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Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

Are you tired of Lonely Planet’s “off the beaten track” way around a city only to discover that the quiant cathedral you think you’re discovering for the first time is also being discovered for the first time by a dozen other backpackers with similar Lonely Planet editions hanging out their sacks or back pockets? That’s what happens when hotels, restaurants, tiny museums are featured in guides with such strong readership, such loyal readership. They’re not “off the beaten track” anymore.

But you really really want to get the most out of your trip to Barcelona… without a Lonely Planet.

Le Cool has a happy alternative, The weird and wonderful guide to Barcelona, guaranteed to take you places tourists have never dared to go. Including some hip hotels in Barcelona, funky hostels that there are no signs for and underground absinthe bars that’ll put a wild spin on your night.

Red and hardcover, this little book is complete with witty narratives, maps and ideas that will certainly fill any Barcelona trip. Written by locals for those travellers with a keen for something a little off-beat, a little different. Walking guides, essential stops, interviews with the rich/trendy/famous of the capital of Catalan, where to find a good sex club (should you swing that way), buy cheap cigarettes and don’t worry the Gaudi-mahem is kept at a necessary minimum.

Where can you find the book? It’s available directly from Le Cool as well as Amazon.co.uk. I had a copy once. A travelling friend passed it along to me after his trip to Barcelona, telling me to take it, use it and then pass it along again. I did take it to Barcelona, I stayed at a hostel mentioned there, drank absinthe cocktails with funny names in a dark basement, drank my latte at a chic coffee bar and did a tour of a few off-beat museums. During a trip to Berlin a few months later, I met someone on their way to Barcelona and I passed the Weird and Wonderful guide on to them.

Do you have a copy of this book? These guides are also available in several other cities… check’em out!

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From beach-front to mountain top, Gran Canaria is my first choice for a summer holiday destination. Long popular for its white sandy beaches, laid back lifestyle, rowdy night life, landscapes, blue waters and Spanish hospitality, the Canary Islands are packed when summer hits with Dutch, British and German tourists. Is this any reason to steer clear of the Canary Islands this summer? No way!

It’s the third largest out of the Canary islands  but definitely boasts the largest population. One of the most stunning parts of it can be found in the middle, far away from the sandy shores. You’ll find spectacular mountains, almost like from the Himalayas, unbelievable considering how small Gran Canaria actually is. it’s the perfect place to get the best of both worlds: hit the beach, get a tan and perfect their sand castle building skills but also have a chance to travel inland and explore the islands other natural beauties.

Las Palmas is the biggest city on the island and it attracts a mix of people from around Europe. It can get to be a bit much sometimes though and if you’ve had enough then head to the smaller villages along the coast. Arucas is the perfect solution. It’s completely laid back  and even has a few architectural sights worthy of a few pictures. Teror is also pretty and has great farmer’s markets.

The beach front resorts and hotels are what Gran Canaria is famous for (I’m not sure whether I love it or hate it) but if it’s not your scene there is plenty of horse back riding, hiking, trekking and other activities to do while on holiday. There are dozens of quaint towns with beautiful churches and especially historical old towns.

More than this, Gran Canaria is very easy to get to from the UK. There are cheap flights from Bristol to Las Palmas with both low cost and regular airlines. Once you arrive, hire a car and see the island at your own pace. You can take the bus around, but it’s time consuming and costly. Have any more ideas of things to do in Gran Canaria?

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I know how much the post on tortilla in Spain attracted all of you, I mean, who doesn’t love reading about travelling and food? So I thought about adding another recipe to a dish I loved to eat while travelling through the south of Spain and into Morocco. Felafel is a staple if you’re travelling in the Middle East and Norther Africa, especially if you’re vegetarian like me. If you’ve never tasted the glory that is felafel, it’s a ball of fried ball of chickpeas or fava beans and some herbs and spices. These balls are put into a pita with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickled vegetables and drizzled in tahini (or my favourite, tzaziki). You can also eat felafal with a meze or just on its own as a snack.

I can’t talk about a food without a little bit of history… Felafel originated in Egypt and some believe it was eaten initially by the Copts to replace meat while Lent was going on. When the dish migrated to Levant, the fava beans were replaced by chick peas. Now its a staple in street food and fast food in the Middle East… did you know that you can even find it at McDonalds in some countries?? “One McFelafel, please!” I can just imagine.

What you’ll need:

  • a blender or food processor
  • 2 bowls
  • 1 spoon
  • 1 tray
  • 1 slotted spoon
  • 1 sauce pan
  • paper towels or napkins

Ingredients:

  • 250 g chick peas, pre-cooked or cook them beforehand
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 handful of coriander, chopped
  • 1 chili, chopped
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • salt & pepper

1. Put the chickpeas into the blender and pulse it a few times and then on full to make a bread-crumb like texture. Transfer it into a bowl. Then purée these ingredients: parsley, coriander, chili, and 2 spoons of the chick pea mix. Mix until well combined.

2. Mix the two together then add the flour, cumin, crushed coriander seeds, baking soada and 1 1/2 tbsp of salt (approx). Add finally a bit of pepper and combine at all with a spoon. If it’s too dry, add a little water.

3. Preheat the oil in the pan. Then form balls out of the mixture and drop them in whe the oil is hot enough to fry. With this size batch, you should be able to make around 25 felafel balls. Fry in batches for 2 minutes until they are golden brown and then place on a tray with kitchen towels to absorb the oil. Once all of them are done, you’re ready to build your pita.

Take a look at this video for the step-by-step:

Middle Eastern:
How To Make Falafel

Let me know if you try the recipe and how it turned out! I’d love to hear about your gastronomy travellers too, what are your staples while on the road? In Spain I can recommend Granada for Moroccan food, it’s very cheap and super delicious, including Felafel. As for Morocco, you’ll find great food just about anywhere!

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Tortilla was one of my favourite breakfasts when I stayed in Vigo, Spain. Tried to prepare it here at home many times, and never managed to achieve the flavour of the original one, but I will tell you how it should be done :).

tortilla slices

Take a large bowl, 1kg of potatoes, cut it into nice slim slices and add some salt over them. In a large frying pan heat the olive oil. When it’s already hot, start to fry the potatoes. Don’t forget to keep stirring them so that they won’t stick or get burnt.

After 5 minutes, add a half onion to the potatoes, chopped very fine. Stir it, then cover the frying pan. Take the bowl, break 8 large eggs, add a pinch of salt and beat them.

When the potatoes break easily under the touch of the stirring spoon they are ready, and you can add the potato to the beaten eggs. Mix the potato with the eggs in the bowl, meanwhile the frying pan gets very hot, but there will be no extra oil in it.

Now you can put the mixture into the frying pan, splat it down and keep the heat at medium for a few minutes.

And the best part: put a plate over the pan and try to turn over the tortilla carefully. When you put it back into the pan, press down a little the sides so that it will look like a real tortilla de patatas.

tortilla

Turn over the tortilla several times – you know that it’s ready when you put a knife into it and the knife comes out clean. Good appetite!

(If it does not turn out to be perfect for the first time, just keep practicing – or you can also look for a cheap flight ticket to Madrid, Valladolid, Vigo or Oviedo, and have a holiday dedicated to the gastronomic delights of Spain!)

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