Sunday, July 29, 2012

Gin and Sardines

San Geraldo and I were a bit down-in-the-dumps last night (no special reason, just low energy), so he suggested we have dinner at Gonzalo's restaurant, Catalina, to perk ourselves up. It worked. First of all, it was a cool night. The first in a very long time. Once we were outside, we even debated heading back upstairs to change into long pants. It wasn't necessary. But it sure was nice to consider it.

MY GIN AND TONIC (LEFT) ... AND ITS LITTLE BROTHER.
MIXED DRINKS ARE POURED AT THE TABLE. THERE WAS A LOT OF GIN.

We had a fairly brisk 10-minute walk to Catalina, arriving around 10:30. We then decided to join the rest of the patrons who were sitting outside enjoying the comfortable temps. Gonzalo was there and greeted us with warm hugs and kisses, which immediately made our world a good place again. We were both in the mood for a gin and tonic, known simply as "gin tonic" here. San Geraldo doesn't drink much. Two or three sips is usually his limit. The drinks are ginormous (a large goldfish would consider the goblet a very generously proportioned home). I suggested to San Geraldo that he just take a few sips from mine. But he really wanted his own, so we asked Gonzalo for a very small one for Jerry and the usual large one for me. He understood perfectly.


SARDINES AND PEPPERS ON A BASE OF RUSK, AVOCADO, AND SAUCE.

Gonzalo told us about the specials that weren't on the menu. He started with sardines and laughed when he saw the expression on my face. Sardines have always been right at the top of my list — alongside anchovies — under the heading "Fishy Fish I Don't Like." But, as you may remember, I love Gonzalo's anchovies. So, I figured if there is ever a chance of my liking sardines, it would be at Catalina. We ordered them. They were beautifully presented on a slab of black slate. A dollop of diced tomato and a dollop of sauce to the side. The large sardine was, as it had been described by Gonzalo, served on a crispy slice of rusk, with a layer of sauce and fresh avocado between. It was beautiful. It smelled delicious. I took a bite. It wasn't bad. If you like sardines. San Geraldo loved it. You can't win them all (although San Geraldo won this round and didn't have to share). To be honest, it was the best sardine I've ever tasted (and that's not saying much). I'll stick to anchovies, but only at Catalina. I cleansed my pallet with a swig of gin tonic.

PATATAS BRAVAS.

"Patatas bravas" is a classic tapas potato dish. The traditional version is fried in olive oil and served with a paprika sauce. To me, they're just potatoes in sauce. San Geraldo loves potatoes and he loves sauce. I can take or leave potatoes. However, I can't leave Catalina's patatas bravas. Gonzalo explained to us that his are baked at very low heat for hours to absorb the olive oil and herbs. They almost melt in your mouth. He told us they had run these as a special and customers were coming back weeks later asking for them. They're now a permanent addition. Once you've had patatas bravas at Catalina, there is no need to have them anywhere else.

COUS COUS.  KISS KISS.  AND HOME TO BED.

So, after more hugs and kisses, San Geraldo and I walked home happy as clams (which were also on the menu).

46 comments:

  1. what a perfect evening. Glad you arent in the dumps anymore :)

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    Replies
    1. Monkey Man:
      Doesn't take much to perk us up. Just good food, gin, and company.

      Delete
  2. Gin and tonic is a perfect combination. In hot and humid weather I often have one of the smaller swimming pools drained and then refilled with gin and tonic and a few floating ice-swans and polar bears and penguins. Then I slap on the old striped bathers and pith helmet and doggy-paddle around in it until the urge to give a goes away.

    Those are some stylish places you eat at!

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    Replies
    1. The Owl Wood:
      Yes, I'm always surprised these stylish places let us in. Wait a minute... We sat outside!

      Sorry my gin-filled goldfish bowl wouldn't be large enough for the two of us.

      Delete
  3. Sounds like a great night, so envious. So much so in fact that I just asked my fiance if he can get a job in Europe. :)

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    1. Writer:
      Jobs? Didn't stop us! (So what if the money only last another three months.)

      Delete
  4. No thanks to the gin (got REALLY inebriated - make that drunk - on it about 45 years ago... never since!)... but darn! those sardines etc look fantastic! Hope the taste is as good as the presentation!

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    1. The Odd Essay:
      My downfall was tequila. The first and last time was 38 years ago. At Catalina, the taste is as good if not better than the presentation (sardines included I'm sure if you like that sort of thing).

      Delete
  5. Glad you had a good meal and a good evening! Sardines are not on my "edible" list either. My father used to eat them all the time when he lived with us; I couldn't even stand to rinse the can for the recycling bin! But maybe I'd try them at Catalina...........

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    1. Carole:
      I'm with you. They'd be worth a try here, though, but I have a feeling you wouldn't be won over.

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    2. I'd go for the gin and tonic though, or maybe a white Russian..........

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    3. Carole:
      Oh, I used to love White Russians!

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  6. Hello Mitch:
    Fresh sardines, not of course to be confused in any way with those dreadful tinned things [which do make a change for the cats] are, in our view, absolutely delicious. What a wonderfully relaxed evening you appear to have had with an excellent dinner to help things along.

