Intermezzo 7 - Xurros

We had our fair share of churros (Catalan: xurros) on our recent trip down the east coast of Spain - from convenience stores, to fast food chains, to dedicated churrerias run by aged members of the Gremi de Artesans Xurrers de Catalonia (yes, it exists). Our favourite rendition was served at a small storefront in Barcelona's El Born district - a friendly and unassuming husband-and-wife team with more than 40 years of experience run Xurreria Layetana.

Locals drift in and out for coffee, hot chocolate, or piping hot churros. Freshness counts - the old man was continuously frying up small batches of churros and porras (a larger, yeastier cousin). The texture of the churros here was remarkable - lighter than every other place we tried. No need for sugar on these - the light sweetness of the dough suffices. And that chocolate... nearly thick enough to hold a spoon upright. The damage? €3 - a steal for a breakfast of this quality.

Xocolata amb xurros - Xurreria Layetana, Barcelona, Spain (2014)

Quique Dacosta - Dénia, Spain

Lunch - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Quique Dacosta (the man) exudes an air of derring-do. He's a rakish charmer, a raconteur. But that concentration - his thoughtful, serious side surfaces quickly and we are plunged deep into a discussion about his cuisine and its place in the web of things.

Quique Dacosta (the restaurant) is a reflection of its patron. Four hours from Barcelona in the holiday town of Dénia, it is a disarming space - modern yet rooted in history (it was previously owned by his father-in-law). The servers are relaxed, and it is their consummate professionalism that sets diners at ease (the GM, Didier, gets a special mention for being a true credit to his profession).

Our party of five arrived at the restaurant for a 1.30pm appointment - the first of the day. The shaded patio was inviting in the heat of the Spanish afternoon - our meal, the "Tomorrowland" menu, began there.

Assinatura - Lisbon, Portugal

Dinner - Friday, October 3, 2014

By and large, the food we ate in Lisbon was cheap, but not particularly great. For example, a meal at the lauded Cervejaria Ramiro was only ~120 Euros (for 5!) and certainly better than anything we might get in San Diego, but it paled in comparison to seafood spots in Barcelona (is this just a cultural preference on our part?)

Our luck improved on our last night, with dinner at the fancifully decorated Restaurante Assinatura. I happened across it as a one-time mention on Chowhound, and it is evidently not on the Michelin Man's radar - too bad for them. Melodramatic waiter aside (and he was charming in his own peculiar way), this was a very enjoyable dinner.