tinto de verano

Tinto de Verano: The Ultimate Summer Sipper

Spain has gotten a lot of things right. Siestas, incorporating cheese and ham into most foods, eating fresh olives, spending long days at the beach, and of course…. wine.

tinto de verano

Tinto means “red” in Spanish when referring to red wine in particular, and verano is summer, so… red wine of the summer. What makes it so summery? It’s mixed with lemon soda! Stay with me, here–I know that sounds weird to a lot of people here in America, but I assure you it’s a refreshing treat.

I first had tinto de verano when I was traveling in Spain a couple summers ago. It was everywhere in the Costa del Sol—every bar and café had it on special for just a euro or two. In the area I was staying, they would just take a big wine glass, fill it up with ice, then pour equal parts red table wine and sweet-tart Fanta limon into it. The idea was slightly odd to me at first, too, but with one taste I knew I had found my signature drink for the trip.

For days when it’s just too hot for red wine, check this out, seriously. Lemon-flavored Fanta isn’t readily available in the US (a travesty!) but you can use fresh lemonade and soda water, or find a similar alternative. You don’t want to use syrupy lemonade from concentrate or Sprite or 7up. You need something more sour, otherwise your drink will be too heavy and sweet. I recommend seeking out San Pellegrino Limonata, or if you just so happen to live in Central Texas like I do, I had great success with Central Market’s Organic Sicilian Lemon soda.

I’m really into portable libations in the summer (you just never know when you’re going to need a drink!) and this is the perfect on-the-go cocktail, since all you need is a bottle of soda and a bottle of wine. For ultimate portability, I like using CalNaturale, which I reviewed here on ES a good while back and I’m still loyal to; it’s boxed, so no worries about dropping a heavy glass bottle, but it doesn’t taste like your old-school cardboard-y, sweet boxed wine. Its cabernet is a great tinto to use in this cocktail—it’s light and pleasant. If you want to be extra authentic, though, feel free to pick up a bottle of affordable Spanish red.

Anyway, here’s the recipe, but you don’t even really need one:

Tinto de Verano

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The Endless Road Trip: Barcelona

ES guest Tom Bolton joins us today to share his top 10 fave bites in one of the world’s best food towns…

As a port city on the Mediterranean coast, just a stone’s throw from France, Barcelona is amongst the most important culinary centres in Europe. The Catalan cuisine here is a unique fusion of flavors, combining not only the region’s rich mar i muntanya (sea and mountain) resources, but also tastes from nearby Italy, Africa, Portugal, and Greece. So no matter the time of day or part of the city you happen to find yourself in, there is always a wealth of edible delight around the corner.

Food market, Barcelona

(Food market, Las Ramblas – Credit)

So…what to eat? Check out my top 10 favorite Barcelona bites.

1. Esqueixada

A delicious salad that makes for a perfect lunch on a hot day. The dish consists of raw shredded cod with tomato, onion, and bell pepper, and is often garnished with pieces of hard boiled egg. The texture of the shredded fish is particularly distinctive – as one cafe owner kindly explained, the name of the dish is derived from the Catalan word esqueixar, which means “to shred.”


(Esqueixada de Bacalla – Credit)

2. Escalivada

This dish is often served as a side to accompany grilled meats, but don’t be afraid to try it as a main course! A surprisingly filling meal, escalivada is prepared by grilling and smoking a variety of vegetables on the glowing coals of a wood fire. A hearty and filling dish, it commonly includes aubergine, sweet red peppers, onion, tomatoes, and garlic.


Escalivada with garlic and parsley – Credit

3. Cargols

Don’t be squeamish, this is the Catalan take on escargot! As with escalivada, this dish is widely available as both a main course and a side dish. The snails are cooked in garlic and vinegar on a coal fire, and are often served with a very spicy sauce. A true Catalan delicacy, this is a specialty that you definitely don’t want to miss.


Cargols a la llauna – Credit

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And in Today’s Disturbing International Candy News…

Amsterdam has provided the world with a lot of great things. The chance for drunken American college students who are “studying abroad” to get waaay overly excited about legally smoking a cheap joint in a coffee shop, for example.  Now we have one more gift to add to the list: really creepy candy.

My friend Caitlin recently returned from a trip to Europe, and this was the souvenir she brought back for me. Weirdass pig gummy candies. “These just made me think of you! I had to buy them!” she said. I’m not sure if I should be flattered or insulted. Either way, they have the dubious distinction of being one of the most bizarre and upsettingly packaged foods I’ve seen in awhile. Those pigs… yikes. It’s like they’re staring into your soul with empty, lifeless eyes. And laughing at what they see. Don’t judge me, pigs!!!

Yes, that pig head is balanced on a wine glass.

Of course, if porcine gummies don’t do it for you, there’s always the candy Caitlin brought back from Spain, featuring a fat, bald, flying Casper on the package. Yum!

Sadly, these are just chocolate-covered peanuts. I was expecting something much more exciting, like… chocolate-covered ghosts. I guess just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a candy by its entertainingly bad packaging. All of this makes me wonder: what American treats would freak out the Europeans? The Trix rabbit has always struck me as a bit creepy…

Small Plates Get Smaller: Pinxto in Basque Country


San Sebastian

Ed Note: Our friend Jake recently returned from the Basque Country, eager to tell me about his love affair with food from the region. I think he might have even said it was his favorite cooking from around the world. 


Baby Eel

And Jake’s been around, growing up in Philly, living in Boston, DC and Portland and traveling through Asia and India and many more places.  Especially, Costa Rica, where he toured with teenagers around the hills, farms and lakes of the country. He also wrote about it on Simmer a few years ago. Here are a few highlights from his taste of the Basque Country. 


Beans, Jamon and Olives

Basque Country (Pais Vasco) claims to be neither a part of Spain nor France, rather an independent region with its own take on how eating should be done. I like.



I’m pretty sure everyone knows tapas, you sit down to eat with a few friends, share a few small plates and leave hungry and feeling like you overpaid. I get it.


Oxtail, Mashed Potato, Pepper Guernika

Enter pinxtos (pronounced pinch-os).

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Sherry’s Sweet (and Not-so-Sweet) Secrets


Is there an alcohol with a less sexy rep than sherry?

I’m pretty sure that for most Americans, if sherry rings a bell at all, it reminds you of puking up some sickly-sweet stuff you nicked from your grandma’s liquor cabinet. Well it turns out there’s a cabal of Sherry producers in southern Spain who are ready to punch your grandma’s lights out for giving their beloved drink such a bad name…

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