10 Fest Azores 2014 – 10 Days 10 Chefs, June 19 to 28, 2014

ILC-blog-On-the-Menu-Azores-Fest-2014If you plan on being in the Azores between June 19-28, 2014, be sure to check out the 10 Fest Azores – 10 days, 10 chefs festival. First held in 2012, this festival has quickly become an important gastronomic event, and it’s being held once again in the Azores.

The event will feature dinners prepared by 10 different chefs, and for the first time more than half of the dinners will be prepared by chefs from outside of Portugal.  International chefs from Spain, France, England, Denmark, USA and Canada will be participating. The program also includes presentations by sommeliers and barmen from Portugal, and a baker chef from the US.

The festival will be held at the Restaurante Anfiteatro, Portas do Mar, which is located in the EFTH School (Escola de Formação Turística e Hoteleira) in the city of Ponta Delgada, on the island of São Miguel.

For more information, including a list of participating chefs, festival program, and to make a reservation, click here. For an e-book on the event click on 10 Fest Azores 2014.

Photo credit: © 10 Fest Azores’ 14

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.

Lisbon Fish & Flavours Festival (Peixe em Lisboa) April 3-13, 2014

ILC-blog-On-the-Menu-Lisbon-Fish-Flavours-Festival-PortugalBe sure to check out the Lisbon Fish & Flavours Festival (Peixe em Lisboa) taking place from April 3-13, 2014.

This annual festival provides visitors with a chance to enjoy innovative dishes created from fish and seafood, and take part in food demonstrations hosted by prominent Portuguese and International chefs, including Michelin-star chefs from Portugal (Miguel Laffan), Spain (Josean Alija), and Italy (Moreno Cedroni).

The 11 day festival  is being held at the Patio da Galé. The program includes cooking demonstrations and classes, wine classes and tastings, fish and seafood tastings from a number of local restaurants,  live entertainment, and much more.

For more information, including a list of participating chefs, restaurants, festival program, and to purchase tickets, click here.











Photo credit: © ATL – Associação Turismo de Lisboa

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.

Three Kings Day in Spain

While children in the U.S. wait for Santa Claus to arrive on December 25th, children in Spain wait for Los Reyes Magos – the Three Kings – to bring them presents on January 6th.

January 6th is the Feast of the Epiphany, a day that commemorates the arrival of the Three Kings from the East who journeyed to Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus. In many cities throughout Spain, a parade will be held on January 5th to welcome the arrival of the Three Wise Men – Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar – who brought gifts to the newborn baby Jesus. In the major cities the parades can be quite elaborate with colorful floats. Children will line the streets to catch some of the treats that are thrown from the floats, and tell the kings the gifts they are hoping to receive.

Before going to bed, children will leave out shoes, often filled with hay to feed the camels, in hopes that they will be filled with presents the next morning. As tradition has it, children who were good will find the hay replaced with presents, and children that have been naughty will find a lump of coal in their shoes.

After waking up and opening presents, the family will enjoy a traditional cake called the Roscón de Reyes, which is a ring-shaped cake decorated with candied fruits, symbolizing the jewels that adorned the robes of the three kings. The cake is cut into pieces, and one lucky person will find a surprise (sometimes a coin, or a figurine), which will bring the finder good luck throughout the year.

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.


On the Menu…Christmas Eve Meal in Spain

Christmas, or Navidad, is a festive time throughout Spain. From large cities to small towns throughout the country, Christmas is a time for family and friends to come together. No celebration in Spain would be complete without food, and Christmas Eve (Nochebuena) is the day that families will join together to have their main Christmas meal.

Spaniards are huge consumers of seafood and shellfish, and even in the land-locked capital of Madrid you can always get the freshest seafood available at all times. While each region may have its own traditional foods, the Christmas Eve meal in Spain consists mainly of fish – some favorites include merluza (hake), besugo (sea bream), trucha (trout), or róbalo (sea bass), and a wide variety of shellfish – including langostinos (large prawns) and angulas (baby eels). Angulas are a prized dish around the holidays, as they are very scarce and, as a result, can be quite expensive. Favorite Christmas desserts include turrón, a Spanish nougat made with honey and almonds, marzipan formed into animal shapes, and polvorones, a typical Andalusian butter bread.

