Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest. One of the greatest pleasures for me is going along to a classic family-run Spanish restaurant on the corner of the Paseo Maritimo in Marbella heading East towards Cable Beach. It’s off the tourist track, and far from the glitz and glamour of the Golden Mile and Puerto Banus, and that is why the restaurant, frequented as it is by the Spanish locals, serves some of the best food along the Marbellan coast, albeit cheaply and without pomp or ceremony.
Pretty much every Sunday when I am in Marbella (and how I wish I was right now) I head to that café on the corner, to eat a simple serving of squid with salad and, on the side, a large plate of oily, simple Patatas a lo Pobre. Literally translated as potatoes of the poor man, this typical Andalusian dish is awfully simple (it comprises mainly potatoes, onions and peppers), but completely delicious. And so, when a cold chill nipped at my spine this week, and when all I did was yearn for my beloved España basked in the summer heat, I set about recreating my favourite Sunday lunch.
The patatas are really simple to make. Take one large onion and slice. Sauté the onion gently in oil until it softens, and add to that two chopped red peppers (deseeded), 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely, seasoning, a small teaspoon of pimenton and a few bay leaves. This should all be cooked, again, until the pepper is softened. To that, add around 6-8 peeled potatoes chopped into bitesize pieces and a good glug more of olive oil, and cook the whole dish further until the potatoes are tender, but not falling apart (I find that peeled new potatoes work best for this as they can be sliced into neat round disks and keep their shape easily).
Serve your patatas drizzled in further good quality olive oil and, if you want to recreate the whole experience, some grilled squid and a hearty side salad (sadly I was unable to get my hands on any huge squids like those so frequently available on the Med, but when in London…well, we have to put up with seafood on the smaller side). This dish guarantees a burst of Spanish flavour with the added benefit that, as the name suggests, it’s really very cheap to make – highly suitable for that post-Christmas poor man’s January then.