Sunday, February 19, 2012
Today’s agenda includes a visit to La Matandeta to help Ofelia celebrate her birthday. Here is a link to Episode 12 of SPAIN: ON THE ROAD AGAIN where Mario and Gwyneth visit La Matandeta. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYs9TFaEibQ&feature=related
We had hoped to get together with Pepe yesterday, but as things turned out he had had a late night on Friday and did not get up until late in the afternoon. As it turned out, his brother was coming for a visit last night so that meant that we would not be getting together. He wondered if today would work, but, alas, we had a previous engagement with Brian and Ofelia. The good news is that there’s always next week.
Since we had not heard from Pepe we went out in search of lunch. We were in the mood for something other than rice since that is on today’s menu. We ended up at La Comisaría and, once again, that turned out to be an excellent choice. We were greeted by Carlitos, our new Facebook friend and we took our seats near the window where we still had a view of what was going on in the kitchen. I ordered a beer and, to my great surprise, Susan ordered one too and we enjoyed the cold refreshing brew while we ate some olives and studied the menu. Our goal was to order dishes that we had not tried during our last visit.
We started out with tomate valenciano con tres texturas. The dish consists of sliced fresh tomatoes, topped with chopped marinated tomatoes and a tomato foam. Who knew tomatoes could taste that good? Our second dish was lomo de bacalao al pil pil – a loin of fresh cod that was gently coated and pan fried and just incredibly tender and flavorful. Our next dish was carrilladas de cerdo – pork cheeks that were glassed and served with poached potatoes. The meat was incredibly tender and tasty and there was a great interplay between sweet and savory. Dessert was a cake that was served with fresh strawberries and an almond infused foam. The dish was topped with the Spanish equivalent of Pop Rocks and it added an aural dimension for this treat for the eyes and the taste buds. We finished the meal with coffee and a liqueur. In sum, we had two beers, three glasses of wine, three dishes, dessert, coffee and a liqueur for the grand sum of 35.60 Euros.
Watching Carlos cook one immediately becomes aware of his passion for both food and cooking. He is like an artist as you watch him compose the elements that will be put on the plate. Each element is carefully arranged on the plate and all herbs and sauces are artfully arranged. Each dish is a treat for the eyes and the palate. I think that the passion of the chef in these small restaurants that we continue to encounter is what makes the experience so memorable. It occurred to me that when you go to a named chef’s restaurant in Los Angeles or Las Vegas, unless the chef himself is cooking that night, what you are eating is his recipes prepared by someone who is not necessarily passionate about the food he is cooking. Mario Batali’s recipe prepared by someone other than Mario Batali does not necessarily produce the same result that Batali gets.
The rest of our day was very relaxed. We snacked on some ham and cheese and we watched a DVD. It was a Spanish film called “Primos” and it was a very silly comedy with the expected happy ending. It was the perfect light fare for a Saturday evening. Here is a link to the trailer and the good news is that it has subtitles. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xfxj6a_primos-official-trailer_shortfilms We did not get to bed until 1:00.