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12 hours, 3,360 miles away, a young American restarts life in Lyon. And then Paris. The shocks, French mishaps and the endless eating. Every day a new discovery.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

World Different part 2: The Real Gastronomy Capital

I didn't believe the waiter when he told us the list of food that was available on the menu, and moreso the fact that it was only 15€ for the appetizer, main dish and dessert as well as wine (unlimited), entrance salad and toast combo with fresh charcuterie.

I remember coming home last Friday and dreading the reading on the scale.  The 128.5 flashed and burned into my brain and I thought, where did I gain 3 lbs from in 2 weeks? Looking back at this restaurant the answer became depressingly clear.

He listed off the names of the items in rolling Spanish, myself only listening for the things I really wanted to order. Rrsshh blaah blaahhh, rlshshh, blah, Gazpacho, sshhh.

"Gazpacho por favor".

Now onto main dish,

Psshh, rrrssiii, possifh, bacalao con all i oli...

"Bacalao para mi".

Rosado.

One thinks that because a menu is a mere 15€, the quality would be moderate.  The gazpacho arrived, a giant bowl, placed at my fingers.  I took one bite and was in heaven.  How could this little local spot have such amazing food for so cheap?  Well, it wasn't on the sea, it was mostly a spot for locals of Alcossebre and they reflected the prices that local people could pay.





With every course I ate, every fresh seafood product, each paella I chowed down and tapas that I exploded in my belly... I decided that Spain, especially the Catalunyan Region, should be the gastronomic capital of the world.  How could it not?







There are pork legs dried and strung everywhere in every corner of the streets, the paella has this soft subtly and a hint of saffron.





Seafood is captured fresh each day by local fisherman and delivered, hand delivered to the local restaurants.

There are scams, don't get me wrong, there were restaurants we visited where we were disgusted at the price... but when the delights were found it was 10x better than my favorite Lyonnaise restaurants.





The tapas.. how can something as simple as a grilled piece of toast with some smeared on tomatoes and garlic taste as fabulous as it did?





They don't do cheese well, but the one cheese they have mastered is by far the best- Queso Manchego.  Creamy in texture, deep in flavor, it melts in the mouth and offers a beautiful taste of a local product.

I remember that although the Paella Marisco was to die for, I was perfectly happy eating toasts with local charcuterie, queso manchego and chilled rosado wines.

This sparkly bubbly wine was a treat at the Con Paixano, pictured left, where we gorged on sandwiches, bubbly and queso manchego.  I think that was 1 lb there.








How is it all so amazing and yet so un 'haute cuisine' like in France? Simply put, the products.  Spain has the most incredible products, you can't drink the water from the faucet, granted, but those tomatoes made me drool.  They had chips that were fried in Olive Oil giving them this taste that I'd never had before- so much I smuggled a bag in my backpack to France.




I think next time I'll shoot to gain 5 lbs.  We only live once- right?

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