Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Good Grub

So, I had this great plan to keep a journal during this trip and write down everything I ate and what the names were for things and other meticulous details. I would also take fabulous photos, and who knows, maybe publish this all in Gourmet. Okay, so at some level I knew it wasn't going to happen. My short-term memory seems to disappearing as I age (I'm only 30--I know--what'll I be like at 60?), and I can barely keep track of the foreign names long enough to order from the menu, let alone write about them with any confidence. Let's face it, one month of touring around a region hardly qualifies you as any kind of expert, even if you do pay careful attention to your environment and your experiences. Well, then there is the part about keeping a detailed journal. Every day when there was downtime appropriate for reflection and writing that was the last thing I wanted to do. Instead I chose to veg out, read a book or watch old 80's TV re-dubbed in foreign languages (for some reason The Love Boat is very popular in France). There were a couple of times late at night, when suffering from insomnia brought on by too much espresso, I thought out detailed passages to jot down in my journal. I could never quite remember my train of thought the next day, though.

So, I've already disqualified myself from writing any kind of informed, detailed culinary treatise on Southern France and Northern Spain. However, I did eat some really good food, some of which I actually remember.

A few noteworthy dishes:
#beautiful ripe strawberries with parsley ice cream (this was a dessert--weird but good)

#steak tartare with greens and crispy potatoes (must have been cooked in duck fat--yum!)

#white asparagus (nicely blanched, not mushy like we found in most Spanish restaurants) with green garlic, olive oil and balsamic

#a platter of homemade charcuterie: country pork pate, head cheese, and duck pate

#prunes in red wine with tart cassis sorbet

#salami made from donkey (tasted just like pork)

#a pot of rich, thick and luxurious papa al pomodoro (tomato-bread soup)

#a plate piled high with lovely, squeaky fresh haricot verts with hazelnut oil dressing

#"Catalan dessert" which was a custard, with caramel, nougat, chocolate and all kinds of goodness on the plate

#risotto with asparagus, fava beans, and goat cheese

#caille, curdled sheep milk with vanilla, cinnamon and honey with a yogurty consistency that came in a precious little ceramic crock

#a cheese buffet--it was like a salad bar but with dozens of amazing, perfectly ripe french cheeses (and no sneezeguard)


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