Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Spanish Lit & Love

April 23rd, 2013 | Events, Food & Wine, Spanish Culture | 0 Comments

The St. Jordi Festival, an event similar to Valentine’s Day, is being celebrated today in Barcelona, where Las Ramblas will be lined with booths of vendors selling roses and books, as is custom. To read more about how Spaniards celebrate this romantic, literary-themed festival, click here for a previous blog post.

And if you happen to be in New York from April 29-May 5, you are in luck and can experience some Spanish literary genius through the Spain-US Playwright Project’s “New Plays from Spain” presented by the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, Spain Culture New York-Consulate General of Spain, Fundación Autor, and the Instituto Cervantes.

Spain Culture New York has collaborated on these dramatic readings of contemporary Spanish works which have been translated to English. The works will be read in the presence of the writers Ernesto Caballero, Guillem Clua, Cristina Colmena, Mar Gómez Glez, Borja Ortiz de Gondra, Alfredo Sanzol, and Emilio Williams, and there will be question and answer sessions afterward. On May 1, Tapeña Tempranillo and Freixenet Cordon Negro Cava will be served at an hour-long reception to give an added taste of Spain.

Not in Barcelona or New York? Take part by opening up a bottle of Spanish wine and curl up with a good book, like Miguel de Cervante’s Don Quixote, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, or The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

Spend the Night With a Spaniard

April 16th, 2013 | Events, Food & Wine, Recipes & Tapas, Spanish Culture | 0 Comments

With the spring weather bringing sunny days and beautiful blue skies, it’s the perfect time to celebrate. A party with your peña at home or at a favorite restaurant is a great way to welcome in the season, which is why Tapeña is holding two of their popular “Spend the Night with a Spaniard” special events over the next several weeks.

On April 18, Margaux’s Restaurant in Raleigh, NC will be partying on their outdoor patio with tapas, Tapeña wines, and paella. And on May 21, a “Spend the Night with a Spaniard” event is happening at Tapeo in Boston.

If you can’t make it to either of these upcoming events though, you can create your own Spanish-style celebration at home, something I just did last weekend.

I put together a platter of thinly sliced Spanish meats (Salchicon, Serrano Ham, Chorizo), cheeses (Manchego, Iberico, Cabra al Vino), quince paste, and olives with crusty artisan bread and had several bottles of Spanish wine varietals (Tempranillo, Garnacha, Sweet Red). It only took a few minutes to prepare, yet it was a huge hit with my guests.

I had a small crowd, but if you’re having a large party, you may want to make a few more tapas options and/or paella.

What to Make This Weekend: Grilled Goat Cheese w/Quince Paste & Caramelized Onions

April 11th, 2013 | Events, Food & Wine, Recipes & Tapas | 0 Comments

April is National Grilled Cheese Month and my last post included a few ideas for updating or elevating this favorite comfort food. It seems there is no end to what can be added to make a delicious grilled cheese sandwich, which is also known as a bikini in Barcelona. I thought I’d try something new so I added a bit of quince paste, a classic Spanish cheese accompaniment, and made them in a smaller size, perfect to be served as a tapas with a glass of Spanish red wine.

Grilled Goat Cheese w/Quince Paste & Caramelized Onions – Makes 6

¼ yellow onion
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of salt
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
Soft Goat Cheese
Quince Paste
Artisan Bread/Baguette

1. To caramelize onions, pour olive oil into a skillet and heat with salt and sugar. Once hot, add in thinly sliced onions. Cook on medium-low until onions are soft and browned, approximately 20-30 minutes.

2. While onions are caramelizing, slice artisan bread/baguette into 12 pieces. Spread half of the pieces with a thick layer of goat cheese. Top with a slice of quince paste.

3. Once onions are caramelized add some on top of the bread pieces with goat cheese and quince paste. Add the remaining pieces of bread on top.

4. Grill mini sandwiches until lightly brown and toasted. Serve warm.

A Little Comfort

April 9th, 2013 | Events, Food & Wine, Recipes & Tapas | 0 Comments

Cheddar & Sourdough Grilled Cheese

Taxes are due next week and if there was any time that called for comfort food, it’s now! Luckily, April is National Grilled Cheese Month (and the 12th is National Grilled Cheese Day!), which means all you need is some bread and cheese to create an easy, delicious, and affordable meal. But if you’re feeling like you need a little something extra, consider adding in avocado, tomato, bacon, roasted red peppers, or ham.

In Barcelona, a typical grilled cheese sandwich actually includes jamon de York (American-style ham) and is called a bikini. Named not for the skimpy bathing suit, but for a concert hall in Les Corts, this yummy sandwich can be found in pretty much any bar in Catalunya. Don’t call it a bikini in Madrid though, where a grilled ham and cheese is referred to as a combinado.

