Sant Jordi Day, and more delicious food in and out of El Quim

25 Apr

Monday, I made Lebanese food, and my boss, Quim, came over for dinner. I made Kibbeh, Fatyre, flatbread with zatar, a tomato and onion salad with sumac, an orange and olive salad (not sure if that’s Lebanese, but I thought we needed a 2nd salad), and an app plate of stuffed dates with goat cheese along side some pistachios and apricots. Below are pics of the kibbeh and fatyre:

I added some cayenne to the Kibbe and put caramelized onions on top (not exactly traditional or the way my Grandma Mary used to make, but I was craving some spice and I thought it needed something on top). It was delicious! I made the Fatyre with spinach, onions, and lemon, and then made a yogurt sauce to accompany it with cucumbers, mint, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. I think Quim liked the Kibbe the best. I brought the rest to the restaurant on Tuesday for the guys, who also seemed to like it. Or, they were just hungry.

Before that, I went out shopping and walked through the maze of people everywhere, because it was Sant Jordi Day (see pic above). This is the Catalan equivalent of Valentine’s Day. Both Diana and Quim explained to me what Sant Jordi Day is about, and it’s pretty much exactly how someone on wikipedia described it, so I’m going to cut and paste the history.

Here it is: “La Diada de Sant Jordi (Catalan pronunciation: [ɫə ðiˈaðə ðə ˈsaɲ ˈʒɔrði], Saint George’s Day), also known as El dia de la Rosa (The Day of the Rose) or El dia del Llibre (The Day of the Book) is a Catalan holiday held on 23 April, with similarities to Valentine’s Day and some unique twists that reflect the antiquity of the celebrations. The main event is the exchange of gifts between sweethearts, loved ones and colleagues. Historically, men gave women roses, and women gave men a book to celebrate the occasion—”a rose for love and a book forever.” In modern times, the mutual exchange of books is also customary. Roses have been associated with this day since medieval times, but the giving of books is a more recent tradition originating in 1923, when a bookseller started to promote the holiday as a way to commemorate the nearly simultaneous deaths of Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare on 23 April 1616. Barcelona is the publishing capital of both Catalan and Spanish languages and the combination of love and literacy was quickly adopted.
In Barcelona’s most visited street, La Rambla, and all over Catalonia, thousands of stands of roses and makeshift bookstalls are hastily set up for the occasion. By the end of the day, some four million roses and 800,000 books will have been purchased. Most women will carry a rose in hand, and half of the total yearly book sales in Catalonia take place on this occasion.”

On Tuesday, I told Quim I was going to eat simply for the next few days for health reasons. I asked for a small piece of tortilla (Spanish omelette you’ll see in the pic below) for lunch on Tuesday, and this is what I received:

Ummm, yummm! Way better than what I had asked for. The eggplant in the picture at top, right, was delicious and I’m usually not a fan of larger eggplants.

So, today I was serious and told him “fruitas y verduras solo” (Catalan) = fruits and vegetables only. I was thinking raw, like a salad. What I got was close, and much better, although Quim doesn’t listen to me. I had an heirloom tomato and artichoke salad and then blanched artichokes with caramelized foie on top in a light dressing. Seriously, foie on artichokes is an amazing combo. And, no one does artichokes like Quim. Instead of using lemon to prevent oxidation, he puts them in water with parsley stems, which also have citric acid in them (I didn’t know that). He didn’t do the usual French preparation of acidulated water, flour, and salt to blanch them, but instead he used water, flour and salt – no lemon – after they had soaked in the parsley water. He put them in an aluminum pan, which he said helped to “bleach” them, and they remained a gorgeous green and yellow – better than any artichoke I’ve seen cooked – and tasted better than any I’ve ever eaten.

Here are my plates:

And then, of course, I had to try his grandmother’s lentil stew. It had blood sausage and chorizo in it, the elbow of the pig, lentils, tomatoes, potatoes, and I’m sure lots of other things I’m forgetting. Here’s the stew:

Oh, and I had 2 glasses of Cava because we all toast at around 1-2 p.m. every day and have a glass. But, Marcos didn’t want his and I couldn’t let it go to waste. That would have been shameful in my mind. So, by 3 p.m. I was definitely buzzed. All in all, I didn’t eat very simply, but lunch was excellent, as usual.

Buen Provecho!

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