Creative Combo

Disconnecting, Spanish Cheese, and Gazpacho

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I won’t lie, last week was a little rough. We were pretty sure (although not 100% until the last minute, of course) that our Kickstarter campaign wasn’t going to get funded. We prepared for it mentally as much as we could and we learned a lot along the way, but the week was still full of a lot of hard.

On Friday, Koldo suggested that we go for a good hike Saturday. I’m almost never one to turn down a hike. I mean, I have to be totally exhausted or sick to say no. Something about being in nature makes all of your problems feel far away and insignificant. And the exercise clears the mind too. When we got back home later in the afternoon, I felt like a new person.


In Spain they call that “changing the chip”.



We used to go hiking almost every weekend in Spain and got out of the habit when we moved to the Pacific Northwest because we got too busy with work and other stuff.


On the way back home, we dropped by the post office to pick up a package that contained cheese that Koldo’s mother sent us.

If you asked me what I would eat if I could only eat one thing the rest of my life, I’d pick cheese. To me, a simple and well-selected cheese plate is like the most amazing meal in the world. I especially love very cured sheep cheeses.

One thing I appreciate about Spain is how much the culture revolves around food. It seems like about every other song has a reference to some type of food and each region, city, and village has its own specialties. A lot of people in Spain go on food tours. Basically, what you do is make a driving route and stop to try the different things that are typical to each area and village. One day I’d really love to do this. We’d come back home fat and happy, that’s for sure.

This area is well-known for this type of cheese. It’s made from raw ewe milk and is cured a minimum of four months. It’s so cured that it’s quite hard and almost has a dry texture although it’s not dry when eating it.  It has bit of a nutty flavor that’s a little spicy almost.


This particular cheese that Koldo’s mother sent is from the Roncal Valley near the Basque Pyrenees.

It’s artisan made, so it’s not cheap. I don’t know how much this cheese cost exactly, but when I tried it I died and went to heaven and then promptly felt nostalgic for Spain. This cheese is really meant to be eaten slowly and savored. I think this one is one of my favorites ever. I thought it was especially tasty paired with Vermouth. The spiciness of the cheese works well with the spiciness of the Vermouth.

I like to think of Gazpacho as a salad you can eat like a soup. The first time I tried Gazpacho, I thought the taste was too strong because it often has a lot of garlic and onion. But, the way Koldo makes it is amazing. He manages to make it taste smooth and just very slightly sweet, which is perfect for me.


Today Koldo made Gazpacho for lunch, one of the most clever summer dishes ever.


When we were eating it, Koldo told me that Gazpacho is originally an Arab dish, which I didn’t know.

I always assumed it was Spanish, but given the amount of influence the Moors had on Spain and also the fact that it contains cumin which is native to the Eastern Mediterranean area, it makes sense.

Summer has quickly become my favorite season since we moved here. The clouds the rest of the year make it all the more precious. We have sun, good hiking, and Mediterranean fun. What better way to “change the chip“?


Birthday Fun

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Not that we need any real excuse to have fun, but I have to say that my birthday was pretty delicious this year. I turned 32, which was not in any way angst-filled and is in fact, a lovely age to turn. And we had some real sun for the first time in a few weeks, glorious sun. And a lot of food, glorious food.

Huevos Estrellados

For lunch I asked Koldo to cook me Huevos Estrellados, which is a popular Madrilean signature dish from Casa Lucio, one of the most well-known Spanish restaurants usually frequented by Hollywood stars.


This recipe, by the way, is also very popular at Javier Bardem’s restaurant La Bardemcilla in Madrid.

It’s very simple, yet spectacular. It consists of potatoes fried in extra virgin olive oil, eggs, and jamon Iberico (although sadly he had to use Italian prosciutto because it is the closest thing we can find in this area).

Huevos Estrellados

Koldo and I often talk about the fact that sometimes the most beautiful dishes are the most simple ones. No special decoration, just an exhibition of a few beautiful ingredients in all their glory.

Birthday Shoes

Later we went to the park and enjoyed the sun. I just had to wear my new birthday shoes, of course.


In the evening, we had an intimate gathering with a petit comité, who made the day particularly special.

Birthday Candy


We decided to maintain the simple theme and make some organic tomato, basil, and mozarella skewers with Spanish olive oil.

Koldo always reminds me that the general rule of thumb to a great dish is to keep the ingredient list as simple as you can, but use the very best ingredients you can find.

I’m happy to say, everything was a hit!

We had various types of sandwiches to choose from; homemade pâté, Spanish blue cheese with cranberries, cream cheese with pecans, Alaskan salmon cream, and smoked turkey with vegetables.



Koldo made crunchy mozzarella meatballs. I could swear they were made with little pieces of heaven.

Black Forest Cake

Finally, we had the most gorgeous Black Forest cake ever. I mean, just look at this thing!


It was a beautiful day.


Photography: Naomi Niles
Cooking: Koldo Barroso


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Yesterday, we needed to celebrate that we raised the first $1000 at our Kickstarter campaign for Epokka. And for us, there’s nothing better than a good Spanish red wine and cheese. We just received a package in the mail with cheese that my family sent from Madrid.


Wonderful Manchego cured sheep cheese! And we bought a bottle of Lan, one of our favorite Spanish red wines, in Trader Joe’s.

It was a wonderful evening, listening to Flamenco music on the porch and talking about new ideas for Epokka. It was a carousel of toasts to all the beautiful people who are helping Epokka’s dream come true. To you!

Weekend Creative Combo: Celebratory Chocolate

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Yesterday Koldo and I wrapped up the shooting of our promo video for our Epokka’s Kickstarter campaign. It’s for the introduction of the video and was a challenge for us to put together because neither one of us is accustomed to getting in front of the camera. There were several technical difficulties with the audio and such, but in the end we pulled through and are as happy as we’re going to get with it, moving past the discomfort of seeing ourselves on video.

After we shot the video,  we decided to celebrate with low-carb chocolate cream puffs in our favorite pastel colors. Perfect ending to a good day! Just don’t ask me what happened after that!

Set Design: Koldo Barroso and Naomi Niles
Photography: Naomi Niles