Years ago, while wandering through Europe by myself for a third of a year, I met a stranger on a train in between countries I don't remember. It was still early in the trip, and the stranger asked me where I was going. He stopped me in the middle of the list of cities I rattled off and told me that I had to visit Granada, specifically Alhambra. "You have to reserve a ticket well in advance," he advised. As someone naturally predisposed to take travel advice from strangers in dark train cars, I did. And some combination of months and weeks later I ended up at the Oasis Hostel in Granada from which, one morning I set out and had one of the most memorable breakfasts I'll ever remember: pan con tomate. Years later, having put back on the weight I kept off walking 10 miles a day through European back alleys and along quiet roads, this simple recipe for pan con tomate at home recreates the flavors and memories of a long-ago trip.
- 1 ripe tomato
- 1 loaf bread or baguette
- 1 clove garlic, halved
- Extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Picual, Hojiblanca, Arbequina, or blend from Spain
- Salt, to taste
Turn the oven up as high as it goes. Grate a ripe tomato, reserving the juice with the rest of the pulp. Slice the bread and when the oven is jacked, put the slices in for about 3-5 minutes. (You want the bread crunchy but not Melba.) When the bread is ready, remove and scrape with garlic. (How much depends on how much you love garlic.) Drizzle evenly with olive oil. Ladle the tomato evenly across the bread, add another drizzle of olive oil, and evenly scatter some nice flaky salt over everything. Eat with coffee, preferably in a place with an amazing view.