Trout on the Table

When it comes to the fish of the day, one of my favorites is trout. This beautiful, delicate and pink fish is so tender and easy to cook and tender that works with pretty much every ingredient.

Many of our customers keep ordering our pan-fried trout with bacon, tomato garnish and olive oil nested on a bed of sliced potatoes. This is been for quite a while in the menu at Alcala Restaurant and we keep bringing it to the menu just because our customers are so loyal to it.

We know trout is one of the healthiest oily fish, ­—rich on Omega-3 fatty oils and proteins.

Alcala Pan-Seared Trout

Alcala Pan-Seared Trout

Customers are often surprised to learn that actually eating trout results in weight loss while retaining lean muscle mass and feeling fuller after meals.

The American Heart Association recommends consuming fish two times a week and better yet, as a substitute for red meat.

Those fishing aficionados know that throwing the fly well it’s the key for a good caught and no less great river scouting.

You can prepare brown or rainbow trout either pan-fried or lightly cooked in the oven. Also lightly boiled and smoked goes well as a salad with a mayonnaise-like sauce; also with pasta, or with other strong ingredients as chorizo or bacon.

And don’t forget a great glass of white wine like Albariño.

Enjoy!!

Chef Jesus Martínez

Alcala Restaurant

 

Sardines, The Healthiest Food in the World

Alcala' sardines 2.0

Alcala Restaurant Sardines

One of my favorite fish has always been Sardines: easy to cook, rich on taste and, as it happens, the healthiest food in the world – full of omega-3 fatty acids, D and B vitamins, calcium and an array of minerals.

For all those reasons Sardines have always been a favorite food to many around the world ranging from less privileged communities to the elites, a real dish crossover among classes because of their great flavor and availability. And as they enjoy a sort of new renaissance today, they can be found in many New York restaurants as tapas, in Mediterranean salads or simply ‘grilled’ a-la-minute.

Sardines are found abundantly in the Atlantic, Pacific and the Mediterranean where they feed at the aquatic bottom solely of plankton for which they do not concentrate heavy metals such as mercury and other contaminants. Delicious and inexpensive, humans have been consuming them since ancient times. In Galicia, Spain, a land of fishermen and seafood cuisine, the tradition of sardines is as old as the first inhabitants of the region. From the small villages to the fish industry, tales about sardines seem to inhabit our popular culture as much as our culinary imagination. As one of the world leading producers today, —if not the biggest producer, Spain’s sardine canned industry expands through a long history that includes women workers preeminence and even surviving several ‘Sardine Wars.”

I can remember vividly myself as a young man many afternoons in Galicia hanging in the piers waiting for the arrival of the small fishing boats where the locals would buy the freshest sardines for the next day. The bounties of salty smells and silvery colors emanating from the sardine bags remain in my memories. My mother used to buy them in fairly good quantities that she would prepare and conserve for the whole season. Once at home she would clean them thoroughly first thing, — since Sardines tend to deteriorate quickly, and lay them boneless in fillets in a large pan. Then she’d marinate them in “escabeche” with salt, fennel and fresh herbs, vinegar, garlic and spices and fill the pan with olive oil. They will be covered and put away in the kitchen shelves for couple weeks. When the marinating process had ‘cooked’ the sardines the fillets were ready to eat as snacks in small tapas, or as part of other dishes.

Sardines are very easy to cook. Most restaurants offer them ‘grilled’ though they are really broiled which creates the same crispy skin texture (without actually falling apart) and rich smoky flavor. You can make a great dish with canned sardines marinated in salad  and pasta dishes or tapas. Fortunately for us there are plenty of sardine banks in the ocean and they are not becoming endangered species any time soon.

Buen provecho!!

Chef Jesus Martínez

Alcala Restaurant

 

How to Find Best Tapas in New York

New Yorkers love Tapas and often venture through the city restaurants hunting for new spots and new varieties. Commonly known as small dishes, tapas is a culinary art on itself perfectly prepared, impeccably presented and stunningly delicious.

As part of Spanish cuisine, Tapas can be found in most restaurants and bars in Spain where they have evolved into an entire, often sophisticated cuisine. Tapas may be cold or hot, may work as appetizers or snacks with drinks; they also can be the introduction of a meal or the meal themselves.

