A Taste of Coca de Recapte

Spain

Spanish Flatbread

A staple of Mediterranean Spain, the chewy, oblong flatbreads known as coques are the ultimate comfort food for locals and travellers alike. This summery version makes great tapas when cut into small pieces.

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 heaped cup flour

1 level tsp active dry yeast

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing

1/2 cup lukewarm water

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 large sweet onion, sliced thinly

1 pinch chili flakes

1 large sweet red pepper, sliced thinly

2 small zucchini, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

4 oz cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup olives, optional

1 tbsp oregano, finely chopped

Extra flour or polenta for baking sheet

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400F.

Stir together flour, yeast and salt in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook. Add oil and water and mix until dough is smooth—about 5 minutes, or 10 minutes if kneading by hand. Cover bowl with tea towel and allow to rise for about 3 hours at room temperature.

Using your fingertips, lightly stretch dough into an oval shape. Brush both sides with olive oil and place on a baking sheet sprinkled with flour or polenta.

Heat remaining olive oil in a pan, add garlic, onion, chili flakes and peppers and cook until al dente. Stir in zucchini and cook for a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange topping over bread and bake for 30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Sprinkle with oregano and serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves: 4

Use good quality Spanish olive oil if you can find it. It has a distinct flavour compared to oils from other regions.

Barcelona’s Top 5 Gaudi Sites

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (1852–1926), is the Spanish architect heralded as the father of Catalan Modernism. His work is highly stylized, featuring organic shapes and few straight lines. Gaudí integrated crafts such as ceramics, stained glass and wrought iron work into his buildings, often using materials in an unusual manner.

His architectural legacy contains seven World Heritage Sites, including his unfinished masterpiece Sagrada Familia.

Barcelona 34

1. Like everything Gaudí designed, Casa Batlló makes a lasting impression. Tour Casa Batlló with an audio guide and marvel at the twisted chimney stacks and dragon’s back undulations.

2. Often referred to as his unfinished symphony, Sagrada Família is one the most visited monuments in Spain. Though construction commenced in 1882, at the time of Gaudí’s death in 1926 less than a quarter of the project was complete.

3. Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera or “the Quarry” for its rock faced façade, looks like a set out of the Flintstones. Take a guided tour through the restored interiors featuring art nouveau furniture. Look for jazz concerts or other opportunities to visit La Pedrera at night. It’s a beautiful way to absorb the authentic beauty.

Barcelona 44

ABOVE: Dubbed “the Quarry”, La Pedrera proved controversial to neighbours when it was built.

4. Park Güell is considered a garden complex but the brightly coloured, undulating architectural elements make it difficult to focus on horticulture. High above the city, make sure to bring sunscreen and linger in the unusual setting.

Barcelona 38

ABOVE: Casa Batlló.

5. Casa Vicens was constructed with rough red brick, befitting the home’s owner, the proprietor of a brick and tile factory. One of Gaudi’s earlier works, it is remarkable for its Moorish influences and assymetrical plan.

Spanish Eyes

  • Wrought iron balusters grace the foyer’s tiled staircase.
  • Various objet d’art and collectibles rest on surfaces throughout the spacious living room. A formidable and eclectic art collection adorns the room’s walls.
  • LEFT: The coffee table has a balustrade base and its top is edged in marble which surrounds a terra cotta field. RIGHT: At the bar, crystal glasses rest on a chest decorated with marquetry.
  • The panelled study enjoys uninterrupted views to the foyer and into the dining room. Its coffered ceiling creates cozy intimacy in the warm setting.
  • In the dining room, a two-tiered crystal chandelier with acanthus leaves at the crown and antique bronze fittings softly illuminates the oval table. The table is surrounded by leather-clad dining chairs with tapestry backs.
  • Looking outside to the courtyard, dinner guests catch sight of the leafy lemon trees that are poised to flower and release their delicate scent.
  • A large candle chandelier floats above the kitchen island. When the temperature heats up, family and guests move into the shade of the adjoining patio.
  • From the kitchen, doors open onto a charming patio beneath an ivy-covered archway.

Marci Valner’s Spanish Colonial style home circa 1929 is minutes from UCLA in the urban suburb of Westwood. Jockeying for a parking spot is de rigueur in this neighbourhood. We see one, grab it and remember to hang the coveted permit from the rear view mirror or—ouch—a $64 ticket is sure to be waiting upon our return.

Although the home is formally designed it’s clearly well-loved and used frequently for entertaining. Patterned chairs and serviceable sofas invite lingering in the living room. Aubusson tapestry and vintage leaf patterns adorn pillows on the velvet sofa. An antique trestle side table sits next to the William Birch arm chair with its vintage palm leaf upholstery.

In the kitchen, cool-to-the-touch terra cotta floors offer a respite from the day’s heat. White adobe plaster walls and rustic wood beams on the ceiling add to the 1920’s mood.

