Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Grape, Olive, Pig" by Matt Goulding, Served with a Merienda of Toast with Olive Oil, Chocolate & Sea Salt

Are you hungry? Well you will be after checking out my review of the gorgeous and inspiring Grape, Olive, Pig: Deep Travels Through Spain's Food Culture by Matt Goulding. Accompanying my review is a merienda (afternoon snack) of Toast with Olive Oil, Chocolate & Sea Salt, along with sweet red wine and some Marcona almonds.

Publisher's Blurb:

The author of Rice, Noodle, Fish now celebrates the delectable and sensuous culture and cuisine of Spain with this beautifully illustrated food-driven travel guide filled with masterful narration, insider advice, and nearly 200 full-color photos.
Grape, Olive, Pig is a deeply personal exploration of Spain, a country where eating and living are inextricably linked. Crafted in the “refreshing” (Associated Press), “inspirational” (Publishers Weekly) and “impeccably observed” (Eater.com) style of the acclaimed Rice, Noodle, Fish, and written with the same evocative voice of the award-winning magazine Roads & Kingdoms, this magnificent gastronomic travel companion takes you through the key regions of Spain as you’ve never seen them before.
Matt Goulding introduces you to the sprawling culinary and geographical landscape of his adoptive home, and offers an intimate portrait of this multifaceted country, its remarkable people, and its complex history. Fall in love with Barcelona’s tiny tapas bars and modernist culinary temples. Explore the movable feast of small plates and late nights in Madrid. Join the three-thousand-year-old hunt for Bluefin tuna off the coast of Cadiz, then continue your seafood journey north to meet three sisters who risk their lives foraging the gooseneck barnacle, one of Spain’s most treasured ingredients. Delight in some of the world’s most innovative and avant-garde edible creations in San Sebastian, and then wash them down with cider from neighboring Asturias. Sample the world’s finest acorn-fed ham in Salamanca, share in the traditions of cave-dwelling shepherds in the mountains beyond Granada, and debate what constitutes truly authentic paella in Valencia.
Grape, Olive, Pig reveals hidden gems and enduring delicacies from across this extraordinary country, contextualizing each meal with the stories behind the food in a cultural narrative complemented by stunning color photography. Whether you’ve visited Spain or have only dreamed of bellying up to its tapas bars, Grape, Olive, Pig will wake your imagination, rouse your hunger, and capture your heart.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Harper Wave/Anthony Bourdain (November 15, 2016)

My Review:

There are people who can tell you about a restaurant or dinner they went to and you think, "that sounds good." Then there are passionate food lovers who can describe what they saw, smelled, ate and tasted in such exquisite detail that you are convinced that you must have whatever it is that they are describing, or you simply cannot go on living. Matt Goulding is the second kind of person. There is no way to walk away from Grape, Olive, Pig without craving the food and drink of Spain and longing to be there. It is clear that Goulding is in love with Spain and his passion for the history, the people, and of course the food pour out of every page.

The book is set up mostly by geography, beginning in Barcelona where Goulding met, pursued and eventually won the heart of his wife. It meanders on through Salamanca, Valencia, Basque Country, Cadiz, Asturias, Galicia, Madrid and Granada. Within each region, he covers the specialties of the cuisine like jambon and cured meats, paella, and the pan con tomate, cheeses, wines, cocktail, tapas, and seafood; uncovering the details and origins of the food and drink and introducing the reader to the purveyors large and small, known and unknown. Along the way he throws in tips for things to know before you go, how to eat and drink like a Spaniard, the rules of a good tapas "crawl" and my favorite "Amazing Shit in the Middle of Nowhere." The fascinating stories and tempting food descriptions are accompanied by beautiful black and white photographs that capture the mood, people and food of Spain.

I initially signed up for this book tour thinking Grape, Olive, Pig was a cookbook and it definitely isn't--although if you love to cook it will have you looking online or running to your cookbook shelves, the library, or a bookstore for recipes to recreate the dishes you read about. Grape, Olive, Pig is a more of a travelogue, reference book and a bit of a love story to a country--capturing both the magic and the realities of travel. Spain was near the top of places I want to visit and this book may have just moved it to the top. (Having extensively visited Japan, I will definitely be checking out Goulding's first book Rice, Noodle, Fish as well). If you are planning a trip to Spain or just want to feel like you went there, add this book to your TBR pile--just don't read it on an empty stomach! 


