Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Andalucía as a Rising Foodie Destination

Earlier this week, my friend Jane Gregg, who runs , a travel company offering food and wine routes in Spain, mentioned that she didn't have as much demand for Andalucía as she did for Barcelona, Cataluña and The Basque country. This was my response to her.

‘’People don’t seem to think of Andalucía as a foodie mecca. Andalucía is bursting with history as well as being an oasis of fabulous ingredients that don’t need to be fussed over – especially on Costa de la Luz. Ask any student who comes here. A simple pickled Boquerón, a succulent fish baked in salt with a glistening salsa Verde, spectacular Atun del Almadraba – especially as presented at El Campero in Barbate – it just can’t get any better than that. And then there’s the hint of the flavours of Morocco running through so many dishes here (possibly more so in my kitchen than on the streets!). Pomegranates, pears and plums just now. Carrots when cooked in their skins – wow.

Angel Leon, who has a restaurant called Apoinente in El Puerto de Santa Maria, received his first Michelin star recently. Have you read much about what he does with fish? Dani Garcia in Marbella got his second Michelin star. Have you seen Jon Clarke’s book ‘ the dining secrets of Andalucía´? There is nowhere in Spain I’d rather be to enjoy the fruits of the sea and the land – boom, boom!!

And then of course, the magical Sherry. And now more red wines are being made in the Arcos de la Frontera area as well as around Ronda. Right here in Vejer we even have a boutique vineyard called Etu. Just nurturing their 3rd vintage, they are producing some red wines that will make their mark before too long.

There’s always something delicious to discover, friends offering some new delicacy to share. Sometimes my friends and neighbours think that what they cook is just not worthy of sharing because they think it not special enough. More often than not their recipes haven’t changed for generations. I find that special. The root of the cuisine here has to be less is more. Scratching the skin of a freshly picked simple lemon can send one into the realms of competing in Masterchef! Andalucía is not yet on the gourmet map, but it will be. Trust me.’’

Saturday, November 27, 2010

All that´s Yummy in Andalucía

Great episode from the series by José Andrés called Made in Spain. This one is Tuna & Tapas. Featuring so many of the things that are wonderful about being here in the province of Cádiz - Tuna, The Almadraba, Tarifa, El Campero in Barbate, Manzanilla, Sanlúcar, Tortillitas de Camarones and soooooo much more. Classes here next May 2011 will be featuring tuna from The Almadraba, lunch at El Campero and more!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ferran Adria praising Jamón, Sherry and that it HAS TO BE Andalucía

Oh My Gosh - I need Ferran as my PR man. He confirms in the 1st 30 seconds that the best food and wine match in the WHOLE of Spain is Jamón and Sherry but ONLY in Andalucía. Don´t even try this in Madrid. Forget the possibilities in Barcelona. Drop the idea in Valencia. The only fab and wonderful place for the yummiest food and wine experience in the WHOLE of Spain is in Andalucía - at Annie B´s Spanish Kitchen! OK - he hasn´t been here yet but I can tell he´s after an invite!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tins and Jars at Annie B´s Spanish Kitchen

Ever since I first visited Spain, in the 1980´s, I´ve always regarded jarred or tinned white asparagus with disdain. Confused as to why so many people loved it. Unappreciative as to why a single spear would often be given pride of place on top of Ensaladas. Totally thrown as to why HUGE and expensive jars of the stuff are always on display at Christmas time alongside goodies such as Jamón and Turron.

I have a friend from Navarra whose opinion on food, wine and cooking I respect. When a tin of White Asparagus Spears was produced one evening recently, I was informed that Espárragos Blancos from Navarra was the best in the world. I suspected that something interesting was about to unfold. The tin was lovingly opened, the spears drained, a garlicky Salsa Verde whisked up and a magical platter of Navarran Esapárragos Blancos Extra, bathed in the glistening green salsa appeared in minutes. It was incredibly delicious

This week I have been looking at tins and jars of white asparagus through new eyes and realise that there are many Navarran pretenders around. BEWARE of jars and tins of White Asparagus grown and prepared in China – it will say this in the small print on the back.

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

120mls of mild olive oil

1 tbsp Sherry Vinegar

Handful of Parsley

Whiz in blender until garlic is pureed. Place drained spears on a platter and pour over green sauce.

Take a deep breath and be prepared to be impressed.

