Sunday, November 25, 2007

Giving thanks... and having a landmark meal.

Our first Thanksgiving away from home, away from family, and damn it, I guess I just miss out on the Broadway performances at the beginning of the Macy's parade. By the way, I can't believe Broadway basically got shut down by the stagehand strike and I didn't know for most of two weeks! Anyway, Thanksgiving this year would be just us, D and her mom, in Barcelona. We had talked about signing up for a cooking class, but the ones that sounded any good were outrageously expensive so we decided to instead take ourselves out for a fabulous meal in the evening. We discussed a couple possibilities the evening before and figured we'd call for a reservation. We didn't want to miss the holiday altogether!

That morning we decided to take the short trek to a part of the city called Montjuic. We took the metro to the bottom of the hill and then a funicular took us the rest of the way. The Olympic stadium is up there, as well as several gardens that sounded worth checking out. Unfortunately the awkward layout on the hill and the muggy weather made for some pointless and miserable wandering. This place was supposed to be crawling in gardens, so why was it so hard to actually find our way into one? But we rebounded nicely, we took sky gondola baskets (ala the old Disneyland ride, but more enclosed) up to the very top, to the old fort. There we found a lovely view of the Mediterranean, Italy is out there somewhere! We met back up with our other two fellow travelers and we did the trip down the hill. While we were in that area we took the opportunity to check out what sounded like one last great beer destination. A tapas bar that has its own beer made in Belgium. Perfect! The book did say it was "postage stamp sized." So we figured it was going to be small, but decided to have a look.

We walked up and it was indeed small, a bar along both sides, a couple small tables here and there, the walls were lined high with shelves of wines and liquor for sale, but there were no chairs. D's mom wasn't feeling quite up to the experience, and they decided on having lunch somewhere else. CF and I decided to plunge ourselves into a new adventure. We walked in and got a gracious, "Hola!" Luckily there was a nice spot for us to stand at the bar where they made the food so we could watch and point. We ordered two of the house beers right away, as well as some croquettes and anchovies. They've been great everywhere else so that gave us something to start with. I was so pleased to find out the beer was a Double, my favorite! And a fantastic one at that. Worth the visit to this place alone. The anchovies were served up with two small marinated onions and artichoke hearts, a nice little bonus. They only had three croquettes left so we had taken one empañada instead. Everything was so good! CF recalled that they were known for having a good selection of cheeses so we asked for a mixed plate and some bread. We were given one good sized plate with small slices of a good number of cheeses, one small poached pear sliced in half, and a small gelatin which we determined was Cava (Spain's sparkling wine) flavored. The bread plate had only a few slices of bread, along with several kinds of crackers. Both plates were drizzled with a tasty olive oil. While we ate the delicious cheese we soaked up the scene in the small room. Not a word of English was being spoken besides what little we were saying to each other. We mostly communicated with our eyes, "Look at that dish!" and "Oh wow, that looks so good!" It's amazing what you can say with eye contact. We noted the small toasts that were being topped with all kinds of good stuff and decided to ask for some of those, as well as another round of the house beer. I saw one being made with some sort of tomato spread and the darker anchovies that we hadn't had earlier so we ordered two of those. As we ate these we started to smile because we both realized what an amazing experience this meal was and how lucky we were to get to share it with one another. Then we ordered one each of two other toasts to split. One of our little dishes was topped with marinated red pepper, crème fraiche, shrimp and caviar. The other was just crème fraiche and amazing fresh, raw salmon. We both noticed when the younger of the two women working there started making three servings of an eggplant dish. She put down a slice or two of their grilled eggplant that had been soaking in olive oil, next was grated Parmesan cheese, then olive tapenade and finally drizzled with even more olive oil and a thick balsamic vinegar reduction. We had been feeling quite full but neither of us was sure we could leave without trying this one last dish. Then another round of these plates were started for another party in the small restaurant. We caved in and ordered one to split. Heavenly! CF declared it the best eggplant he'd ever had. Of course it was swimming in olive oil but we just didn't care. This meal will certainly be added to our list of lifetime truly magical meals. The beer had brought us there and had rewarded us with an amazing meal. So we decided to try to take some of the beer home with us. We were pleased to be told we could indeed buy it in bottles so we ordered two to take back to the apartment so we'd be able to share with Ms. D. The bill wasn't exactly cheap for a stand-up meal, but it was beyond worth it. As I said, it was magical.

We got the metro home and called a restaurant to get a reservation for dinner, and then promptly passed out. I think I mentioned how good we are at siestas. D and her mom came home after a little while and I got up to see what they had done with their afternoon. They had encountered a very good lunch as well, but had ordered too much food once they considered the portions. We all admitted to being stuffed silly and quite satisfied. So much for Thanksgiving dinner out, we were in for the night.

CF and D ran out to pick up some more of our favorite Spanish nibbley things. Our intention was to start with that and then eat the leftovers from our salmon feast the night before. But we enjoyed the first course too much and instead of salmon we just had another bottle of cava. What an extraordinary Thanksgiving!

I am definitely thankful for good friends and amazing traveling companions. Loving family back home, they're following this blog and the photos, I won't have anything new to tell them when I get back. They were with me the whole time, playing along at home. I am thankful for my other half, Mr. CF himself. I know this is still just one of many adventures to come. And I am thankful for the great big world out there, always teaching me more, always making me feel like a part of something so much bigger than myself. And I guess I should be thankful that this year I find myself a little closer to figuring out what to do with myself, perhaps I am every so slightly less utterly lost than I was last year.

1 comment:

Leanne said...

I DVR'd the Macy's Parade, but besides Frankenstein it's no big deal. Even then, no Megan Mullally, just Sutton :) I should have recorded it on the computer instead of the DVR! I guess you'll just have to travel to San Diego LOL