I had quite a time trying to post this quite some time back, and I’m finally getting around to breaking it up to try and find the problem. This one will be split into several parts.
Written: Saturday, May 26 at 17:30
We did have an absolutely marvelous hike today through some beautiful country that reminded us quite a bit of the hills in Colorado. The slopes were thick with wild lavender and all manner of other flowering bushes – all yellows, whites, purples, reds, and blues. Because of where we stayed, we braved a couple kilometers of narrow highway walking and visited the small town of Castrillo de Polvazares, which is a bit off the main beaten track. It had the most artistic cobbled streets we’ve seen and seemed rife with very fine looking restaurants – if only we’d come through a bit later in the day.
Last night’s menu de peregrino from the same rip-off establishment did get us thinking that we’ve been going about this eating thing all wrong. It’s been pretty easy and relatively cheap to simply pop into whatever local place is offering the standard three-course menu de peregrino, but sometimes the food just isn’t so good. The two exceptions have been the beautiful restored parador in Villafranca and the great place with the surprise paella.
By contrast, we stopped for lunch today in Rabanal del Camino, where we ended up having a nice run through of the options and a little of what we’ve been missing by not knowing what or how to order. We popped into a little bar that was part of a larger hotel, and I first ordered a slice of empanada that did not look all that bad under the tapas bar. I have not had the Spanish version of empanada, which is quite different than the Mexican ones we once learned how to make in a cooking class in Puerta Vallarte. The empanallda turned out to be horrible in this case! I wandered around a little bit and determined that the place, the La Posada de Gaspar, also has a restaurant. We went on in there after I choked down the rest of my awful empanada and ended up with a lovely meal. We ordered something from the appetizer menu described as scrambled eggs, because we were both hungry for eggs. It ended up being a brilliant scramble with green beans, asparagus, red peppers, an assortment of wild mushrooms, shrimp, and scallops. It was marvelous! We finished lunch with two steaming pots of sopa de ajo (garlic soup). It was fantastic and should be quite good for our taxed immune systems.
So, the first lesson there is to look for the restaurant. Bar food is bar food the world over, I guess. We’ve had some decent tapas here and there, but it’s mostly been mediocre at best. Tonight, we picked up the most wonderful food smells from the restaurant right next door to the albergue and hotel where we are staying the night. The place looks like a complete wreck from the outside, but the inside is quite different. It is in an old stone building that has been nicely done up inside. Most of this town is falling apart with just a few places along the way that have been restored or at least partially fixed up. The menu in the restaurant looks delightful, and we look forward to what promises to be a fine dinner in another hour. We are hopefully finally learning the ropes more on where to eat.