After the Christmas Eve meal, many families will go to midnight mass, known as the Misa del Gallo (Cock Mass), as it is said that the cock crowed on Christmas morning to announce the birth of Christ.

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.

Cataluña’s Priorat Wine Region (Spain): A Visit to La Conreria D’Scala Dei Winery (Part 6)

This last installment in our series about the Priorat wine region in Spain is about our visit to the Conreria D’Scala Dei Winery last November. The winery takes its name from the nearby monastery where the Carthusian monks planted vineyards and began making wine in the 12th C.

The winery at Conreria D’Scala Dei is much larger than the other wineries we visited (Clos D’Lobac and Mas Doix) and has an annual production of about 68,000 bottles of wine, which is significantly more than the other wineries. On the day of our visit, we ended up doing the tour with a group of about 30 Spaniards who were touring the region. The tour itself was given by the winemaker, a gentleman named Hyuska, who led us through the wine making journey, from when the grapes come in to how the wine is bottled. We were also able to sample the wine at various stages of the process.

Conreria Scala Dei produces a white wine that is made from Garnacha (or Grenache) grapes under the label Les Brugueres, and a red that is a blend of Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Cariñena, under the label La Conreria. The other two red wines produced are the award-winning Iugiter and Iugiter Selecció wines. The Iugiter wines are aged in French and American oak casks for 8-14 months, and bottle aged for at least 1 year. The Iugiter Selecció wine is aged in French Allier oak casks for 12-18 months, and bottle aged for at least 2 years.

The tour of the winery ends in a beautiful brick-walled room that houses a number of vaults that contain the private collections of patrons of the winery. Hyuska served us samples of the four different wines produced, and bottles of wines were also available for purchase.

Tours of La Conreria D’Scala Dei are offered from Monday through Saturday and can be booked online at the winery’s website at scaladei.org. The cost of the tour and tasting during our visit was 10 Euros per person.

Photo credit: © Christopher Pappas · All rights reserved.

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.

Cataluña’s Priorat Wine Region (Spain): A Visit to Mas Doix Estate Vineyards (Part 5)

During our recent visit to the Priorat wine region near Barcelona, we had the chance to do a tour and wine tasting at Mas Doix Estate Vineyards. While the current winery was established by the Doix & Llagostera family in 1998, the art of winemaking has been in the Doix family since 1850. The latest generations of the family have reinstated the tradition started by Juan Doix’s grandfather over 160 years ago.

The winery is located in Poboleda, a small town located about 30 km. northwest of Reus. The ride to the town is picturesque, and you pass through the rolling hills and vineyards of Mas Doix and others on your way there. Once we arrived in Poboleda, we were greeted at the winery by Sandra Doix, the great-granddaughter of the vineyard’s founder, and the head winemaker for Mas Doix.

Sandra began the tour by taking us directly to where the Mas Doix journey begins: in the vineyards. As we walked through the meticulously laid-out vines, we learned about the history of the vines and the challenges they face in growing grapes in a region with climates that vary greatly, and where there is hardly any rain at all during the summer months.

We mentioned in a prior posting about the unique soil in this region, known as llicorella in Catalan. Sandra grabbed a handful of the soil and showed us how the handful of what looked like stones could be easily crushed and reduced to mere dust. It is this unique soil that allows for the deepest roots of the vines to get irrigated, even when there is little rainfall.

We got back into Sandra’s SUV and headed back to the winery for the moment we had been waiting…the wine tasting. Rather than provide a tasting from a selection of open bottles, Sandra explained that they want guests to taste an unopened bottle to get the full bouquet and experience of the wine as it opens up, just as you would at home or at a restaurant. Since we were familiar with the Mas Doix label, which is a limited production wine that is made from the oldest vines (between 80 and 105 years old), we opted to taste a bottle of Salanques 2006 so we could try the “second label” from this highly acclaimed winery. They describe this wine as “Balance, intensity and purity. Transmits the authentic character or Priorat”, and in our tasting the wine  certainly lived up to every word of that description, as well as the 92 rating from Wine Spectator.

To arrange a visit to Mas Doix they recommend that you contact them at least four to six weeks in advance. Their contact information, along with the family history of this outstanding winery can be found on their website at masdoix.com.

To read the next post in this series, click here.

Photo credit: © 2012 Christopher Pappas · All rights reserved.

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.

