It’s about time! / ¡Ya es hora!

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

I SPOKE WITH THE KID Brother last night. We connected at 11:00 on the dot, 5 in the afternoon his time. Of course, his roommate Chris answered the phone. Like San Geraldo, The Kid Brother has a secretary. When Chris gave him the phone (he was standing right beside him), instead of saying “Hello,” he said, “Well, it’s about time!” I knew what he meant. He was impressed that I phoned him on the correct day at the precise minute. I said, “How do you like that, Chuck? It’s Tuesday and I’m right on time.” He said, “Yeah, I noticed! You got it right this time!” It was a pleasant conversation. He’s hoping the bowling alleys open soon, so he won’t miss his bowling season, especially since his softball season was cut short.

Last week’s call was a bit challenging. He was having a difficult time accepting I wouldn’t be there to visit in September. But we got through it, although I lost a couple of night’s sleep. I worry, often unnecessarily.

OUR ANNIVERSARY (#39) DINNER at Mesón Salvador was, of course, a pleasure. The food was excellent, as usual. The service, perfect. We feel like members of the family — and we’re always told we are. When we’re there, we’re home.

For our chupitos (after-dinner drinks) Adrián started us with something special, Ponche Caballero. A traditional Spanish liqueur, it’s a blend of Spanish brandy, oranges, plums, sultanas, cinnamon, and other dried fruit and spices. It was delicious. San Geraldo didn’t like it. I told Adrián we adore Pionono (from a village outside Granada and only served in Fuengirola at Mesón Salvador). He said he thought we might like a change sometimes. I told him it was a waste of time. He brought me Pionono. It was delicious. Next time we’re there, I’m asking for Ponche Caballero — for a change. SG never has more than a sip anyway.

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ANOCHE HABLÉ CON EL HERMANITO. Conectamos a las 11:00 en punto, a las 5 de la tarde su hora. Por supuesto, su compañero de apartamento, Chris, contestó el teléfono. Como San Geraldo, El Hermanito tiene una secretaria. Cuando Chris le dio el teléfono (estaba de pie junto a él), en lugar de decir “Hola”, dijo: “¡Bueno, ya es hora!” Sabía lo que quería decir. Le impresionó que le llamara el día correcto en el minuto exacto. Le dije: “¿Qué te parece eso, Chuck? Es martes y llegué a tiempo”. Él dijo: “¡Sí, lo noté! ¡Lo hiciste bien esta vez!” Fue una conversación agradable. Espera que las boleras se abran pronto, para que no se pierda su temporada de bolos, especialmente porque su temporada de softbol se interrumpió.

La llamada de la semana pasada fue un poco desafiante. Estaba teniendo dificultades para aceptar que yo no estaría allí para visitarlo en septiembre. Pero lo superamos, aunque perdí un par de noches de sueño. Me preocupo, a menudo innecesariamente.

NUESTRA CENA DE ANIVERSARIO (# 39) en Mesón Salvador fue, por supuesto, un placer. La comida era excelente, como siempre. El servicio, perfecto. Nos sentimos como miembros de la familia, y siempre nos dicen que lo somos. Cuando estamos allí, estamos en casa.

Para nuestros chupitos, Adrián empezó con algo especial, Ponche Caballero. Un licor español tradicional, es una mezcla de brandy español, naranjas, ciruelas, pasas, canela y otras frutas secas y especias. Estaba delicioso. A San Geraldo no le gustó. Le dije a Adrián que adoramos a Pionono (de un pueblo en las afueras de Granada y solo servía en Fuengirola en Mesón Salvador). Dijo que pensaba que a veces nos gustaría un cambio. Le dije que era una pérdida de tiempo. Me trajo a Pionono. Estaba delicioso. La próxima vez que estemos allí, estoy preguntando por Ponche Caballero, para variar. SG nunca toma más de un sorbo de todos modos.

• My olives. Mesón Salvador always has the most delicious olives. These were made with rosemary. Even San Geraldo, who hates olives, thought they smelled wonderful (and nothing like olives).
Mis aceitunas. Mesón Salvador siempre tiene las aceitunas más deliciosas. Estos fueron hechos con romero. Incluso San Geraldo, que odia las aceitunas, pensó que olían muy bien (y nada como las aceitunas).
Our fried cod.
Nuestro bacalao frito.
San Geraldo’s ribs and chips (French fries, obviously).
Costillas y patatas fritas de San Geraldo.
My steak and vegetables.
Mi solomillo de ternera con verduras.
Adrián.
Tarta de la Abuela (Grandma’s cake).
Café con leche.

