Today, it’s not raining. This is something to celebrate, because although we need more rain, we were dying for a little moral boost. It’s been 3 weeks straight of cloudy skies, and while I appreciate what it has done for our rooftop garden and beautiful park across the street, I do miss sitting on the roof watching the sunset. Thus tonight, while the clouds are still creeping around the edges, is an evening to lounge on the roof and enjoy warm summer breezes and twinkling stars. It will be one of our first nights of the season, requiring a bottle of Alvarino paired with figs, fresh bread, smoked salmon, semi cured Manchego cheese and Boquerones, or, white anchovies.
Now many of you will immediately hear anchovy and think “Ewww, those oily, over salted, fishy tasting strips!” Now, while I also love this type of anchovy that you are thinking of, especially when wrapped around green olives on long toothpicks, this is not what I’m talking about. I’m referring to a long, white fillet that is soaked in vinegar and oil, and often eaten as is with your drink of choice. I love them! I can’t get enough. Slightly sweet with just a delicate vinegar edge to them. They are light slivers of candied sea water. At their best, they have a very firm flesh that gently gives way as you savor them on your palate. You will often see them in any local bar sitting in a shallow yellow oil, just waiting to be served. Honestly, they may not look very appetizing when placed behind a glass display, but they’re a local delicacy and worthy of an order. Commonly, they’ll be served to you in a plain white dish, often the saucer to an espresso cup, with 5-10 fillets.
For those foodie geeks out there, the Latin name for this family of fish is Engraulis Encrasicolus. I dare you to say that out loud three times!
You can also find these little white treasures battered and fried, although I find the simple vinegar and oil marinated ones the best. You may also encounter semi-fried versions, head still on, twisted and coated in batter sitting in a heap behind the counter. Upon ordering, the bartender will take a few handfuls and throw them back into the piping hot oil to finish up browning before being served on a little plate. Don’t look around for tartar sauce, or any other garnish, because you don’t need anything, nor would you get anything if you asked. Spaniards don’t do sauces! Well, Brava sauce, but that’s just for one potato dish.
So what to drink with Boquerones you ask? We suggest a Manzanilla, whose salty and crisp flavors perfectly balance the intense vinegar imparted by the Boquerones. Otherwise, try a heavier Alvarino, a Godello, or simply, a beer!
Tonight, we were planning on having an Albariño de Fefiñanes Rias Baixas Blanco Joven 2007 from Rias Baixas, but lamentably, it was corked. Our backup plan was to get a Godello, but life got the best of us, and now we’re scrambling for a beer 😉 Oh well, such is life!