Gin and Sardines

San Geraldo and I were a bit down-in-the-dumps last night (no special reason, just low energy), so he suggested we have dinner at Gonzalo’s restaurant, Catalina, to perk ourselves up. It worked. First of all, it was a cool night. The first in a very long time. Once we were outside, we even debated heading back upstairs to change into long pants. It wasn’t necessary. But it sure was nice to consider it.

MY GIN AND TONIC (LEFT) … AND ITS LITTLE BROTHER.
MIXED DRINKS ARE POURED AT THE TABLE. THERE WAS A LOT OF GIN.

We had a fairly brisk 10-minute walk to Catalina, arriving around 10:30. We then decided to join the rest of the patrons who were sitting outside enjoying the comfortable temps. Gonzalo was there and greeted us with warm hugs and kisses, which immediately made our world a good place again. We were both in the mood for a gin and tonic, known simply as “gin tonic” here. San Geraldo doesn’t drink much. Two or three sips is usually his limit. The drinks are ginormous (a large goldfish would consider the goblet a very generously proportioned home). I suggested to San Geraldo that he just take a few sips from mine. But he really wanted his own, so we asked Gonzalo for a very small one for Jerry and the usual large one for me. He understood perfectly.

SARDINES AND PEPPERS ON A BASE OF RUSK, AVOCADO, AND SAUCE.

Gonzalo told us about the specials that weren’t on the menu. He started with sardines and laughed when he saw the expression on my face. Sardines have always been right at the top of my list — alongside anchovies — under the heading “Fishy Fish I Don’t Like.” But, as you may remember, I love Gonzalo’s anchovies. So, I figured if there is ever a chance of my liking sardines, it would be at Catalina. We ordered them. They were beautifully presented on a slab of black slate. A dollop of diced tomato and a dollop of sauce to the side. The large sardine was, as it had been described by Gonzalo, served on a crispy slice of rusk, with a layer of sauce and fresh avocado between. It was beautiful. It smelled delicious. I took a bite. It wasn’t bad. If you like sardines. San Geraldo loved it. You can’t win them all (although San Geraldo won this round and didn’t have to share). To be honest, it was the best sardine I’ve ever tasted (and that’s not saying much). I’ll stick to anchovies, but only at Catalina. I cleansed my pallet with a swig of gin tonic.

PATATAS BRAVAS.

“Patatas bravas” is a classic tapas potato dish. The traditional version is fried in olive oil and served with a paprika sauce. To me, they’re just potatoes in sauce. San Geraldo loves potatoes and he loves sauce. I can take or leave potatoes. However, I can’t leave Catalina’s patatas bravas. Gonzalo explained to us that his are baked at very low heat for hours to absorb the olive oil and herbs. They almost melt in your mouth. He told us they had run these as a special and customers were coming back weeks later asking for them. They’re now a permanent addition. Once you’ve had patatas bravas at Catalina, there is no need to have them anywhere else.

COUS COUS.  KISS KISS.  AND HOME TO BED.

So, after more hugs and kisses, San Geraldo and I walked home happy as clams (which were also on the menu).

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

46 thoughts on “Gin and Sardines”

  1. Gin and tonic is a perfect combination. In hot and humid weather I often have one of the smaller swimming pools drained and then refilled with gin and tonic and a few floating ice-swans and polar bears and penguins. Then I slap on the old striped bathers and pith helmet and doggy-paddle around in it until the urge to give a goes away.

    Those are some stylish places you eat at!

    1. The Owl Wood:
      Yes, I'm always surprised these stylish places let us in. Wait a minute… We sat outside!

      Sorry my gin-filled goldfish bowl wouldn't be large enough for the two of us.

  2. No thanks to the gin (got REALLY inebriated – make that drunk – on it about 45 years ago… never since!)… but darn! those sardines etc look fantastic! Hope the taste is as good as the presentation!

    1. The Odd Essay:
      My downfall was tequila. The first and last time was 38 years ago. At Catalina, the taste is as good if not better than the presentation (sardines included I'm sure if you like that sort of thing).

