Camino de Santiago and Spanish Culinary Delights
It’s a brand new year—time to reflect on enriching our lives. A group of IFWTWA writers (International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association) were invited to one of my favorite venues, The Wine Artist, to learn about a meaningful trek walked by many for a myriad of reasons.
Tammy told us of her journey and explained the reason for her pilgrimage was the passing of her son and her need to get away from daily life to find time to reflect and mourn his death. She was accompanied by three friends who traveled on this pilgrimage for very different reasons.
The Camino de Santiago is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (northwestern Spain.) While the entire route is 450 miles long, if you walk at least 62 miles (100 kilometers), you will receive a Certificate of Completion, a cherished memento.
Individuals take this route for many reasons. Tammy emphasized that whatever your reason for walking this ancient trail across Spain, whether it be to lose weight, to reflect and heal spiritually, to mourn a loved one, or simply to prove you can complete this arduous journey, you need to have a purpose and a focus so that you will achieve your goal. Many take along symbols to memorialize loved ones such as a rock with the loved one’s name on it or a scallop shell, the symbol of the Camino de Santiago.
Tammy suggested several books to read for those interested in this pilgrimage. The premiere book that describes the experience in detail is A Million Steps by Kurt Koontz. A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago: St. Jean – Roncesvalles – Santiago by John Brierley provides an essential guide to be used frequently in planning.
Since this was a day of getting a taste of Spain, we were indeed preparing and eating traditional Spanish food. As we sliced and diced, we learned just how easy and quick these dishes were to create. Of course, sampling the rich and intense fruitiness of the Campo Viejo Tempranillo made light work of our time putting together MJ’s recipes.
Since we were having a Spanish meal, we were given three pitchers of wine to prepare Sangria—a red, a white, and a sweet white—along with a wide variety of fruits, such as pineapple, cantaloupe, mango, lemons, limes, oranges, watermelon, strawberries, pears, and apples.
MJ suggested adding a small amount of Cointreau or Triple Sec to the wine to create a more complex flavor. In addition, she includes one to two cups of soda at the end to give the Sangria a bubbly taste. She adds very little sugar to the red and white Sangrias and no sugar to the sweet wine which I appreciated because it eliminated any cloying sweet taste.
Below is the recipe for the paella we prepared at The Wine Artist.
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 4 oz. boneless chicken, cubed into small pieces
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 4 oz. chorizo sausage, crumbled and with casing removed
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bell peppers, cut into cubes or strips
- 3 tomatoes, seeded, and chopped (can use diced tomatoes in can)
- 4 cups chicken broth
- ¼ teaspoon saffron
- 2 cups short or medium grain rice (uncooked)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 8 oz. uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined (optional)
- 6-8 New Zealand mussels on the half shell (optional)
- Chopped parsley
- Lemon wedges, to serve
Heat oil in paella pan. Cook chicken until browned.
Add chorizo and onions and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add garlic, bell peppers, and tomatoes; stir fry for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, heat chicken broth in a saucepan and add saffron once heated.
Stir in rice to paella pan and sauté for 5 minutes. Pour in the broth, turmeric, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper. Add shrimp and mussels on top and simmer for about 15 minutes until liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Be careful not to overcook the seafood. Top with parsley.
Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.
Recipe courtesy of The Wine Artist: www.TheWineArtist.com
Photos by Linda Stewart