Cookery series. Rick continues his journey in the old camper van from the Basque country on the Atlantic coast, to travel eastwards towards the Mediterranean.
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Laurie Lee's As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning
is the sort of book that makes you want to leave immediately for Spain.
He says, "Between cities, take a bus to the cut-off country -
"there will only be small inns to stay at,
"but you will be rewarded by a landscape pure as the sea,
"ancient and wind-ravaged and bare,
"where storks and vultures circle majestic skies above herds of black fighting bulls.
"Show that you're in no hurry, that you're ready to let things happen,
"and the human encounter which is Spain will follow."
I'm continuing my journey from the rocky coast of Galicia towards Cantabria in the Basque country.
I'm getting quite fond of this old camper van, actually. It's sort of, erm,
it goes along at quite a steady pace, it's not exactly speedy, but
you can sort of think about things on these long motorways in Spain.
And on the subject of motorways, it seems there's a dual carriageway linking every shepherd's hut,
no matter how remote - there's so much of it.
But I'm hoping to glimpse the Spain I knew as a child on holiday
by the Bay of Biscay nearly half a century ago.
I'm a bit puzzled. I first came here when I was eight years old, to Laredo, and I've got really strong
memories of the hotel we stayed at, called the Hotel Carlos V.
And I'm told it's around here somewhere, but I've been asking people
and they said, no, no it's been demolished, it's just a campsite round here.
But it means a lot to me, because it's probably my earliest sort of gourmet memories -
I was eight at the time, and we drove over from England in my dad's blue Jaguar Mark VII.
And I can distinctly remember really liking squid cooked in its own ink with garlic and tomato.
I liked it and I remember Coke, having it for the first time
in green bottles - me and my sister just loved those heavy green bottles
that it came in in those days.
I suppose for me, it's a bit like my A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu.
The director won't like this, but what it means is looking,
going back to your childhood, to those really nostalgic memories.
My parents brought me here to the Port of Colindres.
This coast, stretching right up into the Basque country, is world famous for anchovies.
They're supposed to be the best in the world, because the cold water
of the Cantabrian sea produces firm-fleshed fish, and that's the secret of good anchovies.
They need to keep that firmness before they enter the canning factories.
Look at these silver darlings, they're salted minutes from landing,
left for five to six hours, washed and packed into barrels to cure for about a year.
And it's only after that that they're washed again, filleted and put into those lovely ornate tins.
I've often found the difference between a sardine and an anchovy
really hard to tell, but when they're as fresh as this, it's easy.
If you look at the sardine, it's got a sort of greeny, yellowy tinge to it,
looks sort of more like a mackerel, I suppose.
But then when you look at an anchovy, it's beautiful.
It's got this lovely deep blue tinge to it and it's really, really sleek.
Interestingly, they were telling me, when you get lots of sardines in
with the anchovies, the price goes right down, because it's the anchovy that's the prized fish.
I must confess, I rather naively thought that little tins of anchovies were filled by a machine.
You know, a long conveyor belt and a great vat of olive oil going bloop, bloop, bloop at the end.
No idea they were done by hand!
But when you look at how wonderfully laid out all the anchovies are,
look at all the skill here. Just the way they're snipping and cutting and layering it, it's fabulous.
And of course, I was just talking to somebody the other day about anchovies,
a Spanish guy, and he was saying that anchovies are like the ham of the sea, like an Iberico ham,
and they're that order of quality, really.
I mean, he was suggesting that anchovies like this are on a par
with things like Iberico ham, truffles, caviar, that sort of thing, and I totally agree with him.
Now they're covered with olive oil - a mild one, because you want to taste the fish.
These are far too good for pizzas, best in a salade Nicoise or a tapas with olives and peppers,
or best of all, eaten just as they are with bread and a cold glass of wine.
So here's to anchovies, and the ladies who pack them so beautifully.
This remote villa in the olive groves of Andalucia is where I cook all my dishes on this journey.
And here I'm going to prepare a lovely, simple anchovy salad.
And for that, I need to start with freshly made croutons and a very good olive oil.
The sort of little things I notice when I'm travelling through another country,
their croutons are a bit bigger than ours.
This dish I really dreamt up myself using, obviously, a lot of local ingredients.
Garlic, of course, olive oil, of course,
nice croutons - but it's all about the anchovies.
And actually, what I really like is just getting a tin and taking one out, because they're so sweet.
They've got this lovely sort of residual sweetness when they're as good as that.
But I think this salad really does show them off at their very, very best.
I can't think of anything better than this in the summer -
eaten outside on a warm sunny day, no fuss. The dressing's important and it's as easy as can be.
Two egg yolks, whisked, and then garlic.
I chop it up pretty coarsely at first and then
crush it ever so slightly with a sea salt to bring out the oils.
The flavour of garlic is the taste of Spain as far as I'm concerned.
It was once considered to be only for the poor.
I still remember my parents saying Spanish food was too greasy, and there was far too much garlic.
Now mustard - half a teaspoon of Dijon - and a tad more salt, and the juice from half a lemon.
Then you're ready for the olive oil.
This dressing stands out with the best of them - it's a mayonnaise really,
but the lemon and garlic makes it even better.
Before I got to that factory in Laredo in Cantabria, I was just thinking, well,
it's bound to be done by a machine, all that filleting of the anchovies,
so it came as a tremendous, good surprise
to see all those ladies sitting on their high stools filleting anchovies by hand,
and sort of popping them to bed in a tin of olive oil.
