My first trip to Spain was only a few years ago and I instantly fell in love with the country, even though now after a second short visit I still only feel like I am barely scratching the surface. I like the comfortable, almost nonchalant blending of old and new, in the architecture, the culture, the food. I like the seemingly endless brigades of older women in Madrid with their sensible shoes, their warm earthtone-colored coats, and their little dogs, constantly in the streets (Mrs. F took to calling them the "Old Lady Army", or "O.L.A."). I like the international, nightclubby feel of Barcelona, all eurotrashy without the bad attitude. And I like the lush green hills of the Basque country, with the barns made of stone that seems to glow golden when it catches any sunlight, and the sheep that must have claws to hang onto the steep hills as they graze. And (of relevance hereto) I love how one of the uniting and unabiding qualities of seemingly all its people is a passion for good food. And how they have the innate understanding that just about everything is better if you put some ham on it, or an egg - or both.
It will take me a couple days to gather my thoughts and get caught up, but there will be reports on tapas crawls in Madrid and San Sebastian, visits to Viridiana and Goizeko Wellington in Madrid, Arzak and Akelare in San Sebastian, Dos Palillos, Cuines Santa Caterina and Paco Meralgo in Barcelona. Some highlights: percebes (goose barnacles) at Goizeko; pintxos in San Sebastian's Barrio Gros; the whole dining experience at Arzak; the cochinillo and the view at Akelare; the navajas (razor clams) at Dos Palillos; and calçots at Cuines Sta. Caterina.
And yes, there will be some food porn. (I did, for a couple of meals, officially become "that douchebag taking pictures of his food"). Want a preview? How about this:
Not your style? OK, how about this:
More to come.