On the Menu…History of Tapas

Many people are now familiar with Spanish tapas, as they are becoming very popular in bars and restaurants across the U.S. But did you ever wonder how this tradition of small plates came about?

The word tapa literally means “cover” or “lid”, and tapas are small portions of food (they’re not any one thing) that are typically eaten together with a drink. It is said that the origins of tapas in Spain can be traced to the practice of when a small piece of cheese or ham was served along with a glass of wine. People would place the piece of food over their drink – hence the name tapa (cover) – to keep the flies out of the glass. Regardless of the origins, tapas, or tapeo (going for tapas) is a tradition that is quintessentially Spanish, and is one that is enjoyed by all.

Be sure to include an evening (or more) of tapeo in your itinerary the next time you visit Spain, as it’s a great way to sample a variety of traditional dishes and local specialties.

Photo credit: © 2012 Christopher Pappas · All rights reserved.

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.

Cataluña’s Priorat Wine Region (Spain): A Visit to Clos de l’Obac Winery (Part 4)

We recently visited the Costers del Siurana winery located in Gratallops. Carles Pastrana and his wife Mariona Jarque established this winery in 1979, and were one of the original five winemakers who were responsible for the revitalization of wine making in this region. Just 10 years after they began producing wine, Clos de l’Obac was recognized in the World Wine Guide as one of the world’s 150 best wines, and today both Clos de l’Obac and Miserere wines are known throughout the world for their high quality.

The winery is accessed off a small road that is located just before you turn into the town of Gratallops. After being greeted by Mariona, we had the honor of touring the winery with Carles Pastrana himself. During the tour you learn about the history of the winery, and the art and the science of producing high quality wines. What you take away most of all is the passion and obsession that the family has for creating their award-winning wines. Theirs is a labor of love, and that is felt in both the tour of the winery, as well as in the wines they produce.

The visit finishes with a wine tasting that is truly a memorable experience. Tasting a selection of wines with Carles and having him share the details of a particular vintage is the icing on the cake for any wine lover.

To arrange a visit to Clos de l’Obac you must send a request via email, which can be found on their website at costersdelsiurana.com. Visits are usually scheduled in the morning and are always personalized and given by a member of the family or the oenologist (who is Mariona’s brother, Joan Jarque). The tour and wine tasting lasts about 95 minutes, and at the end there is a wine tasting of 4 of their wines: Clos de l’Obac, Dolç de l’Obac, Miserere and Kyrie. The fee for the tour and tasting at present time is 25 Euros per person. You can purchase wines directly from the winery to take with you (they offer special carrying cases), or for orders of 12 bottles or more they can ship the order to the US.

If you are like us and fall in love with a particular wine (or wines), we highly recommend that you buy some bottles directly from the winery and either take them home or have them shipped (as we did), as you may not be able to find them later on when you return home. We are glad we did, as we cannot find the same vintages from any local New York City or other distributor. The shipping can take 3-4 weeks (due to regulations governing the export of wines), but you won’t be sorry when the bottles arrive and you have the pleasure of enjoying the fine wines of this winemaker all over again.

To read the next post in this series, click here.

Photo credit: © 2012 Christopher Pappas · All rights reserved.

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.

Cataluña’s Priorat Wine Region (Spain): What Makes Priorat Wines Unique (Part 3)

Getting to the Priorat region from Barcelona is an easy drive, and in less than 2 hours you can find yourself in one of the top wine producing regions in Spain. As you leave the main highway and head west past the town of Reus, you will find yourself on smaller rural roads that will wind through the small towns that are now home to the region’s top wine producers.

The terrain of this region is perhaps the secret to what makes the Priorat wines so unique. The region is mountainous, and the vineyards are planted at altitudes between 600 and 3,300 feet. As you look around, you will see vineyards dotting the steep hillsides in neatly planted terraces. The soil in this area is known as llicorella in Catalan, a mineral-rich soil composed of black slate and quartz. Although the soil looks rocky, if you take a handful of it you can literally crush it with your bare hands and reduce it to a pile of dust. It is this unique characteristic of the soil that provides a natural irrigation system that will distribute even small amounts of rainfall to the deep roots of the vines, and contributes to the body and intensity of the wines produced. They also have a higher alcohol content of between 13.5% – 15.5%, versus 10.5% – 11.5% in wines from the Rioja region.