We are in no hurry to rush back to our parking spot and take a moment to rest on the patio’s cool tile steps.

Puerto Rico Travel Guide

blogimg383

Spanish colonial architecture, a pulsing Latin beat and 580 kilometers of unspoiled coast- line have Kimberley Seldon saying, ‘Que Rico‘ to La Isla del Encanto. After all, they don’t call it the Island of Enchantment for nothing.

Opening my eyes just the tiniest bit, I let the bright sunlight sink into my brain slowly. ‘Right,’ I say to myself with a wee grin, ‘I’m in Puerto Rico.’ And just like that, I skip out on the end of winter in Toronto. ‘Well played,’ I think to myself.

Ramada, Ponce

Stay

The seaside setting of Ritz-Carlton San Juan Casino and Spa is unparalleled.

Casual boutique hotel, Hosteria del Marrents simply appointed beachside rooms. Its onsite Uvva Restaurantis good enough to return to nightly.

Chic and sophisticated nicely describes La Concha Resort. Splurge on an ocean or pool view. If you prefer to overnight in a setting that feels residential, Acacia Boutique Hotel is a charming choice.

A former convent from the 17th century, Hotel El Conventois ideally situated beside the Catedral de San Juan.

True luxury is what guests find at St Regis Bahia Beach Restort. Close to El Yunque National Forest, there’s an adjacent golf course as well.

In Ponce, you can stay at the bright yellow Ramada Ponce. However, golfers will prefer the green appeal of the nearby Hilton Golf and Casino.

Dining in Puerto Rico

Eat

St Germaine is the kind of casual cafe, where locals gather to linger over coffee and gossip. Come for lunch or brunch.

La Mallorca is a not-too-fancy local haunt for sweet buns and hot coffee.

Lusty describes the setting and menu at Dragonfly, Puerto Rico’s first Latin- Asian restaurant. Red walls, beaded curtains and fringed lamps are right out of Shanghai Surprise, but the food is memorable.

Tuna kebobs with cucumber slaw are a perfect match to chilled sangria at Torro del Salao Enjoy both in the lantern-lit courtyard patio.

In perfect harmony with the vibrant white and candy-hued interior, the menu at Marmalade is full of flavour. The white bean soup is muy popular.

Enjoy a rare and blissfully quiet dining experience at 311 Trois Once Cent. As the name suggests, the menu is French.

Foodies will rush to reserve a table at Fern, whose chef is world- renowned Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

Order the pechuga relleno de queso blanca y guayaba, aka chicken stuffed with guava and cheese at Dulce Fruta Bistro y Cafe and thank us later. Yum.

Stories above Plaza de las Delicias (Ponce’s main square) is the modern interior of Archipielago. The food is a fusion of Creole and continental. The halibut with coconut rice and vegetable curry is exceptional.

Cueva Clara Cave

Do

Cueva Clara, the largest of the Camuy River Park caves, has visitors arriving early to see the spectacular site. Step onto the tram and journey down to the natural wonder.

If you’re travelling with children, a trip to Arecibo Lighthouse Park can extend the day’s adventures. The small theme park is well kept and its replicas of Columbus’ ships, the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, remind you of all that history you learned back in school.Head to Puerto Rico’s Riviera, Luquillo Beach. This public beach is a crowd pleaser with dozens of the picturesque kiosks nearby so popular in Puerto Rico.

Adventurers will want to explore Puerto Rico’s other islands, Vieques and Culebra. Situated off the eastern shores, head to Fajardo and catch the ferry to either island.

Beach

A must see, the phosphorescence or bioluminescence generated by microscopic organisms (dinoflagellates) causes the water in La Parguera to glow with an eerie blue light whenever the surface is disturbed, an effect that is particularly powerful on moonless nights.The month of February is peak season for Humpback whale watching off the coast of Rincon.

Shopping for Panama hats in Puerto Rico

Shop

If you’re looking for Panama hats, hand-made cigars or folk art, then El Galpon is the place. Dabble Savvy: Above the Calle del Criston shop is an apartment to rent.

Handmade tote bags line the walls at Eco Eco.Owner, Angie Ortiz Rivera is on site and eager to serve.

The owners are rightfully proud of the original, contemporary Caribbean art on display at Galeria Exodo.

Board games are popular in Puerto Rico. At Kamel International Bazaar we found a chess set with nearly naked Ta ed no Indians squared off against the fully armed Spanish army. Not much of a match.

Old San Juan

Design Express

As it turns out, racking up rewards points is a breeze in Old San Juan. Flight, hotel and rental car garner double points, and I still earned a point for every dollar spent on shopping. In total, I earned 8,000 points on my trip to Puerto Rico simply by using my American Express Gold Rewards Card.