And they were so much enjoying what they were doing.
Do you know, I think it adds to a tin of anchovies when you know that it's done by hand.
This would probably be my favourite salad of all time - well, certainly today, anyway!
I'm making this for four, but could easily eat the lot myself. It's just a nice balance here.
You have the soft creaminess of the eggs, the sweet saltiness of the anchovies,
the crispness of the lettuce, the warm crunch of the croutons and that luxury touch,
that sauce or mayonnaise that transports you into a restaurant lapping the shores of the Med.
And then, of course, there's the wine.
What better than a cold, very cold Albarino?
Just as I anticipated - sweet, beautiful.
Do you know, I make friends with people that share enthusiasms for food with me,
and I make best friends with people that like chorizo sausages,
Iberico ham and Cantabrian anchovies.
Well, that might have been a summer treat, but when Professor Higgins said the rain in Spain
falls mainly on the plain, he was telling a bit of a fib.
It rains a lot in the Basque country, too.
It's a bit like Catalunya - you've got the sea on one side and the mountains on the other.
It's very lush, as you can see.
Unfortunately, it's also very rainy, which is rather a shame,
because the Basque country, particularly up here just going up into the mountains,
it's incredibly attractive.
Got lovely limestone peaks and they're really jagged.
So I'm really disappointed that you can't see them in the mist.
But I'm on my way to a restaurant which was recommended
to me by a very well known Australian chef called Neil Perry.
The thing I like about it, the sound of it, is that everything
that the chef there, Victor, cooks is cooked over homemade charcoal.
And apparently it's all to do with his background in the region, in the mountains here.
He's just very familiar with cooking in this way right back to his childhood.
So as a bit of a fan of barbecue cooking anyway, I'm utterly looking forward to it.
Victor - that's him in the black T-shirt - and his chef Lennox
run what's been described as the world's best barbecue joint.
Victor designed and built these grills that can be lifted or lowered
to control the cooking speed - and anyone who has a barbecue will know what a bonus that would be.
Lennox, would you ask Victor why he cooks in this way?
HE SPEAKS SPANISH
He's saying, "Opening this restaurant was a very emotional journey.
"As a child brought up in a house without gas or electricity,
"all the cooking was done over a fire, a wood fire."
So his earliest memories of food were always influenced by the flavours
of smoke from the charcoal - and the food never tasted better.
And now, 40 years on, he works to recapture those flavours from his youth.
Even as a young adult, he worked as a forester in the hillside
and would cook just like his grandmother did, out on an open fire in the woods.
He said it's the most natural and the best way to cook.
HE SPEAKS SPANISH
-So basically, it is an emotional journey for him.
-Very much so.
That's really interesting, because I'm a cook, too,
and the funny thing is that I do feel, from listening to that,
I suddenly realised all I try to do is go back to my childhood
and re-create those flavours of when I was little.
That's all I do, and so I'm totally sympatico with what he's saying.
These prawns are special. I mean, look at that.
-So these are the gambas de Palamos...
-By all means.
I feel diffident about...
I'm just going to be very Spanish and just...
Oh, my god! Oh, my gosh!
They are just...
Oh, I'm sorry.
Ask any chef in Spain where the tastiest prawns come from,
and they'll say Palamos, a fishing port on the Mediterranean in Catalonia - they're quite amazing.
Just gently warm, just warm the mouth with the succulent flavours of...
I'm sorry, I'm having a difficult moment, I can't talk any more. It's just so, so wonderful.
I know this steak is going to be great, too.
Victor said it actually came from a dairy cow about 12 years old,
not a young prime three-year-old steer.
Again he said when he was growing up, this was what they used to eat
for a special treat, and he doesn't want to change that.
Well, I can't wait to try this, having watched Victor cook it.
This is just central to any meat lover's love.
Just as the quayside in Padstow is the inspiration for my cooking,
Victor's came from these mountains and wooded valleys.
It's pretty rare these days to re-create
the cooking and flavours from your youth and get people
banging at your door from all over the world wanting to try it.
And while on the subject of youth, one of the most popular desserts by far
here in the Basque country is the famous Mamia - a junket made from sheep's milk.
It's sold everywhere and it's truly loved by the Basques.
Amelia, the farmer's wife, has made it all her life,
just like most people who live in this mountainous region.
All it is is warm milk set by a rennet, which also comes from the sheep.
Well, I've just watched Amelia make the junket - it's so rural.
Everybody used to make junket when I was little, but I can't actually remember what it tastes like.
It's lovely. I was thinking, actually, one of those things
when I was at school, the three things that were always a bit of a problem for us -
this was when I was very tiny - was sago, tapioca and junket. But I can't see why.
SHE SPEAKS BASQUE
Nourishing stuff, junket.
The Spanish use of milk in sweets or puddings isn't so very far removed
from our own, and it isn't only sheep's milk, either.
Well, this is called leche frita, which literally means fried milk.
I remember before I got to the Basque country thinking, how do you fry milk?
Do you drop it into a fryer, does it come out in some sort of like long shreds or something?
No. What it actually means is, they make a sort of batter, and chill it, and then cut
the batter up into various shapes and then deep fry it in bread crumbs.
The warm milk flavoured with lemon zest and vanilla
is poured onto egg yolks, sugar and flour and whisked together and returned to the heat to cook out.
