Tag Archives: Spanish seafood

Affordable Luxury in the Jewel of Spain’s Costa Blanca

17 Apr

Altea

Here is an excellent article about Altea written by my friend, Ted Williams (aka Paul Theodore Williams) for International Living magazine.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dear Fund Your Life Overseas Reader,

One of the challenges of moving overseas is selecting the right place for you. Cost of living, climate, convenience, and several other factors will play a big part in your decision.

But when you find the perfect place for you, it’s something you won’t be able to put a number on. You’ll just know it.

Texan native Paul, who tells his story below, is one of the folks who has found his perfect overseas home. Read on, and discover why he’s so taken with this little town on Spain’s Costa Blanca…

Shane Ormond

Shane Ormond
Managing Editor, Fund Your Life Overseas

P.S. If you like the romance and culture of Europe…then Spain is calling your name. It offers sophistication, charm, comfort…and at a price you’d expect to see in Latin America. In fact, it’s the best bargain in Europe today. Uncover the insider secrets to find your ideal Spanish destination in our comprehensive Spain Uncovered Bundle—available this week only at an almost 50% discount. Act before midnight tomorrow and you’ll receive a free report on Spain’s Secret Income Opportunity.

***

Affordable Luxury in the Jewel of Spain’s Costa Blanca
By Paul Theodore Williams

This morning, I awoke to the spotless Altea seaside, refreshed by an early spring shower. These March mornings are cool, and showers are frequent at this time of year, but the afternoons are sunny and warm enough to peel off the jacket.

I took my two dogs for our morning ritual, walking down to the craggy beach just a couple-of-minutes from my home. The crisp morning air is a refreshing and energizing start to the day. As the waves crashed rhythmically against the shore, I began to wake up and turn my thoughts to the day to come.

These mornings, walking the coast in Altea, the jewel of Spain’s Costa Blanca, may feel like part of a vacation commercial. But it’s my normal everyday life, compliments of working as a teacher in Spain.

I teach at a school about seven miles inland from Altea. Is that why I came here? Not really. Teaching, for me, is a means to an end—a way to live life on my own terms. I’m not making a fortune by American standards, but compared to the cost of living, I live comfortably, have a constant flow of disposable income, and get plenty of time off to do what I want.

Coming from Texas, I was used to a lower than average cost of living. However, Altea is even drastically more affordable than that. My first home here was an apartment on the seafront, which I rented for just for $485 per month, with my utilities totaling at about $100 monthly. Since then I’ve met my wife—she was the landlord of that apartment as it happens—and I’ve moved on from that apartment to something bigger.

Fuel is more expensive here but my car gets 45 mpg and we only use it for going to work and our weekend adventures, since the whole town is happily accessible by foot. One stroll through the jasmine-filled streets and you’ll never want to get back in a car again. Fruit and vegetables are at least half the cost of back home and finding organically grown produce is the norm, not the exception.

We both love to cook, but we also love to eat out. For an authentic, traditional Spanish meal, you’ll get a glass of wine, starter, first and second courses, and dessert or coffee for about $11 at lunch and $16 at dinner. A great bottle of wine, that I would expect to cost $20 to $25 back home, may set me back about $5. If I’m watching soccer with the boys I can get a pint of beer for $2.70.

One of the best Indian restaurants in the area, Crown of India, sits on high in the old town with a 270-degree panoramic view of the mountains and coast. They offer a wonderful dining experience for about $20 including wine or beer. But I must admit, my favorite restaurant is a Michelin-star restaurant, BonAmb, in Javea, about 30 minutes away. It’s more expensive than the other restaurants in the area but they bring the essence of the Costa Blanca from land and sea to table with a refined, sophisticated touch.

Here, I’m able to indulge my love of food. My wife and I enjoy frequent outings to enjoy the region’s world-class wineries and artisanal cheeses. My favorite winery close to home is Mendoza in neighboring Alfaz del Pi. The extended four-hour tasting includes a tour of the grounds, and a tasting of eight wines along with locally produced meats, cheeses, and olive oils.

