Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Dining At Cascal

Cascal Mountain ViewEven more Spanish influenced cuisine during this trip! Cascal is a concept restaurant in Mountain View with bold colors, period chandeliers, and d├ęcor that is both vibrant and elegant. Their menu boasts a variety of Spanish tapas items, paellas, and includes such South American delicacies as empanadas and ceviche.

With its maritime history, seafood has always played a central role in Spanish cuisine. After Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas, Spain took control of much of the Caribbean and South America, enriching the cuisines in that region. Creole, Cuban, Peruvian and other Latin American food is heavily influenced by this past.

Cascal Mountain View
Cascal Mountain ViewThe Spaniards didn’t ever control territory in India; however, they were closely allied with Portugal which did. Goa and parts of the Konkan coast of India serve delicacies with a distinct Mediterranean heritage such as Sorpotel and Xacuti.

Cascal Mountain ViewComing back to Cascal: Having loved the ceviche at La Bodeguita, I decided to try one here too. They have three varieties on the menu, and I selected the Peruvian Ceviche. Ceviche (pronounced SAY-BEE-CHEY) is a popular Latin American dish made of raw seafood ‘cooked’ by marinating it overnight in lemon juice (or some other citrus juice). My Ceviche was made of fresh halibut marinated in lime juice and served with red onion, fresh ginger, chili arbol and sea salt. Amazingly good stuff!

Ceviche and Empanadas at CascalThe Empanadas we ordered today were stuffed with wild mushrooms, manchego cheese and truffle oil. While these were very good too, the I liked the ones in La Bodeguida better, probably because of the excellent pork stuffing.

The Paella (pronounced PA-YAY-AH, the double L in the word serves no purpose other than to confuse the newbie) is probably the only popular rice-based dish I have seen in Europe. Paellas are like the Persian pilaf and the Indian biryani, but unique in presentation and taste.

Seafood Paella at CascalRice, now a genuine part of Spanish kitchens, originated from the Moors, as did saffron, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Gazpacho, a popular Spanish soup too owes its origins to the Moors. Remember, Spain is separated only by a small strip of ocean from Morocco.

Incidentally, tomatoes, beans and vanilla came to Spain early from their New World territories while the use of olive oil was borrowed from Greek and Roman neighbors. Many a typically Spanish dish would either not exist without the intervention of so many cultures in the history of Spanish food.

Bread plate at CascalThe Paella Cascal I had ordered contained Saffron rice, chicken, pork, chorizo sausage, shrimp, mussels, clams, smoked paprika sofrito, peas, Piquillo peppers. The dish was large, appealing and tasted just perfect!

BTW, you can find an interesting version of the paella in Barcelona made with squid ink giving the dish a unique shade of deep indigo.

Finally, we ended with the Tres Leches Cake and the Flan. I have to say the Flan here was even better than the one that I raved about just the other day. Foodie Trivia: Flan is called Caramel Custard in Pune. The Tres Leches Cake, which gets its name from the three types of milk used, was just ok; I have had better - I remember the one at Americas in Houston.

Tres Leches at Cascal
Flan at CascalIf in Spain, note that Spanish ham and sausage products are renowned, particularly those derived from a breed of free-range hog. The chorizo (hard pork sausage) and morcilla (blood sausage) are other specialties you may want to try. For those in Pune, your best best for Spanish food is Zara which opened only recently in Viman Nagar (next to Symbiosis).

17 comments:

shooting star said...

loved the pics of the restaurant..its someplace i would love hanging out at ..since i love bright colors...though am a veggie so not so sure wat i would try out...
liked the deserts!!..totally yummy!!!

Selba said...

I would love to try the paella... looks so yummy. I've never tried the original paella, had once which my mom cooked at home :)

Ruminations and Musings said...

Have read many travelogues since I am a voracious reader.. But your writing depicts the subtle points in cuisine and the ambience too.. Please let me know when the book will publish.. (About my blog, I have written about some songs, some movies and some musings about day to day affairs..)

Vamsee said...

I am getting a feeling of Deja Vu. Didnt you just write about Ceviche and empanadas.
Where you you get your restaurant recommendations? I want to tell my friends in the bay area.
KQED Public TV had a program called 'Check Please Bay Area' where they had three people review restaurants every week.
http://blogs.kqed.org/food/

Shantanu said...

@shooting star: This being California, they do have veggie dishes too!

@Selba: Yeah, I like the paella too, also because of the seafood in it. :)

@Ruminations: Thank you! But I don't expect to publish this in a book. Will visit your blog again...

@Vamsee: Yes, that was a coincidence. Many friends and colleages know I am a foodie, so they recommend their favorite places. The Bay Area has a lot to try out.

sumati said...

Nice recipe.. Very informative,Hey, great post. Really great tips for beginners,Thanks...Very informative website with important details.
This article does help with me learning how to swim. here we are also having some cooking article plz visit..thanks

Lakshmi said...

lovely ambience..I like Spanish food.. veg food though :)

MEGalomaniac said...

I love your life! You travel waaaay too much... I'm jealous!

That was quite a meal. I haven't been able to get my hands on paella here in Adelaide, but my mouth is watering for some good Spanish food, so must enquire.

Thoroughly enjoyed reading that post with all the trivia tid-bits chucked in cleverly! Cheers...

Shantanu said...

@Sumati: Thanks!

Shantanu said...

@Lakshmi: They did have a pretty good vegetarian section in their menu too.

@MEG: Good luck with the restaurant hunting! Thanks.

GMG said...

Hi Shantanu! Wow! Great paella!!
And tell me, how many «mojitos» did you drink at the Bodeguita? ;)) Like Papa Hemingway used to say: «mi mojito en la Bodeguita, mi daiquiri en la Floridita...»

You can’t imagine what you’re missing at Blogtrotter now! Lol!!
Have a great weekend!

Sandeepa said...

I have told before I guess, you should visit East Coast so that we get to know good eateries raound here !!! And if you are around, you are welcome to our place:)

beaverboosh said...

The Spanish food looks authentic to me... I love paella, and ceviche, good choice, the ceviche in Peru is outstanding!

Shantanu said...

@GMG: As always, your photo blog is awesome...especially your recent posts on India.

@Sandeepa: Will keep that in mind; thanks! :)

@beaverboosh: Yes, now I know of a good Peruvian restaurant in SFO, so the next time...

GMG said...

Hi Shantanu! Thanks! (Anyhow, I still miss the mojito... ;))

Came back to tell you that Blogtrotter has entered Rajasthan! Enjoy and have a great weekend!

kyh said...

Those look great! I love how colourful and aromatic Spanish food can be, and their cuisine is full of wonderful stories behind!

Shantanu said...

@GMG: Will be back to check them out soon, my friend.

@kyh: They certainly are!