Eventually, with a degree of patience and gentle stirring, it forms a very thick custard.
I don't do enough puds. There's something really comforting about making puds.
In Spain, the three you'll normally find in restaurants is crema Catalana -
of course that's a sort of creme brulee Catalan-style - rice pudding and flan.
When it's nearly solid, spread it into a dish lined with clingfilm,
so that it forms a wobbly cake, and cool it.
So that's been in the fridge for about two or three hours and it
comes out in this rather satisfying slab of, well, cold custard, really.
To make the fritters, cut them up into bite-sized triangles and coat them in flour and then
dip them in beaten eggs so that the chunky bread crumbs will form a very satisfying, crunchy coating.
When the people over here talk about leche frita, fried milk, you can almost hear a lump in their throats,
for indeed it's the stuff of Spanish childhood memories.
The hard, sweet, crunchy outside and the cool, creamy interior is just a great combination.
I'm hungry for the sun.
I've been travelling for nearly two weeks and it has rained virtually every day.
But I'm driving ever eastwards, almost feeling the magnetic pull of the Med.
This is Rioja - a name I find comforting because I've drunk quite a lot of it in my time.
My first stop is Santo Domingo de la Calzada, a place that has a unique story to tell.
It's not far from the border with France, and it's an important
stopping place for the pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela,
a mere 400-mile slog to where they can earn a peaceful and guilt-free afterlife.
Many of the pilgrims would have called in to see the famous Santo Domingo,
who also happens to be the patron saint of road menders.
He's connected to rather a strange story which manifests itself into almost a scene from Monty Python.
See what I mean?
Well, the story that I like is this, that three pilgrims - a father and a mother
travelling with their son - are put up for a night in a local taverna.
The father and mother had gone off to Vespers but the son was feeling
a bit ill, so he decided to have an early night.
Well, the landlady of this taverna took a real like to him
and tried to seduce him, but he was having none of it.
She was so cross that she ran out into the road screaming, "Rape, rape, theft, theft!"
And the poor boy was taken before the local mayor and there and then found guilty and strung up.
Well, what happened then is extraordinary.
Before departing on their pilgrimage to Santiago, the distraught parents went to see their son
hanging on the gallows for one last time - he was still alive!
Santo Domingo had saved him, had lifted his body up
and prevented the rope from doing its terrible work.
They rushed to the mayor,
who was just sitting down to eat a roast cock and a roast hen,
and they told him that their son was still alive.
He said, "If that's true, the cock will get up and crow
"and the hen will cluck", which, of course, they did.
And then they flew out of the window.
In celebration of that, for the last 600 years, they've kept a cock
and a hen in the most beautifully gilded cage on Earth,
except in the winter, when it's too cold.
I suppose if I had a neat and tidy mind, I should be cooking a Riojan chicken dish,
but one of the most popular flavours in Northern Spain is salt cod.
Maybe it's a religious influence. Most probably.
But this is one of the best Spanish dishes I know.
So, as you can see, this is what bacalao salt cod looks like
when it's been soaked for about 24 hours,
and this what bacalao looks like when it's salted
and relatively dry. This is very good quality bacalao.
You can always judge by the thickness of it. It comes from a really thick cod.
And in fact, I would go as far as to say that the Spanish actually
prefer salt cod to fresh cod. Not to fresh hake, of course.
And I'd also go as far to say that I doubt there's a restaurant
in the whole of Spain that doesn't serve bacalao in some form.
In this case, it's going to be mixed with some mashed potato
and stuffed into some piquillo peppers.
So first of all to poach the cod.
I'm going to leave that simmering there for about 15 minutes, I guess.
The reason for putting it in with the potatoes is part economy -
saving on gas - but mostly because I want the flavour of the salt cod
to go into the potato water, cos I'm going to use some of it in my puree.
The piquillo peppers - sorry, piquillo peppers - conveniently come in tins, thank goodness,
otherwise I'd have to roast and skin them, which would take ages.
The Spanish, I've found, use loads of tinned food.
I take the skin off and check these lovely silky flakes for bones,
and then simply break them up
before mixing them in with the mashed potatoes.
Again, another dish that stemmed from the New World.
The cod was originally caught by the Basques off Newfoundland,
and the potatoes and peppers were brought back to Spain from South America.'
This is very satisfying doing this
and it's already looking very delicious,
but the thought of adding garlic and olive oil to it as well is very nice to me.
'I've roughly smashed up about four or five cloves of garlic
'and then that with the olive oil makes this quite wonderful filling
'for those soft sweet peppers.'
I must say, this is not easy, and I'm blowed if I'm going to put
everything in a piping bag. I'm not going to be a cheffy little chef
and do that. No, I'm going to use a teaspoon and my fingers.
I love this way of cooking, this sort of rugged way.
I mean, just look at that, that's the colours of Spain,
the Cazuela, the earthenware dish, and those deep red peppers
and the salt cod and potato - that is appetising.
'Now I grate some manchego, Spain's most famous cheese from La Mancha,
'and for that extra heat and smokiness, a sprinkling of pimenton.'
That goes in a hot oven for about 15 minutes.
Look at that view - fantastic. Makes me want to cook.
'It makes me want to eat as well.
'If I had to choose my top five dishes of Spain,
'this would definitely be one of them, and it's on the menus
'of any self respecting tapas bar in the whole of the county.
