Leche Merengada: Horchata's Spanish Cousin with Lemon

Note: From July 11 to 15, I traveled through Spain on a trip sponsored by Freixenet, the sparkling wine producers. In addition to visiting vineyards throughout the country, I did some fooding and drinking on my own. Here are some of my snapshots from Spain! —The Mgmt.


[Photograph: Erin Zimmer]

I've never thought, oh this horchata could sure use some lemon, but upon trying leche merengada while in Spain last week, I wasn't opposed to the bright, citrus-y kick at the end. It's not quite horchata plus lemon—it's actually whole milk (not rice or almond milk) mixed with sugar, cinnamon, usually egg whites, and a hearty squeeze of lemon.

Pep, the nice guy behind the counter at Café Xocoa in Barcelona, recommended I try a sip. "You'll see it around Spain." Though you might more commonly see the slushy granita version of leche merengada. This was just cold milk stirred with sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice (a few squirts but don't worry, the drink doesn't curdle) poured into a tall glass with a shake of cinnamon on top. (Pep let me pick out the straw color.)

It was creamy and throat-cooling, very refreshing on a sunny day walking around La Rambla. But it's also a whole glass of whole milk—not always what you want on a sunny day. Very sippable, but with an Egg Nog-esque heaviness.

The frozen version sure sounds tasty—here's a recipe from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop.

Café Xocoa

11 Carrer de Petritxol, Barcelona Spain 08002 (map)