    Here the heat is sweltering, as it has been now for the past week or so.

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    1. Jane and Lance:
      Yes, the tinned ones are definitely worse. But I just don't like "fishy" fish. (Our cats turned their noses up at tinned tuna.)

      It's another beautiful night again, but the temps were over 40 during the day and there's more of that to come. I wouldn't mind a beach!

      Delete
  7. Se me hace la boca agua.

    saludos,
    raulito

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    Replies
    1. Raulito:
      I'm sure you would absolutely love it.

      Delete
  8. I love potatoes and your description of the patatas bravas made my mouth water! I may have to try making them after it cools down enough to use the oven.

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    1. Ms. Sparrow:
      The patatas bravas are so good that Jerry and I talked about going back just for a snack of those.

      Delete
  9. I like, like, like! I'm very interested in the patatas bravas. I'd love to try them sometime (of course, chez Catalina!).
    I understand Jerry's desire for having his own drink, even if he won't drink it all. I don't really drink (alcohol) at all, because I guess I just never like the taste or the effect, but sometimes I just really want to join in the fun of "having a drink". Something refreshing sounding like a gin tonic baby size could do the trick :)
    Judy

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    Replies
    1. Judeet:
      They should serve up mixed drinks in thimbles for the likes of you and The Dowager Duchess. She takes one sip and then suddenly fans herself asking everyone else, "Does it feel hot in here?"

      Delete
  10. THE best cure for a 'down-in-the-dumps' moment....a fantastic prepared meal like this one!! A++ for presentation! And I am sure by the sound of things A++ for taste! To me presentation is 50 % of a 'good meal'...if it looks good then it will go down easily.
    I have never seen a sardine that large!! I LOVE them and will try them with avocado next time.
    We loved gin martinis when Ron's Mom was alive.....much fun!

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    Replies
    1. Jim:
      If you like sardines, I'm sure you would love these. I almost liked them! I had never seen such large sardines or anchovies until I came here. And fresh! I thought they grew in cans and jars.

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  11. Replies
    1. Spo:
      I think it was Citadel. But I wasn't specific when I ordered.

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    2. I am studying booze this season - most of it so far is 'book learning', so gin and its type is on my mind . Someday when i am not so cheap, I may taste some of the finer ones.

      Delete
    3. Spo:
      I always find hands-on, practical experience a much better teacher, don't you?

      Delete
  12. Love Spanish food but I just can't get used to eating that late at night.

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    1. Stephen:
      We adjusted very quickly. No earlier than 9 in winter, and usually 10 or after in summer. Many restaurants don't even open until 8:30.

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  13. Once again: yum. I love sardines (just had a lunch of them last week), but the best ones I ever ate were in Madrid. The Spanish seem to know how to make them delectable.

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    1. Walt the Fourth:
      Sadly not a taste I have, but I can appreciate the huge difference in them here. Nothing like Mama used to make.

      Delete
  14. What a wonderful meal - and although I don't like 'fishy' fish either, I'd be prepared to give it a go there. I'm glad the warm welcome and the delicious food helped to lift your mood.x

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    1. Elaine:
      The great meal was simply icing on the cake (screwy use of a metaphor). The greeting from Gonzalo was all that was needed.

      Delete
  15. Reading these blogs from Europe with accounts of delicious food early in the morning before I've had breakfast makes me hungry! And I do like sardines and would love to have had your meal! You must be completely on Spanish time with dinner so late....

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    1. Kristi:
      We are definitely on Spanish time ... and arrived surprisingly easily. It's a challenge when friends and family visit from the States and want us to meet them for dinner at 7!

      Delete
  16. If the mood and the food and the drinks and the atmosphere didn't cheer you up, I don't know what would.

    Looks dee-lish!

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  17. So envious. That is all.

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    1. Nubian:
      Wish I could produce joy instead of envy!

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    2. Envious in a good way. xox

      Delete
  18. Mediterranean cuisine is so wonderful. Particularly outdoors around ten or eleven after an evening of tapas and great talk. I may be talking myself into a trip!

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    1. Will:
      For me, even better when the tapas ARE dinner.

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  19. Wow! I've never been to Catalina. Those patatas bravas look amazing! We'll have to check it out for sure. When I came back to Sevilla in the summer of 2010, Antonio hooked me up with the microwavable packs of patatas bravas when had to work and I was on my own for dinner. Oh, Spanish microwave dinners... Today, I'm attempting to make salmorejo by myself for the first time. It looks super easy, so it shouldn't be a challenge...

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    1. Catalina is incredible. And once you taste their patatas bravas, you will never nuke them again. I look forward to hearing about your success with salmorejo. Super easy? Everything's relative.

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  20. The salmorejo turned out all right! I was short on tomatoes, so I should've used less vinegar, but overall it was a success! I also tried my hand at pumpkin puré and it turned out great! :)

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    1. Brittany:
      We are obviously not in the same league when it comes to kitchen skills. Pumpkin puree. Wow. I wash dishes.

      Delete

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