T&J in Sitges and Barcelona 2017 travel blog

Brie burger sliders and Stuffed Olives (Note to Self: next time ask...

Indian curry with rice and patatas bravas (Big Yum!)

The best fried squid and. John's Tapa Winning Tapa

Cava and Rose on our Taste of Sitges tour

Fancy Schmancy Tapa With Sardine

Our new best friend, Isabel

Pizza with Iberico Ham---great thin crust but ham not as good quality...

Delicious lunch at seaside restaurant: breast of chicken; carrot purée, and brocolli...

Fresh seafood at grocery store

Open air market I stumbled upon on my walk today

Sitges, Friday 28 July, 2017

Tapa a Tapa: The Food Edition

While most tourists come to Spain for culture, history and music, we are not most tourists. We come for the food. Sure all those other things create the structure of a life-changing trip, but for us, memories of outstanding food and flavors are what stays with us long after we are home, and just a fleeting thought back to a particularly delicious meal can transport us right back as if we were still there.

By special request, my friend, Lisa, asked to see more food pictures. Happy to oblige with this posting and throw in a few stories too.

We're learning all about tapas, an appetizer or snack served either hot or cold and usually served with drinks at a bar. We've had tapas before in the US but I'm here to say not all tapas are created equal. OMG, are we finding some great food here!

Our apartment host, recommended a little tapas bar down the street called El Cable, as a very traditional and very popular tapas bar. We walked by the first couple nights and were deterred by the packed house and overflowing crowd at each window spilling out into the street. We got smart (or American tourist depending on your point of view) and camped out at their door one evening for their opening at 7 pm. We found a table near a shady window and pleaded our usual ignorance as the waiter handed us a menu in Spanish. He cheerfully brought over an English menu and was kind enough to make some recommendations for us. I tended to shy away from the items with anchovies (please don't judge me) but there were lots of other options that sounded interesting. We started with Stuffed Olives and were oohing and aahing over what a distinctive flavor they had like nothing we've known before. After a few more bites, I figured it out. They were stuffed with anchovies! Who knew those stinky little slime buckets could taste so good.

From there we tried the Brie Hamburger Sliders (very lean meat and creamy cheese on a seeded bun) and moved on to chicken curry and rice (tender chunks of chicken and delicate curry over basmati rice served with pita wedges). Next up was patatas bravas (the most tender, melt in your mouth, perfectly seasoned fried potato chunks ever, served with a big ole dollop of mayonnaise and a spicy tomato sauce---think of ketchup with a kick.) I ordered the fried squid (moist and tender half dollar sized rings of goodness). John got the special award winner of last year's big tapa cooking contest (a Tapa Off, if you will) featuring sirloin steak served on a crostini with lots of good things on top that I can't remember right now.

While we were enjoying our food, minding our own business, we noticed a family of three sitting next to us chatting and laughing and enjoying themselves. The dad had a German accent but the mom and the teenaged daughter sounded American to me. At a mutual lull in our conversations, the daughter turned to John and asked with great excitement, "Has anyone ever told you that you look just like Anderson Cooper?" Good ole John was gracious as ever and demurely acknowledged that he gets that a lot, but no, he's not Anderson Cooper. I was thinking he should have gone for it. Imagine what a thrill that family would have had telling everyone they know back in Ohio that they had dinner with THAT Anderson Cooper. I was waiting for them to ask me if I was anybody so I could quickly put on my humble but proud face and extend my hand while saying, "Hi, I'm Rachel Maddow."

Yesterday we took a very fun and interesting tour called "Taste of Sitges" led by a woman named Isabel. She's originally from the Canary Islands but lived in Barcelona for several years before getting married and moving to Sitges. Her tours focus on history and food and wine. We had very interesting tapas at one place that prides themselves on more gourmet and creative dishes. This tapa was beautifully presented on a slate tray and as best I can remember was a vegetable pie topped with arugula and a sardine on top just in case you forgot what Mediterranean food is all about. It was very good but sardines rank just under anchovies in my book. John had a cava (sparkling wine,i.e. their version of champagne) and I had a delicious rose. All in all, a very nice experience.

Later that night, we had a beautiful to look at but less than memorable pizza for dinner so we're vowing to stick to Spanish type foods for at least the next few days.

Today is now Saturday. John went for a run along the sea walk this morning and I ventured out on my own to explore a grocery store chain I had read about called Lidl. I hear they are on their way to the US and I wanted to practice just in case they ever open one up in Tacoma. The big news is that I successfully navigated my way there and back without getting too lost. Given my history of direction impairment, John and I exchanged heartfelt goodbyes and agreed that I would meet him at the train station if I wasn't back by Monday.

Our plan for the rest of the day is to explore a nearby museum, look for art galleries to browse and maybe do a late afternoon beach trip. I could get used to this.

Ted y John (as we are known in Spain)

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