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From Spain With Love, a new TV series

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This new series premiered last week on the Cooking Channel in the US and Food Network in Canada. It's a Canadian production, starring Anne Sibonney.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Mario Batali, step aside! No agonizing scenes of celebrities motoring around in convertible Mercedes, no inane dialogues and most of all, no actresses on food-oriented shows trying to avoid the consumption of meat (or food, in general). No moaning over yogurt and grilled vegetables.

I've watched many food shows on Spain. Everyone is cooking kokotxa in the Basque country but no one shows how the kokotxa is removed. Or how ugly the hake is! It's like The Beauty and The Beast but in this case, The Beauty IS part of the Beast.

The Chicago Tribune liked it too. See this article, "Five reasons to watch From Spain With Love".




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  1. Are you mixing up merluza (hake) with rape (monkfish)? Merluza is sleek, pretty fish.... monkfish is delicious, but the stuff of grotesque and monstrous nightmares. About cocochas, when you go to the market here, you can ask them do to that for you (along with anything else you can do with a whole fish), so no one has to do it themselves in Spain.

    Rape (caution, scary):


    1 Reply
    1. re: butterfly

      Hi Butterfly,

      Thanks for the links. I'm not confusing them. I do recognize monkfish and agree that it is nightmarish but delicious (especially the liver). The merluza (hake) shown on the program was, for some reason, not as sleek and attractive as the one in your picture. Maybe it was a really big one and they filmed it, mouth-open, jaw wide-apart.

      I'm sure when you buy it, the kokotxas are separated, which is how I've seen it before. That's why I was so interested to see them do it from scratch.

    2. I caught about the last half of the show this weekend, and I really liked what I saw. Looking forward to future episodes!

      3 Replies
      1. re: alliegator

        Switched to Verizon FiOS when I moved, and they don't carry The Cooking Channel on the level service I'm getting. Grrrr....

        1. re: LindaWhit

          The Cooking Channel is on channel 166 for Verizon FIOS here in New York City. And I have the most basic level.

          1. re: Tommy C

            Yeah, same channel for me in Boston as well. But it doesn't come with the "Prime HD" (which is the basic here) - only with the "Extreme HD" package and above.

      2. I've only seen the Basque episode. It felt like I'd seen a lot of it before, especially the part about the cooking club (though playing the wood drum was new). Besides Batali's series, I've seen Jose Andre's Made in Spain, at least one Bizarre Foods Spain episode, and two (I think) No Reservations episodes. And Jaime Oliver has escaped there.

        2 Replies
        1. re: paulj


          Try Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations episodes on Spain. They're pretty informative if you don't mind him.

          1. re: Aleta


            Sorry, I missed your comment on Anthony Bourdain earlier and ran out of time to delete my comment. Agree with you re: the cooking clubs (something old) and the txalaparta (something new).

        2. Thanks for the heads-up. I don't watch a lot of Saturday night TV and probably would have missed it. I'm game for any show about Spain's food, culture, etc. Chowhound and DVR to the rescue again.

          1. Thanks to your heads-up I set my DVR to catch the first two episodes this weekend. The Basque episode covered a lot of San Sebastian pintxos bars without discussing each place, so we rewound and watched that part a couple of times. It looked like Ganbara where they had the fantastic pile of mushrooms. We had that same plate of wild mushroom but without the egg & foie (wish I had known that was an option!).

            The Paella episode was also wonderful to watch, particularly seeing Don Rafael Vidal himself making his paella Valenciana from Restaurante Levante. He gave a great tip about using two kind of tomatoes that I've not seen mentioned in his online recipe. When we were in Valencia a couple of months ago we visited Levante's new sister restaurant (in Valencia) and it was wonderful, but after seeing this episode I wish we had put forth the effort to get out to Benisano for the original.

            (Aleta - I thought the hake looked terribly scary too! I think it was due to the mouth being so wide open in the shot. Certainly not as pretty as that in the link butterfly attached. )

            8 Replies
            1. re: MesaChow

              Thanks, MesaChow. How come you've seen the 2nd episode already? Oh, I guess the series started 1 wk earlier in the US (I'm in Canada). I get to see it tomorrow.

              1. re: Aleta

                I didn't realize that Canada hadn't seen the second episode yet (I should have said "spoiler alert"). I agree with your sentiments on On The Road Again. Bittman was my favorite in that series. No Reservations tops my list, and I'm waiting patiently for the Spain episode to air that Tony & Jose Andres shot in April.

                1. re: MesaChow


                  Did you see the 3rd episode in Madrid yet? (I have to wait until Thursday #@*! but don't mind me...). I loved the paella episode too. I think my 12yo and I watched it 3 times in 4 days, LOL!

