So you are in Ronda for a few days (or just passing through) and want to get away to the mountains for a while? Just 40 minutes away by car is the stunning Sierra de Grazalema. Why not take a drive, enjoy the scenery and a wonderful afternoon or evening meal. The Simancon restaurant is easy to find though in a somewhat unlikely location, on the edge of the main Grazalema car park. It is quiet in the afternoons and evenings & dining outside in summer is a very pleasant experience and an ideal place to sit, relax and watch the world go by. The menu of salads & other starters, including several soups, offers more than adequate choice, ranging far beyond the normal fast food fare of chips and fried pork and includes superb venison steaks, wild rabbit and roasted lamb. The waiting staff (Jesus, Patro and Cati) are friendly, helpful & attentive to everyone including vegetarian or other dietary needs so one is ever disappointed! First class wholesome food & good all round value. To reserve a table in English call Clive on (0034) 697 30 89 85 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be very happy to make your reservation.
We have been receiving a lot of emails from guests traveling from the USA asking us how to get hold of authentic Spanish foods and other products. So after some searching, we are very happy to announce our partnership with LaTienda.com for Gourmet Spanish Foods
Ronda Today receives a small commission when you purchase via the above link and that helps with the running costs of this website. Enjoy the very best of Spain at great prices and thank you for your support!
One of the most popular dishes prepared around Spain, the pisto is basically a vegetable stew or ratatouille, and forms a popular base into which cured meats can be added, although one of the most famous versions of this recipe also adds egg (it looks like fried eggs sitting on top of the pisto).
Curiously enough, this most Spanish of all dishes, which is practically a byword for “Spanishness”, is neither Spanish, nor is it known as “paella” here in Spain! The original recipe is lost in the mists of time, but scholars now believe that the dish was brought to Iberia by the Phoenicians, long before the birth of Christ.
If you wish to discuss paella with a Spaniard, please refer to it as “arroz” (rice), because that’s the name by which we know it. Though the most famous version hales from Valencia, paella is regarded as a local specialty in just about every corner of Spain.
The origins of Gazpacho are mysterious, and like most things from our past have never been truly documented, what writing does exist is filled with inaccuracies but the general consensus is that the pre-Roman Andalucians (Ibericelts) were making something akin to Gazpacho in Phoenician (and Carthiginian) times, although to really confuse matters, so were pre-Roman Italian peninsula peoples. And, to confuse matters even more, the tomato plant is from South America and didn’t get to Europe until after the Spanish Conquest of the Americas from 1492 onwards… Ummm… anyway, less about that and more about the recipe :)
In fact, a cold meal of stale bread, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and water is common in the bread eating cultures surrounding the Mediterranean, the concept is even alluded to in the Old Testament book of Ruth (2.14) “’Come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar.”
This is a delicious, filling paella perfect for lazy afternoons and an even lazier cook. Okay, making a paella isn’t like making a toasted sandwich, but it’s very easy to do for a meal with so many ingredients.
You’ll be making a meal fit for four people, with plenty of rice, chicken and jamon iberica (Iberian ham), and a flavour that will leave your taste buds begging for more.
Paella has a mixed history, and the most common recipes require seafood (see our traditional paella recipe), however this isn’t to everyone’s taste, and inland Spain has adapted the paella with other ingredients. The renowned British chef Jamie Oliver also has his own chicken paella recipe.
By the way, paella is usually served during the day, and many Spaniards will think you’re a bit strange if you eat paella for dinner. Heavy foods with rice or pasta are not usually eaten by the spanish before bedtime.
Chicken Paella Ingredients (serves 4)
2 cups of arborio rice (white short grain)
4 cups of chicken broth or chicken stock
2 onions thinly sliced
6-7 cloves of chopped or pressed garlic
2 cups of pale dry sherry (fino)
1/2 a cup of chopped red pepper (pimento)
1/2 a cup of garlic stalks or substitute with scallions
2 large chicken breasts diced (skin on is preferred by Spaniards)
1/4 cup of diced Iberian Ham (or substitute with bacon)
Large pinch of saffron threads (or fine grade powdered saffron)
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
How to Make your Chicken Paella
We first need to prepare our saffron, place the saffron in a small dish, and add a tablespoon of boiling over it. Heat some oil in a 10 inch paella pan or skillet, and sauté the onion till soft and translucent. Add the garlic and stir well, then remove both.
Top up the oil in the pan, and saute the chicken till lightly browned, then add the ham. If you wish, you can also add some slices of chorizo. Remove the chicken and ham, and add to the previously cooked onion and garlic.
With a little more oil, add the rice and cook till it starts to change colour. Add the chicken, ham, onion, and garlic to the rice, stir, then add the chicken broth, saffron, and paprika.
Bring the paella to a boil and stir well. Now add the sherry, the garlic stalks, and the pimienta. Return to the boil for a few minutes, stirring well.
Season with salt if needed, and simmer covered for another 30 minutes, with occasional stirring. The only ingredient that may cause any problems will be the rice. Stir to avoid sticking, and if need be, add more broth. Once the rice is soft, the paella is ready to serve.