'I wish I was driving through Rioja at harvest time,
'seeing the deep purple tempranillo grapes being picked.
'The wine has a massive cache for me,
'because Rioja was the first truly great Spanish wine I tasted.
'This is the winery of Miguel Merino. He's a relative newcomer
'to the wine business here,
'but the Washington Post said that his wine is "eminently drinkable",
'so much so that they gave it a top prize in a blind tasting.
'Miguel insisted that I try Chuletillas -
'lamb cutlets cooked over vine trimmings.'
Like many wine makers that I've spoken to,
you seem to very relaxed, humorous, full of pleasure, really.
Is it cos you like the wine, or is it because of the lifestyle?
Yes, well, I think that we are talking about
the epicentre of happiness.
If some people want to celebrate something, what a better way
than to have a good meal and a good glass of wine?
And in a way, I felt jealous when I was a student.
I wanted for a while to be a doctor, to help people be healthy and happy,
and I feel now I'm making some people feel happy as well,
and healthy, and this is a healthy... This is very healthy as well.
Who does more for mankind, wine makers or doctors?
I think wine makers, personally.
-We better watch the... Do you mind holding it?
-No, no, not at all.
I'd better turn round the lamb chops otherwise... Yes.
And we are going to put them now so that these ones cook better.
-A bit hotter.
-Oh, yeah, yeah.
So I normally put, like, some well done and some less.
-For personal taste?
-So people can choose.
'The Chuletillas were cooked for less than ten minutes.
'They come from milk-fed lambs. I was ravenous because, in filming land, you film lots of
'food-related things but most of the day is filled up with travelling.
'Eating, you'll be surprised to learn, is a rarity.'
-Get some bread.
Miguel, I love this sort of TV - eating lovely lamb chops, drinking lovely wine,
talking with a very intelligent, articulate Spaniard who speaks perfect English.
-Thank you very much.
-It makes the job just a joy.
-It's pity, I will... I like to see your face when you receive the bill.
No, not really, not really. We are hospitable people here.
Just tell me, because there's such a sort of synergy between the wine and the sheep,
I mean, do they...
-Presumably they live in the same part?
-They live most of the time here.
-Normally, the hurdles go into the hills.
-Hurdles are what you'd pen them up in...with.
-Flocks. Flocks of sheep.
-That's a collection.
Well, they stay here most of the time,
but in winter, there is no pasture here
so they will migrate in big flocks to the south west of Spain,
-a place called Extremadura.
But it takes a long while to go, and it is such a long tradition that,
in Madrid, it may be sometimes that the traffic has to stop
and let a flock of sheep come through because they have much priority.
It is a much older tradition than automobiles.
-What a wonderful country, where sheep have priority over traffic!
-Yes, and my last name is Merino,
-so I'm very proud of this priority in a way. Cheers.
'Rioja is the smallest region in Spain, but I wouldn't mind betting
'it's the richest, too.
'For the very first time on this journey, as I travel eastwards,
'I'm feeling a real touch of the Mediterranean.'
It's been a journey of discovery, of course, for me...
Excuse me. These gears on this campy are not totally to my liking.
It's been a real journey of discovery because I really do think
that people have a sort of impression of Spanish food as being
'all sort of olive oil and, you know, paella and those sort of dishes
'that we all know, but the real sort of country cooking is much more
'sort of wedded to the land, really.
'Also what they really love, and I love this about the Spanish, is their bread.
'I mean, these days people back home have sort of forgotten about bread.
'Maybe it's cos we went through a period of having such dull bread.
'Now, thank goodness, we're getting some good bakers back.
'But the Spanish never lost that connection with bread,
'which is really the stuff of life.
'And the way the bread in itself and the way they grill it
'and they rub it with things
'like alioli or tomatoes,
'and also the way they make so many dishes out of stale bread.
'I love that connection with the realities that bread's all about.
'It's sort of not a particularly well-off country.
'We get this impression, with these beautiful roads
'and these windmills everywhere, that everything's charging ahead,
'it's a modern, successful economy, but the real Spain isn't like that.'
It's much poorer and much more used to making do with what's available.
And what's available is what I like, cos it's things like
good tomatoes, good olive oil, good wild mushrooms, good garlic.
-'And good gears.'
-And good gears.
'I couldn't pass up this opportunity.
'This is Ester Solanas, maker of one of Spain's most iconic products.
'There's no question that this is the most famous sausage in Spain.'
I know my pronunciation's often a bit way off key,
but it's not "choritzo", it's "choritho".
'I notice with approval that the meat has quite a lot of fat in it,
'perfect for sausages.
'She showed me on the little piggy where it comes from.
-Si. El hombro.
La parte trasera.
-The ham, the rump. Yeah, yeah.
-Just those two?
-Si, si. Es la parte mejor.
The best bits.
No tiene hueso, la parte mas rica.
La pancetta se queda para comer loncheado.
-Oh, the belly pork doesn't go in. That's done separately.
Jolly good, thank you very much. I like your pig.
'Esther adds dried garlic, rock salt,
'and the most Spanish of spices - pimenton.
'And then she pours in half a litre of water
'and starts to mix it up - by hand, I notice.'
I've just tasted some of the pimenton in there
and it's lovely. It's got that really deep, smoky flavour.
In fact, I used to think that chorizos were actually put in
the smoke, hung up in smoke, but it's not - it's that pimenton.
