If you ask a Spaniard about his favorite fish, he probably will tell you that It´s hake, by far. His delicate flesh and flavor make hake perfect for a million different ways to cook it. One of my favorites is the most classical way, Vasc Country style in a wine and parsley sauce with clams. Really easy to prepare. Finding hake in the Pacific NW is an impossible dream, but luckily the Chilean seabass make the treat.
Two years ago I invited my friend and trainer Jessica and his new boyfriend Jaffer for dinner. They loved my clams and seabass dish so I promised to send her the recipe. But I never did it.
This winter our friend Seth, a Texan Seattle newcomer who loves fish, wanted to learn more ways to enjoy the Pacific NW sea bounty so I remembered this old recipe and my old debt to Jessica and I finally sent it to both of them.
Jessica cooked the dish for Jaffer and I would say, looking at the pic, that she did a great job! The happy ending of the story is that this weekend they got engaged! so I want to think that (altough I know It´s not true) that my Spanish dish played a role in this beautiful love story.
So, you know, maybe If you cook my seabass recipe, your love life could get a kick too! It this happens, please share with me your story and send to me a photo! Because, you know, love is all around…
CHILEAN SEABASS WITH CLAMS
INGREDIENTS FOR FOUR PEOPLE
Four seabass fillets
One pound of clams
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves of garlic
1 glass of water
1 glass of white wine (Spanish Albariño recommended)
Four tablespoons of Extra Virgin olive oil
Crush garlic, parsley and salt in the mortar and pestle. Fry the onion in olive oil at low temperature for about 10 minutes until the onion is traslucent. Add the water to the mix in the mortar. Pour it into the sauteed onions and cook for another 10 minutes over low heat with a glass of white wine. Incorporate the spiced seabass fillets covered in flour. Add the clams. Move slowly the pan to thicken the sauce while baking at medium low heat about 15 minutes.
I have a lonely mango in my fridge who was about to be spoilt and I remembered that my grandma loved cooking sliced apples with brown sugar, a cinammon stick and a clove for dessert all the time when I was a kid. So I added my mango into the show and some ginger and Sherry vinegar to give to the mix some acidity and spiciness. Fifteen minutes and voilà! A beautiful mix to add to savory and sweet dishes. I mixed mine with Greek yogurt and honey for an after workout snack. Enjoy it!
The Yummy Bull had the opportunity to host a Mediterranean dinner last Friday for Euro Seattle Startup Weekend, as I was representing Spain in the Organization Committee.
Startup Weekend is a global movement of active entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. Anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. The top ideas will work during the whole weekend creating a business model as a beginning of a new venture.
I´d never prepared food for 100 people but this is what life is all about, about pushing your own boundaries. Right?
Luckily I counted with the sponsorship of Culinary Collective, one the most important and respected Spanish gourmet importers in the US who donated all the Spanish food for the meal. Making good food with amazing ingredients is always easy…
I was alone and tight in time to prepare the catering, so I conceptualized a realistic, diverse and healthy menu. I chose to prepare a “bonito del Norte”, a variety of tuna from the Cantabrian sea, and piquillo peppers salad (see recipe below).
I wanted to feature an array of Mediterranean countries in my dinner so I decided to showcase French endives too. I love their bitter flavor, not so common in the Pacific NW, because fits perfectly with smoked salmon and blue cheese. I couldn´t find best dressing that salt, Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Pedro Ximénez Reserva vinegar.
Brie and blue cheese combined with grapes and Spanish Marcona almonds, the “Ferrari of the almonds” in experts opinion, and Italian delis rounded the meal for meat and cheese lovers. More veggies and hummus, coming from the other side from the Mediterranean, made things easy for the vegetarians.
I wanted to add a light, colorful and healthy dessert so I decided to bring Greece to the table too adding yogurt with berries and pomegranate to the ecuation. And for the sweet tooth authentic Seville tortas de aceite and catalonian milk and dark chocolate.
A diverse Mediterranean dinner for a diverse and energetic bunch of entrepreneurs who worked hard all weekend long to bring their best ideas into life.
I`m proud to say that we received a lot of compliments about all the meals that we served during the weekend. You know we, Europeans, take food business really seriously.
Where You can find Culinary Collective products in the Seattle area:
Bonito del Norte and Piquillo Peppers salad
1 can of Piquillo Peppers or Roasted Peppers
17 oz Bonito del Norte
1 sweet onion
5 Extra Virgin olive oil tablespoons
For the dressing
5 Extra Virgin Olive Oil tablespoons
2 Sherry Vinegar tablespoons
Grounded black pepper
Slice the onion and poach it at slow heat for 10 minutes in the Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Drain it and put into a flat tray with the sliced peppers. Pour the dressing and add the bonito and parsley as decoration.
Elena F. Guiral
Catalonians have always been great traders thanks to their geographical position in the NE of Spain in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea. From one coast to another Pere Selles arrived to the Pacific NW more than 15 years ago to bring a piece from Spain to the US.