Author Notes: Matt Goulding is editor and cofounder of Roads & Kingdoms, the former food editor of Men’s Health, and the coauthor of the New York Times bestselling series Eat This, Not That! He is a James Beard Award winner and has also written for Harper’s Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Food & Wine Magazine, and Time magazine. He divides his time between the tapas bars of Barcelona and the barbecue pits of North Carolina.
Follow Matt on Twitter.


Food Inspiration: 

There is nothing but food inspiration in Grape, Olive, Pig--all of it described in passionate detail from canned fish and seafood to the different cuts and types of meat from the Ibérico pig, to the delicious cheeses and the twists of crisp churros dipped in chocolate or little plates of patatas bravas or a simple slow-simmered pot of pork and beans. I don't think you can look at a page of this book without wanting to eat.

For a dish inspired by my reading, I decided to go with a merienda, an afternoon snack or light meal in the afternoon in Spain and other European countries. Goulding says a merienda might meal toast with olive oil and chocolate and since that has long been a favorite snack of mine ever since a trip to New York where I was served baguette with olive oil, chocolate and sea salt (see this post from early in my blog in 2008). Rounding out my merienda is a small glass of sweet Spanish red wine and a small bowl of Marcona almonds (with truffle salt from Trader Joes).

You don't really need a recipe for this one, but here is one from famous Spanish chef Ferran Adrià from Food & Wine.

Toasted Bread & Bittersweet Chocolate
Adapted from Ferran Adrià via Food&Wine.com
(Makes 4 Servings)

16 thin baguette slices  
4-oz bar of good bittersweet (or dark chocolate), cut into 16 pieces
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil  

coarse or flaky sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat the broiler and position a rack 8 inches from the heat. 

Spread the baguette slices on a baking sheet and broil until toasted, about 30 seconds. 

Turn the slices over and set a square of chocolate on each one. Broil just until the bread is golden and the chocolate is beginning to melt--about 30 seconds. (Spread the chocolate evenly over the toast if desired.)

Transfer the chocolate toasts to plates and drizzle with the olive oil. Lightly sprinkle sea salt on the chocolate and serve right away.

Notes/Results: If you have never tried the combination of good dark or bittersweet chocolate, olive oil and sea salt, you must. It is delicious, rich and decadent. It went perfectly with the sweet red wine and salty Marcona almonds in this case. Because you are using a few ingredients, in a simple preparation, use the best ones you have or can find. I usually enjoy this treat as dessert, but I think I should make a chocolate toast merienda a habit! I will definitely make this again.

Grape, Olive, Pig is my fifteenth foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2016 event. You can check out the November Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.  

I'm also linking this post up to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post


Note: A review copy of "Grape, Olive, Pig" was provided to me by the publisher, Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.



  1. Those chocolate on toast looks really good - never heard of the idea but could have some right now - sounds like a great book - I wish I had read it before I went to spain and felt quite clueless about the food

  2. I'm going to look out for this one. Thanks. Have a great week. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

  3. My only visit to Spain was very short and didn't include much in the way of food ... clearly I missed out on an excellent culinary experience!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  4. Totally new combo for me! I knew this was a kind of travelogue, which is one of the attractions for me. I have a copy. MUST read. One of these days my work life might settle down -- or not. :)

  5. Interesting combination of flavors. My experience with Spanish late-afternoon snack food was always more conventional.
    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  6. I want this book! I have seen it reviewed at other blogs too but the more I read about it the more i.e. ant a copy. I'm going to see if the library has it. Love your representative dish, who doesn't love chocolate?!

  7. I love Grape, Olive, Pig! You are so right, it makes you long to visit Spain.


Mahalo for visiting and for leaving a comment. I love reading them and they mean a lot!

All advertising, spam, inappropriate (or just plain rude) comments will be promptly deleted. I do appreciate your right to free speech and to your opinion but I'm not into mean, rude, or mean snarky (non-mean snarky is just fine!) ;-)