Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Great weather, good food, and many laughs when old friends visit

Blogging has taken a backseat lately since we have been busy with a visit with very old friends. We met them off the train in Figueres and immediately whipped them off to our favourite tapas bar Lizzaran. After lunch, it was time for them to tour the Dali museum. It was perfect as there was no line up. Then it was home to El Port de la Selva.

We continued our tourist trail to Perafita winery for a little wine tasting. The tour was quite captivating since the girl that showed us the vines and the wine making process had not given any tours before and certainly not in English. She did an excellent job practicing the English she learned at school in California and Virginia. Then we drove to the easternmost point on the Iberian peninsula, the Cap de Creus, followed by a walk on the old Club Med site, where everyone admired the stunning rock formations created by erosion from the wind and sea. Unfortunately, our friends couldn't get in to see Dali's house in Port Lligat because it was fully booked. By now we were hungry so it was off to the Nautica in El Port de la Selva for a lovely lunch, even though it was four o'clock. I enjoyed a wonderful piece of grilled turbot.

On Friday we visited our local market. It was Easter, and the weather was warm, making this one of the busiest days of the year. The village changed from tranquil to summer-busy overnight. Unfortunately, the ATM ate my bank card and did not produce any cash. After spending what seemed like an endless amount of time on the phone with my bank, once being cut off, the next time speaking to someone who was clueless and finally ending up with a supervisor, some of the problem was resolved. After being kept on hold listening to ghastly music and being asked to spell my name over and over for the bank person, I finally lost it, much to everyone’s amusement. I said this guy was a f.....g moron, which broke everyone up. I was on hold at the time. Later in the day we were all a little more genteel referring to the person as a FM.

Once my blood pressure reached normal numbers we headed off to the Greek and Roman ruins at Empuries. We never tire of visiting this site, and marvelling at just how clever and advanced these early traders were. By now the sun was definitely over the yardarm so we drove to the nearby lovely little town of St. Marti d'Empuries for a wonderful and much needed pitcher of sangria.

On Saturday we started out our day as usual at the Nautica for coffee. After a walk into the village for some shopping, we headed off to Compartir, the restaurant run by three former chefs at El Bulli, which was the best restaurant in the world. We were really fortunate to book a table as they are so well known now. It was even busier than the Port but soon we were sitting outside at Compartir drinking one of the best drinks I have ever had. It was Campari, vermouth and blood orange juice with a foam on top accompanied by little cones of corn nibblies. Compartir means to share so when ordering we kept this in mind and ordered four starters. The first was a tuna cannelloni carpaccio, which was a lovely red in colour on a sauce of all different colours. Delicious. This was followed by mild-tasting sardines in another lovely sauce. Thank goodness there was plenty of bread for mopping up. Next came the lightest cod croquettes accompanied by a honey foam. As I am writing this I am salivating. The last starter was my favourite, a small bowl with a poached egg covered with the lightest of light potato cream and truffle oil. Oh my! All this served with an excellent local white mildly sparkling wine.

For main course we shared a rice dish with white and dark sausage and trumpeter mushrooms. The sauce was so flavourful and the dark sausage was to die for. Our second main course was rabbit ribs and artichokes in a very light batter with aioli sauce.

We managed to save a little room for dessert. The first was a tiramisu with very flaky chocolate. In fact our friend remarked that it resembled a Cadbury's Flake. Since I'm not really a chocolatey dessert person it wasn't really to my taste but the second dessert certainly was. It was called omlette surprise and what a surprise it was. A plate appeared on the table with what looked like a meringue loaf. Once we dipped into in the mouth watering coconut meringue we uncovered the tasty crunchy, anis, mint cookie and mango and pineapple. This dessert was superb. The food was really outstanding and my description doesn't really do it justice.

We wandered around Cadaques and saw more people there than we had ever encountered before, especially along the promenade. However, the walk was really enjoyable. The day wasn't that warm but there were visitors from northern climes lying on the beach. No Spaniards would be caught there for another month or two.

On Sunday we drove up the mountain to the Monastery of Saint Pere de Rodas. The broom, lavender, poppies, euphorbium and even wild orchids were in bloom as we walked up the path to the monastery. We all enjoyed walking around the old church, food storerooms, refectory and the tower overlooking the Port below. I like it because it gives you a better sense of just how people here lived in times gone by.

A leisurely lunch was followed by a trip into Figueres, where we bid a sad farewell to our friends. We hope we have enticed them to return with our tales of nearby places to visit up the coast in France and local walks in the Alt Emporda. Bon voyage Pat and Ed. We hope you return soon.

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