Friday, December 12, 2008

Dreams do come true! (w/ update at bottom)

About two years and a half years ago on a solo trip to Paris and Spain I found myself in Barcelona for several days. Needless to say Barcelona is one of the most amazing cities in the world. Colorful, vibrant, sensual, and oh yeah, the food is fucking amazing! I spent most mornings at the incredible La Boqueria market, a food lovers mecca and perhaps the greatest food market in the world. If you want it, it's here. Stalls packed cheek to jowl, a riot of noise, color, and edible energy. Just thinking about it makes me want to book my next trip. And of course there's Bar Pinotxo right inside the main entrance. I had read about Pinotxo in an airline magazine article by Barcelona based food and travel (and more) writer Jeff Koehler, who was a friend of one of my customers/friends, Jim, at the wine shack. In Jeff's article he mentioned being at Pinotxo and having a plate of their signature chickpeas and blood sausage (that's the precious in the pic at top left). Knowing good advice when I read it, my first morning in the city I made a beeline to the jammed counter at Pinotxo and ordered my own. It came to me, steaming and looking too delicious. I had one bite and experienced an immediate "Oh, my lord!" sort of moment. I was back every morning for more. One of the worst parts of leaving Barcelona was knowing I wouldn't be able to get another fix of my new food addiction until I came back, and who knows when that would be.

Fast forward two years later. Jim came into the wine shack talking about how his friend Jeff Koehler was coming to town. THAT Jeff Koehler?? I started talking with Jim about Pinotxo and The Legend Of The Chickpeas (he had also experienced their greatness) and we were conspiring to have Jeff get the recipe from the owners of Pinotxo. When Jeff arrived in town, they stopped by VINO, and he turned out to be one of the nicest people I could hope to meet. He said he would try and get the recipe, or at least recreate it in his own kitchen. In gratitude, and to perhaps grease the wheels, I grabbed a bottle Oregon pinot noir (I think it was a single vineyard St. Innocent, one of the finest expressions of local terroir you could drink), and handed it to him as a sort of pre-payment....or bribe. Then a week ago I received an email from Jeff saying he was close to recreating the dish. My heart started beating faster, my stomach began rumbling, and I've been on pins and needles. fork in hand, since. Then this morning The Message came. Success!! Christmas came two weeks early as Jeff said he posted the recipe on his blog. Now that I have my weekend plans laid out, I'm sharing with you so you can share with yours. Am I happy? You bet your ass I am!!! Click here for his post. I have to go now and search for blood sausage.............
UPDATE 12/13/08: This morning I received the following email from Jeff:
Hey Bruce,
Good luck with finding botifarra! You might find "morcilla" which is the version of blood sausage made in Spain (as opposed to Catalunya) but it often has rice or onions. Skip it if it has rice; onions might be OK. Often morcilla is loaded with anise. WIth the garbanzos, if you get them canned be sure to rinse them well, and simmer for a bit in lightly salted water to kill that canned taste. The only other tip, and perhaps all of these should have been in the recipe, is to use the best oil possible at the end to drizzle over. The other day in Pinotxo they used, I am 99% sure, unfiltered arbequina, which is a Catalan oil: fruity, aromatic, almost sweet. Something like picual (or most Andalusian blends, which has plenty of picual) is much sharper. That works fine. But the raisins, onions, the balsamic vinegar, and then a sweet oil all work towards the same goal somehow.

I am being particular not to say that it will ONLY work this way but rather as an ideal.

Here's a few more shots of La Boqueria to whet your appetites!
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one year ago today @ E.D.T.: Punch Drunk!


Wandering Chopsticks said...

Oh I love chickpeas. And Barcelona. Would it be sacrilege to try and recreate this recipe with Italian sausage? Hmm. Wonder if the Argentinian market has blood sausage?

So would you suggest pairing this with a pinot noir (I only ask since you grabbed it.) or a nice red? I've got a white merlot that I thought might be good with this.

bb said...

Hey WC....I'm going to forget you said "white merlot". I think a pinot would work, or go to the store and grab an inexpensive Spanish red or a French Cotes du Rhone. Something with upfront fruit.
You'd love this dish. I think Italian sausage might be a little overpowering. It's a pretty subtle plate. Let me know if you make it before I do!!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Haha. I'm not a wine person, but the blood sausage made me think red, and chickpeas made me think white. And my white merlot looks really pretty. Yeah, that's how I buy wine, by color and label and the under $4 area of Trader Joe's. :)

Am debating whether to make this or the VNese beef stew I had intended for dinner. You'd probably appreciate me posting about the stew recipe more. ;)

bb said...

If I knew someone in the LA wine biz I'd hook you up, but since I don't, TJ's it is!
I think you should make this tonight, and the Vnese (by the way, love the abbreviation!) beef stew tomorrow. That way I can the best of all worlds!! Either way, I'll be checking you out to see what happened....

Wandering Chopsticks said...

My chickpeas came out OK with Italian sausage. I added bacon too. And subbed walnuts for pine nuts.

But my VNese beef stew is kick ass! Damn! I even amazed myself. :)

bb said...

What is kick ass is that you did both in the same night. Pretty awesome effort!

Bacon? Check. Walnuts...don't they sell pine nuts in SoCal? But nice work with added porky bits!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

They do sell pine nuts in SoCal, but they're too expensive for me. I can buy two bags of walnuts for the price of one bag of pine nuts. While I like pine nuts, I don't like them twice as much as walnuts to make it worth my while.

bb said...

I know...that's the problem w/ the pine nut. Too expensive, but sometimes ya gotta have them....have you checked Trader Joe's....the best pine nut price I've seen. I'm guessing you have a pretty tasty walnut pesto or other sauce in your repertoire.

lucyp said...

The chickpeas in Barcelona are totally unlike any I have eaten elsewhere. I'm about a five minute walk from Boqueria right now as I type this, in a hotel room with a tiny kitchen. Envy me. I've been making something new almost every night --- some photos are on my blog a few posts down.

Shuku said...

Came across this post via Wandering Chopsticks, whom I came across last night while hunting down inspirations for food/dinner. It looks -fantastic-. I'm going to have to try this some day! (with modifications. No blood sausage anywhere to be found here in my part of the woods.)

bb said...

I have to admit to a hard time finding blood sausage here, but now have a couple sources. It is easy to sub out for some other sausage. Slightly different, but still delicious. Thanks for your comment, too!