  3. Glad you had a good meal and a good evening! Sardines are not on my "edible" list either. My father used to eat them all the time when he lived with us; I couldn't even stand to rinse the can for the recycling bin! But maybe I'd try them at Catalina………..

  4. Hello Mitch:
    Fresh sardines, not of course to be confused in any way with those dreadful tinned things [which do make a change for the cats] are, in our view, absolutely delicious. What a wonderfully relaxed evening you appear to have had with an excellent dinner to help things along.

    Here the heat is sweltering, as it has been now for the past week or so.

    1. Jane and Lance:
      Yes, the tinned ones are definitely worse. But I just don't like "fishy" fish. (Our cats turned their noses up at tinned tuna.)

      It's another beautiful night again, but the temps were over 40 during the day and there's more of that to come. I wouldn't mind a beach!

  5. I love potatoes and your description of the patatas bravas made my mouth water! I may have to try making them after it cools down enough to use the oven.

  6. I like, like, like! I'm very interested in the patatas bravas. I'd love to try them sometime (of course, chez Catalina!).
    I understand Jerry's desire for having his own drink, even if he won't drink it all. I don't really drink (alcohol) at all, because I guess I just never like the taste or the effect, but sometimes I just really want to join in the fun of "having a drink". Something refreshing sounding like a gin tonic baby size could do the trick 🙂
    Judy

    1. Judeet:
      They should serve up mixed drinks in thimbles for the likes of you and The Dowager Duchess. She takes one sip and then suddenly fans herself asking everyone else, "Does it feel hot in here?"

  7. THE best cure for a 'down-in-the-dumps' moment….a fantastic prepared meal like this one!! A++ for presentation! And I am sure by the sound of things A++ for taste! To me presentation is 50 % of a 'good meal'…if it looks good then it will go down easily.
    I have never seen a sardine that large!! I LOVE them and will try them with avocado next time.
    We loved gin martinis when Ron's Mom was alive…..much fun!

    1. Jim:
      If you like sardines, I'm sure you would love these. I almost liked them! I had never seen such large sardines or anchovies until I came here. And fresh! I thought they grew in cans and jars.

    1. I am studying booze this season – most of it so far is 'book learning', so gin and its type is on my mind . Someday when i am not so cheap, I may taste some of the finer ones.

  8. Once again: yum. I love sardines (just had a lunch of them last week), but the best ones I ever ate were in Madrid. The Spanish seem to know how to make them delectable.

  9. What a wonderful meal – and although I don't like 'fishy' fish either, I'd be prepared to give it a go there. I'm glad the warm welcome and the delicious food helped to lift your mood.x

  10. Reading these blogs from Europe with accounts of delicious food early in the morning before I've had breakfast makes me hungry! And I do like sardines and would love to have had your meal! You must be completely on Spanish time with dinner so late….

    1. Kristi:
      We are definitely on Spanish time … and arrived surprisingly easily. It's a challenge when friends and family visit from the States and want us to meet them for dinner at 7!

  11. If the mood and the food and the drinks and the atmosphere didn't cheer you up, I don't know what would.

    Looks dee-lish!

  12. Mediterranean cuisine is so wonderful. Particularly outdoors around ten or eleven after an evening of tapas and great talk. I may be talking myself into a trip!

  13. Wow! I've never been to Catalina. Those patatas bravas look amazing! We'll have to check it out for sure. When I came back to Sevilla in the summer of 2010, Antonio hooked me up with the microwavable packs of patatas bravas when had to work and I was on my own for dinner. Oh, Spanish microwave dinners… Today, I'm attempting to make salmorejo by myself for the first time. It looks super easy, so it shouldn't be a challenge…

    1. Catalina is incredible. And once you taste their patatas bravas, you will never nuke them again. I look forward to hearing about your success with salmorejo. Super easy? Everything's relative.

  14. The salmorejo turned out all right! I was short on tomatoes, so I should've used less vinegar, but overall it was a success! I also tried my hand at pumpkin puré and it turned out great! 🙂

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