Archive for the Spain Category
Today we spent the day exploring Granada, a small city at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains and famous for the Alhambra. According to the guidebook, the Alhambra is the best preserved Moorish fortress in the world. It’s located at the top of a extremely steep hill and like most forts, was obviously built to keep people out. Well, hundreds of years later, I’m unhappy to say it’s still doing a fine job of it. After a long hot hike up to the top, we were informed that in order to protect the monument, there were “No Moor” tickets left for today. (There’s no way of knowing for sure since it was a recorded anouncement, but I like to think they would spell it that way, making all the workers chuckle amongst themselves saying how that joke never gets old.) It seems that the very same fortress that held thousands of enemies at bay for centuries, supported an entire army of men and instilled fear in the hearts of villagers below, can only withstand the onslaught of 2000 camera wielding tourists a day. Dejected, we hiked back down and enjoyed the views from below.
This was quite an exciting end to our week in Nerja. First there were the flaming chorizo dogs at a place called the “Barrel Bar” where the power had gone out and the only lights in the place were the eerie illuminated porcelain pigs slowly roasting everyone’s pork on a stick.
This was followed by Tutti Frutti Plaza, which loosely translated into English means “Old City on a Friday Night”
All this was topped off by an excellent Flamenco performance, which I’m fairly certain featured a member of 38 Special on guitar.
The only 10 Spanish Words/Phrases I know, which have done me absolutely no good in trying to communicate with actual Spanish speaking peoplePosted by: mike in Spain
- Feliz Navidad
- Donde esta la biblioteca?
- El Pussy Gato! Andale, Andale! Arriba, Arriba!
- Rico Suave
- Oye Como Va
- Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father … prepare to die
- Ricky Martin
- Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria
- Nachos Supreme, a Gordita Crunch and a large Sprite please
- Columbus Boulevard (Even they still call it Deleware Avenue)
1.La Sagrada Familia
2. Art by Joan Miro
***the 80/20 just missed the cut…I wish I had a photo of the many mullets we saw in Barcelona.
Today I can barely wait until we can go eat tapas. Yesterday Hedda and I stumbled across my best tapas experience, yet. Those tasty little bites called tapas or pinchos are served all day, even though traditionally they are supposed to be enjoyed between 7-9PM. The dishes are pre-made and sit along the bar and are meant to be a snack before dinner.
So far among my favorite tapas is the cured ham, especially if it is Iberico ham. I have also enjoyed the meatballs with a zesty tomato sauce, and salted cod with onions, green and red peppers in vinegar & olive oil. Of course the fried potatoes are also good, especially when served with garlic mayonaise.
Just so long as they promise to be tasty, I will go to another tapas bar tonight.
So, we have our first visitor…Hedda, who has tracked us down again. Back in December, she and her husband Michael showed up in Krabi, Thailand and followed us to Bangkok to take a cooking class. Now, she’s here in Barcelona. We’ve shared tapas with her, many bottles of wine and cheese, gone to La Sagrada Familia, Fundacio Joan Miro, and there’s even more to do in the next few days with her. She’s our first visitor and we’re excited to have her here to share in our travels. I wonder where we’ll meet up with next!
And, the question also remains which one of you will we see next??
The month of July has been filled with amazing foods, not only because we are in Spain experiencing different foods but that we have had the chance of a lifetime– twice this month. Earlier this month Mike and I went to Per Se restaurant in NYC. We indulged in an amazing 9 course tasting menu by Chef Thomas Keller. We had a 10pm reservation, and didn’t finish eating until after 1am. We also had the opportunity to go to Sant Celoni to Santi Santamaria’s (pictured above on the right) restaurant El Raco Can de Fabes, to try the 12 course tasting menu. Both of these restaurants are rated as one of the top restaurants in the world.
If you’ve ever ordered a tasting menu, you know that you will be completely stuffed by the time all of the courses are served. The trick to a tasting menu is to pace yourself, only finishing the plates that are completely amazing, and tasting a few bites of those courses that are good, but do not blow you away. Otherwise, by the last course you will feel uncomfortably full. Unfortunately willpower and eating for me do not go hand in hand…it doesn’t have to be amazing for me to finish my plate. So what happens when I order a 9 course tasting menu or 12 course tasting menu, for that matter??
My top picks from Per Se; Berkshire pork belly, beets and leeks butter poached lobster, peach melba foie gras, and the brownie desert. My top picks from Can Fabes; langostino grilled in herbs, fresh cheese with anchovies, the cheese selection was delicious, and the melon and strawberry sorbet.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself at both of these restaurants, and feel very fortunate I was able to try the best that the culinary world has to offer. If given another chance to go back, I’ll take it. In the future though, I might have to order a la carte, rather than the tasting menu so I can walk out of the restaurant, and not be rolled out!