With tapas you can try few different foods, they are great for sharing and make for conversation, which is a wonderful way to enjoy a meal in good company.

When I’m in Spain I always go to my favorite tapas places to enjoy the traditional food cooking I love so much. And I also like to check out the eateries where the latest trends of sophisticated modern cuisine are redefining the concept of tapas for the customers every day. In our kitchen at Alcala Restaurant in New York we thrive to bring to our customers the best tapas that can be found in the city.

But what makes a great tapa, what are the things we can recognize in every great tapa? Here are some tips that will help you find outstanding tapas.

1) A good tapa is a good concept.  Like everything in life not all dishes are born to be small, not all ideas in the paper work in the real world of cooking.

Alcala canelones Tapas

Alcala Spinach and Shrimp Cannelloni

2) Simple is good. Best tapas are made of one-two ingredients topped with a great sauce that brings everything together.

3) It’s the size! A good tapa should come in a confortable enough size to be shared but not so much to make you feel full.  As a rule of thumb, a tapa should have at least three good parts for sharing and it also must allow for tasting another two o three different ones.

A great tapa should be prepared a-la-minute to be eaten right away or in some cases, heated in the moment.

4) A tapa is not a snack. Tapas shouldn’t be confused with snacks, nuts or dips.

5) What’s in a bite. In tapa land there’s no room to hide. That’s why tapa ingredients need to be fresh, top quality and prepared to produce great taste and eating experience.

6) Just ready-made. A great tapa should be prepared a-la-minute to be eaten right away or in some cases, heated in the moment.

7) The knockout effect.  A great tapa should have a fresh touch – a contrast in textures, a touch of herbs or a raw ingredient that changes altogether the impact of the food. It should not be too spice or too salty but tasty and delicious.

Alcala' chorizo tapa

Alcala Chorizo Tapa

8) Presentation, presentation, presentation. A great tapa must have a great presentation without interfering in the way of eating it. If it has several parts that need to be combined it should come cut in portions to facilitate the mixing of ingredients.

9) Another one please. You know a tapa is a great one when it incites tasting another one.

10) Bring it home. In general, a good tapa should be fairly easy to replicate at home.

So get ready to mix and match tapas dishes with your favorite wines and company. Happy New Year!

Chef Jesus Martínez

Alcala Restaurant

All you Need to Know to Pairing Spanish Wines and Holidays Food

Spanish wines are becoming deservedly better known by American wine lovers. The wide diversity of regional productions, quality, body and aroma make Spanish wines an excellent companion for most kinds of food from tapas to paellas, traditional dishes and avant-garde new cuisine. New York Restaurants offer a great variety of Spanish Wine but what better place than a Spanish cuisine restaurant will offer traditional Spanish wine. Alcala Restaurant  is in the heart of NYC with a fabulous food-wine combination to complement a delightful experience.

So if you are thinking in your Holidays meals, here’s what you need to know to pair your dishes with the best Spanish wines.

Alcala' bottles ribeiro_1 banner web

Alcala’s Wine Selection

1)   Jerez, Sherry, is a unique dry wine from Andalucia, south of Spain. Not well understood, these varieties range from light versions Manzanilla and Fino, to bone-dry Amontillado and Oloroso. Dry Jerez should be served chilled and is an excellent match for tapas, shrimps, oysters, scallops, clams and other shellfish, and a great counterpoint for cheeses, specially aged cheeses.

The sweet variety of Jerez Oloroso, Pedro Ximenez or Moscatel make them great to pair with dry foods, artisan cheeses, nuts, sweets and cakes, coffee and chocolate.

2)   Cavas – Cava is the Spanish equivalent to champaign mostly made in Catalunya with the same standards as in France. Cava is very versatile, can be used as an aperitif and also in bubbly drinks as in mimosas. Cava is an excellent match for Spanish tapas, selfish, appetizers, spicy dishes, Serrano ham, and of course with modern cuisine and why not, deserts and cheeses.

spanish Paella

Alcala’s Spanish Paella

3)   Rosados, Rosé wines, refreshing, delicious and quite versatile Spain’s Rosados range from La Rioja famous Tempranillo in the north; Valencia and Calaluña Rosats in the Mediterranean region; and Castilla and León Cigales.Rosados pair well with seafood, pork, Latin American cuisines and paella.

