Summer drinks Nº4 Granizado

Posted on July 23rd, 2013 by admin

Mmm, granizado, literally a hailstorm; but in fact, a Slush Puppy-type drink that consists of crushed ice drenched in sweetened coffee or lemony syrup. It’s a great favourite with kids and kids at heart, keeping them/us entertained for ages as they/we burst their/our eardrums vacuuming up every last drop of sweetness from the remaining ice – and annoy the hell out of everyone within earshot with their/our seriously earnest slurping.

The granizado machines (you know, like those old-fashioned plastic tanks filled with posh squash) usually come out of hibernation around June and last until the kids go back to school mid-September. To make natural lemon granizado: melt 100g of sugar in half a litre of water, mix in the juice of half a dozen lemons, freeze until nearly frozen, then let the food mixer do the rest.

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Café con hielo: DIY-style

Posted on July 14th, 2013 by admin

You’d think that ordering an iced coffee would be a simple affair.

Café con hielo in Spain comes like this: a double espresso cup of coffee, a long tall glass or a short fat glass with lots of ice, a spoon, and 9,000 bags of sugar. You – not the bar person – stir in the sugar and then pour the coffee over the ice,  into the saucer, over the counter and all down your new top.  Slinging in the boiling coffee without doing any damage is just one of those things that everyone else seems to be able to do effortlessly.

Should you want a milky iced coffee  (not typical here) you need to order “café con hielo con la leche aparte” (with milk on the side). Do stress that you want leche fría, cold milk, or you end up with not so much an iced drink as vaguely coffee-tasting water.

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Summer drinks Nº2 – Sangría

Posted on July 8th, 2013 by admin

Sangría (pronounced sanGREEya) shot to fame as the quintessentially Spanish drink after it was served at the Spanish pavilion in the1964 World Fair in New York. Apparently, though, it was the British and the French who first drank a punch called  “sangaree” or “sang gris” in the Antilles colonies in the 17th century.

Oh well, history matters not a jot when you’re sitting out on a sunny terrace and you order a large jug of this refreshing mix of sweetened red wine, lemonade, fruit and ice. Oranges, lemons, apples, grapes, peaches, just about any fruit can be added, and most sangrías worth the restaurant prices also contain a healthy measure of a liquor such as brandy, Cointreau or Triple Sec.

No two sangrías will ever taste the same. Especially at parties, where whatever spirits are to hand end up in the plastic bucket / bin / washing-up bowl. The longer the fruit macerates the tastier and headier the hooch. And the worse the hangover.

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Tinto de verano

Posted on July 6th, 2013 by admin

Summer’s here and the time is right for sipping and slugging lots and lots of chilled drinks to beat the heat.  Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be tempting you with some of the best. Kicking off today with the ubiquitous tinto de verano.

A lighter version of sangría, perfect for a summer’s day. Hence the name: red summer wine. If you’re ordering just for yourself, the barperson will throw a slice of lemon and a couple of yogurt pot-sized ice cubes into either a long glass or, better still, a goldfish-bowl on a stem, fill it half way with blackcurranty wine and top it up with gaseosa – a wonderfully just-sweet lemonade ultra-low in calories. If you’re with a group, they’ll bring an ice-filled jug, a bottle of red wine and a bottle of Casera (the most well-known make of gaseosa) and you’ll fix your own brew.

Sometimes you’ll be asked: “Con limón o Casera?” Or in some parts of Andalucía (and elsewhere?) “Con limón o con blanco?” The fizzy lemon is sweeter and, er, fizzier, so it takes longer to drink. Which can be a plus considering that in the heat, a couple of long swigs and it’s gone. Tinto de verano also comes on tap, but like all ready mixes it’s a pale imitation of the real thing – and so unnecessary.

Another fizzy red wine drink is calimocho (from the Basque Kalimotxo), a lethal mix of red wine and coca-cola much favoured among Spanish youf. Too much of this on a hot summer’s day and you’d probably end up in the ICU or the UCI, depending which language you go with.

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Confessions of a jamón-eating “vegetarian”

Posted on December 16th, 2012 by Theresa

I’m not really a back-sliding vegetarian as I’ve never given up fish. In Spain, though, not eating meat is pretty close to being one; a vegetarian that is. What really marked me out as a ‘veggie’ over the years was my baffling refusal to eat Serrano ham – especially the premium quality stuff cured from contented acorn-eating pigs who’ve lived a life of frolic on the sierras and hillsides. The back sliding started a few years ago. At parties and weddings I’d sneak the tiniest of skinniest of slithers – just to make sure I didn’t really like the stuff. And then, after a while, just to make sure I did. I finally decided to ‘come out’ last Christmas at a four-day gathering of the García clan. There’s been no turning back (though only with jamón – I’m not the slightest bit interested in ‘proper’ meat) and now I’m as excited as the next Spaniard about the prospect this Christmas of pairing good red wine, ultra-cured Manchego AND the best jamón Serrano I can afford.

So, in the light of my ‘conversion’, I thought it was time to revisit the Jamón entry from In the Garlic: Your Informative, Fun Guide to Spain.


Savoured and raved about all year long, the hallowed ham really comes into its own at Christmas. One false turn in Carrefour and you end up trapped in a greasy sea of swinging forelegs and hind legs. Buy one, along with the special slender knife and the cutting stand that looks like an instrument of torture, and you are half-way to becoming Spanish. If you actually manage to mount the thing without losing a finger AND you master the fine art of sliver-slicing (thick chunks will NOT do), you can start applying for Spanish nationality.

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