Garnish with parsley.
Many other tasty ingredients can be added if desired, for example chopped mushrooms, or the more traditional seafood such as prawns, mussels, and baby squid.
Every Easter, kown as Semana Santa in Spain, local bakeries and patisseries will make up special Easter desserts, and in Ronda the pick of the bunch is called Torrijas, a sweet treat made with bread as the base, filled with custard, and drowned in honey or sugar and served on a plate to be eaten with a knife and fork.
Of course as is typical of the Spanish, every region will have their own variation, so the recipe I’m going to share with you may not be exactly how your Spanish friends would make it, so be careful you don’t offend them by saying this recipe is the best, instead nod knowingly when they tell you what is missing, or how they’d make it, and then when their back is turned choose the recipe you prefer.
Torrijas (Br Eng: Bread Pudding – Am Eng: French Toast) originated right here in Andalucia and is eaten during the 40 days of lent, originally prepared by nuns in their convents that they would sell or keep for their own after work treats. Back in the 15th century when the recipe was first created bread would go stale quickly, and torrijas came about as a means to reusing day old bread, which for many is the only food permitted to be eaten during lent.
1 loaf of bread
1 packet of Royal custard powder
1 litre of milk
8 tablespoons of sugar
1 cup if sweet Anise
sugar and cinnamon (for dipping)
honey (for coating)
First, prepare the custard and allow it to cool, you might want to use a higher ratio of custard powder than you’d normally when making custard. We want it be custard cream, rather than poring dessert.
Add the milk and anise together in a flat bowl, then soak the bread in it. If you don’t have day old bread you can lightly toast the bread so that it absorbs the milk.
Spread some of the custard between two slices of the bread, and then dip in a bowl with the eggs beaten.
Fry the bread/custard sandwiches over a hot even temperature until golden brown.
There are two choices for finishing the recipe, either heavily sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon mixed together making sure to cover both sides, or pour heated honey (mixed with water in a 50/50 mixture) over the torrijas.
This recipe makes a spectacular sweet treat for breakfast with a cup of hot strong coffee, or leave to cool and serve as a dessert with pieces of fruit on top.
Here’s a nice little vegetarian dish with a hint of spice and more than a whiff of history to it. Let’s get the food cooking, then we’ll have the history lesson!
Ingredients (serves four)
400 grams (14 oz) of black beans
2 litres (4 pints) of water
1 stalk of celery
1 head of garlic, peeled
300 grams (10 oz) of rice
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon of paprika
3 tablespoons of olive oil
salt & pepper
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
If bought in their dried state, the black beans will need to be left to soak overnight. Fill a pan with water, quarter the onion and throw it in. Chop up the carrot and drop that in, too. Do the same with the stick of celery. Add a bay leaf, crush the garlic and put it in. When the water comes to the boil, skim off the froth, turn down the heat, cover the pan and let the beans simmer. It will take about an hour for them to turn soft.
In the year 711 AD (1,300 years ago), Arabic armies poured into Spain from the south, where the crossing from Africa is very narrow. It did not take them long to conquer the whole Iberian peninsula, as far north as the French border. The “Moros” (so-called because they hailed from Morocco) were dark-skinned Muslims and they quickly converted Spain into an Islamic land. In fact, rather than a united country, Moorish Spain was a patchwork of little local kingdoms.
By the eleventh century AD, the Christians had made up their minds to fight back. Starting in the north, and re-conquering Spain virtually village by village, the Christians gradually pushed their way south. It took them 400 years! If you’ve ever wondered why towns like Jerez and Arcos have “de la frontera” tacked onto their names, it is because at some point, probably in the 13th century, they were on the front line between the Christians and the Moors.
Finally, in the year 1492, Granada city, the last Arabic stronghold in Spain fell to the Christians. Spain was once more united under a Christian monarch. Even today there are plenty of villages (mostly over Alicante way) who celebrate an annual festival of “Moros y Cristianos”, to commemorate the freeing of Spain from its 700-year bondage to Islam. The locals dress up in medieval costume and indulge in a riotous free-for-all punch-up.
The dish we’re preparing today gets its name from the contrast in colours between the black beans (“moros”) and the white rice (“cristianos”). Perhaps not very politically correct, but there you have it, that’s history for you.
Back to the recipe. While the beans are simmering, we make a mixture of the oil, salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne, then add this to the beans, finishing off with the juice of the fresh orange. Once the beans are tender, turn off the heat and let the whole lot stand for fifteen minutes.
Now boil the rice with just a dash of salt and the bay leaf. Prepare a bowl for each person, smeared inside with butter, and when the rice is ready, stuff it into the bowls (which can now stand for a few minutes).
To serve, give each of your diners a generous ladling of black beans, then overturn a bowl of rice onto each plate, making a mound of conquering “cristianos” over each plate of “moros”. Garnish with slices of onion and orange, chopped parsley and if you feel so inclined, some diced hard-boiled egg.