Ponche is Spanish for punch.
In 1830, José Caballero, came south from Galicia and started mixing up the traditional northern queimadas (a homemade liqueur) with other ingredients, for his family. It became so popular that the family began to sell it in 1917

En 1830, José Caballero, llegó al sur de Galicia y comenzó a mezclar las tradicionales queimadas del norte (un licor casero) con otros ingredientes, para su familia. Se hizo tan popular que la familia comenzó a venderlo en 1917.

Ponche Caballero.
Pionono (similar to Bailey’s Irish Cream, but so much better).
Pionono (similar a Bailey’s Irish Cream, pero mucho mejor).
Heading home to begin our 40th year.
Regresando a casa para comenzar nuestro 40º año.

Lockdown Day 85: When Spanish Eyes are Smiling / Encierro Día 85: Cuando Los Ojos Españoles Sonríen

La versión español está después de la versión inglés.

DINNER AT MESÓN SALVADOR! WE met friends, Elena and Tynan, and the “kids,” Paula and Alexander. Paula put aside her studies and Alexander, a lifeguard, came directly from working the beach all day.

The food was everything we had remembered. The service, the same. And the company could not have been better. José (the boss) was behind the bar while Adrián and Lolo charmingly worked the floor. It was reassuring to see the restaurant so busy.

The seafood case was a work of art. San Geraldo ordered grilled borriquete. We had never heard of the fish, but it looked good. José said it was similar in taste and texture to dorada. SG loved it. It turns out its common English name is “Rubber-lipped Grunt,” which is obviously why it’s known as borriquete. It’s on the left in the photo below.

I had a tragic moment at the end of dinner. We were served our chupitos (after-dinner shots) of Pionono, similar to Bailey’s only SO much better, and only available from one little village outside Córdoba. Mesón Salvador is the only place we know that serves it. Anyway, I was halfway through my chupito when I knocked it over. It was heartbreaking. Adrián saw how devastated I was. I figured he’d give me a refill. But he didn’t. He simply put the bottle on the table. I wonder if he noticed it under my shirt when we left the restaurant.

He may have been too preoccupied. Elena had told him that since we couldn’t see his charming smile through his mask, he needed to smile more with his eyes. He spent quite a bit of time on that, primarily because I kept asking for another take. As you’ll see below, he finally gave up on the smiling eyes and instead gave me the stink eye.

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CENA EN MESÓN SALVADOR! CONOCIMOS a amigos, Elena y Tynan, y los “niños”, Paula y Alexander. Paula dejó de lado sus estudios. Alexander, un soccorista, vino directamente de trabajar en la playa todo el día.

La comida era todo lo que habíamos recordado. El servicio, lo mismo. Y la compañía no podría haber sido mejor. José (el jefe) estaba detrás de la barra mientras Adrián y Lolo trabajaban en el restaurante con encanto. Fue tranquilizador ver el restaurante tan ocupado.

El caso de mariscos tenía muy buena pinta. San Geraldo ordenó borriquete a la parrilla. Nunca habíamos oído hablar del pez, pero se veía bien. José dijo que era similar en sabor y textura a la dorada. A SG le encantó. Su nombre común en inglés, “Rubber-lipped Grunt”, significa “gruñido con labios de goma”, por lo que obviamente se conoce como borriquete. Está a la izquierda en la foto de abajo.

Tuve un momento trágico al final de la cena. Nos sirvieron nuestros chupitos de Pionono, similar a Bailey pero mejor, y solo disponible en un pueblo a las afueras de Córdoba. Mesón Salvador es el único lugar que sabemos que lo sirve. De todos modos, había bebido la mitad de mi chupito cuando lo volqué. Fue desgarrador. Adrián vio lo devastada que estaba. Pensé que me daría una recarga. Pero no lo hizo. Simplemente puso la botella sobre la mesa. Me pregunto si lo notó debajo de mi camisa cuando salimos del restaurante.

Puede haber estado demasiado preocupado. Elena le había dicho que, como no podíamos ver su encantadora sonrisa a través de su máscarilla, necesitaba sonreír más con sus ojos. Pasó bastante tiempo en eso, principalmente porque yo seguía pidiendo otra toma. Como verán a continuación, finalmente renunció a los ojos sonrientes y, en cambio, me dio el ojo apestoso.

