A taste of Ibiza

foodIbizaIBIZA hasn’t had the greatest press over the years. It’s not that the island isn’t lovely, with dramatic scenery and a glorious climate. It’s more to do with the notorious wild partying that tended to put off many who might otherwise enjoy this island in the sun.

Philippa Davis says, forget your preconceptions:

Let me tell you it is an island packed full of beautiful beaches, amazing restaurants, swarms of super yachts, prides of cool people and of course a club or two.

Ibiza has to be one of the best places for people watching. Day or night the streets, bars, clubs and cafes are filled with an extraordinary mix of beautiful, wild, daring, ostentatious,  cool, those trying to be cool and those who really don’t care sort of people.

My week’s work started pretty much straight off the plane when I was handed over the reins of the BBQ at the villa – that is how chilled people get here, as generally I have to prise the males off the spot next to the coals.

foodIbiza3Early in the week I managed to pretty much scour the entire island and check out which markets, specialist food shops and areas were best for provisions. Unromantically, the Mercado supermarket came out on top as it had a good butchers, excellent fishmongers and vegetable supplies. Strangely it lacked in other areas like fresh milk and vanilla pods, but all was forgiven as there were sardines a-plenty.

I totally enjoyed my week focusing on Spanish food and it was a delight to be able to easily get hold of their delicious cured hams like the Jamón Ibérico, use the super-tasty local sun-drenched figs and watermelon and be a bit more liberal than usual with my sprinkles of paprika.

Here is an excellent sauce to have as part of your Spanish repertoire, Romesco:

This toasted nut with tomato, paprika and nora pepper sauce works well served at room temperature with grilled red meats, white fish, and vegetables. Serves 6 as a sauce

3 nora peppers (specialist Spanish stores will stock these;, they are dried so you can buy in bulk and use as needed).
1 head of garlic
150g roasted and peeled hazelnuts
1- 2 tbs sherry vinegar
3 tbs olive oil

Tomato sauce:

2 tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
400g tinned tomatoes
1 tsp hot paprika
1 tsp sweet paprika

foodIbiza2Soak the nora peppers in just boiled water for 30 mins (they will bob to the surface so place a saucer on top to fully immerse them.

Make the tomato sauce by gently frying the 2 cloves of garlic in the olive oil, when they start to colour add the tinned tomatoes and then the paprika, season with salt and pepper and cook for 15 mins or until thickened,

Pre heat oven too 180 °c , slice the garlic head in half horizontally and sprinkle with salt, pepper and 1 tbs olive oil. Place on a dish and roast for 10 – 15 mins or until soft and lightly golden.

In a food processor blitz the nuts so there are still a few small chunks but most of it is a coarse meal texture. Place in a bowl. Don’t wash the food processor bowl.

Drain the nora peppers, keeping the water, and split open. Remove the seeds and green top. Roughly chop then place in food processor and start to blitz, add the tomato sauce, vinegar, olive oil and garlic and blitz till smooth.

Add the tomato/nora mix to the ground hazelnuts and stir – the sauce should be a little loose so add a couple of tbs of the nora water until you have a slightly loose constituency. Check for seasoning (you may feel you want to add a little extra paprika or vinegar to give it more of a kick).

For more of Philippa’s recipes see her monthly column in The Field and visit her website www.philippadavis.com