We are back on the road in Spain to celebrate Don’s birthday. Destination: Marbella for golf along the Costa del Sol. Traveling in the middle of winter there is little need for advanced reservations, giving us the freedom to just start and decide later what comes next.
Our first stop, Barcelona, is an easy four hour drive from Alès, France with little traffic. We visited this colorful city just last May and we’re returning to visit one of our favorite restaurants, Ca l’Isidre. On a Thursday evening the restaurant is quiet, just a couple of locals and one other table of foreigners. The tranquility gives us a chance to chat with our favorite waiter Pep, who describes the dishes in well thought out English with an understated enthusiasm and charm.
Spanish truffles from Teruel, northwest of Valencia, are in season. We are presented with a large truffle filled jar from which we take in their powerful earthy aroma before ordering. Just one whiff and you know what you’ll be having for dinner. The only question remains, “how do you want them prepared – with eggs, fettuccini, risotto or on warm beef carpaccio?”
One of our favorite wines, Lalama from Dominio do Bibei (DO Ribeira Sacra from Galicia) which we had discovered on a previous visit. An inexpensive, crisp and complex wine that is pleasant change from the usual bold fruity wines we drink in southern France. In typical Pep fashion, he talks about the relationship the restaurant has with the wine producer and gives a short history of the founder, Javier Dominguez of the Adolfo Dominquez family, whose fortune came from the design label of the same name. Well funded, the winemaker has reclaimed long forgotten vineyards and produces wines that consistently earn high ratings from Robert Parker and other wine reviewers.
Tasting the wine our thoughts are transported to Galicia in the northwest corner of the country and Pep cheerfully offers us the opportunity to visit the winery. “You can eat the best and cheapest seafood in Spain there” he exclaims, as if we needed further incentive.
And to end the evening with a little something sweet, wild strawberries from a greenhouse producer just outside of Barcelona. Summer sweet and served with vanilla ice cream.
Happy Birthday Love!