Sliced Chorizo & Pepper Jack Grilled Cheese

No matter what you call it, a grilled cheese sandwich is tasty comfort food that can be tailored to your taste buds. Keep it simple or create a real delicacy by giving it a Spanish spin with Manchego cheese and Serrano ham, grilled using a splash of olive oil instead of butter. Serve it with a glass of Tempranillo and your day just got better!

Related Articles:

The Nest – 6 Ways to Enjoy National Grilled Cheese Month

Woman’s Day10 Greatest Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

National PB&J Day

April 2nd, 2013 | Events, Food & Wine | 0 Comments

For Valentine’s Day, we tested several different chocolate and Spanish wine pairings and discovered that the new Sweet Red wine went perfectly with a Peanut Butter & Jelly chocolate bar. So when I saw that today was National PB&J Day, I figured it was a perfect time to experience that delicious combination again.

Like many Americans, I have been a fan of the PB&J sandwich since I was a little kid, and continue to enjoy them even now. I regularly incorporate peanut butter into waffle mix and top waffles with jelly, instead of the traditional maple syrup, when they come off the waffle iron. Serving PB&J waffles at brunch time with a glass of Sweet Red wine would definitely be a decadent way to start a weekend or as dessert after a delicious meal!

I’m not the only person that likes to experiment with this combo. Last year ABC News featured several updated versions of this much-loved comfort food in their post It’s National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day. Gothamist Magazine offered some history (it was created by American GI’s during WWII, who knew?!) in their tribute to the sandwich here.

So all of this talk of Peanut Butter & Jelly has me thinking I want to create one with a Spanish flare. Check back on Thursday to see what I come up with!

And if you’re singing “it’s peanut butter jelly time,” you’re not alone – click here to listen.

What to Make for Easter: Revuelto de Gambas y Esparragos

March 28th, 2013 | Events, Food & Wine, Recipes & Tapas | 0 Comments

If you’re having guests over for Easter, we have the perfect recipe for a delicious egg dish that is fast and easy, which is always ideal when entertaining! And what’s even better than that, Revuelto de Gambas y Esparragos (Shrimp & Asparagus Scrambled Eggs) can be served just as easily for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I served it for dinner with crusty artisan bread, some Serrano ham, and Spanish wine, and it was very well received!

Enjoy this recipe for Revuelto de Gambas y Esparragos from The New Spanish Table by Anya Von Bremzen.

Revuelto de Gambas y Esparragos
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
½ cup thinly sliced asparagus (4-6 stalks, well trimmed)
4-6 ounces peeled small shrimp
5 large eggs
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12-inch skillet, preferably non-stick, over medium heat. Add the garlic and asparagus and cook, stirring for 1 minute or so.

2. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until the shrimp just turn pink and asparagus is bright green and tender, about 1 to 2 minutes or so.

3. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low and break the eggs into the skillet, leaving enough space between each egg so the yolks don’t run together.

4. As soon as the egg whites turn opaque, about 20 seconds or so, vigorously stir and scramble the eggs with a wooden spoon or a spatula until they are barely set, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Do not let the eggs overcook.

5. Spoon the eggs onto plates while they are still a little wet. They will continue to set on the way to the table. Season with salt and a touch of white pepper and serve at once.

Easter Traditions

March 26th, 2013 | Events, Food & Wine, Spanish Culture | 0 Comments

Image Courtesy of

There are many different Easter traditions celebrated around the world, some food-related, others religious, but pretty much everyone agrees that chocolate needs to be a part of the day.

In Spain, a cake known as ‘La Mona de Pascua’ (chocolate sculptures in a variety of shapes, like castles or pirate boats) is given to children by their godparents on Easter Sunday along with chocolate eggs. Children then smash open the monas with their  hands to eat the chocolate pieces. And even though they will eventually be smashed,  the making of monas has become somewhat competitive among Spanish chocolatiers who vie to outdo each other by creating increasingly complex and creative sculptures. How cool is that?!

My Spanish friend Josep told me about another traditional Easter gift given to children. In addition to a mona, many children receive a palm frond to bring to church on Palm Sunday, when they shake the fronds in unison to commemorate Jesus’ triumphant arrival in Jerusalem. Many of these palm fronds come from the Palmeral of Elche, the largest palm grove in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is located in the Spanish province of  Alicante. The palm fronds are tied and covered to whiten them away from sunlight before being shipped across the country. The palms are often woven into elaborate designs and decorated with candy and small toys.

Of course here in America Easter gifts come in a basket that is usually filled with a chocolate rabbit, jelly beans, and a gift or two.