The climate of the region is also a contributing factor to these robust wines. The area enjoys a good amount of sunshine, but like Napa in California, temperatures in the summer can vary from 110 during the day, to a cool 50 degrees at night. The average rainfall is 24 inches per year, but there is hardly any rain at all during the summer months.

Although there are some white wines produced in the region, 96% of the vineyards are planted with red varieties: Garnacha Tinta (38%), Cariñena (25%), Cabernet Sauvignon (14%), Syrah (11%), and Merlot (6%). The primary variety used in Priorat wines is Garnacha Tinta, although many vineyards produce wines that are a blend of Garnacha and Cariñena.

The rules for aging Priorat wines are as follows:

  • Crianza – must remain in oak barrels for 6 months and then 18 months in the bottle
  • Reserva – must remain in oak barrels for 12 months and then 24 months in the bottle
  • Gran Reserva – must remain in oak barrels for 24 months and then 36 months in the bottle

Look for the next posts in our series focusing on Priorat wines, where we will share with you information from our recent visits to a few of the vineyards in the region.

To read the next post in this series, click here.

Photo credit: © 2012 Christopher Pappas · All rights reserved.

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.

On the Menu…Tortilla Española

Tortilla Española, also known as Tortilla de Patatas (potatoes), is a Spanish Omelet that is made from eggs, potatoes, onions and olive oil. It is the national dish that can be found in every tapas bar throughout the country and is made in every home. It can be eaten warm or cold, alone or in a sandwich, and at any time of the day. Once you’ve tried it, you will understand why a recipe consisting of such few ingredients can be so delicious, and why Spaniards can’t live without it.



Some purists prefer to leave out the onions and include just the basic ingredients of egg, potatoes and olive oil, but my abuela (grandmother) made it with onions, so that’s what I think tastes best. You can be the judge.

By the way, while the ingredients and preparation are fairly simple, the hardest part of the recipe is flipping the tortilla to cook it evenly on both sides. For novices don’t worry, it may take a few tries and some practice to get it right!


  • 2 large potatoes, peeled
  • 1 whole medium yellow onion
  • 6 large eggs
  • About 1 ½ cups of olive oil for pan frying
  • Salt to taste

Cut the peeled potatoes in half lengthwise. Then, with the flat side on the cutting surface, slice the potato in pieces approximately 1/8″ thick. Peel and chop the onion into 1/4″ pieces.

Using a 12” heavy, non-stick frying pan, heat 1 to 1½ cups of the olive oil (enough to almost cover the potatoes) on medium high heat. Drop some potatoes into the oil to ensure it is hot enough to fry. Once the potatoes begin cooking, add the onion to the pan and cook with the potatoes. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and onion are very tender, but not browned or fried. If you can poke a piece of potato with a spatula and it easily breaks in two, the potatoes are done.

Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon or spatula and let cool for about 5 minutes. You can place the potato and onion mixture in a colander for a few minutes to allow more oil to drain.

While the mixture is draining, crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat by hand with a whisk or fork.   Add salt to taste.  Pour the beaten eggs into the potato & onion mixture and mix together quickly with a spoon (so the hot potatoes do not begin to cook the egg mixture).

Pour 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil into a small, deep, non-stick frying pan (approx. 8”) and heat on medium heat.  Be careful not to get the pan too hot because the oil will burn.  When hot, stir the potato onion mixture once more and pour it into the pan and spread out evenly.  Allow the egg to cook around the edges. Then you can carefully lift up one side of the omelet to check if the egg has slightly turned a golden brown on the bottom.  The inside of the mixture should not be completely cooked and the egg will still be runny.

When the mixture has browned on the bottom, you are ready to turn it over to cook the other side.  Carefully take the frying pan to a sink. Place a large dinner plate (12”) upside down over the frying pan. With one hand on the frying pan handle and the other on top of the plate to hold it steady, quickly turn the frying pan over and the omelet will “fall” onto the plate.  Now slide the omelet (which is probably still a bit runny) back into the frying pan, using a spatula to catch any egg mixture that runs out. Use the spatula to shape the sides of the omelet.  Let the omelet cook for another 3-5 minutes, until the bottom is a golden brown, like the top side.

When done, carefully slide the omelet onto a plate.  Cut like a pie, into 6-8 slices, and serve either warm or at room temperature, with bread to accompany it.  Buen provecho!

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.

