Monthly Archives: May 2011

Tapas

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Giddy. I am giddy.
Thank you Dave for being the guiding big brother and directing me towards greatness. I thought I’d just go and see what these great tapas were all about, take a seat at some fancy restaurant by myself and have one single tapa and a glass of wine.
I had no idea.
I get off the metro, its pouring rain. I walk a few blocks, take a right, and walk until I see the sign for Quimet & Quimet. Turn to walk inside, and I am startled: its tiny, everyone is standing up, and its packed.
I try to act cool. I look like a local, better act like one. I find the tapa suggested by Dave/Wall Street Journal. I boldly walk up to the bar and order it. They’re out. I try again, its a go.
I stand at the bar, almost behind the bar because its so crowded, and observe. There are wine bottles on shelves on all four walls reaching way up to the ceiling. I’m next to a cabinet filled with various bottles of Jack, a comforting feeling.
My first tapa: anchovies, olives, and artichoke hearts with a glass of red cava. YES- F.L.A.V.O.U.R.
Next I ask the waitress (cute) for her favorite. She said she likes everything but do I like to try things. I say yes. Second tapa: small toast with tuna (like no other) and some sort of black fish eggs or something. YES. Plus a fresh glass of the driest, oakiest wine I’ve ever tasted. Really nice.
Next I ask her for something with cheese. She asked me if I like my cheese strong: duh…. and ah, shoot, I need more wine. My third tapa: some sort of delicious orange cheese with a green sauce and those little black fish egg things. I drank a tasty glass of vino tinto along with it (de qual tipo, yo no se).
I did my best to soak in the environment. It all made me so happy I had to cover my mouth to hide my smile. And then I couldnt stop smiling, the whole time! Does that make me a foodie??? Just being in a room filled with wine bottles lifts my spirits. I. Love. It. Absolute highlight of Barcelona. But I still got tomorrow…
P.S. why, tell me, WHY aren’t there bars like these all over the States?

Bar”th”elona

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Well here I am!
After a rough start (not finding my hostel, confusing/scaring myself on the ATM machines, being dead tired and going to bed when most of Barcelona was ordering their first “tapes” of the night), I awoke twelve hours later to a new day.
“Off to the museum!” Thought a perky and determined Adam.
So off I went, to see a temporary Courbet exhibit in the Museo de Arte Nacional de Barcelona. After triumphantly conquering the public transportation, I arrived at the museum: closed on Mondays. Oh good. So I sat on the steps and listened to a man sing patriotic ballads on his guitar and watched a man in a green wig and dress blow enormous bubbles (these borbujas would blow you away, Elena and Julia).
And then it started to rain. Oh good.
Feeling a bit depressed and a lot defeated, I took shelter and waited it out. Shopping? Good idea.
I perused the shopping scene only to find that either I wasn’t interested to go inside or too intimidated. Most (read, all) of the stores I wanted to go into had a man in a suit waiting to open the door for people. I got the impression that I couldn’t saunter in, touch everything and just gawk at the prices. But one day…
I continued down to the famous Las Rambles street. Very cool, very bustling. I got lunch at a market there (a “bageta” with ham and cheese and fresh fruit juice), and then kept walking towards the beach.
Now at the beach, I started walking up the boardwalk towards what looked like later-to-be nightlife (it was only around 7). I walked awhile. I started to realize that I would have to walk back. So I turned and went.
Now that it was about 8:30, people started showing up. I started considering dinner, but not until later. I had heard so much about how late these people eat, I wanted to challenge that.
Back up Las Ramblas, I started noticing people sitting in patios with these gigantic sangrias. I wanted one, bad. But I got distracted- street performers.
Two of the best: a flamenco dancer guy who could have stomped a hole through the earth had there been no wood/cardboard/cement beneath him, and a group of breakdancers that made it look like art. I watched them both do both of their acts twice. I was likin’ Barcelona.
Time for sangria- I mean, dinner.
I sat down ordered “Una paella verdura y una sangria larga, como estos” I said pointing to one someone else had. And that’s what I got. My food came at about 11:30 (ha!) and I got my check just after midnight (royal ripoff, by the way, but I saw it coming). Okie doke, time to go home.
Silly Adam, the metro doesn’t run all night!
Well nobody told me!!! I thought Mr. BigPartyCityBarcelona would actually be up all night. What is everybody else supposed to do? So I stood at the bus stop, now nearing 1am, trying to figure out which night bus would get me closest to my hostel. I found a route that went through the general area, but that didn’t feel quite close enough. Wandering through the quiet streets of Barcelona sounded really scary. It was now past 1.
As I was trying to get the bus directions off my hostels website on my phone (which was not working), a group of Germans walked up to the bus stop and discovered that they had the same issue. I heard them say, “eekch doistch faaf koonmpt yahkt eedledorf taxi, ya ya, taxi.” That gave me an idea, I would take a taxi.
Completely wiped out and wanting a safe place to sleep, I bit the bullet and got a cab (in Spanish!) On the way home Shania Twain came on the radio (that don’t impress me much, oh, oh, oh, so ya’ve got the looks, but have ya got the touch, now don’t get me wRAAAOOONG…). Enough to comfort me.
I was dropped off next to my hostel, at that moment, 11,50 euros felt trivial. It was fifteen past two. It struck me then that my hostel might have a curfew… it didn’t. I went to bed.
Halellujah. 

