It’s been amazing how quickly I’ve adjusted to Barcelona’s late night schedule. I can only explain it as a magical alignment of being an early person and having the advantage of a six hour time difference. Whatever the reason, it’s working for me and I haven’t struggled at all with this temporary life of sleeping until 10:00 a.m. and beginning dinner at 11:00 p.m.
We’ve been doing our best to try new things and eat as much traditional food as possible. For Griffin this translates to jamon, while I’m more inclined to sample as much seafood as I can get in my mouth. Here are few particularly tasty items we’ve enjoyed – and one we determined was not for us.
After spending my first day in Barcelona, I can say I understand exactly what Antonio’s talking about. This place just stimulates the desire for languid pleasure and beautiful people and food are everywhere.
With blue skies above our heads and cobblestones below our feet we wandered around quite a bit yesterday. When it came time to eat, we approached the task of finding a restaurant with an attitude of nonchalance. It all looked pretty good and we were willing to try something new. For Griffin, it was a plate of meat for a late breakfast. He shared a bite of the brightly colored and flavored sausage, but gobbled the rest, saying that the tiny ribs were his favorite but everything on the plate was delicious and cooked perfectly.
For dinner, which we began eating at 11 p.m., we wandered into a neighborhood spot that contained only 6 tables, although it appeared that the large table filled with either regulars or family, may have been a couple of small tables pushed together. Not being able to read Spanish wasn’t really a problem because we wanted traditional fare – jamon and paella.
The ham was phenomenal and buried any other ham I’ve ever had. It was sliced beautifully thin with the perfect meat to fat ratio. It was tender, yet firm and had an overwhelming rich flavor of butter. Fantastic. The paella was exactly what I’ve always imagined paella to be – presented in a beautiful low pan and served to us at the table, it was an eye pleasing medley of shrimp, langoustine, mussels, slivers of squid with rice and small bites of red pepper. The fish was mind blowingly fresh and the shells on the shrimp were incredibly tender as we picked them up with our hands to suck every single morsel of deliciousness out.
Good food was had and the wine I sampled – an intense rose in the afternoon and a simple white of unknown origin with dinner, was pretty damn good, too. From what I observed as we walked around, it seems that romance and sensuality is very much present with young and old couples showing affection and passion freely. Good sex seemed a distinct possibility. As for me, there was good sleep in the form of an hour long nap and a longer overnight rest. Antonio Banderas, and Spanish people in general, are on to something. Viva Espana!
- I will take a funicular ride to these trails and take a run – hopefully twice!
- There will be wine with lunch…followed by late afternoon naps.
- I will spend hours outdoors walking around to see as many of Gaudi’s buildings as possible.
- Should there be rain, I will check out the Picasso museum.
- I will take in my first professional soccer match with my soccer playing son.
- The beach will be our front yard.
- I will take pictures -lots of pictures!
- Jamon will be a major part of my diet.
- I will soak in the experience of being in a city and country which are new to me.
- My appreciation of all the good things in my life will radiate.
Have you been to Rhinebeck? Long before Hudson got cool, Rhinebeck was the destination for a Hudson Valley afternoon of fine eating and interesting shopping. The drive is lovely with many different roads which all lead there in a most scenic fashion, as I’ve experienced it, be it from the north, south or west and generally parking is available and free. It’s worth the slightly over an hour trip from Albany for sure and I recommend it as a terrific day trip for any season.
Yesterday, after an aborted attempt to partake in the offerings at Terrapin Restaurant, Mary Lynn and I decided to try somewhere new and found the specials board at Le Petit Bistro to be quite enticing. At just about 5:00 we made our way inside the cozy dining room and were offered a table in the front window near the door. Although it was a less than warm afternoon, we were very comfortable with the temperature of the restaurant and never felt cold despite our proximity to the door. It was a lovely table.
A chalkboard with the extensive list of specials was presented to us and a short while later a server came to provide details and descriptions of each of the items. We ordered drinks – a cocktail for Mary Lynn and a glass of sparkling rose for me, and made decisions about food opting for a bowl of asparagus soup, a fish taco starter and the sea scallop entrée accompanied by ramp risotto and hericot vert and the Cuban pork plate with black beans and plantains. Then we settled in to catch up with one another and enjoy our meal.
The fish tacos, two to a serving, were delicious with fresh flavors (cilantro!) and an assertively spicy kick. Paired with the soup, they were a perfect starter and very shareable.
Scallops with ramp risotto
Our midcourse salad, served with all entrees, was a traditional French green salad with a simple and tasty vinaigrette clinging to the leaves. I thoroughly enjoyed my entrée. The scallops were beautifully prepared and the accompaniments heralded spring beautifully. Unlike many risottos, cheese wasn’t a component and the result was a far lighter rendition of the dish than typical. I swapped a bite with Mary Lynn for a taste of plantain. I’m not a fan of bananas or plantains unless they’re cooked and my bite was exactly what I was hoping for – caramelized sweetness with a remaining firmness – delicious! We finished with a butterscotch crème brulee and a couple of coffees before walking back to our cars and heading off in opposite directions, satiated with hearts and bellies full.
Terrapin restaurant in Rhinebeck has been around for a long time, maybe 15 years at their current location inside a beautiful old church right on Route 9. Many years ago, I had dinner there with three other people and was completely put off by the service. I don’t remember anything about the food because the experience was so overshadowed by the snippy bartender and the inexperienced server. I vowed never to go back, a promise easy to keep since A. I don’t go to Rhinebeck frequently and B. There are so many other options in that area.
