La Tasca, Jesús Pobre, Spain

La TascaI have visited this restaurant every summer for the last four years and it never fails to disappoint.  The food is always fresh and seasonal and everything, including the pasta is homemade. I have already mentioned La Tasca in a previous post, in which I attempted to recreate my favourite Ricotta and Spinach Tortellini with a butter and sage sauce, but its never quite the same as when you are sitting in this unique courtyard setting under the spanish sky.

This year we were lucky enough to book a table on a Tuesday evening, which is music night and we were entertained by a traditional gypsy family performing flamenco dancing and singing. The atmosphere was extremely magical and special and is something I will remember for many years to come.

To start, my husband and I shared a Burrata, which for those who don’t know is a delicious buffalo mozzarella, from Napoli in Southern Italy. This was served with toasted bread, topped with fresh spanish tomatoes and drizzled in basil oil. My mouth is watering as I write, as it is such a delight to eat.

The pasta at La Tasca is made daily and their speciality is the ravioli, with a different choice of fillings each day. On this particular evening I could have had ravioli with pear and gorgonzola, salmon and lemon cream, meat, or luckily for me, on this particular evening, the spinach and ricotta. However, the problem of which pasta to choose does not end there, you then have to choose a sauce to accompany the dish. The waiting staff are always on hand to recommend which sauces suit each pasta dish, but it really is up to individual preference. I was torn between Burro e Salvia ( melted butter and crispy sage leaves), Nata y Nueces (cream, walnut pieces and a touch of pepper) or their delicious Nata y Parmigiano (cream and melted parmesan cheese). After a good deal of deliberation I opted for the rather indulgent parmesan cream sauce to accompany my spinach and ricotta ravioli and it did not disappoint. Hurrah for pasta!

To finish, my husband enjoyed a Panna Cotta with berry jam and I opted for a second calorific, but to die for option, of a Crepe Suzette, which was heavenly.  Another fantastic evening at this atmospheric,  warm and friendly venue. La Tasca, I miss you already, but I know I will return…adios amigo!

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Turbot alla Livornese

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Turbot alla Livornese

My husband loves fish so when I have the time to really cook something different, I try to ensure I source the freshest fish possible and that usually means heading to our local fish stall on a Saturday morning. I wasn’t sure what type of fish to choose when I visited yesterday, but I knew I wanted to make a Livornese sauce to accompany whichever fish I selected. I have only recently learnt about this sauce after watching one of the Masterchef contestants, under the guidance of the wonderful Massimo Bottura, create the most beautiful fish dish with a Livornese sauce. This sauce originates from Livorno in Tuscany and whilst it is a relatively simple recipe the flavours are heavenly. The taste of the sea, ripe tomatoes and hint of garlic immediately transport you to the world of mediterranean cuisine. The dish feels healthy yet at the same time, indulgent and the colour of the sauce looks stunning on the plate.

For this recipe I chose a very large and quite expensive Turbot, which my friendly fish man filleted for me. Traditionally a Livornese sauce is served with Red Mullet, but after a little research I found that other fish such a sole or turbot also work well with this recipe. Whatever fish you choose to buy to accompany your Livornese sauce, be sure to ask your fishmonger for some fish bones and possibly some large raw, king prawns to help you make the base for the sauce. I also purchased a small bag of clams, to add to the dish just before serving. The result was delicious and I made so much sauce that I have been able to freeze some for another day.

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Tortellini with spinach and ricotta

Tortellini with spinach and ricotta

Tortellini with spinach and ricotta

I have had my pasta making machine for many years, but it is only recently that I have I started to get to grips using it. In the last few years I have travelled to Italy and Spain, but the best pasta I have ever tasted has been in a bijou restaurant in Jesus Pobre in Spain. La Tasca is a very small courtyard restaurant and is really the most magical, and dare I say it romantic setting you could ever wish for. There is an array of barbecued fish and meats to choose from and the choice of pasta and sauces would rival any Italian restaurant.

La Tasca

La Tasca

One of my favourite pasta dishes at La Tasca is their Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini with a butter sauce, although their parmesan cream sauce is pretty spectacular too. However I must get back to the point of the recipe before I begin day dreaming about warm evenings sat in that cosy courtyard. Oh how I would love to own a place just like La Tasca…

For the purpose of this recipe I have combined inspiration taken from La Tasca with a smattering of Carluccio’s flavours. I hope you find this dish as delicious as my family do and whether you serve it as a starter or a main course it is sure to please.

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