The Easter egg hunt is another big tradition in America, but my favorite part of the day was searching for our Easter baskets first thing in the morning. Now not everyone hides baskets, but that is a tradition we had in our home and I think the family traditions we create are often the most treasured.

In Spain, America, and in most other countries, a family meal is also a big part of the holiday. Check back on Thursday for a recipe and wine pairing perfect for serving on Easter Sunday.

What is your favorite Easter tradition?

Related Article:

The Sweet Taste of Easter in Spain

Celebrating Las Fallas

March 12th, 2013 | Events, Spanish Culture | 0 Comments

Las Fallas Poster by artist Joan Caronil

Last weekend was Daylight Savings, which means we’ll have longer days to get outside and enjoy with family and friends. It also means spring is imminent and with it, all of the fun seasonal events that bring communities together.

Las Fallas, the popular annual festival that features fireworks, feasts, and a big bonfire, kicks off this week in Valencia, on the east coast of Spain. The focal point of this loud, boisterous event is the extremely large (we’re talking 50+ feet!) ninot sculptures that often take communities an entire year to build. You can read more about them and the exciting festival finale in last year’s post here.

Two of the final days also involve a beautiful procession of traditionally dressed women and girls that head to the Plaza de la Virgen to offer flowers. Thousands of carnations cover a 45 foot statue of the Virgin, as well as surrounding walls and buildings that scent the plaza for weeks afterward. You can read more about last year’s Las Fallas and see some fantastic pictures on the blog ValenciaAdventure2012.

I don’t think there’s anything similar in the US, but it certainly sounds like the perfect way to welcome spring. And though I’ve never been, I hope someday to experience all of the many amazing sights and sounds of this event.

Have you ever been to Las Fallas?

Poster art by Joan Caronil.

Spain Comes to America

March 5th, 2013 | Events, Food & Wine, Spanish Culture | 1 Comment

Not taking a trip to Spain any time soon, but still craving a taste of Spanish culture? Luckily for you there are two amazing events going on this month that will surely satisfy your urge, at least for a little while.

Poster image courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Through March 31, Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the Prado, which features more than 100 masterworks from one of the world’s most renowned collections of European painting, comes to Houston on exclusive U.S. loan from the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid. The exhibition includes masterpieces by the leading painters of the 16th through 19th centuries, such as Francisco de Goya, El Greco, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, and Diego Velázquez, as well as Peter Paul Rubens, Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, and Titian, all of whom worked for the Spanish royal court.

Having visited the Prado while in Madrid, I know this rare exhibit will be well worth the trip, whether you live in Texas or anywhere else in the US.

Maria Alba and Ramon de los Reyes, 1964. Photographer: Richard Noble. Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

A trip to New York is always an opportunity to quench any cultural cravings, and that’s the case especially this month when “100 Years of Flamenco in NYC” kicks off at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. Undertaking the research into Flamenco’s earliest days, and providing documents, photographs and objects from Carmen Amaya to José Greco, the five month exhibit also includes rare original recordings from 1934 of songs and castanet playing by Federico Garcia Lorca with La Argentina.

And to inspire you to attend the March 12 Opening Night Preview, Tapeña wines, along with Freixenet cava, will be poured!

Can’t make it to either exhibit? Create a taste of Spain at home with a tapas party, Spanish wine, and a great group of your peña to tide you over for now.

Viva España!

What to Make This Weekend: Caramel Popcorn Balls

February 21st, 2013 | Events, Food & Wine, Recipes & Tapas | 0 Comments

After testing out Verdejo and popcorn pairings for my annual party for the Academy Awards on Sunday, I decided on making caramel popcorn balls. It had been years since I’d made any, so I looked online for a recipe. Most called for creating the caramel using brown sugar, corn syrup, and condensed milk, but I found one that used actual caramel candies and I was sold. After buying a bag of caramels, I was happy to find there was a recipe on the package, which I adjusted slightly as I didn’t want to add peanuts or chocolate to mine.

Here’s the super-fast and easy recipe which is pretty decadent, a perfect choice for an Oscar party:

Caramel Popcorn Balls
1 tablespoon water
1 ½ tablespoons butter or margarine
25 caramels (1/2 bag)
1 bag microwave popcorn

1. Microwave the bag of popcorn. When popped, spread out on a large piece of wax paper.

2. In large microwavable bowl, combine caramels, water, and butter. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, stirring after the first minute.

3. Drizzle caramel over popcorn. Wait a minute or two for caramel to cool a bit.

4. Butter hands lightly and then form 2”-3” balls, pressing firmly to keep the ball shape.

Spanish Food Recipes and Tapas