In 2019 Phil and I visited his cousin, Sandra, in Raiano, Italy. We talked about traveling and she said when she travels through Europe with friends all they do is “eat, eat, eat and walk, walk, walk,” and said in her Italian accent was extra charming.
Phil and I don’t have a car in Spain and we purposely chose a very walk-able city. If I had to sum up our time spent here thus far, it would be exactly as Sandra had said, eating and walking. It’s the best. Yesterday, we walked to the Red Cross to sign up for the free Spanish classes they offer. It was a 40-minute walk from our apartment. They closed at 2pm (14:00 in European time) and we left at 12:45, so we had to walk with purpose.
We arrived in time and I let the Senora at the desk know we wanted to study Spanish and did they have classes? “Queremos estudiar espanol. Tienes clases?” (thanks Duolingo!). She indicated they did and we would need to sign up. They hold the classes once they have enough students. I had read this online and knew this is how they scheduled the classes. Phil’s Spanish comprehension is (currently) much better than mine, and he confirmed that’s what she’d indicated. We gave her our names (good thing we had our US driver’s licenses on us. I know the Spanish alphabet but spelling out our entire names seemed unnecessary and a little anxiety inducing). We don’t have Spanish phone numbers yet so I asked if she could email us. She indicated she would and I wrote down my email address. What a pleasing interaction! Learning Spanish is our number one goal while we’re here and the fact that we made progress toward this goal and I was able to communicate in Spanish to do so, felt really good. Now it was time to EAT!
We stopped in a cute pizza place we’d passed on the way (https://www.pizzerialacompetencia.com/). We each had the menu del dia which included two courses, beverage, and desert. For the first course we ordered the caprese salad and ham croquettes. The caprese was beautiful: slices of lovely red tomato and mozzarella drizzled with bright green pesto and drizzled with olive oil and vinegar. The ham croquettes are everywhere and we’d had them before. Phil is a big fan. They are very good but quite rich so one or two does it for me. The croquettes are golden, fried, and filled with jamon, onion, garlic, and bechamel sauce (or mashed potatoes). What’s not to love? As with everything in Spain, it was also served with a basket of delicious bread. So. Much. Bread.
We shared the pizza de casa and the lasagna bolognese. The pizza had a nice thin crust and the cheese browned to perfection. The sauce ratio was on point as well. Toppings on the house pizza were tomato, mozzarella, bacon, cabrales cream and oregano. The pasta was so tasty as well. Not really a traditional lasagna, more a deconstructed one with penne, bolognese, bechemel, and Parmesan covered in bubbly, browned mozzarella and served in it’s baking dish. The extra bread really came in handy for soaking up all of the left over sauce and scraping the browned cheese stuck to the edges of the dish. For desert, a small piece of crust-less cheesecake with raspberry sauce and whipped cream. We paired the meal with a couple of San Miguel lagers and finished with a shot of limoncello. This was common in Italy and once we saw the bottle in the cooler, we knew what we had to do. A long walk home followed and I fell asleep immediately.
Now it may seem odd that the first post I’m writing about our dining experience in Spain is an Italian meal but as a nod to Sandra and her eat, eat, eat and walk, walk, walk travel philosophy, it seemed appropriate. Like the waiters say when they serve the meal, Buen provecho!