Something Clean

Question asked by San Geraldo while he worked on his latest New York Times crossword puzzle:

“Do we start with a clean PLATE or a clean SLATE?”

“Personally, I always start with a clean slate,” I replied. “Starting with a clean plate could involve “cooking”!

Here’s what our plates look like at Meson Salvador — before we clean them.
(Click the images to be completely “satisfied.”)

PARILLADA (BARBECUE).
A COLLECTION OF MEATS FOR 2; COULD EASILY SERVE 4.
(COSTILLAS) RIBS.
CORDERO (LEG OF LAMB).
ALBONDIGAS (MEATBALLS).
BACALAO CON ROMERO (COD AND ROSEMARY)
ON A BED OF POTATO MOUSSE WITH GRILLED VEG.
TARTA DE QUESO (CHEESECAKE).
I AM A NEW YORK-STYLE CHEESECAKE PURIST NO LONGER.
TARTA DE CHOCOLATE FILLED WITH DULCE DE LECHE.
TARTA DE CHOCOLATE.
DESIGNED BY ADRIÁN FOR SAN GERALDO.
SOME OF THE MESON SALVADOR TEAM
CELEBRATING ALEJANDRO’S (2ND FROM LEFT) BIRTHDAY.

A clean slate can be good, too…

Cazuelas and Abuelas

Today ends Fuengirola’s annual restaurant event called “La Cazuela de la Abuela,” which means “Grandma’s Casserole.” Sixty-three restaurants participated offering their own special tapa-size casserole. All I needed to do was sample five and I could then vote for the best, and get entered in a great prize drawing. Except for sampling Meson Salvador’s entry, we missed the rest of the competition. But it doesn’t really matter because, in my humble opinion, Meson Salvador is always the best at everything anyway.

LEFT TO RIGHT: MY MATERNAL, HIS MATERNAL, HIS PATERNAL, AND MY PATERNAL GRANDMOTHER.

On the subject of abuelas and casseroles, my paternal grandmother died when I was very young. All I remember was her coaxing me out from behind my mother’s back by giving me candies from a cut glass bowl — raspberry hard candies with liquid centers. I, therefore, loved her.

My maternal grandmother was an amazing cook, but I don’t remember a single casserole.

San Geraldo’s paternal grandmother was born and raised in South Dakota, so I’m sure she made plenty of casseroles in her time. However, in South Dakota, casseroles were called “Hot Dish.” At a potluck supper, people were told to bring “Hot Dish” — not “a” hot dish, but “Hot Dish.” As Jerry’s Norwegian maternal grandmother would say, “More funny America.”

(Click the pics to make your mouth water…)

ABUELA (GRANDMA) OUT FRONT PROMOTING THE EVENT.
LA CAZUELA DE LA ABUELA. DELICIOUS!
(POTATOES, A VARIETY OF FRESH MUSHROOMS, AND CRUNCHY HAM).
TRADITIONAL SPANISH POTATO TORTILLA.
BREAD THAT WAS SIMPLY TOO GOOD.
REBANADA ESPECIAL.
(BREAD SLICE TOPPED WITH OLIVE OIL, IBERIAN HAM,  AND QUAIL EGGS.)

Beyond the exceptional food and atmosphere, what makes Meson Salvador the best in the world is the staff. They call us “family” and they mean it. After a recent meal, Adrián brought us our complementary chupitos (shots of liquor). They serve “Pionono,” similar to Bailey’s Irish Cream only a whole lot better.

Since San Geraldo rarely drinks alcohol, Adrián brought him something non-alcoholic, a blackberry (mora) beverage. It’s what they serve to children. San Geraldo made a face when he tasted it, so Adrián got a straw and helped him drink it.

SAN GERALDO AND ADRIÁN.
I ASKED SAN GERALDO TO MOVE HIS HAND OUT OF THE WAY FOR MY PHOTO.
THIS IS HOW TYNAN AND ELENA HELPED.
THAT’S WHEN I TAUGHT ADRIÁN THE MEANING OF THE ENGLISH TERM “SMART ASS.”

Deliciousness … and Crap

Chef San Geraldo hasn’t cooked dinner at home in months, not since before we headed to New York in August. The mood just hasn’t been right. But, Tuesday morning he decided it was time to change all that. (Click the images to make things really delicious.)

THE DELICIOUS DUDO AND MOOSE BEING FLASHED DURING THE NIGHT.
DUDO’S NATURAL EYE-LINER.