Cataluña’s Priorat Wine Region (Spain): Revitalization and recognition of quality (Part 2)

The revitalization of wine production in the Priorat region began in 1979 when René Barbier, whose family hailed from Avignon in France, and Alvaro Palacios, whose family hailed from Spain’s famed Rioja wine region, began buying land and planting new vineyards in the region, which were called clos. Others soon followed, and from 1989-1991 the first 3 vintages were produced by a group of five wineries that pooled their grapes at a shared winery in Gratallops. The wines were sold under five labels: Cos Mogador (Barbier), Clos Dofi – which was later renamed Finca Dofi (Palacios), Clos Erasmus, Clos Martinet, and Clos de l’Obac. From 1992 onwards the winemakers began producing their wines separately, and focused their attention on producing high-quality wines, with good results.

In 2000 the Catalan government raised the region’s designation to Qualified Designation of Origen – DOQ (in Catalán) or DOCa (in Spanish) – which is an elevated status that recognizes the high quality and uniqueness of the wines being produced in the region. The Rioja wine region is the only other region of Spain that is recognized with DOQ/DOCa status.

Today, wines sold under the labels of the pioneers who revitalized Priorat and put this small wine producing region on the world map are winning high scores and praise from critics and consumers alike, and are also commanding high prices. Alvaro Palacios’ L’Ermita 2002 sells for $250 and receives scores of 93, while Celler Mas Doix and Clos Erasmus have also garnered high scores and much acclaim.

Our next post in the series will talk about what makes the Priorat wines so unique, and what types of wines are produced.

To read the next post in this series, click here.

Photo credit: © 2012 Christopher Pappas · All rights reserved.

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.

Cataluña’s Priorat Wine Region (Spain): Location and history of the region (Part 1)

This is the first in a series of posts about Cataluña’s Priorat wine region. Over the series we will introduce you to this region and wine type, which has been gaining popularity, and then share with you information from our recent visit to a few of the vineyards in the region.

The Priorat wine region is located about 1.5 hours south of Barcelona in the province of Tarragona. It is easily accessed via the motorway AP-7 (toll road) south towards Tarragona. Get off the AP-7 at exit 34 and follow the signs to T-11 towards the town of Reus. Once past Reus look for signs to N-420, which is the smaller, local road that will take you to Falset, which is the capital of the region, and a good place to select as a base for exploring the surrounding villages and wineries.

The wine region received its Denominació d’Origen (DO), which means Designation of Origen, in 1954. But winemaking in the region can be traced back to the 12th C. when the monks from the Carthusian Monastery Scala Dei (Ladder to God) began planting vineyards on the steep terraced hillsides of the region and making wine. The monks ruled over the seven nearby villages for over 600 years, until their land was seized by the state in 1835. The monks fled and the monastery was subsequently ransacked and burned down by the local peasants who revolted against the oppression they had been subjected to by the church. The ruins of the Scala Dei Monastery can still be visited, and this site is a must see for visitors to the region. For more information on the monastery, click here.

Our next post in the series will provide info on how this region was revitalized in 1979 and caught the attention of wine lovers and critics the world over.

To read the next post in this series, click here.

Photo credit: © 2012 Christopher Pappas · All rights reserved.

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.

On The Menu…Tarta de Santiago (Spain)

When you visit Santiago, be sure you leave room for dessert, because you don’t want to miss the famous treat that takes its name from the St. James cross that adorns it.

The Tarta de Santiago is a delicious almond cake that you will see displayed in bakery and restaurant windows throughout the city, and should be on every visitors’ gastronomic “must try” list during their stay. The recipe for the cake dates back to the 16th C. and traditionally is made with exact proportions of Mediterranean almonds, sugar, and eggs.

Pasteleria Casa Mora, located a short walk from the Cathedral at Rúa do Vilar 34-60, is known for being the first pastry shop to adorn the cake with the Cross of St. James in 1924, and some say they make the best Tarta de Santiago in town. We’ll let you be the judge! However, if you don’t feel like waiting for your next trip to Spain, why not try this recipe at home:


  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ lb. (1 ¾ cup) of whole almonds
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Finely ground the almonds in a food processor. With an electric mixer, beat the eggs and the sugar to a smooth pale cream. By hand, beat in the lemon zest and ground almond, and mix very well. Grease a 9 inch springform pan with butter. Pour the mixture into the pan and bake in a pre-heated 350° oven for about 30 minutes, or until it feels firm to the touch. Let cool and then take it out of the pan.

