Monday, August 4, 2014
It is super quiet and comfy at Ca La Maria B&B and we sleep way in. It is a good thing breakfast goes until 11:00am.
Beautiful, fresh breakfast items are lined up in the salon. There are fresh squeezed juices and today Maria has also made a wonderful gazpacho. She is a chef and I can tell she enjoys experimenting. There are yogurts, fresh fruits, cereals, bread and some wonderful home made baked goods. Coffee and tea are always available.
We have breakfast on the huge shady terrace. Rich chooses an omelet and I have an over easy egg to go along with our other choices. This breakfast is perfectly civilized.
We even have our own little private patio space:
Since this is such a nice morning with all this shady space Rich mentions that it would be a great space to practice Yoga. I am quick to jump on the idea and am ready to roll.
After breakfast I decide to fit in a workout of my own.
We decide that this would be a great place to congregate in the evening with Janel and Dario. I ask Maria if we can invite them over and she says “of course.” Perfect – we may do that tonight.
J & D have made special plans for today. They know how much we (me especially) love cava and have planned a trip to the cava producing area in this region. We will rent a car and make the 45 minute drive south, eat lunch and tour a cava cave (yes, they are called “caves”). Super duper!
As a side note: my MP portion of the trip is over. All remaining plans in Spain are up to J&D and it feels great just to go along for the ride. I am happily using Rich’s mantra – “no para mi.” Thank you!
We agree to meet at Janel’s apartment in order to go back to the train station to rent a car for the day. On the way to her apartment we pass a couple of car rental places and Rich wonders whether we could pick up our car there. As we turn onto Janel’s street we see that the fiesta construction has been going on in full force:
Janel and Dario have been running around all morning trying to get things in order for this outing. Apparently, there was a bit of confusion because they had forgotten to reserve a car until the last minute and August is vacation time in Spain. However, a car was finally found and we taxi off to Sants Station. Just as we are stepping up to the car rental counter at the train station Dario gets a stunned look on his face. The car he rented was actually at the place we passed on our walk – about 30 seconds from our B&B! Back in the taxi, back to our place, etc. Everything finally gets straightened out and we are on our way.
The landscape changes to vineyards as we get closer to “Cava Central.” 95% of all Cava is produced in the Penedes area of Catalonia. The city we are going to – Sant Sadurní d’Anoia – is home to several big names of cava producers. We park in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia and walk to the center of town to find the restaurant Janel has chosen. The town is so pretty and deserted that it appears to be a movie set.
The restaurant – Ticus – looks like the only game in town. Janel has read reviews and has heard that it is excellent. We were greeted very warmly and all ordered the 3 course menu del dia with different choices for our corses. We were all blown away by the quality of the food. What in the world is this little place doing here?
Rich started with an awesome gazpacho and Dario had a great salad. However, Janel and I won “Best Dish” with our fig and jamon starter. It was amazing!
This place was a true hidden gem. Rich said if all we did was drive here for lunch and turn around and drive back it would have been worth it.
Janel has set up an appointment at Caves Recaredo – one of the local cava producers. It is just a short walk from the restaurant.
We are met in the lobby and told a little bit about the history of Recaredo. It was founded in 1924 by Josep Mata Capallades who named it in honor of his father. You can read a little more about the history here – pretty interesteing stuff.
Our guide is wonderful – he does the tour both in English and Spanish for us and we are happy that there are only the four of us. We go slowly and ask all sorts of questions.
We learn that all the production here is by hand. When it is time, each production year (about 200,000 bottles) are turned BY HAND every day for weeks.
Jordi shows us the very important step of “disgorgement.” As the cava ferments in the bottle, sediments are formed. The bottles are turned upside down and the sediment settles in the neck. When it is ready to be removed it must be done quickly and accurately so as not to lose any of the precious liquid. The cork is quickly “popped” and the bottle is held at the proper angle for the gas inside to spray ot the sediment. The bottle is then quickly recorked. Jordi tells us that it takes an apprentice 3 years to learn the process properly. Some caves do this by quickly freezing the very top section, some do it by machine, but at Recaredo all the bottles are disgorged by hand.
We are ushered into a space in the cave where there is a lone disgorgement set up and a small stack of bottles. This is obviously something special. We are told that those are bottles of Reserva Particular de Recaredo – the most special cava from this producer. Originally, the family kept this vintage for themselves, but due to demand they started offering a small amount for sale. I am asked to choose a bottle to be disgorged and immediately tasted. Wow.
The cava is opened and a sample is poured for everyone. It is absolutely Heaven in a bottle. Our glasses get re-filled and we continue on the tour while sipping the Nectar of the Gods.
The tour concludes in a beautiful room that is set up with two prominent bottles of cava and 2 empty glasses for each of us. The first cava we taste is the Rose – . The color is amazing. It is not pale like a rose wine. It is almost a light ruby. I absolutely love it.
The second one is the Brut de Brut – a fantastic Gran Reserva. Unbelievable. We are encouraged to sit and sip as much of the bottles as we desire. We have been provided with “spit buckets” but even our guide says it would be a shame to actually use them. I agree completely.
The bottles are re-corked and we are given the remainder of the two bottles to take home.This will be perfect for a late evening on our terrace. We also make a couple of purchases to take back to the US with us. All ofus have done wine tours in various countries. This one was one of the best. It is very obvious that Recaredo has unlimited pride in their product and it shows both in the process and in the end product. We learned so much about cava production and have even more of an appreciation for it. Thanks for setting it up Janel and Dario! It certainly was “Vale la Pena.” (worth the pain)
(Janet, I want you to know that during the entire visit we kept talking about how much you would have loved this. We truly missed you and hope that you will have an opportunity to do this in the near future.)
Our guide mentioned that there is a chocolate producer just down the street and we could not leave here without just a peek. Simon Coll Chocolates is a great place. There are samples of so many chocolates all there for the trying. I probably tried too many – please get me out of here. Dario made a few purchases and gifted me with a beautiful box of dark chocolates filled with a cava ganache. omg
After a siesta back at the B&B we walk over to Janel’s place to meet up for dinner. Since we are early, we think it would be nice to find a place to sit outside and have a little beer. Rich suggests a bar very close to Janel’s place, but I have always made fun of it – it doesn’t look very inviting. However, when we approach Bar Tarbush (great name, huh?) I agree to stay. Turns out to be just the right thing.
Dinner tonight is at Restaurante Bardot and it is a fantastic find. We originally wanted to sit outside, but there were no spaces. The hostess apologizes that she must seat us at “the best table in the house!” It is a back round booth that has a great view on all the action. Perfect.
After dinner we all go up on the terrace at our B&B and finish off the special bottles of cava. Does it get any better? I am happy to be done with my MP duties for now and am looking forward to our upcoming trip to the Asturias region of Spain. Tomorrow is a “down” day for all of us. We have nothing planned and are happy about it. We will re-coup and re-group before our next outing.