Ah! Patates Braves! I know you probably think I’ve spelled “Patatas Bravas” incorrectly. But I haven’t. Let me explain… On our second night in Spain, John and I were searching for a place to have a late supper. Well, late by North American standards. Ordinarily we eat about 7:00pm – in Barcelona, most restaurants don’t even open up until 8:30 or 9:00pm. This took some adjusting, but once we did – I fell in love with it.
Of course, working and living there is different than vacationing, but I think the lifestyle is so much more pleasing and healthy for the mind, body, and spirit (if you dig that kind of thing). It’s slower, more relaxed. You can drink wine or have a beer with your morning cafe con leche (coffee with milk), and croissant and no one bats an eye. Stores are open for the morning, but at about 2pm, everything shuts down for lunch: siesta! The reasons for this are many, but my perceptions were that A: It is much, much, MUCH to hot to be out and about shopping between 1:30pm and 5pm; and B: the Spanish take a more leisurely attitude towards business – family, friends, napping, food, and quality self-time are as essential to their lives as work. Love IT! Once 5:00 or 6:00pm hits, the stores open back up, people work through the evening, and dinner begins around 9:00pm. It’s beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
Sorry, I got onto a bit of a tangent there – let’s continue with my original story: “On our second night in Spain, John and I were searching for a place to have a late supper”… I really wanted patatas bravas – it was the epitome of Spain to me. We passed a couple restaurants serving something that looked similar – only instead of the traditional red tomato sauce, the potatoes were covered in a white creamy looking substance that I couldn’t place. Frankly, it freaked me out. Eventually we settled on a place, ordered the “Patates Braves” once we semi-deciphered the menu, and ended up with……. the white creamy saucy potatoes. I took a bite. Well, a smidgen of a nibble really. I was nervous. But what I experienced in that moment was incredible! My mouth exploded with garlicky, lemony, delicious flavor! I couldn’t get enough. It was bliss. We continued to order this dish in every restaurant post the first for the duration of our trip.
I googled the dish once I got home and realized – as with the language confusion – that the “Patates Braves” is the Catalunyan style of “Patatas Bravas”. Who would have thunk it?
So, finally, for the 3rd and final installment of Tapas Study Party, I give you, Patates Braves!
- 1 Lb. All Purpose Potatoes (i.e. Russet), washed & peeled.
- 3 Garlic Cloves, skins removed.
- 1 Lemon, zest & juice.
- 1 C Prepared Mayonnaise.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
- Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut the potatoes into 1" chunks. Dump them and a few glugs of olive oil into a baking pan. Season generously with salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Bake for approx. 45 - 50 minutes, or until potatoes are golden and crispy. (Traditionally, you could deep fry these babies, but I have tried to make it a little safer, a little easier, and a little healthier). You will have to flip the potatoes every 10 to 15 minutes to ensure even browning.
- Meanwhile, make the aioli. See Garlicky Lemon Saffron Aioli Recipe for instructions and my justification for not making the aioli from scratch - just omit the saffron threads. I would put the sauce on the side, since not everyone likes the same amount of sauce.