cooked at all.  I just need to plan more dinners to get back into the groove...  It'll come back to me.  When you love something, you won't forget it easily.

Here is the full menu with the scores:

Pa amb Tomaquet                               9.0
Escudella                                             9.0
Trinxat de la Cerdanya                        5.3

Brac de gitano                                     8.3

Overall Dinner                                    8.0

Now that I finally wrote the blog, I can allow myself to start the research for the next dinner: Barbados.

Stay Tuned....

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