Both Nahid and I are heartbroken that we had to postpone the supper club until September. We have been experimenting with the dishes we wanted to present. When we returned from Spain last year all we did was test out gazpacho recipes and eat some of the olives that we secreted into our suitcase. In fact, the consumption of the last of our cherished stash of “aceitunas” (olives) was the impetus for this Spanish menu. Simply put, we were craving the wonderful dishes we had consumed. So now I can give you a bit of our trip, the restaurants that inspired our menu as an introduction to our next supper club, a sort of “preview of coming attractions” if you will.
Our trip began with a three-day stay in Madrid. We arrived in Madrid at 4 in the afternoon with obligatory jetlag. The cab dropped us off at our home for the next three days, Hostal Dolce Vita, a small hostal in Chueca, a non-tourist section of town. The Dolce Vita is not for the faint of heart, literally. The first challenge—three flights of stairs with luggage. Did I mention the steps were a bit worn? Steep?
We sat at the outdoor table, watched the pedestrian parade and waited for the sun to set and for slumber to wash over us.
The next day we awoke, refreshed and headed out to explore on foot. The Grand Via lead us Plaza Santa Domingo, which lead to Plaza San Martin.
By the time we had walked to Plaza Mayor we were ready to eat.
At an unknown restaurant across from this one with the cleaver sign, we sat in the shade and ordered the quintessential traditional Spanish meal—gazpacho and tortilla. Each meal is accompanied by tomato bread and aceitunas. The simplicity of these dishes is what makes my heart sing and tummy smile.
Tomato Bread (pan con tomate)
- One baguette sliced length wise
- Two cloves of garlic peeled and halved
- One ripe tomato halfed
- Olive oil
- Toast the baguette halves in the oven or toaster oven (if the bread is too long cut in half)
- When baguette is toasted rub garlic clove on toasted side of the bread
- Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on top of the garlic
- Rub the tomato half on the bread until its coated with a fine layer of tomato
The following recipe is a combination of quite a few recipes that we tried. I’m not a fan of green peppers so I always default to red. I like Persian cucumbers because they have more bulk to them. You can use red tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, so long as they are ripe.
- 2 lbs tomatoes
- 3 Persian cucumbers peeled
- 1/2 jalapeno or Serrano pepper without seeds for mild with for a bit more zing
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 red onion peeled
- 2-4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar depending on the sweetness of the tomatoes
- 1/4 cup of cilantro
- 1/4-1/3 cup of olive oil
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
- Fill bowl large enough to hold the tomatoes with ice water
- Place tomatoes in boiling water for 30 –45 seconds
- Plunge tomatoes into ice bath and cool.
- Coarsely chop the cucumbers, garlic, your choice of pepper, onions
- When tomatoes are cool. Slide off tomato skins, core and coarsely chop. Keep the cool water in case you need to thin out the soup.
- Add half of all ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth. If the mixture is too thick add some of the ice bath water.
- Strain into clean bowl.
- Continue this process until all is blended.
- Salt and pepper according to your taste. Chill.
- Before you serve check the seasonings and texture. Add more water if needed.