This photo was taken a fortnight ago outside La Cuadrona bar in the village of La Hermida, Cantabria. It represents a moment of breakfast bliss.
Firstly, note the two large cafés con leche. The coffee served in Spanish bars is almost always excellent (these certainly were) and is uniformly cheap (1.10 euro up to1.40 for a large). And yes, that really is a large – no Starbucks bucket-sized mugs in sight. (Let your over-worked bladder heave a sigh of relief.)
The fact that coffee has leapt to number one on the list of my breakfast priorities is just one symptom of my advancing age and parenthood. I actually didn’t drink coffee at all for many years. Now if I leave the house in the morning without consuming a cup, bad things happen. Like ‘grazing’ a crash barrier with the car. Ahem.
So, yes, coffee is the number one component in the perfect breakfast. Next, the substance of the meal needs to be addressed.
My favourite Spanish breakfast has to be ‘tostada con tomate’. All you cunning linguists out there will correctly surmise that this is simply toast with tomato. As with all simple food quality is the key. Here in Bar La Cuadrona the tomatoes were fresh from the bar owners’ huerta (veg plot). Big, fat, juicy and flavourful. We cut them in half and rubbed them along the slab of toast, squeezing the goodness into the porous surface. Topped off with a drizzle of good quality olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt it was delicious.
Depending on your tastes and your plans for the day you can incorporate a raw clove of garlic into the process. A quick rub of this along the toast, before the tomato, really makes the flavours sing.
When we ordered our ‘tostada con tomate’ the barman asked us if we also wanted jamón. We hesitated just long enough for the couple who were breakfasting at the next table to tell us enthusiastically ‘yes, you want the jamón. Está muy bueno.’ When a Spanish person tells you the jamón is good you listen to them – they take their jamón extremely seriously.
We duly ordered the jamón and, of course, it was excellent.
In another instance of ‘I’ll have what they’re having’ the previous evening, we had sampled the delights of the the cook’s light, fluffy pancakes and now we couldn’t resist adding them to our breakfast order. Totally unnecessary but delightfully indulgent. We were on holiday, after all.
The crucial finishing touches to this perfect breakfast are also evident in the photograph. The dappled sunlight dances on the glass top of the table, underneath which are detailed maps of the surrounding limestone gorge and nature reserve. Ah yes, with our bellies full we would be ready to set out on our day’s adventures. Bliss.
This post is for The Gallery, where this week’s theme is Breakfast. Click the link below to find out more and visit more posts.