Friday, October 22, 2010

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Annie B's Spanish Kitchen

Annie B's Spanish Kitchen

Annie B's Autumn Newsletter 2010

Annie B's Spanish Kitchen

**Press Latest**
Good Housekeeping Magazine - November 2010
Annie B's features as a favourite cooking destination in Andalucía

It was a fantastic summer of fun and food at Annie B's and now, as November approaches we're burning up the calories on long beach walks. El Palmar (the closest beach to Vejer de la Frontera) boasts MILES of sun-drenched white sands, with historic Trafalgar at one end and the charming fishing village of Conil at the other. So pack those iPods and enjoy the best power walking of the year!

Make it a Date

A Delicious Long Weekend 18th-21st November 2010

Beautiful Vejer de la Frontera
Beautiful Vejer de la Frontera

Andalucían Novembers are fabulous months – sunny warm days with slightly chilly and crystal clear evenings. A time for soaking up late sunshine and indulging in fresh Med flavours as well as more warming evening dishes.

Annie B is offering 4 nights and 3 days from Thursday 18th of November. An injection of sunshine and an array of fabulous new recipes is a perfect way to set yourself up for the winter months.

Or - why not add some extra days and enjoy all that the area has to offer. Kitchen classes will be starting on Monday the 15th of November for those who wish to spend longer in Vejer. Join us even for just one day!

Summer Images

Happy Cookery Students
Cookery students attending a recent Annie B class

Delicious Spanish Food
Delicious Seafood Paella

Hard at work in Annie B's Spanish Kitchen
Hard Work? Great Fun!

Gourmet Tapas in Zahara de los Atunes

In October, Zahara de los Atunes (a fishing village local to Vejer) celebrated the deliciousness of the local breed of cattle, Retinto, with a tapas competition. Competing local bars and restaurants offered their specially designed Retinto based tapa along with a copa de vino for a staggering 3 euros!!!!

All things Tuna

Gourmet Tapas

Voters were asked to visit at least 8 of the 18 competing bars and restaurants to sample the tapa on offer and finally choose their favourite by marking a card. Annie B’s vote went to restaurante La Botica and their “
Delicia Libanesa al aroma andalusí”.

Zahara is famous for Atun and holds a similar tapas competition based around tuna fish. This is a spectacular gourmet weekend.

In May 2011 the 3rd Ruta de Atun will take place. Annie Bs will soon announce a date for a cooking course incorporating a day at the Ruta de Atun in Zahara – more information to follow in the next newsletter.

Albariño USA

Annie B was really excited to find Albariño on offer whilst picnicking recently at a stunning winery called Chrysalis in Virginia, USA. Albariño is the widely planted grape of the Rias Baixas Denominación of Galícia in north western Spain. It produces the most wonderfully aromatic and delicious white wine of the same name - possibly the best white wine of Spain and hugely admired around the World - hence the recent planting and production in the US. It was totally yumlicious and a perfect accompaniment to her pulled pork sandwich.

Albariño in the USA

© Annie Manson, Peña Gastronómica de Vejer "La Viña", Vejer de la Frontera, 11150 Cadiz, Andalucia, Spain
Tel: +34 620 560 649 | Email:

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chocolate & Almond Cake with PX Sherry

For years, possibly decades, many articles have been written about matching chocolate with wine. It's now really exciting to read articles about matching chocolate with Sherry. Not just any Sherry but Pedro Ximenez Sherry. Chocolate and PX is indeed a marriage made in heaven.

PX (Pedro Ximenez) is the sweetest of the Sherries and produces the most fabulous, sweetly intense and divinely delicious glistening dark nectar imaginable. It´s amazing to think that PX is actually a white grape.

In class last week, we made a delicious Chocolate & Almond Cake. It´s a one bowl wonder! Prepared using only the Magimix - but don´t let the simplicity of the preparation effort fool you. This cake is truly a gift of the Gods. The Sherry Gods.

We consumed it with gusto, garnished with PX soaked seedless Moscatel raisins (I´ve yet to find PX raisins). With a fork in one hand and a glass of perfectly chilled PX in the other we extolled this perfect food and wine match.

In the Master fridge of Annie B´s Spanish Kitchen you´ll always find a huge kilner jar of glistening raisins bathed in this epic wine of Jerez . It´s a necessity for an instant pudding. Pop a couple of scoops of preferably chocolate, even vanilla or nut ice cream, into a pretty glass and spoon these little dark devils on top. Anything chocolatey made here needs no excuse....... Deeply yumlicious.

Legend has it that the Pedro Ximenez grape was introduced to Spain from Germany in the 15th century by a fellow by the name of Peter Siemens.