4)   Spanish Red Wines, Tintos are increasingly been featured in specialized magazines ranking among high in many American wine lists. Because of their balance, this variety offers a great range of options for food pairing from tapas to the most sophisticated modern cuisine. Excellent Tintos range from Galicia’s Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras; to La Rioja well-aged reservas and gran reservas, to Duero Valley Ribera del Duero.

Other big Spanish reds include Toro, Jumilla, Penedés, Priorat which rank among some of the best red wines in the world.  These varieties are excellent companions for steaks, pasta, rice and vegetable dishes.

5)   Spanish white wines, Vinos Blancos are a favorite choice among wine lovers, which is the case of albariños from the Rias Baixas region of northwestern Galicia. Other excellent whites include Ribeiro, Ribeira Sacra, Valdeorras and Monterrei ranking among the world’s greatest white wines.  And don’t forget stellar chardonnays from Conca de Barberá and Penedés, to mention some in the Cataluña region; Rueda in Valladolid and Basque Txacoli, and finally the superb La Rioja whites.

Whether by-the-glass for a conversation with friends, with tapas or full more formal Holiday meals, Spanish wines offer many possibilities of food pairing.

These wines marry well with a wide range of food from the simplest grilled selfish to traditional seafood stews and black rice paellas, surf and turf dishes, tapas and sophisticated modern cuisine. So go ahead and rediscover your favorite feasts of the season, ­— your friends and family will surely appreciate it.

Happy Holidays to everyone!!

Jesus Martínez

Chef – Alcala Restaurant New York

Let Food be Your Health – NYC Restaurants

salmon Salad - health and food nyc food and health nyc

Welcome to my blog friends and food lovers.

I’m excited about sharing this blog on food, health and wellbeing.  Because I believe food, –good food, and good culinary practices, not only makes you happy but also keeps you healthy.

Ancient Greeks had this figured out early. As Hippocrates put it, “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food“. The father of western medicine great Hippocrates correctly established that illness was the result of environmental factors, diet and living habits.

We can say today ‘let food be our medicine, and let also food be our health as well’. In other words, let’s not worry about eating well when we are feeling unwell or ill, but let’s build good, excellent eating habits so we feel good and keep healthy for the most part and when it happens, we’ll be better prepared to fight illness and depression.

And as I mention depression, I want to point another aspect of my culinary practice. As an spiritual person, I believe that everything is connected, matter and energy, biology and emotions, body, mind and spirit. That’s why eating well is fundamentally critical for your health and wellbeing, for your body and soul.

That’s why in this blog I will follow a holistic approach to food and cuisine encompassing all those related aspects from life style and exercise, health and nutrition to culinary styles, ingredients, tips, recipes, anecdotes, food experiences, wines, creativity and so much more.

And we invite you all to follow us in this food blog and to share your love for food and your experiences with us.

I look forward to hear from you soon.

All the best in good health,

Chef Jesus Martínez

Alcala Restaurant

 

La puerta ‘del’ Alcalá en Manhattan

Screen shot 2013-07-26 at 1.06.54 AMSentir ‘morriña’ es cosa de españoles, no solo de gallegos españoles, sino de españoles. Por algo en todas las américas, seas de Murcia o A Coruña, siempre serás ‘un galleguito’. Pues en esto que me encontraba yo con sentimiento de lo mío y me tropecé con la Puerta ‘del’ Alcalá

Que un español pueda perderse en Manhattan entra dentro de lo probable, pero si esto sucede hay una manual seguro que terminará con su preocupación pues, es bien sabido, que un español piensa mejor después de un buen yantar y mejor beber. Hete aquí que un servidor, por más que pudiera parecer que me dedico a otras cosas, mi ocupación principal es contar lo que le sucede a a uno mismo o a otros, y esto que les cuento es lo que me pasó.