I just love the deep red colour of pimenton.
And I read somewhere, if you think about the Spanish flag, it's just the deep red,
which is the red of pimenton, and deep yellow of saffron,
and no self respecting kitchen would be without either ingredient -
by far the most important flavours in Spanish cooking.
'Actually, I subsequently found out that some chorizos are smoked.
'Anyway, Alexandre Dumas once said that each household makes
'a chorizo for every day, and an extra 50 for when guests arrive.'
I asked Ester how important chorizo was to the people of Rioja
and she said, to all the Spanish people, it is the sausage.
It's not just to be eaten on its own and in cooking,
but in tapas as well.
She said it's as important as the ham is, Iberico ham,
and as important to the Spanish as something like salami is
to the Italians.
So that's how they do the little links - they stitch up the ends.
Just asked her how long they hang the chorizo for,
and she said that, in the winter, it's weather depending,
but in the winter for about four weeks, and in the summer, for three.
'I think the people in Ezcaray are lucky to have
'Ester in the high street.
'I really felt I'd learnt something that afternoon, and more or less
'then and there began thinking about what I could cook with chorizos.
'Well, I thought I'd cook a dish with partridge
'because they're really plentiful here.
'And white beans, of course. It's got to be chorizo and white beans.'
Well, I came up with the idea of this dish and, in fact,
it's my take on the food of Rioja when I was watching Ester
make those chorizos.
I've always thought they were rather complicated
but it's just pork, salt, pimenton and garlic, and that's all.
And they're so famous. I mean, they are, to me, the most famous sausage
in Spain, and they really flavour so many different dishes.
And I thought, "What would go well with chorizo in a main course?"
And I was thinking of those big open spaces in Rioja
and loads of partridges. Cabbage - well, that's sort of a bit of a British thing,
but the Spanish eat a lot of cabbage, particularly around Easter.
Red wine. Of course, Rioja had to go in there. Chorizo,
a bit of Serrano ham,
garlic, of course - makes a great dish.
And finally, some white beans cooked with pork bones.
'The beans have been soaked.
'You'd be surprised how much flavour you get from these pork bones.
'Next, I fry off the chorizo and almost instantly out comes
'the fat and the colour from the pimenton.
'And now for the partridge. This bird is really popular in Spain.
'I suppose the birds thrive in the terrain.
'And of course, there are so many shooting estates in the country.
'It's big business.'
Of course, when you start cooking with chorizo, you've got that
lovely deep orangey brown colour
which makes everything look appetising,
and the wonderful smell of the pimenton as well.
You just know it's going to bring out the lovely gamey
flavour of the partridges.
'Now these beauties are ready for roasting. I'll put some sea salt and pepper on them
'and put them in a hot oven for around 25 minutes.'
'Game and cabbage go so well together.
'I think if I was back home, I'd use Savoy, it's a bit sweeter.
'This is the sort of cabbage you'd make coleslaw with.
'I got this in the local supermarket down the valley in Casarabonela.
'Now, Serrano ham - a chunk of it so you can cut it into lardons.'
I just think the Spanish are terribly lucky in having such
positive flavours as things like Serrano ham, chorizo, pimenton,
an unabashed excess of garlic and lots and lots of very deep red wine.
Just makes the food so lively.
'The partridge, especially the red legged one, has been adored in Spain since the Middle Ages.
'Poets and painters have immortalised it, and it's been set
'before kings and princes for centuries.
'But that's enough history.
'Now, into the chorizo I add onions, garlic and the Serrano,
'and the all-important Rioja. It's not a time to be stingy.
'Reduce that down until it thickens a bit. Next, add sprigs of thyme,
'poetically what the partridge has been eating, and then the cabbage.
'Give that a good stir round so that it's coated with the chorizo,
'garlic and onions, add chicken stock and butter, melt that in,
'cook for a few minutes and it's done.'
'Serve up with the beans.
'I think Spanish white beans are the best in the world.
'Then out comes the cabbage and chorizo.
'Get set for a real treat.
'I'm rather pleased with this,
'and the idea started off in Ester's butcher's shop in Ezcaray.
'Enjoy it with what's left of your Rioja.
'This dish will not disappoint.'
'Pamplona is in neighbouring Navarra.
'It's much loved by the Americans and the British,
'mainly because of the famous running of the bulls at the height of the summer.
'In the main square is the famous Cafe Iruna, looking exactly
'as it's always looked for a hundred years or more.'
Loads of famous people came here - it's a magnet for them.
Everybody from the Kennedys, Charlton Heston,
probably while he was filming El Cid, Orson Wells,
loads of matadors.
I bet Ava Gardener came here when she was making The Sun Also Rises,
because she took up with one of the matadors,
much to Frank Sinatra's consternation.
But the person that really, really interests me, of course, is Don Ernesto - Ernest Hemingway.
I mean, I was such a fan of his when I was young.
He was the macho man.
I love his sort of really, really short prose style.
And, I mean, coming here - just look at this.
I mean, he wouldn't have had to do much more in Pamplona than sit here
and watch the world going by.
I mean, it's still full of atmosphere
and my gosh, it would've been like that in the '40s and '50s.
'I'm told Hemmingway used to drink vast quantities of rose wine,
'a speciality of Navarra, and he would have found it
'so easy to capture the spirit of the fiesta -
'a heady mixture of life and death, the endless drinking
'and the incessant banging of drums,
'the harsh singing that never stopped, and the dancing.
