Friday, September 25, 2009
There's something about walking down a tree-lined rambla at 11pm in shorts, sandals and a t-shirt with a paradoxically warm/cool breeze blowing that makes me want to kiss strangers!! The paradox is, of course, that the breeze is distinctly cool compared to the heat of the day, yet by British standards it feels like a giant hairdryer on a low setting is blowing in from the horizon. Just went to Bodega, a bar full of wine barrels where u can take any old bottle to be filled from their selection of 10 generics for about 2e a litre. It’s not a wine mecca....you get what u pay for, and the Rioja is definitely better than the Priorat....but you can't get a more authentic snapshot of Spain’s fundamental connection to food and wine as an integral component of every day existence. It’s a filling station for wine which happens to have some good things to eat. That’s all. But I definitely got the faint echo that places like this (like many a good English pub) provide people not just with cheap wine, but with an antidote to the often harsh realities of daily life. Dark wood, blue and white tiles, hanging jamones and chorizo. An austere glass chilled counter housing tortilla, sliced ham, anchovies and marinated squid. A bell jar of tanned, shiny, salty whole almonds. Now i've seen many of these since my arrival but most make my alarm bells ring when the ham is starting to curl, the anchovies look yellowish and the backdrop features a microwave. This one didn't. Can't tell you why. But I was right. For all its simplicity it was superb. The tortilla was at room temperature. Moist and tasting of fruity olive oil, sweet onion and soft potato. Spiked on a toothpick with a leaf of ruby ham. The almonds burst under your teeth with a salty, roasted explosion. Asked for a tapa of ham. Unusualy, she seemed pleased I'd asked. She rubbed bread with cut tomato and topped it generously as if she were feeding a son. The taste was wonderful, musky, sweet, soft, meaty, and moist from the tomato. Wow.