Erin and I attended a very NYC East Village destination for music and other performing arts in Grenada.
My longtime readers know I like to eat. I’m a foodie, an eater. Newer readers need to know my primary past time is eating. Not cooking, eating. Therefore making the statement that I just experienced the best lunch of my life is a big deal.
I must qualify that the meal had the advantage of being on a hill directly across from a UNESCO world heritage site and had a panoramic view of the subject the Al Hambra. Therefore the atmosphere (and view) is what makes this the best lunch of my life.
Nevertheless without delicious, regional food – in this case Andalusian in Granada – the impressive and encompassing view would not have qualified the meal as the best lunch of my life.
We ordered a bottle of wine from Granada – 1368 Cerros de Manjos vintage 2003 – that we drank slowly as to allow it to open up.
Erin ordered an aubergine salad that was in fact more of a delicious stack of french fries as the eggplant was julienned and deep fried in a delicate batter – served with honey dipping sauce. I had a bowl of gazpacho which was surprisingly better than the recipe I make sourced from KCRW. http://goodfoodonkcrw.vox.com/library/post/gazpacho-recipe.html
For entrees Erin ordered a blood sausage pudding with a mango compote and cookie crumble topping accompanied by a port reduction sauce. I has solomillo (grilled tenderloin/ filet mignon) with the same port reduction and the enhancement of froie gras.
For dessert we had a flan prepared as a creme brûlée with a fragile caramel topping. We also ate piononos, a Granada specialty of cake rolled with caramel like a cinnamon roll served with a rich cream flavored with cinnamon.
I ordered a digestif of what turned out to be an extremely long pour of cognac. Then enjoyed the complementary shot of honey rum served with la cuenta.
The food was impeccably prepared and matched the impeccable view of the Al Hambra I focused on while enjoying the meal from my open-window, table-side, and elevated view. I was able to take in the scale of Al Hambra for over two full hours. This external, distant survey seved to prepare me for my afternoon and evening visits of Al Hambra scheduled the next day.
I must give credit to the restaurant that made this all possible… Las Estellas Mirador San Nicolas located in Placeta San Nicolas in the Albayzin neighborhood of Granada.
P.S. I apologize but I have yet to figure out how to post pics with the iPhone wordpress app. Once I get to a computer I’ll post Spain pics.
We left Barcelona today to train down to Andalucia where we were to spend one night in Cordoba before moving on to Granada. However, upon learning the trains would not operate tomorrow, 9/23 due to a general strike we opted to travel through Cordoba all the way to Granada in one day.
Nevertheless we had several hours between trains that afforded us the opportunity to visit the Mezquita mosque and a traditional Cordoba gardened patio.
The mosque in Cordoba was the second largest in the world in its day, second only to the mosque in Mecca. The Cordoba mosque had one of the first copies of the Koran and a bone of the prophet Mohamed.
Unable to viscerally experience the history of the structure I appreciated its architecture in the present. Christians conquered Cordoba in the 13th century and modified the center of the mosque into a cathedral. I had no interest in the latter remodeling and focused on the original Moorish elements.
The ornate and intricately decorated mihrab was well worth the visit as I felt connected to a sacred place. I spent an appreciable amount of time meditating on the mihrab to respect it’s significance.
Today, three days into our time in Barcelona we finally made a full day of it by waking up before noon. We travelled from stem to stern by visiting topographic high points of Montjuic and Park Guell with a final stop at the cultural high point La Sagrada Familia.
Both Montjuic and Park Guell provide fantastic views of Barcelona from their peaks. Montjuic offers a awesome cable car view accessible as part of the metro system that takes you to a castle on it’s peak where you can take in the city and the Mediterranean sea from it’s embattlements. Park Guell has what appears to be an ancient pagan altar whose symbology has been supplanted with a Christian cross. The altar can be ascended as a tower providing a vantage an additional 3 meters above the park’s peak.
Either of these parks would be fantastic for views of the rising or setting sun.
If you’re not interested in the view and primarily want to see the more recognizable Gaudi works then I recommend getting off at the lower of the two Metro stops to avoid a bit of hiking through Southern California Santa Monica Mountain type terrain (though view is worth it)
At Park Guell, I was amused by the number of people having their picture taken by what I later realized famous polychromatic statue of a lizard (iguana?) spitting (dribbling) water out of its mouth as a fountain. I kept track of the number of photos taken per minute for nearly 10 minutes and counted as high as 8 for a particularly efficient series of photographers.
What clues me in to the lizard’s popularity replicated in 7 different forms including a horrendous street performer’s costume and a chocolate sculpture within 3 hours of being introduced to the beast. If that Luzard is Yaweh our old testament god will be quite displeased with so many renditions of his likeness.
We finished our grand tour by stopping to the exterior of La Sagrada from all sides without paying the cost of time in line or ticket fee to enter it. Our taxi driver pointed you can descend to Gaudi’s trip for free which we had briefly done the day before. I was only familiar with one face of the cathedral and that was the dripping candle wax-like facade. The opposite facade produced by a later sculptor is much more angular more arte nouveau less modernisme in style. The trippy, wax-like facade it was I’d come to see. It was fantastic to view from across the street and across the nearby pond. However to appreciate this building more deeply I’m going to purchase an architectural book detailing the cathedral.
We had a heavenly version of Crema Catalana at the restaurant Petit Comitè a few metro stops from La Familia Sagrada
The dish has the same brûlée top as creme brûlée but underneath was a light cloud of custard instead of the heavier custard I had been expecting. The burnt sugar crust dish was ever so lightly flavored with cinammon.
Last night we had dinner at La Mar Salada. Shortly before leaving for Spain a coworker recommended I eat at this restaurant specializing in traditional Catalan cuisine with a focus on seafood and rice dishes including Paella. My coworkers younger sister is dating the sou chef and said the food was ‘good’. Little did I know the food would be great.
We made reservations based on this recommendation without doing any additional research. Upon being seated and opening our menus. Erin was pleased to see black rice and cuttlefish listed. This was a Catalan specialty she intended to taste on the trip. The rice is prepared in a squid ink sauce, the dish was well prepared and delicious.
We also enjoyed a fried calamari appetizer, a Catalan croquet called Bombas filled with mashed potato flavored with sausage, a chilled languistino and potato salad (whole ‘cocktail’ shrimp, thick slices of potato on a bed of lettuce) that was fresh. sweet and yummy, and a crab gazpacho.
The restaurant decor is done in a pleasant Martha Stewart beach house style with cool whites and blues and a classy looking model yacht. An appropriate decor given the dining room is near the marina and serving seafood.
After enjoying our meal I walked to the men’s room and was surprised to find at least 10 articles displayed giving La Mar Salada accolades. The list included awards from Timeout Barcelona for best menu (2009) and best rice dishes including paella (2010). If that were not enough there was a photo of the chef Max Silva with Uberchef Ferran Adrià taken in La Sal de Mer. If that weren’t enough there was a front page news article with a photo of Ferran Adrià and 20 some of his alumni that had proceeded to becom executive chefs which featured and pictured Max Silva.
What a wonderful surprise from attending a restaurant based on a coworker’s recommendation and no prior research. I recommend you go too!