'And then at eight in the morning, it would all kick off again
'with the running of the bulls, on their way to the ring,
'their last taste of freedom before a bloody death in the afternoon.
'So here's to you, Don Ernesto. I'm glad it's not the bull running
'season at the moment. I can just imagine what the director would have me doing.
'But I did come across Mark Eveleigh, a journalist
'who's a bit of a veteran where bull running is concerned.'
'It was pretty much Hemingway, reading about Hemingway,
'that brought me here as well, originally.
'I came here, I think, the first time in '94 and fell in love
with the fiesta and I came back. I think there was ten years that I didn't miss
any fiestas at all. And now I've been living in Pamplona
for the last seven-odd years, and I still like it. I still love it.
So how many bull runs have you done, then?
I did 49 bull runs and then I finally did the 50th
-and, erm, got hammered on the last bull run.
-Oh, my gosh!
-Well, everybody always runs...
they run their traditional section. You run your own section of the run,
cos it's impossible to run the whole strip.
And I was running the run that I always ran
and it normally is pretty smooth, but I let the first set of bulls go past.
They were split into two herds, and I knew that there were more to come,
so I waited on the edge, got back in the street and, as I stepped out
the bull just picked me up on his head, came straight through.
He carried me about ten metres, dropped me on the cobbles and then fell over the top of me.
When you say it picked you up on your head, did you get...
On its head, between the horns. Luckily I was hit between the horns.
If I remember, that bull had gored eight people in the street
further back down before it got to me.
It was one of the worst bulls ever.
Obviously, I didn't know that at the time it hit me, you know?
-But that was it? You weren't going to do any more?
-That's enough, I've retired.
-And now I have a six-year-old daughter as well
and she's made me promise that I won't do any more bull runs.
'Next to the Cafe Iruna is the equally famous Hotel La Perla.
'The head chef is Alex Mugica, who's reintroduced a menu
'from a famous former Pamplona restaurant of the '50s and '60s
'run by nine bourgeois sisters who regularly
'played host to people like Hemingway, Sinatra and even Franco.
'Their most popular dish was this.'
So this is called Rabo Estofado?
Yes. It's a typical dish here in Pamplona.
Every year in San Fermin holy days all the people come here to eat this.
'What Alex does is to dust the individual pieces of oxtail in flour
'before frying them off in olive oil. At the height
'of the San Fermin they'd be using the tails of the bulls killed in the ring.
'I can quite imagine Hemingway eating this.'
OK, Rick. Do you like to prepare this one?
Do you know, I've never cooked oxtail. I have to admit, never.
-I like eating it though.
-OK. So I am going to turn...
'It doesn't take long for the oxtails to get a nice golden colour.
'He then takes them out and in another pan he fries loads of garlic.
'I suppose it must have been about six or seven cloves, roughly sliced.
'And then he adds onions, carrots and leeks.'
Alex, you obviously like cooking. Why do you like cooking?
Yeah. Because, er, it makes me very happy, is one.
And I am cooking since I was a child, OK?
Because my parents have a, er, small hotel restaurant
and I always, I have been in the kitchen, yeah.
'He softens the garlic, onions carrots and leeks
'until they caramelise, and now he puts in brandy.
'That's quite a lot, at least a double.
'Now some wine, Navarra wine of course,
'and then he gives it a stir for a couple of minutes.
'This is important because he has to cook out the raw alcohol.
'And once that's done he returns the oxtails to the saucepan
'and then he puts in a really well-reduced beef stock.'
-Now we have to cook this one very slowly.
-And, Alex, could you imagine Ernest Hemingway
-sitting down to a plate of this?
-Yes, of course.
Because I know that Hemingway, er, he eat, ate a lot,
so I think, or I know that the Rabo de Toro,
this plate, he love a lot, yeah.
'Halfway through simmering the oxtails he takes them out
'and blitzes those vegetables and all that lovely stock into a thick silky gravy.
'This is the secret of the dish, of course - it's the enriched sauce
'made richer with the juices from the meat,
'that wonderful stock and the wine and the brandy.'
'It's now simmered for practically another hour
'and the colour gets darker and darker
'until it almost looks like chocolate, and then it's served.
'As dishes go, this is as butch as it gets.
'You can easily see Hemingway tucking into this.'
Well...this is excellent!
And er, excuse me, so's the wine.
-Where's it from, the wine?
-The wine is from Navarra.
From Navarra, too? Goes with this really well.
Thank you very much. I invite all the people to come to Pamplona to eat Rabo de toro.
I'm sure they will. I'm sure when the programme comes out,
you must get in touch with me and just say, "So many British people!"
-OK, this is full. Thank you.
Ever eastwards. The sun is three times as hot now
as it was in damp rainy Galicia where I started my journey over a fortnight ago.
Navarra is blessed with an extremely fertile landscape.
It has the damp west wind from where I've just come from,
the protection of the Pyrenees to the north
and the warmth of the Mediterranean breezes coming from the east,
and to top it all, you've got the water from the mighty river Ebro.
And that's why the region is known as the vegetable capital of Spain.'
The flat land of rich alluvial soil
has been chopped into small plots called huertas.
Here, it seems anything will grow.
The town of Tudela is the commercial centre of this garden of Spain.
