I guess I still can't get enough of these crazy churros. This was the caramel filled one from a little corner bakery in the Gracia district of Barcelona. Where is one made like this in the USA? I've never seen them stuffed with anything; just served the standard way, deep fried and sprinkled with sugar--Delicious? Yes...But mind boggling? Sars to letcha, no.
I guess the bottom line is that when you travel, especially to a culinary haven like Spain, everything looks, smells, tastes, feels, and maybe even is better. Just a stack of loosely piled eggs is like a work of art, practically screaming of freshness and simplicity~the two most important words in the food world. Fantastic, vivid images were every which way I turned in Barcelona~around every corner, in each charming shop, down winding no-cars-allowed streets and in every neighborhood market. You could never even attempt to do it all, see it all, or touch it all~ahhh, but you could try.
I mean, come on! What the hell kind of fruit is this? I didn't have a chance to sample it whilst in Spain, but I was able to snap a quick photo and then of course, wondered about it the rest of the day. What kind of silly fruit could this be? If anyone knows, please email me; I am sure a return trip to Barcelona and the famous La Boqueria is in order just cuz of this little creature.
Sweet Jesus...these little fried pastry doughs (in charming corner bakeries all over Barcelona) were my daily fix while there. I had never seen a churro stuffed with anything, and to find it oozing with cream, and chocolate, and caramel..it got a little nutty. The first time I saw them and bought one, I wasn't 2 steps away from the bakery when I took my first bite; I was just totally flabbergasted and so were the ladies behind the counter rockin' out on the deep fryer, when I came right back in (still with the first cream-filled churro in hand) and ordered another one...this one with sweet and creamy caramel. Just a true taste sensation~they sorta made doughnuts seem silly and useless.
For some reason, I thought Charleston, South Carolina was the answer to all my questions. Super-quaint, not too big, full of Southern charm, has a Slow Food convivium, and more than anything, positioned right on the Atlantic Ocean (I wanted somewhere I could keep a sailboat in the water year round).
Look at this little house! Who wouldn't want to come home to this? I'm sure this place was a cool million.
Ah, but what I quickly found out after a short trip there in Dec. was that :
A. It does get cold there (40ish in Dec.).
B. Just because it's in the South doesn't mean it's not expensive.
I guess you have to pay for all that cobble stoned history. Right in the heart of a historical district was a sign for a 3rd floor, 500 sq. foot apartment for sale for $350,000. That is just totally insane. Who even makes that sort of cash in Charleston??? The only true industry there is tourism and come on, what the heck??
Of course, slip fees for a sailboat were once again the cheapest, smartest way to go. $10 bucks per foot, per month (unlike LA, where my boat is at King Harbor Marina, you could be a liveaboard at a marina here for this amount per month--so, 35 ft. x $10=$350 per month) and you are right in the heart of it all. Livin' on a boat just looks better and better every place I go. And, the most important discovery of all~once you have lived on and explored the Pacific, the Atlantic just pales in comparison. Sorry.
What really prompted the Spain trip was tasting the mind-boggling hot chocolate at The Angel Food Bakery. I swear. I had to taste for certain the real deal and when I found an apartment switch on craigslist (free trade, clean and clear) with a couple from Barcelona, well...it was a done deal. As you can see from the picture, real Spanish hot chocolate is even thicker and chewier than I had anticipated--BUT, no matter where I had it, it was always a little less sweet than that at Angel Food (I like it super-sweet). Still though, it puts all other versions of hot chocolate that I have ever tasted to shame! I would guesstimate that I had about 2-3 per day. Good God, in retrospect, that is truly horrifying!
Really, the only place to live in Barcelona is Port Vell--a beautiful port that is cozied up to the best neighborhoods in the city and for just a fraction of the price of renting an apartment (slip fees are 300-800 Euro, whereas rent is 600-2000 Euro). You can hop off your boat and within minutes, you are deep in the heart of the hoods of El Born (the coolest area of Barcelona, with its narrow, winding alleys and picturesque tapas bars), Barceloneta (the old fisherman's quarters, right on the Mediterranean, and full of delish seafood restaurants), and more museums, Gaudi, Picasso, and Dali than you can take. The USA (as fantastical as it is) could never compete with the history, the cuisine, the seductive nature or the way of life here (in all its lets-take-a-siesta-for-hours-in-the-middle-of-the-day glory)!
Only in Barcelona, Spain could it hit me smack dab in the face--I don't know jack about food. I thought I did, I was certain I had it down pat...but after wandering the ailses day after day at La Boqueria (the main food market off of touristy Las Ramblas in Barcelona), and eating hundreds upon hundreds of tapas, I realized I am an utter novice when it comes to cuisine. That's all about to change, though. Spain was a groudbreaking trip in many ways~ I will unleash the discoveries over the coming days, as soon as I collect my overloaded thoughts. I can say this though--thank God I got that one off the list!