Wednesday, June 06, 2007

último día en España

The last day in Barça, Suta and I checked out the Parc Güell where Gaudí created some of his most bizarre architectural wonders. In addition to the surreal buildings and sculpture, you get a panoramic view of Barcelona. It was a beautiful, clear day, and it finally gave me some perspective on where I was, and how much of the city I had yet to discover.

After Parc Güell, we meandered through side streets until we hit Passeig de Gracia, where more of Gaudí's buildings stand. There's one called Casa Mila, which was inspired by a quarry and some of the hills of Monserrate. Then there were the three houses of Discord, or something like that, where three modernista architects designed unreal buildings side by side. Barcelona definitely wins for creativity. This is in no way a minimalist city as far as architecture goes.

Then it was off to La Sagrada Familia, the massive cathedral designed by Gaudí until his life ended in a fatal accident with a streetcar. Suta and I decided to take it easy and admire it from a nearby plaza with gelato and horchata, the Spanish version made with tiger nut instead of rice.

But... the highlight of the day was our dinner! We headed over to a trendy part of town called the Born, where a friend had recommended a tapas restaurant called Santa Maria for its originality. Suxata and I thought we would make it an early night, but when we didn't leave the house until 9 pm, and didn't arrive at the restaurant until 10 pm, and were told that there were no available tables and to return in 30 minutes, we actually didn't sit down until (drumroll please) 11 pm, por supuesto! We had a good laugh about the service because it was laughable. The kitchen was open and we observed all the cooks downing cervezas one after another before we were even offered an aperitif. Of course we don't want to be perceived as the ugly Americans demanding quick service, but come on, there is a limit folks! Finally after about 20 minutes of being ignored by passing waiters and waitresses, we ordered everything at once because we figured we had only this one chance. Here is what we ate, and I wrote it down because it was the most memorable meal we had in Espana (apart from the one I cooked myself):

Sardinas Marinadas con yogurt y curry (marinated sardines with curry)
Sushi al reves de camaron y verduritas (softshell shrimp sushi)
Ensalada de nectarinas, parmesano y frutos secos (nectarine salad with nuts)
Calabacin relleno al horno con gorgonzola (zucchini stuffed with gorgonzola)
Palometa con pure de alcachofas y picada (roasted fish with artichoke puree)
Higado de pato con ensaimada de cabello de angel (this was all Suxata la Xara... I don't do liver)

and finally, for dessert


Suta and I were pleasantly surprised by this creamy vanilla mousse with raspberries. When we lifted the first spoonfuls to our mouths, at first we wondered what was so special about this dessert recommended to us by our waitress, and why the gothic name. After a few seconds on our palate, I suddenly I heard something crackle and pop, and my mouth felt like there were some interesting explosions happening that reminded me of my youth. Get your minds out of the gutter... the secret ingredient was poprocks! Suta told the waitress a la Rachael Ray, "Es como una fiesta en mi boca!" (Translation: Party in my mouth!)

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