I WAS WALKING THROUGH A VINEYARD WHEN THE SILENCE WAS BROKEN BY A CLATTERING OF HOOVES AS A GOATHERD PUSHED HIS GOATS THROUGH AN ALMOND GROVE IN THE VALLEY BELOW. THE SOUND OF ANIMALS GAVE WAY TO A DEEPER HUM. OVER A LITTLE HILL WAS A TRACTOR WITH WHAT APPEARED TO BE A PAIR OF BAT’S WINGS ABOVE A DRUM ATTACHED TO POWERFUL VIBRATING MECHANICAL ARMS. THE TRACTOR DRIVER BACKED THE MACHINE NEXT TO AN ALMOND TREE AND THE WINGS SPREAD UNDER THE BRANCHES. THE TREE WAS SHAKEN AND THE ALMONDS DROPPED ONTO THE WINGS AND THEN THE DRUM BELOW. ‘IF WE ONLY HAD A MACHINE WE COULD TAKE TO MADRID AND SHAKE THE POLITICIANS,’ SAID THE FARMER. TRADITIONALLY ALMONDS ARE USED IN MANY DISHES FROM THE PRIORAT. SOMETIMES THEY ARE POUNDED TO MAKE A PICADA THAT COULD BE STIRRED THROUGH A SLOW-COOKED DISH OF RABBIT OR GARLICKY SALT COD. THIS RECIPE MAKES LOVELY MOIST MEATBALLS WITH A RICH, VISCOUS SAUCE THICKENED WITH EGGPLANT AND DOTTED WITH GOLDEN ALMONDS.
Soak the bread in the milk for 20 minutes. Squeeze out the milk and break the bread into rough pieces into a large bowl. Add the veal, pork, jamón, eggs, nutmeg, sea salt and half the parsley and mix together well using your hands. Shape the mixture into 36 golfball-sized rounds and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Cover and set aside.
Heat the remaining olive oil in the pan. Cook the meatballs in batches over high heat for 2–3 minutes, or until browned all over, then remove from the pan. Add the onion, bay leaves and garlic to the pan, reduce the heat to medium and sauté for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir for 1 minute, then pour in the wine,
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