We had the best paella at El Patio Bodega in Malaga, and just by pure luck. We came from the nearby Bodega Bar El Pimpi (post coming soon), the first place we tried upon arrival in Malaga. But their hot food wasn’t going to be served until later that evening, and we were told that there would be no paella. We had some anchovies and sangria and looked for a place for dinner. We had to have paella. That’s the reason we were in Spain!
Oh my. Seafood paella.
I’ve got some nerve declaring their paella the best, when we had many others we were very happy about. I especially enjoyed El Patio’s paella because it was the only one that was served to us in a perfect al dente, a point that from experience is not only hard to achieve but also disappears within a few more minutes exposure to heat. Other than its consistency, the rice was still very moist with broth that settled in the bottom of the pan, and one whose flavor was infused with saffron and flavors of the ocean. Flavors of shellfish and mollusk dominated the dish, leaving no doubt as to the base of the sauce. Our server told us that their paella recently won 2nd prize in a contest, beaten only by a chef from Malaga who worked in Las Vegas(?) Continue reading
The crowd at the bar, and the ladies who tipped us to get the alcachofa.
A crowd formed outside the restaurant called Bodega Santa Cruz in Seville at noon. We just arrived after a two-hour drive from Malaga and decided that the best thing to do before visiting the sights would be to have lunch. I did not take the buzzing, aggressive crowd placing orders at the bar as inviting, nor did the rest of the group (namely, my sister and her husband). Except that to my wife, a Myers-Briggs ESTP personality (impulsive, charming, live-for-the-moment) who is also a Chinese calendar goat (always in groups), the chaos at Bodega Santa Cruz was the ultimate attraction.
All you need is love.
I saw it in the works. The celebrant’s husband got up from his beach bed shortly after breakfast and talked to the manager of Discovery Shores Boracay‘s Indigo Restaurant.
“What do we want?” he asked our group. We threw out some standards.
The manager wrote down the requests on a piece of paper and nobody thought about it after that. In the afternoon, the staff began setting up what would be the most beautiful outdoor dinner I’ve had. You could feel all the love in it, and I have to say it was a magical evening for all.
Fancy table set-up. The staff worked all afternoon on this. You could see the love in their eyes.
The memorable dishes of the evening below:
Steamed crab over rice noodles.
On a recent trip to DC, the 30+ Asian female demographic in our rented SUV agreed that a true sign of aging is the learned appreciation for plants. In gardens, in homes, in flower shows, and in large establishments whose sole purpose is to showcase the beauty of botany, patrons are mostly women. On that particular Spring Saturday, it was us.
“You can call me Flower if you want to.” If you know where that line is from, we should talk.
The US National Arboretum is a division of the USDA, and is basically a tree and plant museum where flora and fauna (who doesn’t love saying that?) are cultivated for scientific purposes. The USNA is composed of nine miles and 446 acres of plant life, two miles away from the Capitol building, and is a treasure I didn’t even know anything about until our DC-based friend included it in our trip’s itinerary.
Below are photos of our botanical finds. My favorite photo is that of the columns, the original support of the United States Capitol in 1828. They have a Romanesque/Parthenon feel about them.
The Capitol columns, original supports for the 1828 Capitol Building.
Every small town needs a go-to place for a nice meal, a restaurant that takes its time to create a unique experience for its diners, no matter how small the town is or how close it is to an urban center. Mrs. K’s Tollhouse does this for Silver Spring, Maryland. A short drive from DC, this historic building has been preserved from its early 1900s roots to a restaurant that has been serving treats for the past seventy years. The service was quick, warm, and friendly, and we thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the wine along with great company. Some treasures from that evening:
The Greek meatballs were juicy and full of meaty cumin flavors.