Saturday, October 09, 2010

On Zaragoza, Baby Eels

So, in terms of food, Barcelona was awesome. Amazing even. Everything I ate was incredible. It was like everything was turned up a notch. So good I couldn't imagine going back to living in Sydney and eating just “good” food.

But all good things come to an end. And they did this time too. Ironic.

From Barcelona we headed to Zaragoza, which I think is Spanish for “nothing is ever open but, hey, we sure have a lot of useless fountains around the place, did you see the fountain?”. Granted, we were there on a Sunday and Monday. But still... so many things were closed.

One day I finally found some stores selling cheese and meat. But when I went back around lunch time to purchase some to eat, THEY WERE ALL CLOSED. They close for around two hours for lunch, and then only open up for an hour or two afterwards WHEN YOU ARE NO LONGER HUNGRY BECAUSE YOU ATE AN ARTICLE OF YOUR CLOTHING OUT OF DESPERATION LIKE A LAME MAN VS WILD EPISODE.

So Zaragoza was pretty much two days of finding tapas bars, wondering where to go when the tapas bar you wanted to go to was closed, eating decent tapas, waiting for things to open and sitting in the hotel room drinking the pedro ximenez left over from Barcelona, and the grappa left over from Rome.

One place did stand out. I forget the name of it, but we hit it up for dinner on the second night. It looked pretty unassuming, but when we got the starter of a selection of eight tapas, we knew we were in store for something... assuming?

Each tapas was an interesting creation or had a twist on a classic/traditional dish. One that stood out was stuffed calamari on toast. The reason it stood out was because on top was fried baby eels. I'd heard about these but had never seen them before. They're so tiny, about the size of a matchstick, and have an interesting texture that's a little like spaghetti and a subtle fishy/eely tasty.

My main was interesting. A fillet of beef topped with shaved, frozen foie gras and potato chips. It reminded me of the sort of thing you'd see at a super-innovative restaurant elsewhere. But here it was being served in a small bar in a city like Zaragoza.

It was a nice dish, but the execution didn't match the concept. Eating steak with potato chips just felt... wrong. And that was the story with the tapas too. Great ideas, but a little bit short of perfect.

Still. A good impromptu meal and pretty decent value. It was innovative cuisine without the prices.

And that's all I'm going to say about Zaragoza.

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