Stopping for the day in this sleepy little town who’s claim to fame is “el raco can de fabes” which we’re hoping is Spanish for “next best thing to ‘el bulli’, the #1 restaurant in the world located right here in Spain and which is only open a few months of the year and impossible to get into. ” We’re ready for some good eats tonight. I’m suspecting we will become familiar with many parts of the pig that we never knew existed before.
So we spent the day at the FIB festival. Christine wisely navigated us to the front of the stage on the far side, a place no one else seemed to consider since we were able to spend the whole evening right up at the very front, separated only by the railing in front of the stage. The evening lineup was supposed to be a 1,2,3,4 punch of The Klaxons, Wilco, Dinosaur Jr. and Devo. Unfortunately the Kaxons were rescheduled and replaced by these guys:
Now how many people can say they’ve seen 3 grown men in full body skeleton scuba suits playing disco? Well apparently everyone in Europe besides us, because they all knew every word of every song in “Who Made Who’s” curiously entertaining set. Turns out these guys are from Denmark and are quite popular.
An interesting side note. A few days earlier I was archiving my old emails before we left the U.S. and ran across the very 1st email I ever wrote to Christine. She was in Denmark for work and we were planning a group trip to Coachella and I told her a story about meeting some Danes when I was in Australia and finding them very, very odd. It was my only Danish anecdote at the time. Now I have 2.
Wilco and Dinosaur Jr. played awesome sets and I spent the time between sets trying to convince the young Norwegian next to me that he had to have heard of Devo before if only via the cover of “Whip it” in that Swiffer commercial. He seemed amused by my explanation of the band’s importance to New Wave and even more so to Christine trying to figure out what grade she did a dance routine to “Whip It” in. (Answer: 4th…Youtube video to be posted later.)
Devo were actually great. The crowd was way more into them than Wilco or Dinosaur Jr. We just couldn’t get over their appearance. Ok, I know these guys are 60-ish, but so are these other guys. You tell me who looks in better shape:
Obviously the Devo diet was quite different than Mick and Keef’s over the years.
A short drive from Valencia, Benicassim is the home of the annual FIB music festival. We’re here to see Wilco and Dinosaur Jr. Devo is also playing and Mike can’t wait for them to go on. The concert is much like Coachella in the US with music lovers camping out; bands and dj’s playing throughout the night. The only difference is that the weather here is beautiful, not 105 degrees like at Coachella.
Last night we stumbled upon this restaurant called “Botin” which is listed in the Guiness Book of world records as the oldest restaurant in the world. Established in 1725, not quite Columbus’ time, but still pretty old. The specialty of the house is the roast suckling young pig, which of course we had.
Below you’ll find Chrisitne’s video introduction.
If you can believe it, we are only one month away from leaving on our trip. Mike and I are headed to Spain as our first destination. Most of you are probably saying, “big deal, it’s only Spain”, and I feel a little lame saying were outta here, but that we are going to Spain. It’s not exactly “exotic”, nor is it really difficult to get to…or is it?? I’ve been traveling for the last 18 years either to visit friends or for work related travel… but in all that time, I’d never made it back to Spain. You see, I was there when I was 16. Maybe I was 17. Either way, I loved it!
It was the first time I’d been out of the country, except when I went to Korea with my parents when I was 9– that was fun…using “out-houses” and being served eel sashimi that was still beating in front of me. Growing up in the midwest, I’d never seen anything like it, and I thought it was gross and I cried. Back to Spain…I was 16 (or 17), and Spanish was my foreign language in high school. My brother took French. For his class trip the year before mine, he was fortunate enough to go to France, Italy and England. I was a little jealous of him since his class went to three countries, and I only got to go to Spain.
What I didn’t know before the trip was that I would end up having a great time, getting into lots of trouble that even today I still remember with a little smile on my face! We hit Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Toledo and this little town in Costa del Sol called Nerja. Ah, Nerja. Our teacher, Mrs. Coulter was foolish enough to believe that good grades meant good girls. Thankfully we had Jeanine, a twenty something dropout who liked to drink and smoke as one of our chaperones, and who aided and abedded us by looking the other way as we snuck out.
Honestly, it was harmless but back then it felt daring, and one of our classmates, Leonardo didn’t like it one bit! We met several Spaniards, I think their names were Paco and Javier, there was a third who’s name I can’t remember except we called him Stephan even though I think his real name was Steve. My friends and I all made a pact that we would not return to the States and that we would live out our lives in Nerja, but the next day we flew home. Back then in Spain, I ate a lot of pan y mantequilla (bread and butter), not understanding all the amazing foods that Spain has to offer.
This time around I plan to eat everything…not like Andrew Zimmerman who really eats everything, but I am interested in a food adventure. Although it’ll be hard to discover something the Travel Channel or Food TV network hasn’t already exposed to the world, my objective is to be adventurous; looking for unique foods and new culinary experiences to challenge my taste buds (and Mike’s!).