Lifestyle

Spanish cuisine a real sister act

COOKING UP A STORM: Spanish sisters Lourdes Bondzulic and Maria Santiago have started a food blog that is attracting rave reviews; below, one of their paellas.
COOKING UP A STORM: Spanish sisters Lourdes Bondzulic and Maria Santiago have started a food blog that is attracting rave reviews; below, one of their paellas. Sarah Harvey

SPANISH cuisine is set for an explosion of interest in the region.

Two Spanish sisters will see to that.

Lourdes Bondzulic, of Brookwater, and her sister Maria Santiago, from Redbank Plains, are bringing authentic Spanish cooking to the masses.

The pair, known appropriately as "Two Spanish Sisters", host Spanish cooking classes, food tasting, dinner parties and provide catering.

Born in Malaga in southern Spain, the sisters came to Australia in 1974 as children when their parents left Spain in search of a better life.

Their father passed away in 2000 and with their mum getting on in years Lourdes says the sisters were determined to ensure that the family's legacy of outstanding recipes was not lost.

"We thought that to maintain our Spanish heritage and keep our recipes flowing through our kids we decided it would be great to do a recipe book," Lourdes says.

"So we started compiling recipes and talking to mum. From there we decided to do cooking classes. It is one thing to look at a recipe and another to see it made.

"My mum was a good cook and my great uncle was the chef for the Duke of Spain.

"I have an uncle who has a Spanish restaurant in Holland and a cousin in Spain who is also a chef."

The sisters, both of whom work full time, have had no trouble filling their cooking classes and dinner parties when they advertise them on their Facebook page.

"We have done around half a dozen in my house and they have all practically booked out," Lourdes says.

"We also did our launch at the Lakeside Café in Springfield for 50 people this year and it was booked out. We had an insane response.

"It is a hobby that has captured a lot of interest. If we put all of our energy into it we'd be run off our feet.

"We have done dinner parties at people's homes which is an area that we would like to get into a bit more. It is a lot of fun."

The sisters have tapped into a niche market.

"Authentic Spanish cuisine is not tapped into too much," Lourdes says. "A lot of restaurants claim to be Spanish but the food is either not from our region or it is not very authentic. And if it is, then it is often overpriced. The whole idea of a tapas restaurant or bar in Spain is to get a small portion of food at a cheap price."

Listen to the sisters talk about their favourite dishes and you start to get very hungry ... fast.

When the QT visited, the pair was cooking up a storm for family visiting from Spain. An inviting paella was on the go, one of Maria's favourites.

"The paella is Spain on a plate ... with the vibrant colours and flavours," Maria says. "Spanish cuisine is tasty, it is rustic and it is all about the authentic flavours."

The sisters' paella is a labour of love.

"Each region or family has their own preference in how to make a paella," Lourdes explains.

"We prefer to use chicken and seafood. Not fish, but we use prawns, calamari and pippis or clams.

"We also love to do a Spanish omelette which is essentially a potato and onion omelette. You can add chorizo, which is a Spanish sausage, or ham."

Churros are a favourite breakfast item in Spain which are often dipped in coffee or hot chocolate, another specialty of the sisters.

"They are like Spanish doughnuts. They are made from a basic dough and fried in oil and then they have it dipped in [hot] chocolate. We sprinkle a cinnamon sugar over the top which is also really nice," Lourdes says.

The sisters' last dinner party was a huge hit where they did a Spanish omelette with a topping of roast capsicum.

"We also did chicken in an almond sauce, Spanish meatballs in a tomato sauce, chilli marinated olives, a selection of Iberian ham and Spanish cheese ... with lots of crusty bread," Lourdes says.

The sisters work well as a team.

"Maria's specialty is dessert," Lourdes says.

"She is a great dessert maker. I tend to be the perfectionist at the end that makes it all look nice.

"As far as the meals go, we do it all together. We do argue in the kitchen sometimes but we always work it out. It is always a healthy, amicable dispute."

Lourdes' favourite cooking show is My Kitchen Rules which fits in with the way the sisters do their dinner parties.

"I like the whole restaurant in your home thing," she says.

Dinner parties and cooking classes are advertised on their Facebook page where the sisters' contact details can be found. The sisters will also soon have a website where they aim to sell Spanish products which can often be hard to find locally.

Two Spanish Sisters



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