It was founded by the Romans and like virtually the whole of Spain,
once Rome fell, it was governed for centuries by the Moors.
It's a rare thing to see three distinctive styles of architecture nestling together,
separated by hundreds of years - Roman, Moorish and Christian.
In fact, it was the Romans who named this river the Ebro.
'Today, I'm meeting Floren and his wife Mercedes -
'vegetable growers who supply some of the top chefs in the restaurants in Spain.
'Chefs who really put Spain on the culinary map.'
Artichokes. What is it in Spanish?
-This is beans.
-Oh, broad beans. I love 'em.
I just discovered you supply Ferran Adria and Juan Mari Arzak
-with their vegetables.
So you, you're the vegetable king?
He start 25 years ago, so when Juan Mari is not so famous,
Ferran Adria is not so famous, they start too.
So they, all of them start together, so they grow up together.
-So you're all a formation of the nouvelle cucina?
Floren and Mercedes had the perfect dish
to show off their selection of vegetables - a minestra,
which is like a thick soup made entirely from young vegetables.
There are runner beans, which take about 30 seconds to blanch,
and Floren chops up some borage stalks.
That's a new one. I've only had it in Pimm's!
He then blanches those, too.
Next he shows me how he prepares the young, freshly picked artichokes.
They're soft enough to be peeled and the flower part of the tip removed and then split in half.
These artichokes, we cook yesterday.
Good Lord! How come they're this sort of turquoise green?
-Just water and salt.
-Water and salt?!
Water have to be 2000 magnesium...
Is the word? And more.
-HE SPEAKS SPANISH
-And the water from here has this.
I don't think I can do a recipe for it!
It's a great colour.
I've got to get that, I've got to take that back to my restaurants.
I've never seen it.
Now we're going to clean the asparagus.
We're going to show you how we clean.
I love gadgets. Can I just have a look?
-Si, of course.
-Oh, I've got to have one of those.
I'm surprised Floren hasn't got his name on it.
No. This one, the other one.
He's going to present to you his knife.
-Oh, I'm very... Wow!
-And go with you everywhere you go.
FLOREN SPEAKS SPANISH
You're going to remember us, Tudela and our vegetables.
That's for you. Present to you.
He going to be your partner in your trip, so...
'The asparagus will take about five minutes to soften
'and Floren is ready to start the final part of the process.
'He's frying off onions, again picked a minute ago from his huerta,
'along with some young tender garlic stalks,
'and all at that stage straight out of the ground.
'They're mild and subtle.
'Now he adds flour because a minestra is quite thick.
'That will absorb some of the oil while it cooks out.
'And then for the stock.
'He uses a cup full of water from the asparagus
'and another from the electric soup.'
I mean, that is great. It looks a bit like something out of science fiction,
but I mean that will give the finished minestra
such a lovely green spring-like colour.
'Now he puts in the artichokes.
'The thing about this dish is that you use whatever is in season,
'when it's just at its tippy-top best.
'And I think it's a great thing to cook in an allotment - that's if you get the weather.
'I like these baby broad beans.
'Sweet and tender, they'll take seconds to soften.
'And now for the asparagus.
'The Spanish love their fat white asparagus.
'Look at that green now. Just the water?!
'I just somehow can't believe it!'
'Then more runner beans. One of my favourite vegetables, fresh and young.
'and lastly tiny peas, which Floren calls the caviar of the land.'
It's lovely watching this in this allotment,
lovely cooking outdoors, you know,
cos it seems right you can go and pick the artichokes or the broad beans.
You know, the queen of the vegetable, right?
King, king. Sorry!
Well, he have long hair, so maybe...!
Well, it's time for lunch,
and that I'm pleased to say means a glass or possibly two of wine.
Although not as famous as its neighbour Rioja,
I think the wines here in Navarra are just as good.
You see what I mean about this dish? It is just like a thick soup.
Cheers. I hope to see you next time you have your house here.
'Well, mi casa su casa, that's if you're ever in Padstow.'
So now Catalonia, and it's moments like this
when I realise I can't live without seeing the sea.
It's so important to me. I've been longing for this moment,
ever since we left the mountains of the Basque country.
This is home to the world-famous El Bulli restaurant, but I'm not going there.
Instead I've been invited to join Rafa and his restaurateur friends
a few hundred yards away in a quiet cove
with a heady sense of warm olive oil and garlic.
I must say this filming's an odd sort of thing sometimes.
I mean for weeks now we've been in the rain
and the cold of Northern Spain, trying to find a sunny day,
and suddenly we find ourselves here, the north of Catalonia.
I can remember coming through this part of Spain in the '60s
and it was all like this really, as, in my memory, of course.
But I mean, er, lovely day, nice people, lovely food, real food.
I'm going to see how they make salsa romesco for the first time.
Really looking forward to that. Happy as Larry!
'All the magic of this famous sauce takes place in a mortar.
'Crushed garlic, almonds and fried bread
'cooked until crisp in olive oil.
'And then fried livers, monkfish livers,
'which is really important when you use the salsa in a fish stew.
'That's all smashed up in the mortar.
'Now they tear off fresh parsley and add the fried bread.
'I think this is what cooking and creating flavour should be about.
'When I arrived I saw tomatoes on the barbecue.
'They're skinned and pulped most satisfyingly,
'and then the flesh from the roasted romesco peppers.
'That in all it's golden Catalan glory is a salsa romesco.