I could live in other towns nearby and live on even less, but Altea is my heaven on earth. To my front, I have the Mediterranean Sea with its calming rhythm; to my sides and back, I have a backdrop of rugged mountains. Together, they form a microclimate that means less extreme highs and lows in summer and winter, while also giving the town a magical light that must be seen to be understood.

 

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16 of My Favorite Spanish Foods

13 Feb

I have decided to revisit some of my favorite meals and foods here in the Costa Blanca area of Spain:

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First course beachside at La Maja

grilled artichokes

grilled artichokes

Chopitos (fried baby squid)

Chopitos (fried baby squid)

Flan

Flan

Composed salad with goat cheese

Composed salad with goat cheese

Cocido con pelotas (traditional regional favorite)

Cocido con pelotas (traditional regional favorite)

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Sample of tapas served complimentarily with wine or beer

Paté plate

Paté plate

Seafood salad

Salad with cheese and ham

John Dory fish with salad and fries

John Dory fish with salad and fries

Sautéed fish with veggies in saffron sauce

Sautéed fish with veggies in saffron sauce

Seafood salad

Seafood salad

Jamon

Jamon

Grilled octopus

Grilled octopus

Pimientos de padron

Pimientos de padron

Paella with rabbit and calamari

Paella with rabbit and calamari

 

 

 

Inside Secrets to Spain: Top 3 Tips

19 Nov

Here is my article about Spain which was just published in Insiders Abroad:

http://www.insidersabroad.com/spain/blogs/inside-secrets-to-spain/posts/gallery-thumb-thumb-thumb-expat-spotlight-dawns-top-3-tips-for-spain

More Food Porn from Altea Spain

15 Mar
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Sopa de puerros (leek soup)

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Paella con bandas (paella with calamari)

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Enselada de tomates (salad of tomatoes)

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Almejas marinera (clams mariner-style)

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Alcochofas a la parilla (grilled baby artichokes)

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Enselada de puerros con jamon (Leek salad with ham)

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Tripa en salsa (tripe in sauce)

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canonigos, huevos con queso y jamon (cononigos (round green leaf herb), eggs with cheese and ham). Also typical bread served with grated tomato with olive oil

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rabo de toro (oxtail)

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pan y alioli (bread with Spanish version of aioli which has no egg). Note the container for the alioli can also be used as an ashtray. More about that on my humorous look at rules for smoking in Spain to be posted soon.

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Chopitos (fried small baby calamari)

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lenguado meuniere (sole meuniere)

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Sole meuniere “after.” Don’t be afraid to tackle eating or cooking a whole fish!

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Flan (a rare time I ate dessert)

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It was a dark and stormy night…

 

Adventures in Dining in Altea Spain

13 Mar
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Tapa with egg and garnish 13 Mar ’15

“Pigs ears?” he asked in Spanish, apparently to be sure I knew what I was ordering when I pointed to one of the tapas trays. I admit I wasn’t 100 percent sure what they were when I ordered them, but every tapa I had ever eaten at beachside Fronton Playa in Altea (Spain) was spectacular. I grew up eating my fair share of offal, so I am game for trying just about anything. On this particular visit, I decided to order a couple of tapas, so I could get more than the typical small tapa bites. Along with the pig ears, I had some small breaded and fried octopus “pulpo” tentacles, which were tender, which is not always the case at many local eateries. The friendly owner reminds me of Danny Devito. On most visits, I order a “vino,” which is accompanied by a creative, tasty tapa, which is included in the inexpensive 1,50 €  IMG_0392

 

 

 

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Valentina in Casco Antiguo

 

