27 May 2010 – Our Last Day in Spain: Dali, and our Best Meal

Today is our first non-Parador breakfast and it was OK, too.  We headed out to walk to the Theatre-Museo Dali and went in the wrong direction.  We were rescued by a girl and her mother who walked us all the way to the museum.  They were Moldavian, and she is here to study and works as a cashier in some kind of food place.

The museum met our expectations and even more.  There are two tall courtyards designed by Dali, and several floors of walkways around the yards, and rooms and alcoves behind the walkways.  Each area brings out a different Dali, or one the artists he favored, and gave space to.  There were visual tricks of every kind presented, and many wonderful paintings and sketches as well.  There were two galleries of gold sculpture as well.

I couldn’t begin to describe the visual treats and surprises we found, so I will just let the pictures speak for themselves. [As it happened, before I downloaded my pictures, I lost my camera, so  these pictures are Internet versions of pictures I actually took.]

Teatro Museo Dali

Persistence of Memory - At the museum there was a large tapestry version of this painting.

Dali and Cat

This is a ceiling mural showing Dali from his feet up.

After the museum and a little shopping,

The Last Supper

we found we had enough time to visit the town of either Vikafont or Besalú on the way to the Airport Hotel.  We chose the latter based on Fodor’s description which mentioned a wonderful Romanesque bridge, and a very special restaurant, Els Fogon can Llades, on Prat de Saut Pere 6.  We were welcomed by the owner’s wife, and he came over to explain our meal.  There was no menu, but he described the several courses we were going to have, and there were no alternatives.  He said there were two desserts and I assumed we would get our choice, but no, we had both desserts.

We started out with the usual, for Spanish restaurants apparently, three delicious bites sized servings, and he specified the order in which we were to eat them.  1) two kinds of fish on large toothpicks stuck in an apple, 2) stuffed cherry tomatoes  3) a clam for each of with the natural taste  of sea water, with a bite of tuna in soy sauce which he called sashimi.  All delicious, especially because we ate them in the order specified, no doubt.

He offered me the wine list and suggested a red wine, the most expensive half bottle on the list, at over 30 Euros.  I tried to order another choice but he would have none of it.  It had to be the Castilla Sajahawa. What surprised me was that it was just about the best wine I can remember having, and I usually can’t tell a great deal about a wine that am tasting.

The next dish was scallops served over chopped truffles in potato soup.  That too, was excellent, and I was silently wishing for more, and Teresa offered me the rest of hers, although she, too, liked it.  I finished hers gratefully.  I remarked to myself that he seems to salt thinks just right.

The next course consisted of a shelled prawn for each of us, on skewers served in a flute.  A good taste and presentation.

The final course consisted of a few bites of stewed beef with seasoned grapes served standing on their cut off ends.

Our host was Chef Jaume Solé, in pony tail, jeans, and a white shirt, and helping him was his wife, Bàldro Buitrago.  The people at the next table looked interesting, maybe entertainers, and I asked our chef about them.  It turns out that a mayor from a big city in Colombia had come to ask him to come to his town for a special event.  He indicated that he was going to have to turn him down due to schedule conflicts, or maybe it was just that he was too busy.  He then told us he gets invitations to cook from all over the world, and he does it.  He told us of one group of seven families who had met on a tour which included his restaurant, and they liked his cooking so much that he comes to their homes and cooks seven meals in succession.  I asked him where he learned to cook, and he said that he taught himself.  He’s had this restaurant 14 years.  He enjoys his work, I would say.

It was time for dessert and I tried to order café solo, which is espresso, to be served with my dessert, which is how I like it, especially when I am traveling.  “Oh, no, you can’t do that.  I will teach you how to eat!”  He explained that both his desserts were studies in contrasts. He also instructed us not to drink water or wine while having these desserts. The first was vanilla ice cream over hot sweetened goat cheese, a temperature contrast.  It was good, but the second one was even better.  On a long plate he served mango sherbert, a coconut something, and a piece of pineapple.  At the other end of the plate was a scoop of spicy seasoned chocolate ice cream, a little hot.  Our instructions were to eat something from the sweet end of the plate, and then the chocolate ice cream to get the contrast.    The contrasts worked.  Jaume understood quite well why I like coffee with desert, but in this case it was definitely not needed.

It was finally time to go on to the Renaissance Hotel near the airport, but to my surprise Miss Nüvi did not come up with the hotel name, but were able to use the address as a destination.  It turns out that she was expecting the name to be spelled Reinaissance, and so there was no match.

The hotel is very modern, and walking down the curved hallway is like being on a Star Wars set.  We had a light snack in the café downstairs, but the service was really slow, a first for our entire trip.

We set a call for 6  AM and went to bed for the last time in Spain for a while.

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