Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Monday

It’s the final five days, and we’re definitely on the verge of losing our minds. Our apartment is a disaster—we’ve sold our bed now; at least we still have a mattress. Things are stacked and piled all over the place, trash along with the give-away bags, scrap paper along with important documents. It’s a mess. It’s hard to even be here. We’ve been trying to spend as much time away from the apartment as possible. Today, Tuesday, is Andrew’s birthday—31!—yet he has to spend the day in Madrid for an interview; I plan to vacate the premises asap and head to the playa with a book.

All this stress is fueling our appetites. Yesterday, Monday, we had lunch at a place we’ve been wanting to try since we moved to this apartment—Bar Mut. It’s just a block up from us, and we’d read about it in the New York Times. It’s a tiny place with an eclectic assortment of seating; there are even two chairs by a piano, with the covered keys serving as the table. They have a variety of tapas and raciones. Andrew and I had gazpacho; small pieces of steak with cheese and a date on each slice; and bites of salmon each draped with a ribbon of mango, a purple flower petal, and three salty orange fish eggs. Everything was delicious, though the presentation was a bit more precious than we generally like—we’re both fans of street food, local places, basic regional dishes, simple, good food.

For dinner, we went to Le Relais de Venice—one of our favorite restaurants in Barcelona (with outposts in London and Paris as well), a birthday gift from Andrew’s parents. Le Relais is a great place. There’s no menu—the only thing they serve is steak frites. When you go in, the only question you’re asked is how you’d like your meat cooked, and what you’d like to drink. We quickly ordered a bottle of wine (Andrew had seemingly broken our only remaining clothes rack right before we left, sending all our hanging clothes sliding to a pile on the floor; stress was at a peak). Then the meal began. The first course: a salad with a mustard vinaigrette and walnuts. And then the steak and frites, perfectly prepared, absolutely delicious. But here’s the best thing about Le Relais: just when you start getting sad that you’re almost finished eating, you’re given another serving of steak and fresh, crispy frites. While you eat the first half, they keep the second half warming on a tray nearby. It’s really the best part, that piping-hot second serving.

For dessert we had a fabulous cheese plate. Amazing, generous portions of cheese. Cheese for me is a true comfort food, with calming qualities that even rival wine. We finished the meal with chocolate-drenched profiteroles. Then we came home to our chaotic mess of an apartment. Just a few days to go…

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