Good timing, serindipity, fate - call it what you will. We'd just returned from a fortnights holiday in Spain, the post holiday blues had kicked in, the pile of laundry was endless and my inbox was overflowing. But in amongst the spam and junk emails was one offering Spanish and Basque food for review. A ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy day. Grey's Fine Foods import the very best traditional Spanish foods and wines for you to buy online. I pondered over Iberico Pork cheeks and Milk-fed lamb Leg but plumped for Boneless Suckling Pig washed down with Bereziartua Natural Basque Cider.
Our fortnights holiday took us to the Costa Dorada, well placed for sunny beaches, Port Aventura theme and water parks and a day trip to Barcelona. The cosmopolitan capital of Catalonia is one of my favourite cities. We took the train into the city centre and hopped onto one of the tour buses and headed first to Montjuic home of the 1992 Olympic Stadium (cue much Freddie Mercury style singing of Barcelona) and a trip on a cablecar.
At the bottom of La Ramblas we finally managed to fulfil Foodie Loon's desire to visit the top of the Columbus Monument. This had been closed on the two previous occasions he tried. A tiny lift takes you to spectacular views from the top. For lunch we headed to La Boqueria, this amazing market is filled with wonderful sights, sounds and smells of fabulous fresh food. We grazed our way round enjoying seafood, fruit, meats and colourful pastries.
Next stop was Gaudi's Sagrada Familia where we were very disappointed to discover that all the the slots for the day had already been booked and it would have been 8pm before we could have visited. Somewhat downhearted we had a wander around the perimeter and jumped back on the Bus Touristic to head to Park Guell. Alas no luck their either as unlike on our previous visits you now have to pay for entry to the central area of the park and once again all times slots for the day were already fully booked. Lots of disappointed and upset people at both attractions so a heads up for anyone heading to Barcelona and wishing to visit either of these to be sure to book ahead. I'm still kicking myself for not having checked beforehand.
There will no doubt be more tales to tell of our Spanish holiday in blog posts to come but for now back to the suckling pig. To my knowledge we never came across it on the menu on our travels but apparently its a speciality of the region. The piglets have only been breast feed for 21 days as a maximum which gives their meat great flavour and taste. The quantity of food eaten by this tiny animal is very small which gives the nickname of cochinillo (small suckling pig). The finished dish was indeed wonderful and the crackling was absolutely divine. Here's how I cooked my little cochinillo.
Roast Spanish Suckling Pig with Basque Cider
Recipe adapted from Grey's Fine Foods website and reproduced with permission.
2.5 Kg Boneless Suckling Pig
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Bulb of Garlic
1 Carrot, roughly chopped
1 Onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 Stick of celery, roughly chopped
1 Leek, roughly chopped
1 bottle Bereziartua Natural Basque Cider or 300ml chicken stock
Pre-heat your oven to 250°C
Cut the garlic bulb in half round its diameter and lightly rub the skin of the suckling pig. Place the suckling pig in a large roasting tin (I had to cut mine in half to fit!) with the garlic and chopped vegetables.
Drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil and season with sea salt.
Roast the joint for 20 minutes at 250°C top get the skin of the piglet going.
Turn the heat down to 200°C and roast for a further 50 minutes, after 25 mins remove the garlic and add a good splash of the Cider into the roasting tin.
Increase the oven temperature to 250°C once again and roast for a final 25 to 30 minutes or until the skin is golden brown and crispy.
Remove the piglet from the oven and take it out of the roasting tin onto a serving platter.
Squeeze the roasted garlic into the vegetable mixture and scrape it all into a saucepan.
Add the remaining cider and bring to gravy to the boil and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
Pass the gravy through a fine sieve and serve it with the roast suckling pig.
For further Spanish recipe inspiration have a look at these fab recipes from fellow food bloggers. No Tapas this time but I'll be focusing on that in an upcoming post.
Paella de Carne from Farmersgirl Kitchen
Spanish Chorizo and Rabbit Stew from Natural Kitchen Adventures
Pa amb tomàquet, Potaje and Sobao Pasiego from It's Not Easy Being Greedy
Spanish Tortilla with Jersey Royals & Spring Greens from The Veg Space
Spanish Omelette - Tortilla de Patatas from Little Sunny Kitchen
Grey's Fine Foods have provided two bottles of Berenziartua Basque Cider (Regular rrp £9.25 and Gourmet rrp £10.75) as a giveaway for readers of Foodie Quine. Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget below. To enter, let me know in a comment "What's your favourite Spanish food or drink?" For additional bonus entries you can follow me on Twitter, Tweet about the Giveaway or like me on Facebook. Giveaway ends 17th August 2015 12:00am. Good Luck!