Acostumbrado como estaba a ir a la ONU, siempre con prisas; New York imprime carácter y es fácil que como todo el mundo va corriendo, uno termina haciendo lo propio por pura imitación y, así, cuando llevas media hora corriendo entre la Quinta y la Sexta, de la ‘fortyfour’ street a la ‘fortyseven’! Te paras un segundo y te preguntas ¿Pero por qué pijo corres, si tu no tienes prisa?.

Pues eso que, entre mi medio inglés y mi poco conocimiento de la ciudad me vi a las puertas de la ONU, desmayado como el perro del Lazarillo de Tormes y con la nostalgia de meterme entre pecho y espalda algún sopicaldo de los nuestros, una platica de cabrito… Y sin conocer mas que aquellos carteles de “Macdoanld’s” y otros tipos de ‘fastfood’ que es como se llama a eso del comer mal.

Dios…que mal se lleva eso de comer mal, y ahi me tiene usted entre sentimientos de ‘morriña’ y hambre. Salí de la ONU -y, oiga, lea con atención que no lo repito- como si tuviera un radar en mi despejada cabeza, salí por la puerta de visitantes a la izquierda hasta la calle 44, caminé unos pasos, como si fuera dirección a Grand Central Station…y vi un cartel “Alcalá” (Dios ¡No puede ser!) y debajo de Alcalá una puerta y un cartel que, aunque escrito en inglés, el hambre me hizo interpretar correctamente, ‘Spanish Restaurant’.

Les juro por mi vida que casi lloro, ya podía oler -en mi imaginación- los aromas de la cocina, caldo gallego, paella, pimientos del padrón, gazpacho, gambas al ajillo… ¿Sería verdad?.

Vaya amigos, era todo eso y mas. Que gozo para el paladar y para el alma, porque esta claro que por el estómago se nos conquista y los hermanos Martínez (Jesús, Benito y Juan Carlos), con unos veinte años en los EEUU, han conquistado a la superpotencia, y lo han hecho por el estómago. Estos tres gallegos han sabido demostrar que para hacer una buena cocina española no hacer falta ser el Bully o tener el nombre de restauradores de postín y mediáticos -que está bien, no digo yo que no- pero es que la sencillez de la cocina española, bien trabajada y con una buena materia prima, como en el Restaurante Alcalá de Manhattan, necesita de pocas estrellas, sean de Michelin o de la marca de ruedas que sea.

Se llaman Martínez, son de Galicia y recriados en distintos sitios de España y del Mundo, como corresponde a buenos gallegos. Pasen y pidan, gazpacho, gambas al ajillo, estofado de ternera, sardinas a la parrilla, paella, pimientos del poquito con bacalao, jamón…

No me pidan que les diga todo lo que comí en estos días en New York, pero la pena de estar lejos de España, trabajando, pensando en mi santa madre ingresada en el hospital por una maldita caída…todo en la cabeza dando vueltas. Creo que pocos como los españoles para sentir la necesidad de estar en donde tenemos que estar, pero estando en otro sitio diferente. Yo debía estar en Murcia (España) pero estaba en Manhattan (NY) EEUU. Gracias sean dadas al buen Dios, porque estos gallegos están en todo el mundo y tras la ‘puerta del Alcalá’ uno puede sentirse cerca de España.

(a todos los que viajéis a NY, os lo recomiendo de corazon: www.alcalarestaurant@gmail.com)

Spain is the largest Olive Oil producer in the world

Olive-spanishSpain produces 250,000 tones of olive oil a year – The best Olive Oil from Spain- Smooth, Vibrant, Bold. Just like a fine wine, the varietal, climate and region determine an olive oil’s taste.

From the southern olive groves of Andalucía to the northern region of Catalonia, Spain in not only the number one olive oil producer in the world but also the most diverse, with the largest variety of unique oils that are as distinctive as nature itself. Olive oil enhances the flavor of your meals and reveals the creativity in you. And definitively, keeps you healthy!

Mediterranean Diet Shown to Ward Off Heart Attack

food-pyramidAbout 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk if they switch to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables, and even drink wine with meals, a large and rigorous new study has found.

“Now along comes this group and does a gigantic study in Spain that says you can eat a nicely balanced diet with fruits and vegetables and olive oil and lower heart disease by 30 percent,” he said. “And you can actually enjoy life.”