With the arrival of the cold weather, the time to light chimneys, stoves and barbecues begins.
The fire offers a very pleasant and comforting warmth that invites you to spend hours resting, reading a book or simply watching the logs being consumed little by little.
Cooking with a wood fire is an ancestral cooking technique, the most ancient of those used by man whose discovery was a fundamental milestone in our evolution. The cooking of the food allowed a better and faster digestion of the food as well as an improvement in the taste and texture. In addition, fire became an important element for social relations as it allowed for a longer day and favoured family gatherings and the exchange of stories by influencing communication and language development.
More than 500,000 years later, we continue with this wonderful tradition that allows very tasty preparations of an infinity of foods such as meat, fish, seafood and vegetables. The winter months offer delicious seasonal products and ideal for cooking them over a wood fire.
From Tamarindos apartments we wanted to make a compilation of different products of proximity and season that can be found in any of the markets located in Peñíscola and nearby towns like Benicarló or Vinaròs.
Benicarló artichokes (protected designation of origin since 1998)
They stand out for their flat, compact shape and their peculiar dimple. The season runs from October to June and artichokes are traditionally grown in Benicarló. The cultivation of the plant for domestic consumption is believed to have started in the 13th century.
It is an ideal product for grilling, and is cooked little by little concentrating its juice and pleasant flavour in the part of the base called the heart of the artichoke. Its preparation is simple as it only requires a few strokes on a cutting board to be able to reason and season with extra virgin olive oil to the taste of each diner. Once reasoned, they are placed on a special grill that allows them to be introduced and cooked on a wood fire or grill.
Our recommendation when eating them is to place the artichoke on a loaf of bread from our area and taste it leaf by leaf. Once we reach the heart of the artichoke, we spread some aioli and eat it together with the loaf of bread that will be impregnated with the juice and oil left by the artichoke.
Its taste? A real pleasure impossible to describe in words!
Although there are some varieties that are harvested in September, the red pepper season (i.e. the best time for consumption) is between October and June.
To prepare them, we clean and dry the peppers, and then coat them with a little extra virgin olive oil from Castellón while the grill is being prepared. It is important that the grill is abundant.
Place the peppers about 5 cm from the embers, although they can also be cooked directly on the fire, but you must be careful not to overcook them. Turn them over so that they are cooked evenly, taking care not to lose their inner juice. When we see that the pepper is ready, we will place it in a pot and cover it so that it finishes resting.
Do not be afraid if you see that they are completely black because when they have cooled down we will remove the skin (if possible without water to avoid discarding the juice they give off). Once peeled, strain the juice that has been left in the pot, strain it and add it to the peppers. They can be served in oil with a little cod, tuna or make a “escalivada” by adding a little eggplant .
The calçot season, strictly speaking, runs from November to April, with maximum consumption during the months of January, February and March.
There are several ways to cook them, some people use a wire, some people use a grill and some people grill them. They can even be made in the oven, a technique which is not very practical for making a traditional calçotada, but which gives spectacular results.
As everybody must know, calçots are made with flame. The wood that we should ideally use is the vine shoot, although they are also very good when made with other types of wood. If we make an effort, we will be able to detect the change in taste if they are made with vine shoots.
To make them on the grill we should carefully place the calçots on a grill so that they fit well and we can put as many as possible, since for a calçotada with friends we will have to repeat the operation a few times. They are turned over as the outer skin turns black. The best time to remove them is when they start to sweat, that is, they start to release water from their interior. Here the cooking does not end, because when removing them from the fire it is important to wrap them well in newspaper and let them rest so that they finish cooking and are kept warm before consumption.
In the middle of the calçot season, on the last Sunday of January, the Calçotada Festival is celebrated in Valls, and from this moment on their consumption shoots up. It would be something like “the beginning of the high season”.
It’s a very good choice for grilling them. White and blue fish, in all their varieties, and seafood can be tasted all over Castellón. In our fish markets we can find the freshest products that arrive daily by boat.
To cook fish on the grill we try to choose the best fish for it. When we make a grilled fish, the fire melts the fat of the product. The fish that gives the best results is the fattest. Such as turbot, sea bass, sardines or roosterfish.
We do not remove the skin because they protect the meat from the fire and become a natural protection that must be respected. We cook the fish from the outside in. One of the most important keys is that we need a lot of grill power so that the fish starts cooking from the outside in.
We must control the intensity of the grill because if it is too strong we risk burning the skin.
When you cook a fish on the grill during the time the product is on the fire, you have to turn it over several times. The turns must be done very carefully to avoid breaking the skin.
In this way the fish will be cooked evenly.
In the province of Castellón a traditional dish is grilled meat, especially lamb, which grazes in places where there is an abundance of aromatic herbs; beef cattle raised in inland areas, rabbit meat from the Maestrat and game. The classic grilled chops or the juicy veal accompanied by allioli are dishes for any time of the year.
The traditional slaughter of the pig, celebrated in January, was formerly the basis of sustenance for the people of the interior of the province. Even today it takes place in many homes and is a ritual and the starting point for many different dishes.
In Tamarindos we have prepared the facilities so that you do not stay with the desire. In the barbecue, you have the grills to roast and if you need a paella pan, we lend it to you. Enjoy a meal in the picnic area under the magnificent shade of our fig trees.