Catalan Tomato Bread
Steven Raichlen's first meal in Barcelona, at the venerable Los Caracoles restaurant in the Barri Gotic (medieval quarter), began with this appetizer. Scarcely a day went by during his stay when he wasn't served some variation of pa amb tomàquet, as the specialty is known locally.
This recipe offers irrefutable proof that the best dishes are often the simplest. At its most rudimentary, pa amb tomàquet consists of a grilled slice of bread rubbed with tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil. Like all simple dishes, it demands flawless ingredients: crusty country-style bread, soft ripe tomatoes and fragrant olive oil. Not everyone in Catalonia uses garlic, so he has made it optional.
There are two ways to serve pa amb tomàquet. The first is to provide guests with garlic cloves, halved tomatoes, a cruet of oil and bowl of salt, and let them do the work. The second is for the cook to do the rubbing and drizzling.
Slideshow: Fast Hors d'Oeuvres