Whenever we come back from Barcelona, it’s always laden with anything tinned I can’t get here. One of them is the little baby squid in olive oil – chipirones. No comparison with the fresh ones but when in need. You don’t have to do anything to them and a lovely comfort dish is black-eyed beans with garlic and sage, served with these delights.
For a light, dieting tasty dish, toast some broken walnut pieces in butter and add a packet of spinach and the chopped chipirones. Serve on toast.
It’s the hardest thing to wander the Boqueria or Sant Antoni markets knowing that the extraordinary produce has to remain untouched by me. It has to be vacuum-sealed to bring it home and so one is limited.
Even so, another easy win are the thrusting white asparagus spears laid out in tins like bodies; elemental, soft and profoundly delicious with mayonnaise and crumbles of fresh black pepper. For adventure, lay some anchovies over them and wash down with a René Barbier White Penedès. And why not? It keeps the Spanish moment lingering.
In Barcelona, where the Belgian and I are often found, we have some friends who run a cheese shop. Interesting because there is not such a thing in Spain elsewhere. Catherine Mclaughlin has become an expert in Spanish farmhouse cheeses over many years of research and is now the proud owner of the Formatgeria La Seu on the Calle Dagueria in the Barrio Gothic. You bring cheese home from here you’ll be guaranteed to be piggy until it’s finished.