Another week done at Dos Palillos and a fun weekend full of eating and drinking

15 May

Week 2: done. I made family meal on Saturday night for the cocineros. Everyone has to take their turn making family meal, and being the new person, I was stuck with Saturday night because of course that’s the longest day and no one wants to spend whatever small break they may have making food for the staff. Vincente was gone all day preparing for a birthday party for Ferran Adria which Albert Raurich catered. So, I though I was going to be all by myself trying to figure it all out.

I have to give a big shout out to Takeshi, Iron Chef Dos Palillos. He did all of my prep for the curry. I’m not kidding. I kind of felt guilty, as that is unheard of – essentially, the boss of the kitchen doing your prep for family meal. But, I think he knew I would not have finished in time. So, he did all of my mis en place. Thanks, Takeshi! All I had to do was throw it all in, in order, taste, adjust, make rice, and make the cucumber salad. Also, Borja and Mario offered to stay and help, but I told them I just needed to know how to turn on the big burner. They came back from their break, early, anyway to check on me. Such nice guys! And, the curry turned out fab, if I do say so myself. Everyone loved it. I was afraid I threw in too many Thai chilies, but Sara said it had “an elegant spice”. Wow, thanks! I hadn’t ever heard elegant as a descriptor for curry.

After a long Saturday, I couldn’t sleep. I finally fell asleep at 5 a.m. Sunday. Thank goodness they don’t do construction on Sunday in Spain, so I actually slept until noon that day. I know that sounds like a waste, but the 7 hours of sleep was sorely needed. I continued to have a lazy Sunday. I iced my feet and put them up, watched a movie on my computer, read, and then at 6:30 p.m. I wandered out to get my favorite avocado, cucumber, sprout, and nut salad at El Bixto. Met a nice German kid who is studying in Barcelona. I shared my salad as I could tell all he could afford was pan con tomate. He ordered 2 baskets.

After the nice rest on Sunday, I was ready to venture out on Monday. I had lunch with Quim at a very old, very popular tapas bar just up the street from me. It’s called Cervercia La Granja Catalonia. After a 30 minute delay in which I was at the other restaurant near me named La Granja Catalonia, we met and chowed! We started out with fried baby fish and lemon. Yummmm. I love those little suckers. They are kind of sad because they look at you all deep fried and you can see their tiny eyes when you gulp them down. But, they are delicious. Then, we had steamed clams with a perejil (parsley), garlic, and lemon sauce. Then, thinly sliced octopus that was marinated and extremely tender. I hardly had to chew it.

We had anchovies. Yes, for me that’s a big step, as I don’t usually like fishy fish. But I’m getting used to eating anchovies here; they’re on every menu. We had sliders with manchego (sliders are all the rage here). Then, came one of my favorite dishes of the day: pieces of manchego on a stick that were rolled in crushed almonds, then deep fried and covered with strawberry jam. Yes, it was partly because it was on a stick and we Minnesotans love our food on sticks, especially those of us who are fans of the state fair. But, it was more than the stick. The almond crunch on the outside contrasted nicely with the oozing manchego in the middle, and the sweet jam was the perfect compliment. My other favorite dish of the day was a black trumpet mushroom, asparagus and Jamon Iberico “stir fry” of sorts. Light, very flavorful, full of great textures and colors.

After a bottle of cava with our 2 hour lunch, we decided to stop for coffee at an outdoor cafe. I think the cava certainly helped, but I’m not so self-conscious now about throwing out my bad Spanish. This was by far the best conversation I’ve had with Quim because we could almost fully understand each other. It was a good Spanish lesson for me and a good English lesson for Quim. When I didn’t know a word that I wanted to say, it went something like this: “Es una cosa que….”, or in English, “It’s a thing that….”; or “Usa in el contexto de…”, “It’s used in the context of…”. It’s strange that I can describe the words I want to use more than I can find the actual correct word in Spanish. No matter. It seems to work.

After a quick 1 hour throwing my feet up again on the couch, I journeyed back out to meet Sara, the Sommelier of Dos Palillos. She invited me to do some wine tasting at a wine bar near my place called Monvinic (see the menu of the wines we sampled in the picture just above this paragraph). This wine bar is a very cool concept. It’s staffed by all sommeliers, they change their wines EVERY WEEK and they have a boat load of them, they have a wine library that anyone can use inside the restaurant, and the menu is similar to an ipad on which you scroll through and select your wines, see pictures and prices, etc. We tasted 3 half glasses each of different whites and 1 half glass of a tempranillo. Sara explained the demoninaciones to me and we talked a lot about wine. We were joined halfway through by her friend Kaitlin who is a nurse and works in an ambulance. Then, about an hour before we left, Sara’s boyfriend joined us. He used to be a chef who worked in England, but now he’s a photographer and activist.

We had great conversations over 3.5 hours (half in Spanish; half in English). But, then I was spent. I needed more food, even after the big lunch. So, I returned to the apartment and made myself a bocadillo. I bought a baguette, fried 2 organic eggs in olive oil, made some quick balsamic onions, and threw all of those on the baguette with some fresh basil, an old tomato and lettuce, and roasted red peppers I had in the fridge. I topped it all with some dried New Mexico chilies C brought to me and some black pepper. YUUUUUUM! See feature pic at the top of this blog. I also had another glass of wine (remember: I only had 1/2 glasses over 3.5 hours at the wine bar. So, stop counting!). It is Quim’s favorite bottle of white. Here’s the pic:

It has a nice mineral content, is very crisp like a Sauvignon Blanc (I actually think it’s a SB grape), and is very drinkable right out of the gate. I will need to go in search of more of this one.

Okay, time to sign off. I have 15 minutes before I’m suppose to be out the door for another hell week, I mean staging week at Dos Palillos. Thank goodness I love this town and its people so much, and that I’m learning a lot.

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