He roasted a chicken, sauteed gorgeous mushrooms, steamed some fresh vegetables, and even made a cranberry apple chutney from cranberries picked up at Ana Crespillo’s market. Unlike the huge bags of seasonal cranberries we used to buy in the States, cranberries here come in tiny little containers and cost a small fortune. A major treat.

My stomach started to feel a little funny (and not ha-ha funny) early in the afternoon. Maybe it was the excitement of the dinner to come. By Tuesday night when the beautiful meal was prepared I had already spent my time either on the pot or in bed and there was no way I was going to be eating anything. San Geraldo had to go it alone. I drank water.

CRANBERRY APPLE CHUTNEY… WHAT’S LEFT.

I spent almost the entire day in bed Wednesday. I did have a small piece of left-over chicken in the afternoon. That night? Toast.

Today has been a better day. I’ve had breakfast and lunch. San Geraldo made grilled ham and cheese sandwiches on brown bread. We topped them off with the cranberry relish. Delicious.

And, so far so good.

For someone who is the picture of fitness and health (according to me), I sure have had a crappy (and not just figuratively) couple of months! Before my “heavy cold” in January that lasted two weeks and turned out in fact to be the flu, I spent a week with terrible digestion woes (explosive) as a result of an adverse reaction to a medication. But that’s all behind me now! (Ahem…)

Anyway, back to the subject of delicious: A couple of things I enjoyed before the creeping crud hit.

TARTA DE MANZANA AT RESTAURANTE PRIMAVERA.
(APPLE PIE/TART.)
TARTA DE QUESO AT MESON SALVADOR.
(CHEESECAKE.)

Cranberry Apple Chutney Recipe
SAN GERALDO USED MORE THAN 8 OUNCES OF FRESH CRANBERRIES INSTEAD OF CRAISINS.

A Matter Of Size

I have finally found a chocolate truffle that’s the perfect size for the limits of my appetite. Amazingly, the chocolate is made by Lindt and, as you can see from the photo, one fits perfectly in the palm of my hand.

(Go ahead, size queens, click the images.)

While we’re on the subject of size and quality, Meson Salvador re-opened after an 8-week renovation project that left nothing of the original restaurant except the amazing staff and food.

Elena’s birthday was in November but we decided to extend the celebration, so we had another birthday dinner at Meson Salvador Thursday night. Our waiter, David, gave Elena the royal treatment. She ordered ribs and he made sure they were super-sized.

After dinner, Elena asked for a teensy bit of cinnamon ice cream for dessert. David got carried away but provided a size-appropriate spoon.

Did you know that cinnamon is considered (by some) to be an aphrodisiac? Elena happened to mention that. It was news to the rest of us. We all dipped our spoons in her ice cream.

Sorry, We’re Closed

This is the time of year when many restaurants around town take a break. It’s the slowest season, so a good time to close for a month. This year, Meson Salvador, our home away from home, is doing a major renovation and will have been closed about 7 weeks by the time they reopen next week. Abrevaero was closed for a month and returned last week. (We’ve already been there four times.)

FIDEUA PASTA GAMBAS.
(A SEAFOOD DISH FROM THE COAST OF VALENCIA)

Our adored friend Jessica is moving on to her new career in events planning and won’t return to Sandpiper when they reopen after Christmas. It won’t be the same without her (exemplified by the fact that most customers call the place “Jessica’s”).

CHULETON A LA PARILLA (RIB STEAK ON A HOT STONE PLATE).
THAT’S ME DOING THE COOKING!!!

We’ve been complaining — a lot — that “everything” is closed. As you can imagine, we suffered terribly having only Santorini (Greek), Primavera (Italian and Spanish), Bing (Asian Fusion), and a handful (or three handfuls) of other places to go.

I CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT IT’S CALLED.
I ONLY HAD IT FOR DESSERT THREE TIMES LAST WEEK.

Just click the images to see how great has been our suffering. (If I remember what it is, I’ve told you below the photo. If I don’t remember, don’t ask; that would be cooking.)

LIMONCELLO FOR DIGESTION. (I SHARED.)

OUR FRIEND PEDRO MUST HAVE BEEN WORRIED ABOUT US.
HE COOKED A CARE PACKAGE OF COCIDO (STEW).
PUMPKIN MUFFIN (CARE PACKAGE) BY PEDRO.
WE ATE HIS PUMPKIN PIE BEFORE I COULD GET TO MY CAMERA.
PEDRO REALLY CAN COOK!