Como

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Aja and Mickey generously offered me a couch in their private guest house in Como, Italy. Rather than going to a sketchy hotel (that wanted me to email them my credit card number AND pin), I decided to keep the fun rolling with Aja and Mickey.
They showed me Lake Como (were there was some sort of concert or festival going on) and then their favorite gelato place… now my favorite gelato place. I think it was the perfect flavor and the rich texture that made me get four scoops… one of dark chocolate, one of coffee, one of lemon, and one of peach. Every one was unforgettable.
I left the two and Lake Como early this morning to catch a train, to catch a metro, to catch a bus, to finally catch a plane to Barcelona. And here I am.

5terre

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WhhhhooooaaaaaaaaaAAttTttt???
I can’t believe that a place like this exists. It was stunning.
I walked into my hostel room, and awaiting me were insta-friends. After about ten minutes of chatting, me and my three other flatmate’s decided to go to dinner together. And then from that point on, we were buddies.
Their names are Renaee from Australia, and Micky and Aja from Vancouver.
We did half of the 5terre walk. The second section was closed due to a landslide, and it started to rain before the last section. But it mattered not. We had a great day together that ended jumping in the waves on the beach. Did I say great day? Really, it was phenomenal.

Food from the Sea

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Best. Meal. Ever.
Well at least since as far as my Venice experience goes.
My first course was “sardine in soar” = sardines in onion and pine nuts with raisen like things i’m forgetting the name of. It kind of changed my life. End of story. I can’t help you with any descriptions. You must taste it. Sorry.
Next came a special of the day: black spaghetti with muscles, something else fishy (sorry, bad memory), and tomatoes. Also incredible. The spaghetti was black from ink which was so flavorful and a million times better than normal noodles. I enjoyed this plate with a monstrous glass of red wine.
Allow me to express my love for oversized wine goblets. There is nothing more gratifying than palming a globe of throbbing fermented grape blood. The goblet at this place spiked my testosterone. It was like experiencing the sensation of cupping an entire world of wine in your very own hands that you alone could devour. Every sip from this crystal creature drained it of its life, and made me king.
Tangent!
The last picture is from the Vivaldi concert we went to afterwards where we heard “Four Seasons.” It was exceptionally impressive.
I need to go to bed. But! Just know that this food was memorable and really good. More to come. As for now, I must heed to the call of my dreams. La da dee daa.. dee doodle dah dah…

Lunch

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Yum: shrimp and muscle pizza with a glass of prosecco. (I can’t remember a day without prosecco, by the way). It was our second day of freedom after class was over. Turns out that having no plans is almost to relaxing. We spent a couple of hours at one cafe, wondered around until we found a ristorante for lunch, after lunch we wandered until we felt like gelato, and then we sat by the canal for a couple of hours. That was somehow an exhausting day.

Ostaria del Diablo e L’Aquistania

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I ate octopus. And liver. Wahoo!
This was at a restaurant suggested by Anthony Bordain on his Venice special. I was so psyched to stumble upon it near Rialto a week ago, but after a big splurge at DaRomano, I didn’t think I could budget in another one. Little did I know that this place was unbelievably reasonable.
And so, when Eliza’s parents asked for suggestions on where to eat on their first night in Venice, I threw my suggestion out on the table. And it was a go!
The mood of this place was killer. We sat in a dark alley (remember that this is hardly unique in Venice) that was illuminated by a distant yellow sign and a couple of street lamps. And they played really choice oldies music like the Supremes. Plus, our waiter had on rockin’ yellow glasses.
I split a octopus salad with Eliza for our first dish (I think the ‘rents ordered a caprese salad). I then ordered liver. Ha!
It tasted like the best/most flavorful ground beef in the world. It was SO delicious. We had vino bianco della case with the whole deal. It was incredible.

This one’s for Stephanie

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Went to the market just now… glory!
I went on Saturday too but that time the fish market was up and running. That was an incredible spectacle. People were throwing fish and shooting hoses: a terrible place to be a tourist. I thought that at any moment I was going to intercept a fish-toss with my face and then get water-blasted. But I got good pics! …not on my phone though. I’ll have to upload those some other time…
I’m about to get off the vaporetto, still praying for Meg and that tardy little baby! Arrivederci! 

Tagged

This place is nuts-o-gorgeous.

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I took the “vedute” picture from a church bell tower, nauuturally. And the woman playing the cello was just on a walk back to my hotel.
Then I was eating gelato in San Marco Piazza one night.
I have finally accepted Venice as reality. But that doesn’t mean I don’t spend half my day with my jaw dropped.
Highlight of the Day: eating seafood risotto and wood grilled sardines on the island of Burano.
What I would give for a hot dog! ………not!

THIS IS SO MUCH FUN.

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More to come…