Saturday, September 26, 2015

Adios, mi amigo

I had my last dinner at La Sanabresa tonight. Roasted red peppers with garlic and flakes of tuna, cod in tomato sauce, and house made tiramisu. I now know the Spanish for " house made", equivalent to French "maison" - it's "casero". Very useful. It was all good, but the cod was particularly impressive. 
        Friday night is family date night, and the prices rise a little accordingly: the main courses I had been ordering in the 11 euro menu migrated tonight to the 13 euro one, which is still a great deal. The restaurant filled up with small family groups and middle aged couples. My waiter dealt with them all with his usual speed and aplomb.
      And I learnt his name: Joaquín. He proudly showed me a laminated copy of a 2003 article from the New York Times, which praised the restaurant handsomely and paid special tribute to Joaquín (and his moustache).  I rustled up enough Spanish to say it was my last night, and tell him my name (Anne/Anna/Ana works extremely well internationally). When I left we shook hands, he embraced me and I managed to say "Adios, mi amigo." I turned for home (well, the hotel) feeling quite sad. Then he came rushing out after me, saying "Sorry!" I had forgotten my scarf. Real life is never quite like the movies.


Friday, September 25, 2015

La Sanabresa 3

So tonight I remembered to take my camera. I was feeling slightly off colour, so I fancied plain food and I got exactly what I wanted. Thin crisp eggplant fritters with lemon...

Roast pork with mashed potato, always my favourite comfort food (and Harvey's too)...

And of course, the flan, which is in fact creme caramel.
At the end I splashed out and had a small decaf espresso. Then I asked my lovely waiter if I could take his photo. He took the camera, gave it to the couple at the next table, got down beside me and asked them to take us both. I managed to tell him (I think) in broken Spanish that I would come one more night and then had to go (vamos). I'm moving to a posh hotel on Saturday to join my bus tour group. But I don't expect any of the flash dinners we'll have will be quite as heartwarming as eating here.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

La Sanabresa 2

Warning: this is a very first-world problems kind of post.
       It's strange eating dinner alone while travelling. The whole thing tends to take on undue importance. Tonight I went back to La Sanabresa when it opened, in time to get the same table I had last night - for two, of course (there are no tables for one), wedged neatly between two larger tables, and allowing me to sit against the wall looking out into the room.
        The waiter seemed pleased to see me. But who knows? As a passing tourist, even a four-night one, you're just a tiny blip on the radar of his regular clients. You know this, and yet you want him to like you, to approve of your choices, to appreciate you....
        I had already worked out what I wanted: the grilled asparagus, and the grilled dorado, which came with salad (I've seen it on French menus as dorade, the menu translates it as gilthead). Both were really worth eating, and I mentally patted myself on the back as I polished off my half bottle of everyday Spanish white.
        Dessert was a dilemma. Should it be the flan again, since it was so good? Or (in the interests of research) should I try the torta de queso, cheesecake, which I envisaged as some rustic Spanish version? 
        Unfortunately I chose the cheesecake. Mistake - it was a small slice of some spongy and creamy confection, topped with raspberry glaze, and obviously bought in. I had to buy two little shortbready biscuits on the way home to have in my room with Lady Grey tea, in order to offset the disappointment.
         Because that's what happens on holiday by yourself - every small success or good decision is magnified, and so is every small mistake.  And I'll have the same dilemma tomorrow - but I think it will definitely be the flan. After the eggplant fritters and the cod in tomato sauce.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

La Sanabresa

I had some difficulty finding what I felt like eating in Barcelona. I had thought I would get the useful menu del dia at lunchtime and make do with tapas at night, but there didn't seem to be any interesting tapas places near my hotel. In any case, at lunchtime I was often in a museum and needed to make do with whatever they had to offer - which was usually not a patch on the wonderful Viennese ones. And on my own, with poor night vision, I don't like going far from the hotel for my dinner.
      So I usually resorted to the attractive, friendly theatre restaurant up the road, the wonderfully named El Glop, which gave out free olives, served delicious thin slices of duck with salad, and had good Catalan sausage with chips when something more filling was required.
      Now I'm in Madrid, in a remarkably swish hotel that wasn't at all expensive (thanks to my clever travel agent). I Googled for restaurants nearby and discovered the exceptionally well reviewed La Sanabresa, just up the road. So at 8.30 (when it opens at night) I went there. 

Just as well I was on time - within ten minutes it had filled up with a swarm of locals. It serves a range of menus del dia, menus of the day, at night, which didn't seem to happen in Barcelona. The one I chose had lots of options, and at 11 euro for three courses, bread and a half bottle of wine (for one - a couple gets a full bottle) it's an incredible bargain. I had the mushrooms with garlic (excellent), 

the meatballs (a little bland, but still good, with chips), and a superb flan, exactly like a creme caramel only with a darker reddish sauce - maybe there was wine in there somewhere? (The colour doesn't show well here.)

I've already worked out what I think I'll have tomorrow. I'm only here for four nights, so I'm going to La Sanabresa for all of them. On my last day I may even splash out on the 16 euro menu...