He began his company, today Culinary Collective, as many things happen in life, in an informal and adventurouos way. “A friend asked me if I could sell his olive oil here in Seattle so I began to see chefs all around the city with all my warehouse in the trunk of the car,” remembers.
One of his first clients was Tom Douglas, who loved his olive oil and his romantic way of working with a high dedication to an artisanal and high quality product. Soon the chefs asked for more products for their restaurants and Pere decided to incorporate more gourmet foods to his portfolio and to rent his first warehouse.
Today Culinary Collective is the most important Spanish gourmet food importer, with more than 150 references, and they deliver delicacies all around the US. Here in Seattle you can find their products at PCC, Metropolitan Market, Whole Foods, The Spanish Table and De Laurenti in Pike Place Market. But La Tienda.com, the most important on line Spanish food seller make them available to every corner in the country too.
When Pere looks for new products his criteria is clear: small-scale production of flavorful heritage food using traditional and environmentally friendly techniques and high quality.
That´s why wandering through his Lynwood warehouse was something similar to walking in heaven for a Spaniard food lover like me: piles of paella rice bags, chicken broth, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, chocolate, canned vegetables and fish, Sherry Vinegar… and anchovies stuffed olives from L´Escala, one of the most beautiful towns in Catalonia, a flavor really difficult to find here in the US. And It´s fun to realize how The Culinary Collective is based in Seattle, the paradise of local, fresh and sustainable ingredients in the US.
Some of the products keep the original brand as in Spain, others are gathered by the brand “Matiz” created by the company. “We wanted not only to offer high quality but a beautiful package customized for the US consumers”.
A few years ago the company began to work with the Andean Region to bring diferent flavors mainly grains and flours know for being healthy, flavorful and gluten free, offering an amazing carbs alternative to people with gluten intolerance. These products are reunited under the label Zocalo.
One of the new brands that Culinary Collective are working with is Aneto 100% natural, a Spanish Company who is specialized in offering chicken and paella artisanal broths. They participated as sponsors in the International Food Bloggers Conference celebrated in Seattle last September to show how to prepare a tasty paella saving time and effort.
In fact, this is the main challenge for Pere Selles, co-founder of the company. “Our main clients are US citizens who have visited Spain and love our food and our traditions, but sometimes they don´t have the knowledge or experience to take full advantage of our products because there is nobody in the aisle of the supermarket to help them,”, explains.
The lack or Spaniard´s restaurants in the city, compared to French and Italian ones, don´t help to make seattlelites feel more familiar with our country´s cuisine too. “As I have experience working in restaurants in Chicago, sometimes I think I should go on that direction one day”, concludes Pere with a mysterious smile. I have to say It wouldn´t be a bad idea at all.
In the maremagnum of blog, bloggers, and food bloggers It´s always a luck and a pleasure to meet somebody like Ronald Holden, author of Cornichon.org and Home Grown Seattle: 101 true tales of local food & drink.
Not only for his decades of experience and his gigantic knowledge about Seattle´s food scene, but for his beautiful, refined, fun and ironic prose. As a journalist, and as a foreigner I enjoy to read and to learn from really good written articles. Call me classic.
Holder´s book resumes 101 local profiles related with food in some way or another. But you won´t find only chefs and restaurateurs. “You will find farmers, suppliers, wine makers, restaurant builders and even lawyers,” explains Holden, because I wanted to show a whole picture.
As a “Spanish transplant” in the Pacific NW, this books gives me an amazing opportunity to understand why Seattle is becoming more representative in the US food American scene. And I´ve always thought that the best way to fall in love when I place that you should call home for a while is to truly understand it. That´s why you need to really know the people who made Seattle a foodies locavore like Gordon Bowker, creator of Starbucks and Red Hook Brewery, or the Canlis family, as a beginning.
Home Grown Seattle: 101 true tales of local food & drinkis not only written for local foodies. “I would like to create interest in other kind of public too,” says Holder. “American people only spend 10% of their monthly budget in food, much less compared to Europeans, so a book like mine could help them to think more about food and enjoying food”.
Holden is his own publisher, as he can track easier his baby born. Now his book is available on line and on paperback version at Amazon.com but he´ll keep on working with bookshops that believe in independent publishers.
Talking about Seattle restaurants scene, I couldn´t help asking him why Spanish restaurants usually have a failure story in the Emerald city. A few years ago La Taberna del Alabardero closed and now Jason Stratton´s Aragona has been reconverted in Italian after a bumpy road since last January.
“I think they are two reasons. First, people think that Spanish food is like Mexican food, so there is a lot of confusion about that. Second, Spanish food is expensive, and seattlelites prefer spending their money in Italian food, something mucho more familiar for them,” explains the author.
When I ask him about which kind of restaurant are going to be more successful in the near future, he has no doubts “Fish and seafood. And I would love more tapas restaurant. I do really think that tapas concept is really cool so I wish I could see more Spanish restaurants openings soon”.