The new Spanish cuisine started in the Basque resort town of San Sebastian in the 1970s. Inspired by the Nouvelle Cuisine shining across the border in France, Basque chefs set about transforming their traditional menu. They developed lighter, fresher, modern versions of their homeland classics with creative style, while maintaining their reverence for quality, local bounty.
At the pinnacle of this new culinary art/science fusion, Ferran Andria’s Elbulli inspired generations of chef artists. Grasping at his coat hem for creative expression and fame at the most esoteric level, they scorched their egos and formed long lines at the altar of apprenticeship in his holy temple. Many moved on to chart their own careers polished by his glittering stardust.
The movement spread through the rest of Spain the way the aroma of seafood and saffron waft through the winding cobblestone alleys of Valencia. Today the buzz over Spanish food has the world’s top chefs scurrying across the country slurping up artful tapas, off the vine gazpachos, and deep-sea rustic paellas with keen intensity.
The Spanish way of ending the work day with a stroll to some favorite taverns for sherry, tapas and twinkling conversation captured the imagination of restaurant goers around the world. The non-stop American lifestyle does not seem willing to yield to this easy way of meandering through the evening, but that hasn’t stopped us from enjoying these fun, creative small plates in our own way.
The Old 5 Mile House has put together a fine representation of authentic Spanish dishes, classic and new. We’ll have ocean fresh clams sautéed with artichokes and Iberico Jamon, (see recipe), seared diver scallops with fire roasted red pepper sauce, artichoke, fennel and crab salad, grilled fresh swordfish with mojo rojo sauce, grilled dry aged rib eye steaks with spicy green peppers and more. Come on up to your five minute getaway for some epicurean adventure without the jet lag. Ole!
Clams With Jamon, Artichokes & Pine Nuts
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon pine nuts
10-12 small clams
2 cloves garlic, sliced lengthwise
1 slice Iberico Jamon diced
1/3 cup quartered, marinated artichoke hearts
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 lime wedge
Add olive oil and pine nuts to a pan over medium heat till pine nuts just begin to color.
Add clams and cover for about 3 minutes — shaking occasionally. Add remaining ingredients from first group. Simmer, covered till clams open. Toss those that don’t.
Serve in a bowl. Sprinkle with cilantro. Garnish with lime wedge. Serve with crusty bread and crisp white wine like an Albariño.
Robert Smith is the chef owner of the Old 5 Mile House where they serve roadhouse food from around the world.