Well, after some crazy and stressful flight-missing and rescheduling in Chicago, F and I have finally returned safe and sound to our dear (and 60-degree!) Emerald City. I will post about the remaining days of our Catacurian adventure this week, and probably will post some photos after that of our travels throughout Spain. We had a fabulous and super-fulfilling time overall, and look forward to returning soon–especially to our new favorite city, Barcelona.

While you wait on the edge of your seat for the remaining scoop on Catacurian, I invite you to enjoy three of our favorite Spanish travel lessons:

1. Regional vocabulary differences can have interesting results. Case in point: The famous dish callos madrileños. Callos, in many parts of Latin America, can mean “scallops.” We learned that, in Madrid, callos actually means “tripe.”
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Sorry for the delay, folks – We’ve left lovely Barcelona and are now in Madrid with dear friends we haven’t seen in nearly 9 years! I hope you didn’t give up on hearing more about our adventures!

Day 3 at Catacurian was just as marvelous as Day 2. I had a good night’s sleep, and didn’t wake up once (let’s hear it for dissipation of jet lag, woot!). We were off and running from pretty early in the day to go see a teeny stretch of 80 year-old Grenache vines. Alicia’s friend and accountant Jaume had created a teeny-tiny winemaking outfit called Ficaria, which comes from the word for “fig” in Latin and Catalán. He was a delight to chat with, and the view over his small vineyard was stunning.

The view from Jaume's parcel of 80 year-old grapevines


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Sorry, folks, I haven’t forgotten! More to come soon, I promise…All with Catacurian got better and better, and I spent the one night I was flying solo in Barcelona in the company of a lovely 70-something man who served as my gallant and oh-so-respectful tour guide. Love the architecture, love the faces of the people, don’t love quite so much the hot, humid weather, but first impressions are delightful so far. Fernando arrived yesterday and we went out with old friends whom we hadn’t seen in a long time, and today we’ll be doing some touristy things before heading out to a “casa del campo” where our friends will spend the weekend – so we’ll get to see a bunch of different things. I have not forsaken those of you who are anxious to hear more about our cooking adventures – stay tuned!! oxox

Some 80-year old grenache vines and grapes to tide you over till the next real post

Lunchtime brought yet another marvelous meal. We began with an appetizer of tiny peppers stuffed with goat cheese, and more cured meats: jamón ibérico, salchichón, and chorizo.

The main dish was a savory rice dish served with tiny monkfish. The monkfish is the hideous gelatinous-looking fish that you see in the fresh fish display at the Pike Place Fish Market. You may recall the monkfish as the one that, when children or elegant ladies approach, lips curled, to more closely examine how disgusting the darn thing looks, the guys behind the counter quickly pull a cord attached to the fish’s mouth, making it appear to “snap” at whoever is nearby and scaring the bejeezus out of the ladies or children.
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Day 2 in Catacurian began early for me – I didn’t sleep well, and kept waking up. Finally I threw in the towel at 5am, and got up to sit outside on the balcony to take in the morning. As the sun came up, the light crept over the countryside, and looked gorgeous. It was a beautiful morning.


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Post-siesta, and more-than-a teeny-bit-jet-lagged, all of us awoke with a pretty heavy head. Nevertheless, we soldiered downstairs and found this scene. Alicia was ready for us!

Ready to cook!

Each station had a cutting board, two knives, an apron, a dishtowel, and a cold glass of iced water. That iced water was especially nice, since temps that first day hit 100 degrees and we all felt a little wilted.
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Once we took a few minutes to freshen up, it was time to enjoy a Catacurian-style welcome lunch.

On the menu: Fresh figs; apple paté and green peppercorn paté; rosemary manchego cheese, an incredible local goat cheese, and some other kind of cheese.

Figs, fresh off the tree

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