My just dessert (I was the only one to have any): Milhojas (similar to a Napoleon).
Mi postre justo (yo fui el único en comer): Milhojas.

Ronda: I’ll Never Stop Saying Maria

Our first day in Ronda, I asked someone at our hotel (Enfrente Arte) for some lunch recommendations. After she mapped out several places, I asked where the locals go. “Ah,” she said, and then marked two areas of town, west and east. We were planning to walk east through the oldest part of town, so we set a place called Casa Maria as our goal. It was outside the old city walls, which meant it was outside the usual touristed areas. We never would have ended up there on our own.

PLAZA RUEDO ALAMEDA.

Casa Maria is a simple-looking place along a street bordering the expansive Plaza Ruedo Alameda. There were tables out on the plaza and just a few tall tables inside the narrow bar/restaurant specializing in tapas. We were welcomed warmly and, after we ordered our drinks, the owner asked if we would like to try “un poco de todo,” a little of everything. We agreed and began our trip to Spanish tapas heaven.

We went through bread, vegetables, and cheese courses and, although a meat course was about to be prepared, we stopped after the seafood because we simply had no more room.

I’ve done the best I can to describe the different dishes (which, remember, is the same as cooking in my world). Click the images to make your mouth water. Then get to Ronda, if only to check out Casa Maria.

TOMATO, GARLIC, SALT… AND STUFF.
ARTICHOKE,  HAM… AND STUFF.
(I DON’T THINK I’VE EVER HAD ARTICHOKE THIS DELICIOUS.)
ASPARAGUS, SALT, OLIVE OIL…  AMAZING.
FRIED GOAT CHEESE, STRAWBERRY MARMALADE.
WE THOUGHT WE WERE DONE…
BACALAO (COD) PEPPERS, TOMATO, ONIONS…
(I LOVE BACALAO. THIS WAS THE BEST I’VE EVER HAD.)
SCALLOPS IN A SORT OF BECHUMEL… I THINK.
THE CHARMING AND TALENTED FAMILY… WITH THEIR OWN LABEL.
JUDY OUT FRONT AFTER LUNCH…
WITH OUR GIFT BOTTLE OF WINE!

[Casa] Maria, say it soft and it’s almost like praying.

I Eat, Therefore…

CHEF GONZALO,
PRE-BEARD.

For someone who doesn’t cook, I sure do a lot of writing about food. If I’m not careful, I might soon start dicing and slicing (although that’s highly unlikely).

The other night, San Geraldo and I decided we needed a bit of a pick-me-up, so we took a walk over to our favorite restaurant, Catalina (Casa de Comidas), where we had another perfect meal and some tender loving care.

As usual, we started with Chef Gonzalo’s special creation “rollitos.” Another dish we usually order is a rich, dark risotto. And we like to try at least one new dish from the daily specials. This time, Albert, manager and charmer originally from Barcelona — (as opposed to my friend Albert who doesn’t work at Catalina, so is just a charmer originally from Sweden) — told us about an artichoke special that sounded delicious. Artichokes — lightly battered, delicately spiced, and lightly fried — with a side of mayonnaise and curry sauces. It was kind of like tempura (which I love), only different… and oh so much more interesting.

PASSING PLAZA DE LA ENCARNACIÓN ON OUR WAY TO CATALINA CASA DE COMIDAS.
SAN GERALDO REMOVED LAYERS AS WE WALKED.
ALCACHOFAS (ARTICHOKES) BY GONZALO.
ANOTHER “BEST I’VE EVER HAD”!
SOME DIE-HARDS STILL ENJOYED PATIO DINING DESPITE “FRIGID” 11C/52F NIGHT-TIME TEMP.
SANDRA SERVING. SHE WANTS ORDER FORMS FOR US WITH ROLLITOS PRE-PRINTED.

We stayed so long, we closed the place. A couple of veritable party animals. By the time we walked home, all the Christmas lights had been turned off in town. We’ll be back there on the 21st. They’re hosting an evening of music, dancing, and more good food. I’ll have to get a new photo of Chef Gonzalo. He’s grown a beard, but he says it’s only temporary. He told me, “Now you and I look alike.” I told him, “In my dreams.”

THE VIEW FROM THE BALCONY THIS EVENING. SWEET DREAMS.