Today, though, I met one of my besties in Rhinebeck for a bite to eat and some catching up. I offered her two options – Gigi Trattoria, where we’ve been happy before, and Terrapin for a fresh chance at making us happy. She checked out their menus and decided on Terrapin and we agreed to meet at about 4:00.
I arrived first and found a seat at the bar, not a challenge with at least half of the bar stools open. Within a minute or two I was given a cocktail menu on my request. I started reading, pleased with the beer and wine selections. I wondered about their carafes and if they were filling them from draft lines and planned to ask whoever took my drink order about the set up. The man two seats away from me finished his drink and ordered another, as I was told by the bartender that she would be “right with me.” She wasn’t.
I changed my mind about the beer I had been thinking of ordering and selected a glass of wine instead. Unfortunately, I couldn’t share my decision with anyone because the bartender had yet to come over to take my order. The man near me began drinking his fresh Patron margarita, inspiring me to look at the cocktail list. I reconsidered my wine choice and began perusing the “available” cocktails. The sour cherry Manhattan caught my eye…
My friend arrived and I shared my menu with her. The bartender told us she’d be right over. She wasn’t.
The man next to us finished his drink and asked for a check. The bartender took care of that. We sat there, me with probably 15+ minutes invested without even the reward of a glass of water, another moment and then picked up our bags and left. I will never, ever, step foot in that restaurant again and this time I mean it.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been able to sit with the owner of a winery or a winemaker and listen to them speak about their product, but it will forever change your perspective about that stuff in the bottle. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a number of winemakers/winery owners and those encounters have forever changed the way I view a bottle of wine. After walking through a vineyard, tasting from a barrel or simply talking with a winery owner, viewing a product becomes a much more personal experience.
Tuesday night I had a rare opportunity to attend a wine dinner, hosted by one of my sales reps, downtown at dp’s. I say rare opportunity because most of these events are either during a time when I’m not available or are held out of town. The timing for this, though, was perfect and I was thrilled to sit down with Andrew Tow of the Withers Winery, along with a handful of other industry professionals, to learn about some wines of which I had no prior knowledge.
Here’s what I learned –
- Andrew Tow is an articulate, passionate man who helps to craft wines that are elegant yet accessible.
- Although the Withers Winery has only been in existence for a few short years, it has achieved remarkable success and earned accolades from numerous national publications.
- Their wines sell out – especially the rose and the chardonnay. I’ve got my hand out hoping to land some of the rose at the moment. My luck will be your luck, friends.
- Everything we tasted was enjoyable and seemed to be equally adept at being paired with foods or sipped sans food.
- The project has some rock star investors – like Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi. Cool, right?
- The wines are affordably priced, in fact, part of the impetus for Tow to produce his rose was a desire to drink something delicious without breaking the bank. If I can land any I’ll probably price it between $30-35 a bottle which makes it on the higher end of my roses, but within reach of most diners.
- The Pinot Noirs are dynamite. I don’t have room on my list right now, but when I sell a couple of my higher end Pinots out, I hope there are still a few bottles of the English Hill for me to buy. When I tasted this the other night, the nose was so damn heady it almost satiated my desire to consume it without even taking a sip. Wow.
If you were to look at my wine list at Lark + Lily you’d see approximately 100 different labels. I’ve selected probably 65% of those labels with the others coming as an inventory purchase when I originally opened last fall. The bottles that I find myself reaching for when a guest asks for a recommendation are the ones that I can share story about – the Hendry, the Biale, the Bonny Doon. These are wines which were introduced to me by their producers – I walked the vineyard with George Hendry, ate lunch and tasted wine with Robert Biale, barrel sampled at Bonny Doon. Hopefully, one day, the Withers will have a similar presence on my list.
Although I was charmed by the myth that Barcelona is pronounced with a th sound rather than a soft c as an accommodation for a long since dead member of the Spanish royal family, I’m going to probably pronounce it with a c sound. At least until I’ve had a few glasses of Rioja, that is. After that, bets are off.
My long awaited trip with middle son is finally approaching so it’s time to start gathering ideas about what to do and see and taste in Barcelona. It’s our first visit to Spain and I think we’re both getting pretty excited. To be perfectly honest, I’m anticipating the time away from
all of my work responsibilities almost as much as I am the time I’ll be spending on the beach sipping Albarino. Despite the lack of snow, it’s been a long winter, folks.
Yesterday I advised my son that it was time to begin considering activities for our trip, what sort of things might you like to do?, I asked. His answer: hangout and eat. Actually, it might have been “eat and hangout.” Well, sounds like this is going to be just the sort of vacation I’m looking for!
Now, obviously we’re going to check out some of the sights like the nearly completed Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia and the Picasso Museum. We’ve also got tickets for a soccer match which should be a blast. Beyond that, though? We’ve got nothing. I came across a cool website recently called Vayable which looks like it might be just the ticket for G and me if we feel like we want to add a little structure to a day or an evening. A gourmet tapas tour or a bicycle ride to some wineries would be an enjoyable to experience a new city and its cuisine.
Tell me – What would you do if you had a few days in Barcelona? Keep in mind that I don’t like being indoors, unless it is pissing rain, and I like staying active so some physical activity needs to be part of the itinerary. Ok – go!
Filed under Boys, drinking, Eating, Europe, Events, family, Food, Spain, Spring, travel, Uncategorized, vacation, Wine