Today’s blog is a recipe. It happens to arrive with a very ample forward. Please read along… or if you’re hungry then skip to the end and get cookin’!
I have a penchant for gathering good food with good people, and two days ago seemed the perfect scenario to put those things under the same roof. I’m fresh back from the self proclaimed World’s Most Powerful Race, the Tour of Dubai, and seeing American chain restaurants lined block after block left me hankerin’ for some good old fashioned, feel good, home cooking.
Trying to pin down friends in the same place all at the same time in this line of work is akin to a rousing game of global musical chairs. Each rider has their different race talents and goals and aspirations and therefore different race schedules. As such, when those stars do align, you need to capitalize on the circumstance.
Which leads to the question I’m asked frequently, Why is Girona such a magnet for cyclists — is it really as good as you cyclists make it sound? The answer: absolutely.
Not bound to a traditional desk job, cyclists have the privilege to chase good weather. While Belgium continues to be perfectly Belgian, all the while biblical rains dump across the UK and Tuscany, northeastern Spain remains (relatively) clear. Weather: check.
We need air travel to get to races. The petite Girona airport works for regional flights and the massive Barcelona airport is just the ticket for long haul flights. Airport(s): check.
I lived in Girona in 2009 and ’10, then tried out Italy for due anni before coming back to Espaaaaaaña in 2013. In that time, the number of professional cyclists — male and female, both division I and II — basically my people, my ilk, leapt from somewhere in the range of 45 to now about 80. Girona is has a nice “town” feel, but is surely classified as a city. It’s therefore a safe bet that per capita, Girona is home to more professional cyclists than anywhere else in the world. If you want to hang with cyclist, this is the spot; if you want to escape that scene, there exists university or athletic or healthy or artisanal or virtually any demographic that you may be looking. Good people: check.
The Pyrenees are within sight which offer high alpine climbing rivaling anywhere in the world. I literally rode through at least four distinct beach towns yesterday…
To escape town takes all of the snap of your fingers, and it’s just as easy to find yourself on roads where you won’t see a car for hours on end. Rolling hills, steep bergs, long climbs, or just noodling around — Proper training roads: check.
As for everything else? Great restaurants (ahh, the number one restaurant in the world is here), bars, shopping, the super crazy high speed fast train, fledgeling wine scene, a fantastic bike shop, and the hospitably tranquil Spanish lifestyle — complete with a mandatory afternoon siesta — that all exists too. Good living: check.
So as it pertains to musical chairs, fellow New Englander and our recently crowned national cyclocross champion, Jeremy Powers was visiting town and that became reason to celebrate. A convergence of factors deemed it appropriate to declare a Chili Wednesday, or more appropriately Chili Miércoles. Eight friends came over, I provided a pair of chilis, and they pot-lucked the rest. It was a feast.
The first chili was your standard affair with pork, beef, beans of all varieties, onions, peppers, corn, and of course tomato.
The second was the brainchild of a two-hour spin and my mind working in mysterious ways:
Recipe du Jour – Pumpkin, White Bean, Tomatillo, Maple Chili
1 hefty pour of olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, smashed or diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 tomatillo, diced
1 pumpkin, cut into 1/2 — 1/4 inch cubes
2 cans of white beans. Garbanzos are swell but whatever you’ve got will do the trick
1/2 cup maple syrup, because maple syrup is the ultimate cook’s companion
1 can of beer. Actually 2 beers, 1 can cheap stuff and 1 bottle delicious stuff
2 tsp chili powder
2-4 cups vegetable broth
Salt, pepper, chili verde salsa, and whatever else you want to use
Crack open your good beer, pour into a fine drinking vessel, and slowly enjoy that beverage. Now time to start cooking. Par-cook your cubed pumpkin; boil it for 5’ish minutes or nuke it in the microwave. Sautee onion and garlic for maybe 5 minutes in a big chili vat. Add green pepper and sautee another few minutes. Add tomatillo and pumpkin, and what the heck, just toss in everything else. Simmer with the lid off until you’re hungry. I recommend chopping up a cup of two of this fine mixture in the food processor and then stirring that back into the vat. That adds more of a thick stew’y feel rather than being brothy.
It’s chili so be confident that you probably can’t mess it up. Guacamole is a good topper. Or a shot of maple syrup. Ohhhhh yeaaaah!
(Entirely coincidentally, this was in the NYT just two days before)