To decorate with the Cross of Santiago, print a cross on paper and cut it out to make a stencil.  Place the cross stencil in the center of the cake and then dust the cake with the confectioner’s sugar until it is fully covered. Lift the cross stencil to reveal the design left on the cake.

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.

On the Menu…Chickpea and Spinach Tapas

Here’s an easy tapas recipe that’s perfect for our vegetarian readers. Healthy, quick and carrying a delicious, snappy taste, try out this version of a classic chickpea and spinach tapas plate.

Ingredients: 10 ounces fresh spinach leaves (rinsed) or 1 (10-ounce) package frozen leaf spinach, 19-ounce can (2 cups) chick-peas (drained and rinsed), 1 red bell pepper (finely diced), 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives, 1 to 2 lemons (juiced or to taste), 1/4 to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DirectionsCook the spinach in a saucepan with the water clinging to its leaves, stirring, until wilted. Drain, squeeze dry, and finely chop. If using frozen spinach, follow package directions, drain, squeeze dry, and finely chop.

In a bowl combine the spinach with the chick peas, pepper, chives, lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper. Serve as is or chilled with toasted bread.

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.

Lisbon Fish and Flavors Festival Coming In April

This April – from the 10th to 18th, to be exact – marks the third annual Lisbon Fish & Flavors festival.

The celebration, based at Pavilhão de Portugal every day from noon to midnight, will reportedly feature more than 20 national and international chefs providing unique takes on mouthwatering seafood dishes.

“Lisbon Fish & Flavors offers a magic combination between restaurants, live cooking shows, gourmet products, live music and, last but not least, the best wines and beers,” wrote the Portuguese National Travel Office. “In special areas for restaurants, tasting dishes will be served. If you have never had the chance to go to some of the most famous restaurants in the Lisbon region, this is the opportunity to delight yourself with the greatest chefs’ creations. Informative shows will also take place featuring the best Portuguese and international chefs who will emphasize the importance of fish in a balanced diet.” For more information on the event, click here.

Photo credit: Peixe em Lisboa / Lisbon Fish and Flavours

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.

On the Menu…Gourmet For The New Year

Let’s start off 2010 with a rousing Happy New Year from us at ILC.

This could very well be your year of exploring the bountiful pleasures that Spain has to offer, and there’s no better way to kick things off than pointing you to an excellent travel piece that appeared in yesterday’s New York Times. The quest: Find and sample the finest ham Spain has to offer.



Paola Singer writes:

As people’s knowledge and love of Spanish cuisine grow, delicacies like jamón Ibérico de bellota are entering the international spotlight. This time-honored ham arrived in the United States in 2008 to much fanfare. Sold for about $200 a pound at specialty stores like LaTienda.com, it became the most expensive cold cut in the country. Discerning consumers seem eager to pay this lofty price. This summer, the powerhouse brand 5J (Cinco Jotas) plans to enter the American market, joining the U.S.D.A.-certified producer Embutidos Fermín.

“Iberian pork meat is extraordinary,” Ferran Adrià, the acclaimed chef at El Bulli, a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Catalonia, said in a phone interview. “There’s nothing like it elsewhere in the world. There’s a great difference between a superior ham and all the rest.”

For our carnivores and foodies interested in the rest of the article, click here.

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.

What’s New In Barcelona? (pt. 2)

In addition to our coverage of musical events last week, there’s tons of interesting happenings in the Barcelona art, culinary and sports worlds. Let’s have a look, shall we?

First off, Barcelona recently announced plans for a new institution called The Society Museum. This will unite three existing museums: The Archaeological Museum of Catalonia, The Ethnology Museum and The Museum of Catalan History. There’s also plans for a new Natural History Museum, which will put the Museums of Zoology and Geology together with the botanical gardens and marine zoo.

In art, Joaquin Sorolla shows in the National Museum of Catalán Art through May 3rd. The Picasso Museum just wrapped up a “Living Things: Figures/Still Life” retrospective, and are currently hard at work setting up the first Spanish exhibition of Kees Van Dongan. This exhibit will be available for public viewing from June through September.

In food, the Spanish culinary scene continues to innovate. A new trend in Barcelona is called “bistronomia” – a combination of bistro and gastronomy styles. Currently, there are 15 “bistronomics” open in the city. Each offers a unique three-course meal that will only run you $30 USD.