                  I'm particularly excited about the Madrid episode becuz she eats at El Fogon de Trifon. I'm a big fan of rabo de toro and I found an old list in the Spanish media about specialty restaurants. It was the only place where I ever read of this restaurant and I have a reservation for lunch there. Let's see how it goes...

                  1. re: Aleta

                    Yes, that episode spends a long time on that ox tail dish.

                    1. re: Aleta

                      Caught the Madrid episode last night, which was the first one I've seen. I quite liked it. Madrid looks fabulous after dark and her jaunt through the Mercado San Miguel made me want to hop a plane and do the same.

                      The rabo de toro looked delicious but I thought the ensalada de jitomate con atun also looked very good and gave me some ideas for doing something similar here at home.

                      1. re: Aleta

                        I also caught up with the Madrid episode last night. And, like DiningDiva, the footage from the Mercado San Miguel made me want to book a flight too, even though we were just there in March!

                        Aleta - can't wait to hear your comments after you dine at El Fogon. What luck that you got a preview before your visit.

                        It's so difficult to cover all of Madrid in one 30 minute eposide, but I am glad she included a reference to churros con chocolate. Our one stop in Madrid for c&c was at San Gines, so I wonder if the quality at the stall on the street is comparable?

                        1. re: MesaChow

                          Ha ha, we DO love our food, don't we?

                          MesaChow - we're staying at a hotel a few minutes away from San Gines. I like to think that I chose the hotel for its view of the Puerta del Sol but it certainly doesn't hurt to have San Gines and Cava Baja nearby!

                          I've seen a video of El Fogon before (the owner obviously has no problem with stage fright!) but having Anne Sibonney 'interpret' will be very nice.

                          DiningDiva - how did your ensalada come out?

                2. I have mixed feelings about this show. Lots of good visuals and info, but I find the host highly annoying, especially the flirting and the ostentatious savoring every bite.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Dave Feldman


                    Speaking of annoying hosts, the 4 from On The Road Again are on the top of my list. I don't particularly like how close together Anne Sibonney and her guests seem to stand (and rubbing Juan Arzak's tummy is a bit strange too) but compared to Gwyneth P moaning over yogurt and grilled vegetables, I'll take Anne Sibonney any day.

                    1. re: Dave Feldman

                      I agree, she's no Lucy Garcia. I wish someone would give her a show.

                      1. re: Dave Feldman

                        I thought I was the only one who got that impression from her.

                        1. re: Dave Feldman

                          I thought I was the only one thinking that. All that flirting is kind of rude and sickening to whoever is watching the show.

                        2. I have no idea who she is, but I find the show terribly annoying. There is something about the whole premise that irks me. I can't even explain why. But that is just *my* opinion, and it is a good thing we don't all like the same things, or what a boring world this would be! :)

                          1. I'm going to keep watching it but I find the host less than engaging as others have mentioned. I suppose because people who are always "on" don't seem authentic to me. And for the love of all that's holy, how can someone living in Spain not pronounce tapas correctly:"TAP-ass?" That's like nails on a chalkboard to me.

                            Mallorca is on the list of upcoming shows. I hope they treat the food of my native soil conscientiously.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Jackalope

                              I don't recall hearing her pronounce 'tapas'. My impression from hearing her converse with her companions was that she is quite fluent. I don't consider myself a fluent speaker, but I have heard enough to distinguish between native Spanish speakers and American accents.

                              1. re: paulj

                                I have it on my DVR. She repeatedly butchered the pronunciation. Her overall grasp of Castellano (there's more than one kind of "Spanish") was pretty good which makes it even more annoying.

                                1. re: Jackalope

                                  I've only watched it with closed captioning so far. Now I'm curious to hear how she actually sounds. Visually, I think its a great show.

                                  1. re: Sloth

                                    Okay, I've watched all of the episodes thus far. Overall, I think it's a decent show. I just watched the "24 hours in Barcelona" one and while they did target the usual suspects for the most part, I can't fault them given the theme of the show. It's a worthwhile show if only to serve as inspiration for those who've never been. I'm hoping they'll throw in a surprise or two. I'm going to share it with friends who are making their first journey later this year.

                                    However, the business of mangling words really gets my dander up. If you're going to try to teach people how to pronounce something — ostensibly with the idea that they will someday order it — you should try to get it right. Her pronunciation of "pa amb tomaquet" would be completely unintelligible to someone who speaks Catalan. Grrr!

                            2. know it is almost a year, i watched a couple segments and must comment on this woman's flirtatious ways, she is so annoying and painful to see her get so cozy. I don't think it is a culture thing, my grandparents were from Spain and sure didn't act that way, in fact they were kinda stern, matter of fact people. Oh well, maybe that is why they left Spain, they didn't fit in.