Aran Goyoaga is a James Beard nominated food blogger, author, stylist and photographer. She was born and raised in the Basque Country in Northern Spain, and has been living in the US since 1998. Her blog Cannelle Et Vanille has been featured in many publications such as Whole Living, Everyday Food, Coastal Living, New York Times, In Style, Miami Herald, The Times, and many more. She is a mother to 6-year old Jon and 2-year old Miren.
Dish you crave from your abuela:
Arroz con leche. My grandparents owned a pastry shop and every morning milk was delivered from a nearby farm. I remember my grandmother Miren wearing her apron (she always wore an apron) and simmering milk to pasteurize it to later use in pastry cream, relámpagos, and anything else they would be making that day. She made batches and batches of arroz con leche weekly with the leftover milk. I miss those smells.
Secret ingredient to make a dish pop:
Finishing a dish (even sweet ones) with some great crunchy salt or piment d’Espelette is one of my favorite things. Also visually, microgreens and fresh herbs always look gorgeous.
Favorite Latin restaurant in the U.S.:
There are so many great ones but I have to say that I really love tiny, hole-in-the-wall taco stands in West Palm Beach where they serve amazing tacos al carbon and tacos de lengua.
Favorite Latin restaurant in the world:
I am not sure I can answer that question because I have not traveled to many Latin American countries. I am dying to visit Peru and Argentina.
Favorite city to eat:
San Sebastián in the Basque Country -- without a doubt.
Secret to a perfect dinner party:
Simplicity and diversity. When I throw a dinner party, I make sure there are dishes that can be made ahead of time and finished quickly before guests get there. It makes the process more relaxed and enjoyable. I always keep dishes seasonal, and I make sure there are a good variety of textures, flavors, and colors.
Biggest food indulgence:
Angulas al ajillo (baby eel cooked in olive oil, garlic and chili peppers). Baby eel is so coveted in the Basque Country and the prices are astronomical. It has been a long time since I have had this dish. It was one of my grandfather’s favorites. His friends used to go fishing for them and deliver them to my grandfather, as they knew how much he loved angulas.
This is a hard one because I love them all so much, but if I had to pick one, it would probably be winter squash. Or wait, maybe fennel and kale too.
Best food memory:
It is hard to pick one because I feel very fortunate to have had a childhood surrounded by chefs and cooks. I remember one particular Christmas when my great uncle Julián joined us. He was a pastry chef himself. He had a larger-than-life personality with red hair and red cheeks. He loved to cook and make a big mess in the kitchen. That Christmas he made the most delicious langostinos a la Americana. Large prawns with their heads still in a tomato, garlic and cognac-based sauce. I remember thinking that I could eat that for the rest of my life.
Ideal breakfast, lunch and dinner:
Breakfast : chestnut pancakes with roasted fruit or soft-cooked eggs with toasted bread to dip into the yolk.
Lunch: a composed salad with baby kale, shaved fennel, radishes, diced apple, avocado and salmon, all dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Simple.
Dinner: the sopa de pescado my mom makes. I could also eat that for the rest of my life.
Favorite Latin cocktail:
Sangría, of course.
Favorite kitchen gadget:
I don’t really like gadgets very much, but I do love my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I cannot live without it.
Perfect song to cook to:
Oh so many! I am a true music fan and I listen to many different kinds of music. Arcade Fire, Jonathan Richman, La Buena Vida, Jonsi, Buena Vista Social Club, Elliott Smith, Lou Barlow…. Impossible to pick one.
Most adventurous food you eat:
I had alligator meatballs recently. I don’t think I will have them again.
Tip for at-home cooks:
The most important thing I have learned from my family when it comes to cooking is that you never really need to follow a recipe to the tee. It is most important to learn a technique and then adapt to suit what is available at the market. I consider this the essence of my cooking as well. Also, to clean as you go and keep your workspace organized. Makes life so much easier.