Gracias Pedro.
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Friday, April 23, 2010

Andalucian Experts

After many years of eating and drinking my way along Costa del Sol, all the way up to Vejer and beyond, The Guardian has credited me as being an expert! I'm an expert in knowing what I like and one of the most spectacular things about living here is that there is very little that I don't like (apart from this winter's rain) and after 5 years, there is still so much more to discover - yum, yum, wobble, wobble. Here is waht I recommended.

Vineyards, Ronda

The beautiful vineyards around Ronda were established by the Romans and now produce some spectacular wines – boutique wineries include Chinchilla and F. Schatz. Book in advance.

Annie Manson of Annie B's Spanish Kitchen which offers food holidays in Andalucia

Eating and drinking, Málaga

La Consula (+34 952 436026) is a cooking school which produces exceptional chefs, including the holders of many of Spain's Michelin stars. At its restaurant, Fiesta, you can enjoy fantastic lunches cooked and served by the students. It is set in a fabulous building built in 1856 by the then Prussian consul, and is where Ernest Hemingway celebrated his 60th birthday. In central Málaga, on Calle Granada next to the Picasso museum, is a small bar, El Pimpi. At this tapas institution, you can nibble on top-quality jamón and manchego and sip chilled fino under signed photographs of famous guests. AB

Home of sherry, Jeréz

Bodegas Tradición (+34 956 168628) in Jeréz is one of the smallest but most impressive bodegas, producing only four sherries and two brandies. It is also home to one of the most valuable private collections of Spanish art, dating from the 13th century and featuring works by Goya, El Greco and Velázquez. AB

Foodie trail, Fuengirola

Fuengirola may be an overdeveloped nightmare, but in the old town, behind the promenade, are some fabulous tapas bars. Near the bus station is Bodega el Toston (+34 952 475632) famous for wild boar croquetas, platters of glistening jamón and spectacular wines. AB

Seafood by the sea, Málaga

In Torre del Mar, east of Málaga, Bar Negri (+34 952 540090) on Paseo de Larios is a seafood institution. Spectacular sweet prawns are served as free tapas at the bar while you wait for a table. Order conchas finas (raw giant clams), fritura de verano (a mixture of crispy deep fried onions, peppers, squid and prawns) and enormous slabs of grilled swordfish. Drink albariño or the young local barbadillo. AB

Beach life, Málaga

East of Málaga lies the small urban beach area of Pedregalejo. Unlike so many seaside resorts, it has preserved its local character without being overly influenced by tourism. Locals flock to the small restaurants along its promenade, where an espeto de sardinas (five barbecued sardines) will set you back €3. Parking can be difficult so best take a taxi. Hotel La Chancla (+34 952 206 900) on the beachfront has a great bar, Cohiba. You can sit there and watch the world go by while nibbling on the finest olives and sampling the house white by the glass – deliciously fragrant Vina Esmeralda. AB

Beach restaurants, west of Almeria

There is fantastic food at a string of restaurants on the beach at Agua Amarga in Almeria, where a plate the size of a dustbin lid full of fried fish – a parrillada de pescados – costs under €25. In the hills just nearby the coast you will findis the villa used in the cult film Sexy Beast, with the famous pool at the bottom of which where Ben Kingsley was embedded in concrete. It's not available to rent, but has villas in the area. AB

Sara Baras inspires lunch!

Last night I had the great fortune to see Sara Baras dance in Teatro Falla in Cadiz. She is regarded as the most spectacular of all Flamenco dancers. Amazing evening. Inspired by the long limbs and spectacular energy of Sara Baras, a healthy lunch seemed in order!!! Diced Lobito (dogfish) marinated for 10 mins in my Moroccan Marinade then sauteed in tiny bit of Ghee ( Indira's Ayurvedic influence) with red peppers & red onions. Scattered with parsley. Served on a bed of sweet Cos, grated carrot, sunflower seeds and mint with a touch of OO and cider vinegar. Truly yummy.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Squid in the Sunshine

There are many things about living in Spain that I still get seriously excited about - strangely, the things that excite me most, begin with the letter 'S'. Sherry, Sunshine, Sand, Sea and Squid. The winter here has been awful - more rainfall in Andalucia than previously recorded. So when the sunshine appeared around 2pm today, the calling to get to the beach for lunch was loud and clear. Alongside the thundering yet beautiful Atlantic Ocean this divine plate of Calamar a la plancha con patatas pobres hearlded the start of Spring. Every sweet mouthful was totally divine. Cooked to perfection with crispy caramelised tentacles. Patatas Pobres were from local El Palmar tatties. All washed down with Barbadillo 2008. Yum yum.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Spanish Downturn in Economy is good for BULLS

