5 more days in Catalonia

22 Sep

After Madrid, it was 5 more days in Catalonia to finish up my time there. We rented a black Mini Cooper and set out for Cadaques. C had never been there and I felt like I talked about it so much that he had to see it. We did my favorite things – ate the best pulpo ever at Can Juli in Port Lligat, drove through the beautiful Cap de Creus national park up to the lighthouse for just after sunset, and had dinner at Compartir under the stars. The smoked ham at Compartir is still the best ham I’ve ever had.

I had a new dish for dessert – the cherries and cheesecake. That was sensational. It was a new take on cheesecake and I adored it. The soft cheese was super luscious and the sweetness was balanced perfectly with dried, tart cherries as well as the tart cherry sorbet. Here’s a pic:

The service at Compartir was better this time, but it still had some problems. People, train your staff!

After saying goodbye to my favorite street friend, La Sirena,

and buying a 5.65 Euro bottle of Oriol (great red wine from Emporda at a great price!) from the Lowrey-Seymour and Ogdie-Williams’ favorite wine-by-the-barrel and wine shop, we set out for Aiguablava, another favorite of mine.

We got caught up in a huge 1 day rain storm but that didn’t prevent us from eating at Toc Al Mar (soaked to the bone but nothing a couple of salads, lots of pan con tomate and a bottle of cava wouldn’t fix) and enjoying the next morning on the cute little cove beach before we set out again. I should mention how much we loved our hotel in Fornells, which is a small cove town on the water right next to Aiguablava. The hotel is called Hotel Aiguablava (http://www.hotelaiguablava.com/) and it was awesome. The service was exceptional and we had a spectacular suite room with a balcony on which to chill and look at the ocean.

This part of our journeys would take us on several one-night trips. C wanted to cover as much as he could in 8 days before we left Spain, so after 1 night in Aiguablava, we set out for the castle in La Bisbal. Here’s a pic of what we saw as we left Aiguablava on our way to the castle:

Here’s a pic of Carnet with our Mini in Pals:

One of the things I’ve found so funny are the signs that tell you when you’re leaving a town. Here’s an example:

Out, done, finished, no more. They all have a red slash across the name. Hilarious.

Onto our castle! Yep, I loved Castell d’Empordá (http://www.castelldemporda.com) so much the first time with mom and Diana, that I decided to take C there. Here are a few more pics. It is amazing there. Gorgeous, serene, and a must-stay place for anyone traveling in this part of the world.

View from tower:

View from room:

Sunset over the Empordá:

C with the black cat that followed us everywhere. This pic captured us perfectly: constant cava in hand (thanks to the management of the castle for spoiling us with free cava) with our gato negro.

And, finally, us on these great, white double bed like lounges in front of the pool:

Back to Barcelona for the final 2 days. On Friday night, C, Diana and I ate at a terrible restaurant that was highly rated in Tripadvisor called Gelonch (http://www.gelonch.es). The very expensive, tasting menu was really bad. Not just a little bad, but very bad. I never turn away dessert and I turned away 2 of them.

You could tell chef Gelonch has a creative mind by the different products he puts on the same dish and by the descriptions on the menu. However, there were fatal flaws in almost every single one of the 11 dishes! We were so disappointed that Diana made a comment to the waitress. We prefaced our critique with that we want them to succeed and their menu is creative but that many of the dishes just didn’t work at all.

The waitress started to defend the food and then brought out the chef. Chef Gelonch then defended his food, as well, but admitted that the sauces on his plates were too thick and starchy (they were and were very off-putting) as well as the avocado being of bad quality. If you know this, why do you send the dishes out? Why serve the bad avocado?

The excuses continued with “we’re a very small kitchen”, “we don’t have a Michelin star” (well, then why charge Michelin star prices?), etc.

Carnet and I were pretty miffed by the end. Diana was more gracious about it. The company is the only thing that saved the dinner. Sorry, C and D! We should have gone to Alkimia or Cenc Sentits.

The next day in Barcelona, we woke up to a gorgeous sunny day, walked down to the beach and then stopped by one final time at Quim’s to say goodbye to the boys. We had a terrific meal there, as usual. Yuri made Carnet an extra large foie burger:


Then, we did a little shopping for Carnet’s god-daughter’s birthday.

I had bought tickets for the afternoon show of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. It was fabulous. If you’ve never seen this dance company, it is a must. They hail from New York City and they started as an all-black dance troupe by Alvin Ailey in 1958. He revolutionized modern dance. This company is something special and the show in Barcelona was excellent. I had seen a show in NYC 20 years ago and I was equally thrilled with this show. Plus, the Liceu venue is a stunning venue in which to see anything in Barcelona. Here’s the bill:

Next stop: our favorite gin and tonic bar we call the “burrito bar” which isn’t its name, but it is next to a place called burrito, which in Spanish is not the eating burrito but a small donkey. The bar is next to the weird sculpture behind Placa Jaume that looks like a bunch of wire coat hangers put together.

Here’s the crazy sculpture:

After a g&t, it was time for our final Barcelona dinner at Tickets. C had always wanted to go and he loved it! We started out with raw tuna belly topped with salmon roe and seaweed, followed by their infamous “olives” (made through spherification). Then, we had the cheese puffs and the navajas, which are both of my favorites.

Here are a few pics:

Navajas

olives

We finished with 2 of my new favorites: the rabbit taco and the “wild things” dessert. The rabbit taco was so incredible we ordered 2 more. I loved, loved, loved it. Here’s a pic:

And, finally the grand finale: the dessert called wild things.

This was such a whimsical, inventive and delicious dessert, I would have ordered another one but I was really full by this point. Awesome dinner! Here are the two very happy Tickets goers:

Then, it was time for bed in our very comfy, ultramodern and hip hotel right off Placa Catalunya called Room Mate Pau (http://pau.room-matehotels.com/index.php/en). Funny name, but the rooms are dynamite and the hotel staff could not be nicer. The rooms have surround sound speakers into which you can plug your iphone or ipod or whatever you have to play music, or you can choose from the hotel’s selection. The beds are plush, the rooms have fun purple and blue mood lighting and the whole place is exceptionally clean. Finally, even though you’re right in the middle of the city, the rooms are super sound proof. I highly recommend this place. Ahhh, such a delightful sleep.

Next stops: Peñíscola, Valencia, Segovia and San Sebastian.

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3 Responses to “5 more days in Catalonia”

  1. Diana September 23, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    I’m glad you enjoyed your last stay in Barcelona this year. You have to tell me where did you eat the paella in Valencia and how good was it. I will really miss you!!!! Buaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • janet draman September 25, 2012 at 1:50 am #

      I miss you and you must come to visit. I have told everyone about what a wonderful tour guide you were. I am so lucky to have you in my life. Much love, Janet

  2. janet draman September 25, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    You do go out with a “BANG” my dears! The food looks beautiful. Did you know that there is a stone called Andalucite and it was first discovered in Andalusa Spain? Your mother the gem expert. So glad that you two had time together. You both look good and very happy.

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