In sports, Camp Nou Stadium (Europe’s largest stadium) celebrates its 50th birthday with a $350 million redesign by Norman Foster. Using the style of Gaudí as inspiration, the architect plans to cover the exterior with a mosaic of multi-colored tiles that can change color. They will be used for light displays at night.

Photo credit: New York Tourist Office of Spain

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.

On the Menu…Vegetarian Mushroom Tapas

Here’s a simple mushroom tapas recipe that can be enjoyed by both vegetarians and carnivores. Enjoy!

Ingredients: 3 tbsp olive oil, 3 cloves garlic (minced), 1/2 pound mushrooms (stems removed), 2 tsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp dry sherry wine, 1/4 cup vegetable or mushroom broth, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste, 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Directions: Sauté the garlic in olive oil for just one minute. Add the mushrooms and cook for another minute or two.

Add the remaining ingredients, except the parsley, stirring well to combine and coat the mushrooms. Allow to cook for just another 2 minutes, until mushrooms are just barely soft. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.

Made In Spain Returns

We’ve blogged about PBS’ fantastic Made In Spain series before, but there’s certainly no harm in reminding you that the show is returning with 13 new episodes this fall.


Local listings do vary, but you can check out PBS’ website and find when the program airs in your neck of the woods.

Citing the PBS press release, here’s a few episode descriptions to whet your appetite:

In “Paella Day,” José takes viewers to Valencia, famed for its rice fields and as the birthplace of this renowned rice dish. Later, he teaches Americans how to cook their own version on a backyard barbeque. In “Cold Soup and Hot Flamenco,” he journeys to the Andalucian city of Granada and concocts gazpacho and ajo blanco. Later he dances his way through one of Spain’s popular festivals, the Feria de Abril in another Andalucian city, Seville.Tune in for “The Land of Fire” as José visits the fabled Castile and León – full of castles and cathedrals – and samples the region’s delicious roast suckling pig and roast lamb. Here, he encounters one of the country’s great delicacies, the Iberico ham from the black-footed pigs that feed on acorns. Once unavailable in the U.S., it has recently become a sought after addition to menus across the country.In “The Onion That Would Be King,” José explores Catalonia and attends the Calçot Festival in honor of the region’s unusual onion. While on the trail of a local cheese, in “A Tale of the Drunken Goat,” he visits Murcia and the Roman theatre at Cartagena and tries his hand at a unique style of fishing.

Sounds delicious to us!

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On the Menu…Canapé de Atún (Tuna Tapas)

The following recipe makes 6–8 canapés.

Ingredients: 1 jar (7.76 ounce) Ortiz Tuna with oil, 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, 1 tablespoon capers, 2 teaspoons minced red onion, 1 tablespoon chopped Call Vall piquillo pepper, salt and pepper to taste, sliced baguette (toasted, if desired).

Directions: In a small bowl, mix together tuna (leave some large chunks), vinegar, capers, onion and peppers. Season and let marinate for several hours or overnight. Serve atop pieces of bread (or salad greens).

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.

Cheers…Wines From Spain

We recently came across a comprehensive website on Spanish wine, Wines from Spain. It is a great resource for everyone from beginners to connoisseurs and covers the entire nation.

Here is some information on them and their goal:

The Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (Instituto Español de Comercio Exterior, ICEX) is the authorised governmental platform for the promotion of Spanish exports and Spanish companies’ international growth. Vinos de España -or Wines from Spain- is ICEX’s branding for a wide range of promotional activities designed to inform consumers abroad about quality Spanish wines. This website has been set up for the same purpose.

For professionals in the wine world (importers, distributors, journalists) it offers news, statistics and a range of up-to-date information. Designed as a practical working tool for everyday use, it includes profiles of new wines, production and export figures, and contact information.

At the same time it offers consumers a chance to broaden their knowledge by browsing through a wide range of information on background history, on vineyards and winemaking, on the characteristics differentiating the distinct winemaking areas, and on the varieties that give our wines personality. This webpage also gives access to an extensive database of Spanish wineries and wines. For more information from Wines from Spain, click here.

Photo credit: Wines from Spain / Instituto Español de Comercio Exterior, ICEX

As usual, thanks for reading. Please visit International Lodging Corporation at our home page.