Monday, June 26, 2006


The northern and eastern regions of Spain are well-known for their cuisine, and we took every opportunity to taste the local specialties. We didn't eat a bad (or even a less-than-great) meal the entire trip, but two meals stood out among the general happy feasting. The first was when we found ourselves on a Sunday in a town a bit smaller than we'd expected, where nearly everything was closed. We found one small store where we could buy ingredients for dinner that evening, but the bakery next door seemed to be closed. When we asked the store owner if there was anyplace we could buy bread, she stepped out into the street and called to a man strolling a half block away: "Pacoooooo, come open the bakery!" Paco responded graciously and brought us an enormous loaf of fresh-baked bread. Emboldened by our success, we asked if there was anyplace nearby open for lunch, and store-lady recommended a place just down the hill, past the school on the left - usually it's closed on weekends, but this was a festival weekend, so fortunately for us it was open. Oh, so fortunately! I had fresh asparagus and venison in a rich grape sauce; awesome sister-in-law had grilled lubina (a sweet white fish, not sure what it's called in English), and the Left-Wing Intellectual enjoyed serrano ham with pimientos del padron and a thick steak. Two courses each, with wine and coffee and dessert (oh, that dessert warrants a whole separate post), for which the total bill was about $25 each. (We went back to thank the store-lady afterwards.)

Awesome SIL took a picture of that lunch, so I don't have access to it yet, but below you may behold Superlative Meal #2, enjoyed in the little medieval town of Ainsa. Notice the stone walls: we're in the wine-cellar of the restaurant, cool and quiet, with plates of duck, bull-tail stew, and more lubina. (Faces blurred to protect the crucial pseudonymity of the LWI on the left and ASIL on the right. The food will have to fend for itself.)

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