Monday, March 14, 2016
Jet lag finally caught up with me. Had to take its toll sometime. I just could not sleep last night. So as not to disturb Janel, I crept downstairs and laid on the couch. I was only barely intelligible when she was getting ready for work this morning. The plan was to sleep in, but I cannot. I end up getting up, finishing a much overdo blog post and generally messing around in Janel’s cute apartment.
Last night Janel had told me about nice place for breakfast so I Google “Mama’s Cafe and see that it is a very short walk away. Using my trusty iPhone in map mode it is easy to find my way there. She has told me they speak English and since my Spanish is super rusty I feel pretty comfortable about walking in.
There was no need to fret. The folks inside were super friendly and we ended up speaking both Spanish and English. I sat at a window table and ordered an omelet with roasted vegetables and some pan con tomate (thickly sliced rustic bread that is toasted and rubbed with olive oil and a tomato) along with a cafe con leche. It comes out quickly and is just what I needed.
After breakfast I browse through the neighborhood mercado for a bit, purchase some yogurt and retun to Janel’s house. I have to gather my belongings in order to “move in” to my new digs that are literally a few doors down from Janel. I found the place on Airbnb and the host and I have been in contact several times. At 1:00 I contact my host (Ricard – can’t forget that one) and he tells me he will be on his balcony looking for me. Great.
Ricard’s apartment is lovely. It is simply furnished, super clean with lots of light. I will be very happy here for the next few days. This will be easier on both Janel and myself since she will be getting up to go to work this week. Besides it is nice to have a place where I can spread out all my things.
There is a spacious kitchen and living area along with a master bedroom. There is also a second bedroom that I will use as my wardrobe. One of the best features is this:
And of course one of the most important items:
The plan for later is to meet up with Janel and Isam for dinner at a special place Janel has picked out. However, right NOW I need to nap.
Post nap I prepare myself for the evening and my initial meeting with Janel’s boyfriend Isam. Our dinner reservation is at 9:00 (very typical in Spain) so we decide to go for a glass of wine beforehand. Janel has chosen a restaurant in the El Born district which is a bit of a ways from our apartments so we decide to taxi.
The El Born neighborhood is very quaint with many narrow streets zigzagging their way throughout. Janel has already convinced me that I should come back in the daytime and “get lost.”
Tonight’s choice for dinner is a small, elegant restaurant – L’ou ComBalla:
“Suppertime is like travelling to the east and west. Greek, Italian or French notes, and also North African and Indian notes, but of course, off in Catalonia. Classic dishes with a modern touch such as venison with dark chocolate, or Jewish dishes such as gayina sefardi”.
This place is very beautiful and completely intimate – the perfect setting for Isam and myself to get to know one another. Our server is a bit formal and standoffish which leaves me wondering if the entire meal will be kind of stiff. Nothing else to do except order a wonderful bottle of Cava and allow the other two to choose items from the menu for us to share. While we are studying the menu, the proprietoress comes to our table to make some suggestions. She takes one look at Isam and audibly gasps, “que guapo!” She goes on to tell him that he has a rare classic beauty and is visibly taken by his eyes and his smile. He handles it perfectly (it is obviously not the first time he has had this sort of encounter). Meanwhile Janel and I are grinning from ear to ear. This was just the breakthrough that we needed. She proceeds to warmly describe the best dishes on the menu and guides us expertly all the while describing the dishes (in Catalan) in such a manner that defies language. We follow her suggestions and several of the best items are ordered.
Every item that is presented to us is simply amazing. We do not leave a speck.
(click and/or run your mouse over the photos above)
I know the chocolate sauced-filet sounds “iffy.” I was not sure about it. And then I had one bite. There was no turning back.
We finished with a lovely Tarte Tatin that reminded Janel of Rich’s Apple Pie. (She insists that pie is her favorite dessert of all time).
We head out after a hearty, genuine hug for all of us from the proprietoress. Our meal here was truly a standout. Everything came together for this one. The company, the “lady,” the ambience and the food make this a night to remember.
Home at midnight. I swear I don’t know how Janel (or for that matter all Spaniards) does it. Dinner starting at 9 or later and ending at midnight. THEN, get up and go to work the next morning. It is a totally different pace, but I think I maybe could get used to it. All except the work part…