As I sit and stare out the window at the snowflakes and wind hurling around my backyard, I can’t help but reminisce about our trip to Spain. And can you blame me? The below-zero temperatures make me miss the beautiful streets of Barcelona. I miss sitting outside on a patio and people-watching while digging into something deliciously spicy and garlicky as my cold glass of sangria forms droplets of condensation down the side. A tough morning of watching street buskers and touring la Sagrada familia was rewarded with red wine, a quiet table tucked behind the busy streets of Barcelona and all the tapas we could eat.
Spanish tapas vary from each region, but it always includes a variety of small dishes meant for sharing with friends over small tables at the bar or on an overturned barrel. This is the ultimate food experience in Spain and shouldn’t be missed! Bar-goers jump from bar to bar, eating a variety of tapas, drinking wine and beer and socializing with other patrons. These small plates are meant to be eaten between meals (my kind of food trend!) so you’ll find these during midday or in the evening before a late dinner.
Simple bowls of marinated olives or nuts and crostini topped with ham extends to more rich plates like fried potatoes with creamy aioli and meatballs smothered in rich tomato gravy is only the beginning. Garlicky shrimp, smothered in olive oil, crispy squid with creamy aioli, spicy cured sausage and assorted Spanish cheeses all make an entrance. Sangria, almost too strong for an afternoon drink, is savoured and will almost certainly leave you feeling slightly warm and giddy inside. Oranges, stained red from the sangria, are fought over at the bottom of the pitcher. The bar is noisy, boisterous and plays like a game of musical chairs as new patrons look for a free seat or a table to stand at.
I’m aching for this food again. Dare I say it has to be one of my favourite food experiences – to eat through the afternoon, filling your belly with cured, smoked sausage and creamy cheese, plates of seafood and potatoes before settling into a meal of paella and a generous serving of red wine. Trendy locals and packs of tourists pass by in one big blur as we take in the sights around us.
This recipe for albondigas (Spanish for “meatballs”), is not only a cozy way to spend a snowy night in, but it takes me back to those streets in Barcelona. Pour a big glass of wine and grab a baguette to soak up the rich tomato gravy. The smoked paprika makes this recipe slightly sweet and spicy, giving the meatballs a deep, earthy flavour.
Honesty time, I made these meatballs twice this week. I couldn’t help it, I made them for a Spanish-themed dinner party last weekend and I started craving them again the next day so I busted out the remaining ingredients to make it all over again. It’s incredibly simple to make, and I added a delicious Spanish red wine to the sauce to round things out.
- 500g ground pork and beef
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- 1 tsp salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 400g tin tomatoes
- ½ cup red wine
- 1½ tbsp smoked paprika
- Combine the pork, beef, breadcrumbs, egg, paprika, parsley, garlic and salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix to combine the ingredients. Place in the fridge and marinate up to overnight.
- When you're ready to cook the meatballs, roll the meat mixture into 1 inch balls.
- Head a dutch oven or other heavy pan with 1 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat. Brown the meatballs on all sides and place on a plate.
- Deglaze the pan with the red wine and let it simmer for 2 minutes before adding in the tomatoes and smoked paprika. Simmer for 5 minutes then add the meatballs back in.
- Cook the meatballs for 20 minutes, covered.
- Serve with crusty bread and a glass of red wine.