Valentina is another of my favorite tapas places where I have had interesting food forays. Andrea and his family hail from Puglia (Italy), but have lived here in Spain for many years. Andrea’s girlfriend, who is the chef, makes creative and delectable food. On one occasion, a darling two-year old girl repeatedly chanted, “Caracoles,” as she waited for the small snails to be prepared and served. She ate them like a pro. On several occasions, Andrea has brought me a tapa that he would not serve to everyone. One memorable tapa was something with a texture similar to tofu but with a meaty taste, saying he knew I would eat it. When I inquired as to what it was, he smiled and replied coagulated chicken blood. My son, Robbie, an executive chef in at Belcampo, a well-reviewed restaurant in Los Angeles specializing in their own humanely and sustainably raised animals, asked me to find out how it was made. 20140522_201050On one of the occasions I ordered something from the menu I had “Milhojas de pulpo y gula del Norte,” octopus with baby eels.

 

 

Dining in Spain is almost always a great adventure. I am an avid fish and seafood lover, and there is seldom a day that goes by when I haven’t had several of the many creatures available in the local Mediterranean waters. I am constantly trying new items from the sea including things we may have one of in California, like calamari. Here the calamari are large rings, about the size of onion rings, and often cooked by breading and frying. I find them too tough. Then there are “chopitos,” whole baby calamari with ink sacks intact, which are best when fried with a light almost-panko like crispness. Sepia is a cousin of sorts of calamari, which is larger and thicker, and is often grilled and served with a green “marinera” sauce, mariner’s sauce, not to be confused with the Italian tomato sauce, “marinara.” I have found some foods to not be worth the effort involved in trying to eat them. After a recent intense Zumba class, I went to a local tapas bar, regularly patronized by cordial smoking, drinking “abuelas” (grandmas) and their grandbabies, (and I mean no disrespect but it is very different than when I lived in San Luis Obispo county, California, where they were the first place to outlaw indoor smoking or smoking near food service.) At the café, I was told the grill had been turned off, but the fryer was working, so I ordered “patatas bravas” (spicy fried potatoes, which are not spicy if someone eats habanero sauce like I do), and fried fish. Note to self: check the type of fish before ordering. They were sardines and other equally small fish, which with my knife skills, yielded few consumable morsels. And the incredible number and quality of bivalves! Almejas (clams), berberechos (smaller clam-like content, with a scallop taste), the itsy bitsy tellinas (too much work), razor clams, mussels, oysters, gooseneck barnacles, and more.IMG_0380

 

The grocery markets are filled with seemingly endless displays of fish and seafood: fresh, frozen, and canned (which are viewed as another great way to access seafood as opposed to American’s frequent opinions that canned food is of suspect quality.) For a foodie like me, the grocery and fresh food markets are intoxicating with their fresh and novel ingredients. As I was photographing the vast displays of fresh fish and seafood at a regular local grocery market, Mercadona, a female fishmonger admonished me from taking more photos. So here I will include a partial sample of the store’s offerings, and the selection of frozen and canned fish and seafood is even larger. (If you read Spanish and the words don’t look familiar, that is because the official language here in the Valenciana Community is “Valenciana,” but more about that surprise to me at another time.) If you look at the trays of fresh items from the sea, it is apparent that many home cooks are adept at using fresh whole fish and other types of seafood.IMG_0378

 

quaileggsI thought I hit the jackpot when I recently walked into a local market and found a beautiful dozen little quail eggs, for 0,90 €, less than the American equivalent of $1.00. On today’s cooking television shows, they showed how to make livers with “sangre” (blood) over a fire in the hearth, and “coda de cordero,” typical recipes from other parts of Spain. The food options here are inspirational, and I am eager for my two boxes of kitchen cooking supplies to arrive here from my former home in California. Those are the only things I had shipped here, (along with a few family and travel) mementos, which speaks to my priorities.

You can find my many restaurant, as well as other reviews, on Trip Advisor, as well as my map of the hundreds of places I have travelled.

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View walking home after tapas today