Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Habla espanol?

Morrow de bacalla amb fons de'espinacs amb allioli suac at 4 Gats
My last day in NYC was spent with a friend I've known since kindergarten. Virginia left Rawlins to seek her fortune in New York as soon as high school ended. She is an artist and designer, master swimmer and scuba diver. What a treat it was to have someone--almost a native--show me around her part of the city. Since she has become involved in the Slow Food movement and shops most every day at the famous NY Farmer's Market, she was eager to also show me some of the speciality shops with their offering of cakes, fish, cheese. It was simply amazing to wander through Chelsea (saw General Theological Seminary), Soho, Greenwich Village, Flatiron, etc, all places I've read about, but never seen. We also walked the Highline which is a community movement to make a walking path and narrow, long park where an elevated railroad once ran. Eventually we ended up at Mari Vanna, a new Russian restaurant where I enjoyed a cold soup with an impossible name that uses rootbeer as the base. Her sorrel soup was much tastier, but not nearly so much fun.

The flight to Barcelona was easy with good films to pass the time. Then welcome to Spain! In my efforts to get adjusted quickly to the time change, I checked into the hotel and found a hop on/hop off bus tour. It was a great way to get the lay of the land and to see some of the famous spots. I particularly enjoyed seeing Sagreda Familia, the unfinished church, designed by Gaudi. It is an amazing piece of architecture with holy symbols, words and columns, chimneys, towers inspired by nature. One of the exhibits had photos of plants and animals, accompanied by his drawings, models of plaster and photos of the finished work. After seeing that, it made touring the church that much more enjoyable. The carvings dedicated to the Nativity were simply amazing.

We toured much of the Olympic (1992) Village, the stadium for the Barcellona Futbol Team which inspired some other tourists to join in singing the Barce song, and the world class harbor. The Queen Mary 2 was in port, Barcellona is the leading city for cruises.

In the evening I wandered through Las Ramblas to find the legendary Cuatro Gats (4 Cats) where Picassa and other artists used to hang out. Barcellona is famous for its salt cod and I enjoyed a wonderful cod loin sauteed spinach and alioli. Yummy and pretty, too. I got a kick out of ordering my whole meal in Espanol and having some Canadian tourists ask me if I could speak English, so they could get help ordering their meal. Too funny.

Today, I enjoyed tours of the Jean Leon winery. He was an associate of Frank Sinatra and started La Scala in Hollywood with James Dean. This winery was founded just to provide specialty wines for the restaurant. It's a big exporter around the world now since being purchased by the Torres family conglomerate. We also toured a huge exporter of Cava, the sparkling wine of Spanish origin. It is some kind of abundance to see 1.5 million bottles of wine in one cellar, just letting the yeast settle, and another couple of million in other states of production.
So, all is well, as I settle into the tasting part of this time. Tomorrow, begins a cooking class at the Catacurian School. Where do I see God? in the amazing artistry of cathedrals and churches as the special gifts of talented artists are offered? Where do I taste God? in the variety of new dishes. (and in a cup of Starbucks late in the day when my hotel's coffee maker didn't work for breakfast--as the deer panteth for the water, I was desperate for coffee) in the face of a fellow tourist who was on leave from her 2nd tour in Iraq and is headed to Afghanistan in November. She was of good humor as she enjoyed this brief leave and we toasted her rest, recuperation and hopes for peace.


  1. Hello Marilyn: I enjoying your daily entries and savoring the descriptions of food, beauty and adventure. You've got me thinking about ways I can renew myself in semi-retirement. I spent the Labor Day weekend in your peaceful home with Tom and enjoyed looking at all the pictures you have. Your sense of adventure and wonder is everywhere, there. Your are in my daily prayers. Charlotte Neyland

  2. I am salivating at the descriptions of the food -- can't wait to hear about the school. Thanks for keeping us posted.

  3. Always wondered about salt cod! Barcelona sounds beautiful..I'm going to do a search for Sagreda Familia so I can see, too. Many blessings, M

  4. How marvelous, Marilyn. You are in my prayers (and I pray not to be jealous of you). Taimi