We finally have a respite from all the sweets December holidays have been offering us, lol! And what a rest it is: National Gazpacho Day is just about the complete opposite of the national food holidays we’ve had previous to it this month. Instead of something warm, baked, sweet, and comforting, today is set to celebrate a cold, sometimes raw, sometimes spicy vegetable soup. You really can’t get any more different than that! There’s no exact recipe for gazpacho, which is a Spanish tomato-based soup that is best known for being served cold: every region, and indeed every cook, makes their gazpacho slightly different from everyone else. Typically, gazpacho includes such vegetables as bell peppers, cucumbers, onions, and garlic, and has a healthy portion of fresh cilantro added as well. This is all blended together to make a uniform-texture soup that can be spicy, savory, and always cold. Some variations include stale bread to soak up the soup, hard boiled eggs, or even pieces of ham. It’s very strange that National Gazpacho Day lands in the middle of December: not only does it incorporate a multitude of veggies and herbs that you find in season only in the summer, but the very creation of the dish was to be served to Spanish farm workers who needed to cool down in the middle of summer!
But, for whatever reason Gazpacho Day is in the winter (for the same reasons we have ice cream national holidays in January, ha), you can still get a great bowl of gazpacho over at Salinas in Chelsea. Instead of pureeing his gazpacho into a uniform soup, giving it a thin consistency, chef Luiz Bollo chops his ingredients but doesn’t blend them, making a unique gazpacho that is hearty as well as refreshing. Consisting of cucumbers, bell peppers, croutons, and cherry tomatoes, his gazpacho is sometimes referred to as a “liquid salad” instead of a soup. Bollo uses traditional Andalusian Spanish preparations for his gazpacho, including using frozen tomato juice as a base, chilling the rest of the soup as it melts, instead of using room temperature ingredients and chilling them in a fridge. It makes for an incredibly fresh tasting soup that has been labeled the “best gazpacho in New York.” Head over to Salinas today and see for yourself!
136 9th Ave (between 18th St & 19th St)
“The executive chef at Spanish restaurant Salinas takes the memories of his mother’s gazpacho and interprets them, creating a cold soup that is so refreshing it’s downright magical. For the gazpacho Andaluz ($10), Bollo serves chopped cucumbers, red and yellow peppers, onions, crispy croutons and cherry tomatoes in a bowl with shards of frozen tomato juice, which were used to chill the soup before refrigerators were a household item. He then pours an emulsified tomato-based broth in the bowl to create a liquid salad that is velvety and rich, yet also light and smooth. Not to be outdone, the cucumber gazpacho ($9), served in the same fashion, features garbanzo beans and green heirloom tomatoes, and practically evaporates in your mouth. So while Bollo swears he is not a “purist,” his gazpacho certainly is pure goodness.”–New York Daily News
“We’d come here just to sit in the backyard garden, replete with super cozy banquettes and an outdoor fireplace. We love his take on gazpacho, which combines tomatoes and red bell peppers with a cava vinaigrette. What really sets it apart is the unique toppings, which include berries and beets, though he plans to make a more traditional gazpacho through tomato season.”–Restaurant Girl
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“Our server was warm and gracious, and made some terrific menu suggestions. I was in the mood for tapas, my companion wanted a meal. She was able to accommodate us both. We started with an order of the pan con tomate, toasted bread spread with fresh finely chopped tomato and garlic. It was much more substantial than what you normally find in Spain (where they kind of just run the tomato and garlic on the bread instead of piling it on), but hey, it’s a big world and it has room for both versions! I then had a creamy golden gazpacho that was simply outstanding.”–Steven H.
“The highlight was probably the gazpacho, which was one of the better traditional gazpachos I’ve had in NYC, though I notice on their website that they change their recipe when tomatoes are not in season (why not just stop serving it if it’s out of season?).”–L.C.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!