I know, I know. It will sound like gloating. But what else have I done in Spain? I haven't gone running, though I have walked about 100 miles since we got here. I haven't been doing any brain work, unless you include one Sudoku puzzle (I messed up the second), and a few New Yorker articles. I haven't cooked at all. I may have spread some avocado on a piece of bread, but that hardly counts as cooking. I made a few minor purchases (mostly bottled water, for which I have been criticized, albeit in a joking manner). I also bought some cookies for tonight's festivities. And some wrapping paper.
But the food. It really consumes our days and nights, and by consumes I mean it's what we do. That and the wine.
So I'll start with a few nights ago, when Middlebrow and I made our way out into the world alone, armed only with a Triana map and some recommendations.
We started the gastronomic tour at Blanco Paloma or white dove. We shared the tapa special of the day, two slices of zucchini between which was sandwiched a green substance with shrimp. The whole thing was deep fried. It was good. We also had Pollo con campiones (chicken breast with mushrooms, served, of course, on top of potatoes).
Then we went to Bar Esperanza, a brightly lit place with seating at the bar for about ten. Here we had the gambas ajillo (shrimp with garlic). It was served in a little earthenware dish which had just come off the gas range. In it were shrimp and slices of garlic swimming in olive oil. We ate this with some bread. I observed many of the other patrons consuming Ensalada Rusa. Middlebrow, being a recent visitor to Russia, commented on the fact that it basically looked how salad looked in Russia, which is like a big heap of mayonnaise. It was, in fact, potatoes, but mostly mayonnaise. It looked like mayonnaise jello. I observed with a grimace how the patron of the place opened a refrigerator to top this salad with more mayonnaise. We did not partake of this abomination.
We headed out for Casa Ruperto, home of the deep fried game hen, but it was not open. Que lastima! So we stopped at an unknown place, Cafe Tranvia and had the tortilla de la casa (tortilla of the house) which was a standard tortilla with cheese on top. But it was good.
We came home and convinced everyone to go out with us again. We made it to Los Golondrinas , which means the swallows. Here we did not eat, but had one drink before the kids officially melted down. It was only eleven!
The next night we went to Sol y Sombra, a bar with a bullfighting theme. Sol y Sombra refers to the seats at bullfights, those in full sun (sol) and those that are shaded (sombra). This was definitely my favorite bar. It was decorated with bullfighting posters, and in the back room, jamon serrano hung from the ceiling.
Here we had solomillo (pork loin) cooked with whole garlic cloves. Delicious, with the added bonus of garlic on bread. We also had gambas ajillo again, also very good. We also had merluza al jerez, a white fish cooked in sherry. It was so good. We also shared two bottles of house wine. For all that it was about $80. For six people! With two bottles of wine! I know. It's crazy!
Last night El Don y Scorpion's Tail took us out to Blanco Paloma restaurant. We had a lovely sit down dinner. The kids had chicken and patatas fritas. We had an amazing cut of beef served with duck fat (basically), and an equally delicious piece of fish. To start we shared a salad of watercress that was served with goat cheese, walnuts, pears, and an amazing raspberry dressing.
Again we had great wine. For dessert, we shared a chocolate souffle, cheesecake, and the kids had cinnamon ice cream. It may have been the best ice cream I ever tasted. But of course they only let me have the smallest taste.
We finished with a golden colored liquor made from some kind of herb. It was strong, but good.
I should mention that the table behind us was filled with Spanish women wearing reindeer horns (you know, the kind made from felt). They were having some kind of tacky gift exchange. The kids called them "The Smoking Reindeer." They gave the boys each a set of reindeer horns. I took some photos, so look for them soon on Flickr.
When we got close to home, we heard singing. There was a small band in the plaza near the apartment, singing songs. We got to hear one of the songs about Sevilla, it was even about this neighborhood, Triana. The crowd was full of people from age 10 to about 70. We watched for awhile. It was great fun. They gave us some liquor (anis, unfortunately). It was a lovely end to the evening.
Today, El Don has been outdoing himself cooking for our dinner of tapas. We will have crepes with smoked salmon (S.T. will make these), some mushrooms, Espinacas (the spinach with garbanzo beans), solomillo (Pork Loin cooked with whole cloves of garlic in red wine), Tortilla Espana (spanish tortilla made with eggs and potato), conejo (bunny!).
Tomorrow, El Don is making a type of paella with small pasta and a crazy assortment of mariscos (shrimp, calamari, oysters, mussells, etc.).
Then we will eat leftovers until we leave for Barcelona on the 27th.
Merry Christmas Eve and happy eating to all of you.