The Lack of Bull Market in Spain is good news for the Bulls at least (The Olive Press 4/1/10)
The worst economic downturn since the 2nd World War has seen fewer bulls being killed in Bullfights.With 18% unemployment across Spain and consumer spending dropping, many bullfight fans are cutting back on their hobby.The number of bullfights fell to 1,443 in 2009 from 1,887 the year before - a drop of 23%. According to the Union of Fighting Bull Breaders more than 4,000 bulls have been saved from death in the ring and will now be kept on farms around Spain and slaughtered for food later.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Christmas Pomegranate Joy

Christmas isn’t all about food – it’s about wine and sherry too. Overindulgence is the norm but boy do we regret it!

It can certainly be no coincidence that Mother Nature gifted pomegranates to us at this time of year. Pomegranates are, quite simply, one of nature’s super foods. Packed full of anti-oxidants, they not only help clear your body of free radicals but they also lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease, aid dental and blood plaque, to list a few of their benefits. Above all, a dish of glistening seeds or glass of juice from this fabulous fruit is one of the best hangover cures.

Pomegranates are an ancient fruit, even mentioned in the Book of Exodus. The ancient city of Granada in Spain was renamed after the fruit during the Moorish period. Spanish colonists later introduced the fruit to the Caribbean and Latin America, leading to the naming of the country Grenada – often also known as Granada. Its regal crown has been depicted in ancient monuments and coinage. It is believed that the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was indeed the pomegranate and not an apple after all. This vitamin rich fruit has indeed a rich history.

At Annie B’s Spanish Kitchen, we become really excited when the new season’s pomegranates arrive in the market – normally at their best from September through to December. We use pomegranate seeds (called arils) in couscous, through salads, mixing through cucumber raita, as well as sprinkling them over any Moroccan inspired dish. They are great through fruit salads, over cereal and this year, I’ve been making cocktails!

Pomegranates probably fell out of fashion because they aren’t really user friendly. In our time- conscious society, sitting down to extract the edible seeds of a pomegranate can be messy and time consuming. Many supermarkets in UK and in Spain now sell small packets of fresh pomegranate seeds which are convenient but many fresh vitamins will have been lost. Pomegranate juice can be bought commercially too which is great but again, the longer the juice is outside the fruit shell, the more the vitamins disappear.

Extracting the juice

I’ve tried putting a skin free Pomegranate through my juicer with no success. What works best for me is actually cutting it in half and treating it like a half orange, using a normal electrical juicer. Wash the fruit first and then gently cut it in half across the circumference. Squeeze with gentle pressure on the electrical squeezer watching the fabulous ruby red juice fall into the jug below. Between squeezing each half, remove the discarded seeds caught in the basket. I squeeze these by hand to remove the final drops of nectar. And then squeeze another half and continue the above process until you have the desired amount of juice.

Extracting the seeds

One of the many things I’ve loved about running my cooking classes is the exchange of information between us all in class. It’s great to learn different techniques and methods from guests. One lovely guest this summer from Seattle, demonstrated how to painlessly remove the seeds from a Pomegranate. This method is simple, fast and no redecoration required.

With a serrated knife, cut of the crown of the fruit, exposing the beginning of the seeds. Then make 8 small incisions along the exposed flesh at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock etc. Take a bowl large enough to fit the pomegranate and your hands, fill it with water and submerge the fruit. With both hands, start pulling apart gently, allowing the seeds to become free from the pith. The white membrane will float to the top and the seeds will sink to the bottom. Discard the skin, skim off the pith and then drain. Amazing – so easy!

NB.Depending on the variety, some Pomegranates and more bitter than others – adjust additives (soda, tonic, orange, honey etc) to suit taste



In a BIG glass with several ice cubes, mix 3 parts Pomegranate juice and 3 parts Clementine juice with 2 parts Vodka or Gin. Add a squeeze of fresh lime (optional) and top up with as much soda or tonic as desired. This is a health drink so enjoy without guilt!

Pom Royale

Either using Pomegranate juice on its own or again mixed with Clementine or Orange juice, half fill a glass and top up with cava. Excellent hangover cure.

The Morning after Breakfast

It’s an idea to prepare this the day before so that you open the fridge that morning and there it will be, winking at you.

Pomegranate seeds

Fresh Orange Juice

Ground Cinnamon

Place seeds in individual dishes. Cover with chilled juice and sprinkle with fresh ground cinnamon. Serve with yoghurt if desired.