July 5, 2012

The Running of the Bulls

I'm crazy for everything surrounding 'The Lost Generation': the booze, the art, the love affairs, Paris & all of the stories.  Hemingway is my favorite and The Sun Also Rises is my all-time favorite novel.  In the book, a group of ex-pats travel to Spain to experience the excitement of the infamous bullfighting. Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley drink, fight and love their way through the festival and, despite all of the ugliness that ensues, I've never wanted to travel to a place or time, with a certain group, more. So when I heard that the running of the bulls in Pamplona starts on July 6th, I was inspired to throw a dinner party themed around the event.  The menu was about as far as I got into the theme (with plenty of booze and Spanish wines, of course!).  Summer is the perfect time for tapas because so little has to be done with fresh, ripe ingredients; plus, everything can be made in advance and served at room temperature.  Tortilla espanola is so delicious and I have no idea why I don't make it more often.  Grilling peaches is a total game changer and must be done again and again all summer long.  After an extensive assortment of small plates, we shared steaming dishes of seafood paella with plenty of chorizo, shellfish and saffron.  These 'dig on in' meals, served family-style, are my absolute favorites for entertaining.  This was actually my first time making paella but it will now go into my regular repertoire.  After paella, I served a selection of Spanish cheeses accompanied by quince paste and chili spiced chocolate. Hemingway wrote that bullfighting was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen, and I'd like to see it one day (though if my trip to the rodeo is any indication, I'm sure I'll be a mess).  But until I go, I love that cooking and eating can take us to different places by combining simple ingredients (eggs & potatoes) with simple techniques (frying in olive oil).  That really is a remarkable thing.  
The Menu


cava & spanish wines


spanish corn nuts & spanish olives

padron peppers, sea salt & extra virgin olive oil

lemon cucumbers with paprika & lime

grilled peaches, iberico cheese & arugula

tortilla espagnol with romesco

honeydew melon & serrano ham

roasted cherry tomatoes, marcona almonds & boquerones on toast

roast peppers, grilled squid & sherry

grilled sardines with lemon, parsley & olives

to share

seafood paella with mussels, clams, scallops, shrimp & chorizo

lemony aioli


spanish cheeses, quince paste, fig jam & grilled bread


chili spiced chocolate cookies