There are the kinds of places you travel to that turn out to be better than you could expect just from reading about the place. Seville is one of those cities for me. It’s everything people say it is: a charming city with narrow cobblestone streets and a unique mixture of medieval and Moorish architecture and an intense passion for Andalusian culture. But after spending a few days in Seville, I can see why people fall in love with this city and why you just have to experience it for yourself. Sure, I may have fallen for the sorta touristy horse-drawn carriages and the orange-tree shaded sidewalk cafes, but the fall was good. Seville charmed the pants off of me and fed me some of the best food I’ve had in Spain– a winning combination in my book.
Traveling to Spain has been a dream of mine ever since I can remember. So many opportunities came and went through high school and college to study abroad, but I never went. Now, I’m finally in Spain! My trip started in Barcelona and before I left for my vacation I spent many hours researching the best things to eat in the city. My conclusion? Barcelona has far too many good eats to squeeze into four days. So with not a minute wasted, not a meal squandered, I took to the city and tried to fit in as many tapas and glasses of cava as possible!
This week has been an exploration of saffron, hands-down my favorite spice. It’s application in food will take you all over the world and if you’ve never used the spice before, I hope you give it a shot!
What is saffron?
Saffron is a spice but unlike many spices that are derived from seeds, roots or bark, saffron is the red-orange stigma of a flower called the saffron crocus. The stigma are then dried and are either crushed into powder form or left in strands. Saffron is used all over the world from Morocco to Iran to India to Spain and even to Sweden!
Why is it so damn expensive?!
Each strand of saffron is handpicked from the saffron crocus, which makes this a labor intensive spice to source. It can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 a pound, and it takes 150 flowers to yield one gram of saffron. However, just a little goes a long way, so don’t let that the price scare you away from giving it a try. READ MORE
Saffron is one of my favorite ingredients to cook with, but I’ve always used it in savory recipes. When Todd made badam milk using saffron, it inspired me to use it in a dessert. I just love what the saffron does to these pistachio financiers, which are typically made with ground almonds. But the subtle honey rose water glaze is really what does it for me– just enough aroma on the nose to make the whole thing come together. I decorated these with candied rose petals for fun because they’re so beautiful, but of course you can serve the financiers on their own.
The classic financier comes in a rectangle shape but I used 3 1/2 inch brioche molds. You can also use mini muffin tins, but just know that the baking time will be shorter in a shallower pan.
I recently stumbled upon this delightful Indian drink that had me more than a little intrigued. I’m not usually a big milk drinker, but when I saw it contained cardamom, saffron, and rosewater, I knew I had to give it a try. Sure enough, I was hooked. Sweet, creamy and absolutely exploding with aromatics, it’s the perfect end-of-summer treat!
My recipe is only slightly adapted from this wonderful post by Cook With Manali. She has several other delicious looking recipes on her site that I can’t wait to try, for example this Afghan yogurt drink.
It’s been a while since we last spoke. I’ve been busy camping and, oh yeah, having a baby! Well, my wife was the one to actually have the . . . err, you get the idea. I’m now the father of a happy, healthy baby girl. I couldn’t be more in LOVE (or tired)!!
The good news just keeps on coming as the lovely Jane Aldridge (Sea of Shoes) has launched a food blog: Thyme and Temp! If these donuts are a sign of what’s to come, then it looks like I’m going to be one happy dad.