Tag Archives: food

Foods of Spain

Recently I traveled to Spain for a two-week vacation. My three traveling companions and I were in agreement that the main objective of the trip would be to eat and drink our way through the country. We visited three main regions: Madrid/Toledo, San Sebastian and Barcelona. With its cheap wine and beer and a wide variety of snacks and meals to fit every budget, Spain is an ideal food-lovers destination. Please enjoy the following photo tour!


Snacks comprised of olives, pickled vegetables and fish are heavily featured throughout Spain. The trays shown above were in the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid.

Padrón peppers, also quite popular, are commonly served fried and coated with olive oil and course sea salt. On the spicy scale they are mostly mild-to-medium, although every once in a while you’ll find one in the bunch that is tongue-numbingly hot.

Fried potatoes are also a common dish. The patatas bravas variety comes slathered in a spicy tomato sauce and served with garlic aioli for dipping. The dish pictured above was topped with chorizo “chili” and fried egg.

One of the best late night snacks in Spain: churros dipped in hot chocolate. It’s important to note that this is not the kind of hot chocolate you find here in the States. Hot chocolate in Spain (and indeed, in many other European countries) is deliciously rich and thick, with a consistency that is less watery and more like fondue.

Next up, a Spanish classic: paella. This creamy risotto-esque dish flavored with saffron and meat/seafood is another staple you see everywhere in Spain, although you’ll find the best paella in its originating city, Valencia (which we did not visit). Fun fact: authentic Valencian Paella is made with rabbit and snails. Other common types are paella de marisco (seafood, pictured above) and paella mixta (mixed paella, usually with chicken and seafood).


The most prevalent food throughout Spain is undoubtedly jamon: dry cured Spanish ham. To be more specific, Jamón ibérico, from the black Iberian pig found throughout southern Spain and Portugal. You know jamon is big when it gets its own Pringles flavor…

Keeping with the piggy theme, in Madrid, we ate at Restaurante Botin – the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the world, according to the Guinness World Records. Sucking pig happens to be their specialty and it didn’t disappoint, with crisp, crackling skin crunching with each bite.


In the Basque country, in particular San Sebastian, almost every bar top is covered in platters of pintxos: bite-sized bar snacks usually skewered by a toothpick onto a piece of bread. They can be very basic or incredibly fancy. Some places charge you based on the number of toothpicks left on your plate after you finish; others make you pay up front after you load up your plate. Prices generally range from 1-3 euros per pintxo.

The highlight of our pintxo experience was probably Bar Zeruko in San Sebastian. The pintxos here were the most creative, going above and beyond the simple toothpick-and-bread variety.


Spain has a large quantity of restaurants which feature experimental cuisine. The term “molecular gastronomy” best describes the food and cooking techniques at these places, where dishes are transformed, deconstructed, and more or less are not what they seem. I was lucky enough to visit two such restaurants: Akelaŕe in San Sebastian, and Tickets in Barcelona. The former boasts three Michelin stars and the latter is run by the Adrià brothers of the famed (though now closed) elBulli. Our dining experiences were entertaining and delicious, although definitely a splurge in both cases. Check out this sampling of photos of things that were as fun to stare at as they were to eat (hover over each picture to see a description).


Bar Zeruko Official Website

Mercado de San Miguel Official Website

Tickets Official Website

Akelaŕe Official Website

Have you been to Spain? What did you think of the food? Have any recommendations? Let us know in the comments section or via our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Snack Time in Brussels

Hello Brussels, I never thought I would be in you, but here I am—fresh from a Eurostar trip from London. I brought my friend Nick Savage; he’s never been to Europe, so this visit is extra exciting to him. I hear you have waffles and fries? Beer too, I do love your beer. And chocolate, of course—who can forget? Oh, right and you have mussels! Holy cow Belgium, is there anything else to do besides eat?

The Magnificent Grand Place in Brussels

Three days in Brussels was a perfect break between London and Paris. With no real plans, Nick and I arrived to Gare du Midi expecting some art nouveau architecture and some fries. We did not expect to find a real snacking culture in Belgium that is completely lacking in other parts of Europe (France, Italy—no snacks). In this two-part post, I’ll take a look at a couple of the defining foods that make a visit to Belgium a worthwhile experience, especially for anyone who likes to eat.

There are two main types of waffles in Belgium: gaufres de Bruxelles and gaufres de Liege, named after their respective cities of origin. Bruxelles waffles are similar to the types of waffles Americans are accustomed to eating. They are made from a batter similar to pancake batter. Once they are cooked on a cast-iron waffle maker, they are light and chewy on the inside and remind me a bit of funnel cake. Liege waffles are made from dough and are a bit denser. What really makes them special is that they are made with pearl sugar, so when the waffles are cooked, the sugar caramelizes and forms a great sugary crust on the outside.

Gaufre de Liege with Strawberries

Upon arriving in Brussels we immediately sampled both types, plain, just to be fair and objective. Liege waffles were absolutely our favorite; I don’t think we even bothered with gaufres de Bruxelles after that initial taste test. Nick wisely declared that a proper waffle is neither a cake nor a cookie, but rather something in between. Sure, the Liege waffles we had were good enough to eat on their own as we wandered through the Grand Place, but who could resist the seemingly endless list of optional toppings? Fresh fruit, Chantilly cream, Nutella, chocolate, and of course, ice cream. While there are several places to get a waffle in Brussels, especially around the Grand Place, we always ended up at a tiny waffle shop that seemed to be run by a gaggle of teenage girls. Continue reading