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…more specifically, Spanish things!  I’m talking about food of course.

First of all, let me say that San Franciscan’s are quite spoiled when it comes to the quality, variety and volume of world-class cuisine (at all price points!) available to us.

Being in Marbella, we are limited to mostly Spanish restaurants and their typical fare.  But, I’m not complaining.  Fact of the matter, for being here a few months at a time, the simplicity is a welcome change.  Especially when it comes to certain Spanish foods that I love and miss while I’m in San Francisco.  Throw in the tropical Spanish ambiance and local flavor and these typical (southern) Spanish eats completely hit the spot!

Rather than showcasing the few restaurants we frequent (but don’t worry, you’ll still hear about them!), I’m going to highlight particular dishes that, in my opinion, should not be missed.

I’m going to begin with two staple dishes on every Marbella menu.

How I love these two starters…when fresh and done well as they do at our favorite neighborhood beach-front restaurant, El Arenal.

Boquerones en vinagre (top) – Anchovies marinated in vinegar, garlic and parsley.

First of all, I do not like eating anchovies.  At least not the ones that I have had in the past.  Anchovies on a pizza?  Blasphemy!  I’m not even a fan of sardines.  But here’s the difference…these anchovies are deliciously fresh – not from a can!  Therefore, they are tender, delicate and not “fishy” like what I’m normally used to in a canned anchovy.  I was sold on these cuties the first time I tried them.  Boquerones en vinagre is a perfect tangy starter and complement to the heavier Spanish entrées.

Gambas Pil Pil (bottom) – Sizzling shrimp in garlic, chili and olive oil.

The above photo does not do this appetizer justice.  The shrimp (gambas) is served hot out of the oven and sizzling to the table (white clothes beware!).  Who can resist shrimp and garlic together?  It’s a marriage made in heaven, then when they’re also infused with a little chili, it becomes a bit of my heaven.  For those of you scared of seeing all of these chili flakes, you’d be surprised at how the heat is tempered by the oil.  It’s really not as spicy as it looks.

Here’s a photo from the SF restaurant, Anchor and Hope.  It was a wonderful surprise to find this “version” of gambas pil pil on their menu….you can read what I wrote about it here.

Stay tuned for the second half of this scrumptious meal and one of my favorite Spanish entrées!