Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bday weekend in SanSe!

So this was quite an incredible birthday celebration, I have to say. You all know I like to stretch out my birthday as long as possible, and though I was out of my country and my comfort zone and therefore not able to squeeze a full 3-4 weeks out of it, I did get a solid 3 days, and they were unbelievable days at that.

The nite of my actual birthday, Jay and I went to the local bar after work for a drink. There happened to be an AMAZING reggae/rap group playing there that nite that consisted of a dj and 3 singers/rappers. They performed songs in English, Spanish, French, and Senegalese, and they were beyond talented. Moreover, to my dismay, Nayad, the bar's owner, is friends with me and knew it was my birthday, so she got them to call me up in front of everyone... to stand there. For like 10 minutes. I really didn't know what I was supposed to do, and I didn't want to be a wet blanket and say no, so I kind of danced in place awkwardly. Thank God I had friends there to make fun of me for the rest of the nite regarding my awkward dancing. Oh well... a unique experience at least.

The next day I got through the day quickly and met Julia at the bust station at midnite. It being Sunday, there wasn't much open, but we managed to find a bar that seemed to be staying open for a bunch of hammered, middle-aged men to play darts. We were able to get a couple drinks in before the men stumbled out and it seemed appropriate to follow suit. Next morning we found the artisan bakery where my restaurant buys its bread and bought a chocolate brioche, a croissant, and a custard croissant to eat with our cafe con leche. The weather was perect, and as we ate we enjoyed the euphoric feeling one gets from drinking good Spanish coffee and eating artisan baked goods in the sun at an outdoor cafe by the beach. Glorious.

We headed to our hotel (Sunday and Tuesday nites were motels out of convenience due to the late arrival, very early departure, and proximity to the bus station), and on the way actually met a woman named Yvette, who was, of all things, born and raised in Cali! She bought us a drink and we chatted about the States, and got some restaurant/pincho bar recommendations. Arrived to the hotel, enjoyed the view for a few minutes, and headed out for what were our only plans for the day: EAT.

We hit up 4 or 5 different pincho bars, and spent the day trying surefire hits, surprising gambles, local fare, gastronomic art, and lots of PORK. Bacon-mushroom-shrimp skewers, mountains of foie, cuttlefish, Spanish peppers, olives, anchovies, blood sausage... There is no way I can list everything we ate, but hit the link at the end of this blog to see the pics and descriptions of every single bite. Our mouths exploded in ecstasy all day and into the nite; we sampled regional Spanish wines, frequently defaulting to wine from Toro, which is the mind-blowing red I discovered early in my time here. Every bite was better than the one before and we headed back to the hotel full, happy, and euphoric. A bottle of Cava greeted us in our room upon our arrival, and we spent the rest of the nite relaxing like two lovebirds. Bubble bath, balcony, bacon chocolate bars... It couldn't have been better.

Tuesday was much of the same. More pinchos, some of the best Spanish tortilla I've ever had. Mmm, baguette with bacon, goat cheese, and honey... again, hit the link for the full rundown. We fueled up and climbed the mountain at the north side of town. Insane views, beautiful, historic castles, watched the sun set over the mountains next to the sea , sitting on the castle wall. It was like a movie. Then back down the mountain to refill our tanks at the pincho bar that actually won the 2009 gastronomic award for best pincho: the award winner was seared scallop with clams, potato cream and citrus foam. The award was well deserved, without a doubt. Definitely the best place we ate at all weekend, and the Toro at this place was the best glass I've had so far. After dinner the weekend had to draw to a close, unfortunately. Headed to the motel and pretty much went right to bed, considering we had to wake up at 4:30 this morning so Julia could catch an early bus to the airport.

Today I have been lost in thought, reflecting on all the incredible things we saw, did, and of course ate! I feel very lucky to have spent such an amazing couple of days celebrating my birthday. I've basically got two weeks left here, and if I'm lucky, these memories will carry me right through to the end. If not, there's always the trip to Pamplona I have planned for the coming weekend.

For now, however, I am about to be late for work... so I am OUT!

Link for pics is here:

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