'Rafa, my host, starts to make another iconic Catalan dish called a fideua.
'Vermicelli-like pasta is toasted in a pan
'with oil and cloves of garlic until they become golden.
'Well, Catalonia has strong links to Italy.
'In another corner of this fisherman's house a mate of Rafa's
'barbecues the new season's green asparagus.
'And now for the all-important fish stew.
'Chunks of red gurnard and monkfish dusted in flour
'are fried in olive oil.'
What's really nice about this is they're all friends, they're all restaurateurs.
Well, I think one's got a disco, but maybe he or she cooks at the disco.
One of them cooks at El Bulli, which is just around the corner.
But what I really like about it is they're all good cooks,
so I'm picking up tons of stuff and I know that everything they cook
will be the best possible dish, so I'm very excited.
'Once the fish is fried and put to one side,
'the pan is deglazed with fish stock and then in goes some romesco paste.
'That's all mixed together and immediately sieved
'to achieve a smoother sauce for the stew.'
'Finally the fish goes back, and remember,
'they've chosen fish which Rafa refers as "duro" -
'that means it won't break up in the cooking.
'While that simmers, Rafa finishes off the fideua
'by ladling in fish caldo - fish stock.'
I've just been talking to Rafa and he's saying that dishes
like this, these fish dishes, originated from the fisherman.
I mean basically, they would just be coming home from sea,
got all of, sorted all their good fish for market
and kept all the little ones for making a stew for themselves.
And they'd just boil up, sometimes in sea water,
with whatever was available - olive oil, garlic, tomato,
sometimes a pinch of saffron, and that would be a dish.
And now they fetch big money in top restaurants.
OK. HE SPEAKS SPANISH
I think I'm right in what Rafa's just said.
I wondered why he was putting this newspaper on top of this pan
and he said it's just to scare the little vermicellis.
To scare them and they all come up like this, so they're all pointing upwards.
Maybe you put them in the dark and they're saying, "Where's the light, where's the light?"
'And sure enough, as the little pasta pieces soak up the stock,
'they begin to point upwards,
'like delicate little flowers searching for sunlight.
'Finally it's time for lunch. Late, even by Spanish standards.
'The fideua is traditionally served with alioli,
'a fiercely garlicky mayonnaise, which works so well with the pasta
'that has soaked up the good fish stock.'
CHATTER IN SPANISH
Excellent! Really good.
Rafa's just said what's lovely about occasions like this, is not just the food,
it's to be here with all his friends, who love his cooking as well.
This is most important.
'After eating the fideua, it was time for the fish stew,
'which has been cooked with that fabulous romesco sauce,
'and it didn't disappoint.
'With great food like this, everyone got into the celebratory spirit.
'It may be to do with all the wine they had while making lunch,
'but in this part of the world, next to their love of food,
'it's football and their beloved Barcelona.'
ALL: Barca, Barca, Barca!
Wherever there's sun, there's celebration.
Further south in Catalonia, in the town of Lleida,
they hold the biggest snail festival I've ever seen.
Thousands of people travel for miles to celebrate their passion for the humble caracoles.
I'm very pleased that the Spanish's love of a good party
extends to snails, cos I love snails!
People either love them or absolutely hate them,
really in the same way as people love or hate oysters.
But, of course, on the sea, on the coast where I live
there are endless oyster festivals,
but great that here at Lleida there's a snail festival!
And this weekend they get through 12 tonnes of snails.
And that is so many snails, there's not enough of them in Spain
so they have to get them from North Africa and South America.
'Before I came here I'd only had snails the French way,
'cooked in garlic, butter and parsley,
'but I lost count of how many different ways they cook them over here.'
I'm just trying to catch up in all things Catalan
and doing a bit of reading and came across an author,
which I must confess I knew nothing about him,
but he's easily the most famous author certainly writing in Catalan in the 20th century,
but probably in Spanish as well. Josep Pla.
And I discovered he's really enthusiastic about food and drink.
He's a real, really loved old whiskies,
and he wrote this thing which I really like, which says,
"Cooking is an art which transforms things
"in an amiable and discreet manner"
which I just think is really what I think about food.
Also, he thought nothing of sitting down and eating 300 snails at one sitting.
Well, I'm just beginning to get the hang of eating these snails
cos you have to just twist them out of the shell
and then just pinch the last bit off, which is,
er, I mean it's not, it's not anything nasty,
but it just isn't as nice-tasting as the rest of the main muscle.
But Rafael was just saying there's going to be 12,000 people eating snails here today.
I wonder how many you'd get in the UK? I'm not knocking the UK.
I mean I don't mind that people don't like snails,
but it just seems to me to be so wonderfully Spanish,
that you can get 12,000 people coming here,
drinking, enjoying themselves, eating snails.
I mean, where else in the world?
Isn't there something a bit special about a country
that 12,000 people come to eat snails together?
I think there is.
'Now this is what I like about Spain.
'They actually love being together in a crowd.
'It seems the bigger the crowd, the happier they are.
'Here, there are thousands of enthusiasts
'who don't necessarily know each other,
'but are united in their love for the humble snail.
Next time, I meet up with a Spanish version of Ringo Starr
and explore the fabulous land of El Cid.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Rick continues his journey in the old camper van from the Basque country on the Atlantic coast, to journey eastwards towards the Mediterranean, sampling great dishes and good hospitality along the way.