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Spanish Secrets: Must Rush

...Sonia presented our dish on a stainless steel platter. Three whole pork knuckles, slowly roasted; surrounded by peas, carrots and a mountain of chips. It looked like a banquet fit for a king. The knuckles were perfectly cooked; crispy crackling on the outside and succulent pork beneath...

Craig Briggs brings us another mouth-wateringly tasty column about life in rural Spain.

‘See you outside the college at eight.’ I called, as we headed back home.

We’d just finished lunch with a small group of friends. The venue for our midday treat was Parada 2, one of my favourite lunchtime haunts.

The Menu del Dia (Menu of the Day) is delicious: a hearty three course meal with wine, coffee and a cheeky chupito (small shot of liqueur) to finish; all for a very affordable 9 euros per head, plus a cheeky 1.20 for the chupito.

I started today’s feast with a huge slice of empanada de carne: a freshly baked pasty, filled with pieces of meat, chopped onions, saffron and spices. The pastry of a traditional Galician empanada is quite unique. It’s similar to glazed pizza bread but slightly thicker and heavier, and is baked in a bread oven until golden brown.

For my main course I decided to be a little adventurous. Sonia, the resident waitress, has what poker players call a “tell”. When one of her favourite dishes appears on the menu, her whole face smiles when she mentions its name. Today’s “tell” was codillo asado (roast elbow). I find it’s often best not to dwell too long on certain translations: pork knuckle would be a better description. Two of my fellow diners also made this daring selection.

Sonia presented our dish on a stainless steel platter. Three whole pork knuckles, slowly roasted; surrounded by peas, carrots and a mountain of chips. It looked like a banquet fit for a king. The knuckles were perfectly cooked; crispy crackling on the outside and succulent pork beneath.

As usual, the list of desserts was endless. Sonia rifled them off like a well rehearsed poem. We listened patiently, waiting to hear if there was a postre de casero (homemade pudding). Sonia has a habit of leaving this delicious gem until last. We were in luck; today’s special was pan frito con salsa de dulce leche. I wasn’t completely sure what to expect, although I vaguely remembered ordering the same pudding on a previous occasion. Suffices to say, the homemade specials rarely disappoint.

Sonia appeared from the kitchen balancing several dessert plates. She called out the dish and waited for a reply. Disappointingly, I had to wait a bit longer. She rushed back into the kitchen and returned with the rest.

‘Pan frito con salsa de dulce leche,’ she called.

‘Para mi, (for me)’ I replied, eager to see what I’d chosen.

She handed me the plate. I placed it on the table and, as in all the top eateries, rotated the plate an inch or two to best show off the dish. It looked delicious, a thick wedge of oven baked bread, dipped in a beaten egg and pan fried, sprinkled with sugar and lavishly coated on one side with a thick layer of caramelised milk. A splash of Scotch whisky is an optional extra but I find a wee dram never goes amiss.

Although my layman’s description lacks the culinary flare of a recognised food critic, you’ll have to take my word; it tasted heavenly.

Drinks are included in the price. My favourite is the house white, an unlabeled Albariño from a very good winery near the coast.

Great food and good company – we really must do this more often. That reminds me, must rush, we’re due to meet up again in less than an hour.

**

Craig has written a book, Journey To A Dream, a vivid and entertaining account of how he came to live in Spain.

It is avaialable from Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/Journey-To-Dream-discovery-industrial/dp/1480254932/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374567185&sr=8-1&keywords=craig+briggs

Do visit Craig's Web site
http://www.journeytoadream.co.uk

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