Editor’s Note — Victoria Allman is the chef aboard a 143-foot megayacht and the author of the recently released “Sea Fare: A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean.” She has graciously agreed to write a periodic column here on OceanLines featuring her irresistible recipes. Best of all for OceanLines readers, who are travelers of the first order, Victoria also gives us a nice taste of the environment and context in which her recipes were developed (or adopted as you will see in this first installment). If you’d like to read her book, just click on the ad in our left sidebar and that will take you to an Amazon link where you can order it.
A Culinary Theatre
by Victoria Allman
It was already a late hour by the time we secured the lines and straightened the fenders, but Spain does not even consider eating until long after the sun has retired for the evening. Famished from a long crossing, we wandered through the old Roman streets of Barcelona dizzy with hunger. We passed stone buildings with more history than we could remember, to a tiny square where tapas bars crowded every corner.
In the one we chose, dark-haired men stood behind a long counter, backs to us, hunkered over a stove. They were busy submerging squid in oil and tossing peppers in a smoking hot cast-iron pan. We pulled bar stools up to the high counter and watched the action of the cooks like we were following a soccer match. Our necks craned to see a plate of sausage and beans being delivered to couple across the room. Razor clams sizzled on hot skillets. A tortilla passed so close that we could have reached out and taken a bite. We followed it with our eyes.
A round of steaming clams were set just to the right of us; their smell filled the small space. We immediately ordered a bowl and watched as one of the cooks, with a heavy pan, flicked his wrist sending a dozen muscles and their juices flying through the air. He caught the wave of shellfish and broth without spilling a drop.
Without a word, he placed the bowl in front of us and cut thick slices of chewy bread, rubbing the surface with a half tomato to spread its sweet flavor like butter. He picked up a slender bottle of olive oil and drizzled a golden sheen on top. The bread glistened. He leaned in close, pinching sea salt between his thick fingers and sprinkled it over the bread like an artist applying the finishing touch to his masterpiece.
By my first bite, I had already fallen in love with Spain.
Spanish Clams with Sherry and Iberico Ham
by Victoria Allman
1 1/2 pounds fresh clams
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
4 cups cold water
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 shallot, finely chopped
¼ cup Iberico ham, finely chopped (or Serrano ham)
¼ cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
Scrub clams and soak them in water and coarse salt for 45 minutes.
Heat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over high heat. Add olive oil, Iberico ham, onions, and garlic. Saute 3 minutes until the onions are soft. Drain the clams and add to the pot with sherry. Cover and cook for 3 minutes until the shells have opened. Discard any that remain closed.
Toss with parsley and ladle into bowls.
Serve with crusty bread, rubbed with tomato and drizzled in olive oil, and a glass of wine.
recipe and article Copyright © 2010 by Victoria Allman
Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC