Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day 3- Into the Groove

It didn't take long for us to settle into the slow pace of life in Nerja. Nothing opens before noon and so we don't miss mush except the sunrise by sleeping in.

The coffee here is too strong for my taste. The only redeeming quality about it is the giant mountain of whipped cream that comes on top of the cappuccinos. There is no drip coffee anywhere in sight- it's all made from an espresso machine. After adding a packet of pure sugar and mixing the whipped cream in, it's drinkable. Gives me the shakes- and you all know I'm all about the good stuff. Life is just too short for bad coffee.

After saying hello to all the regulars at the beach, we settle back into the next chapters of Kon-Tiki and Animal Farm. Just after Old Major calls a meeting with all the farm animals, it's time for lunch!

We split boquerones en vinagre, melon y jamon de serrano and the fish of the day, the giant Groper from the display case which comes with a delicious baked potato! Tasty!

After the 2nd round of coffee for the day (I learned my lesson after this), the friendly waitress brings out 4 shots of caramel vodka in chilled shot glasses. Eeeyah! Tastes like medicine!

Every few minutes someone will walk by trying to sell you stuff. Africans come across and sell anything from sunglasses, musica, DVD popular, soccer jerseys, wooden carvings and jewelry. Locals sell sundresses and sarongs. There is a Chinese woman who gives EXCELLENT massages (although she got in trouble with the police for not having a permit so she had to stop) and 2 old Spanish men who have been there since Alex can remember selling a selection of fruit yelling "Tutti Fruiti" and delicious hot salted almonds.

The people who sell the sarongs have come up with an entertaining way of displaying their merchandise. Twice a day they come to the same spot in front of our beach chairs. After laying out their props, he'll ring a bell to get everyone's attention. Then, the fashion show begins!! He and his young helper model several sarongs and demonstrate ways to wear them. They literally STRUT up and down the beach as if they were on a runway. It's an entertaining performance... and IT WORKS!!! By the time the bell rings to signify the end of the demonstration, women from all directions rush up to get the best pick. They have a simple business plan and make a killing!

 After getting some work done at Kronox, we head back to the apartment to freshen up for dinner. Tonight we were going to a fish restaurant. It doesn't look like much- it's mostly outdoor seating and a bar inside. Even at 10PM it's still light out so it feels much earlier than it is.

For starters, we had fried anchovies, fried baby fish that looked like minnow (which I had to decapitate) and delicious fresh scallops served in the shell which were prepared Pil-Pil style in a garlic oil concoction. Fresh tomato salad and papas fritas with salt and vinegar were passed around the table. For the main course, we all had another local specialty, a whole sole doused in lemon juice. After removing the head, I actually enjoyed de-boning the sole now that I know how. First you cut down the middle then along the top and bottom. Pull the meat from the middle out, and remove it from the rest. The meat slides right off the bones!

After enjoying 4 bottles of red wine between us, we joked saying we should have order the Jeroboam instead. The waiter brought out complimentary Baileys shots and dark chocolate squares with ice cream inside. Oh yeah!
After a delicious meal, we wandered back to the main square and resumed our usual spot at the Mediterraneo Cafe. The men had Carlos Primeros and we all enjoyed people watching and the cool evening breeze.

Someone noticed a picture of Katie, Vanessa and Francesco the owner or the cafe on the wall. It was taken a year before, at the Spain vs Portugal World Cup game! Too funny!

The wind and waves were stronger than night and every few minutes a wave would crash as high as the largest cliff under the Balcon. The view from the apartment is priceless and soon it'll be a full moon!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Day 2- Cumpleaños de Ricardo Bueno

Jet lag from West to East is a doozie. With a 7 hour time difference, it took several days for me to adjust.

I was faced with the opportunity to eat fresh Sardines. Although I try to be open minded about trying new foods, I'm not a fan of anything with a head and eyes on it, so luckily these came in an eatable form for me! Pam demonstrated how to eat them, and since it was "Pam approved," I felt at ease :)  I've now come to realize that just about anything tastes good with fresh lemon squeezed on top! First you take a few nibbles then peel back the bones from the top end and remove them. You can even eat the tail if you choose.

For the main course we shared Almejas de Carril which are large clams specifically from Carril, Spain. They are prepared with a white wine lemon garlic oil. I also found another favorite dish, Gambas a Pil Pil which are shrimp in a delicious chili oil. Both sauces are amazing! Perfect for dipping your fresh bread in!

After a relaxing nap on the beach, we began the birthday festivities for Richard. Grant had a bottle of nice cava delivered to the beach. What a nice way to celebrate!

I am managing things at work while I'm out so I started the weekday routine of logging on to wifi and taking care of business. I was able to get enough done in a two hour window- my early evening, their afternoon. I was very fortunate to be able to travel so checking in once a day was a fair compromise. Kronox Cafe in the main square has "tankes" of beer, tapas with Spanish olives and Manchego cheese, free wifi, and lots of people watching available. Not too shabby! I absolutely LOVE tapas! It's a small portion and perfect for a light meal or snack. Bliss!
For the birthday dinner, we went to the top rated restaurant in Nerja- Sollun. It was probably the best dining experiences I have ever had. Not only was every bite irresistible, but Chef Juan Quintanilla adds a personal touch to the experience. He passionately describes his recommendations and will even bring out the cut of meat and illustrates how he will prepare it. The restaurant is quaint with maybe 8 tables, and he and his wife walk you through each step of the meal. He personally takes your order, rushes back to the kitchen, and hand delivers a delicious work of art on each plate. He is quickly on his way to a Michelin Star.