--- Watch Rick Stein's Spain 8.30am Wednesdays on SBS Food, with episodes available at SBS On Demand after they air. ---
Rick Stein has visited Spain since he was a young boy. In the past, French and Italian cooking have been seen to have more finesse, but thanks to a handful of really dedicated Spanish chefs and a growing enthusiasm for its rugged flavours, that has all begun to change. According to Rick, no one cooks fish with more respect or grills meat better. Now, he travels the length and breadth of the country in an old campervan, going off the beaten track to discover the authentic soul (‘duende’) of Spanish cooking.
In this two-part episode, Rick’s journey begins in Galicia - famous for pilgrims, rain, fog, fresh seafood, empanadas and more rain. He eats ‘tortillas de patata’ in the King of Spain’s favourite restaurant and meets up with a couple of cool dudes who run a little restaurant in the old market of Santiago de Compostela. In neighbouring Asturias, he enjoys a cider festival at Gijon; samples the famous fabada - a hearty bean stew with sausage, belly pork and black pudding; and explores the making of Cabrales cheese in secret caves. Finally, in this programme stuffed with goodness and jollity, Rick enters the Basque Country, where they like nothing better than to cook great fish dishes, drink local wine and sing.
One of the great delights of Basque food are 'pinxos'; huge tapas portions. In this two-part episode, Rick learns all about them in a crowded bar in San Sebastian. In Ordizia, he marvels at how the toddlers from local schools all come to the market to see the various wares on display, while the teacher explains what things are. Battling through the rain he arrives at La Rioja, one of the richest regions of the country, stuffed with fabulous vineyards. Then it's on to Navarra and its most famous town, Pamplona - known for its bull running and Ernest Hemingway - and the Catalonian town of Lleida - which is crazy about snails.
The blue sea of the Mediterranean beckons, in this two-part episode,Rick is invited to a beautiful beach party at La Pelosa, where everyone gets stuck into preparing lunch. Continuing his journey through the spectacular countryside, far removed from the high-rise holiday destinations of the Costa Brava, he seeks out an old mill, El Moli, a restaurant and a magical place his boyhood friend Mark told him about years ago. Rick also eats some of the best seafood in the country, including prawns from Palamos, best simply tossed in a hot pan with sea salt - sweet and succulent.
In this two-part episode, Rick heads for the little known region of Extramadura - it’s famous for pimenton and Spain’s most celebrated ham Iberico. In his old camper he drives south to Spain’s most romantic city - Seville the home of tapas and flamenco.