This is part 2 of my "If I were their Champions League Chef" series, in honor of the 2011 Final on 28 May, in London. Each story offers a new original recipe as my gift, to thank both clubs for their (respective and) collective inspiration and ... beauty.
Shortly after my DNA was forever altered, a new French home-mate came to call. His passion ~ France's national team. Mine ~ Italy's. The 2006 World Cup had just rocked my world, and destroyed his.
I was very good at crafting clever and creative ways to keep our small home a harmonious one.
At that hour, Italy's Gianluca Zambrotta and France's Thierry Henry played for FC Barcelona. Watching their matches together became a source of peace between us, and that's when I first fell in love with the Spanish giants.
By now they've taken my world by storm.
One man that I adore on my Melting Pot Food Tours rounds is a rabid Barca fan, to whom I know better than to mention Real Madrid or even Iker Casillas. Sometimes I think our mutual passion + the one I share with other adorable Barca fans = one reason I get up in the morning.
The chronicles of Barcelona's phenomenal success and mass of silverware is best told by the myriad of other Barca-worship sites, while I work up to my point of this story.
The current roster of Manchester United's formidable opponent this weekend is an acutely accurate rendition of The World's Most Beautiful Game.
Manager Josep Pep Guardiola lifted this Champions League trophy with Barcelona as a player in 1992, and then again in 2009 as the club's first-year coach. He is also a champion of lady fans' affections.
Eight of his expected starting 11 on Saturday ~ Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique', Pedro Rodriguez, Xavi Hernandez, Sergio Busquets, Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol, and my favorite, David Villa ~ were Spain's 2010 World Cup Champions.
Most of his players hail from Spain, and others have roots in Brazil, France, Africa, Holland and, Argentina ~ home to universal darling Lionel Leo Messi, who is praised by his iconic peers (and even rivals) as the greatest player in the world. He's another object of my adoration.
Now, here's the punch line ~
It was reported that 9 months after Barcelona won the Champions League finals in May 2009, the birthrate in the Catalan city soared by 45%.
Mind you, I do not make these things up. I just report them.
With an agenda.
If I were their Champions League Chef, I couldn't not put a gorgeous, energizing dish in front of these beautiful men, to celebrate the serious kind of passion they organically inspire. It'd have to be something deliciously rich with aphrodisiacs.
My romantic main-course salad would start with a bed of spicy arugula, which in ancient times was believed to be associated with fertility. Fresh sea scallops wrapped in bacon and glazed with balsamic vinegar, a dash of chili, and honey ~ nectar of Aphrodite herself ~ would yield a blast of soft, salty, sweet, and sticky, with a bit of heat. I'd add more sensuality with slices of cool, silky mango (which Southeast Asia takes as a supplement for virility) and creamy-dreamy avocado (which nutrients boost sexual health).
Its finish would be a sprinkle of almonds, which have represented true love throughout history.
Do I need to say it?
Sorry, ManU. I'm in love.
Seductive Scallop Salad, for Barcelona
2 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp dried chili flakes
1 tsp Dijon mustard
4 Tbsp Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
8 fresh sea scallops
4 slices bacon
1 Manila (Champagne) mango
1 medium (ripe) avocado
6 cups fresh arugula
1/4 cup chopped roasted almonds
Preheat oven to 425F.
Whisk honey, vinegar, and chili flakes in small bowl. Place all but 2 Tbsp of mixture in large skillet for later use. Whisk the reserved 2 Tbsp with mustard and oil until smooth and creamy; season to taste with salt and pepper. Place vinaigrette in plastic squeeze bottle for dressing salad later.
Wrap each scallop with 1/2 piece bacon, secure with toothpick. Place in baking dish; bake for 20 minutes.
Pit, peel, slice mango and avocado. Place arugula in two shallow bowls for serving.
Heat honey mixture in skillet over medium flame. Remove cooked scallops from oven, place in skillet. Heat through, coating with glaze.
Top arugula with 4 glazed scallops for each serving. Fan slices of mango and avocado around scallops. Drizzle salad with vinaigrette. Sprinkle with almonds to serve.
Yields 2 servings.