Pina-ritas at La Tia Juana

Pina-ritas at La Tia Juana

Why wouldn’t we want to try a restaurant with the punny name La Tia Juana that purports to serve real Mexican food?

The décor was all tacky border, so we felt somewhat at home.

We ordered margaritas, of course. (Those of you who know me know that I have never acquired a taste for beer.)

The margaritas arrived: they looked a lovely green, but there were Sol bottles upturned in them. Upon tasting, they were more pineapple than citrus – WHAT???

We had a word with the waiter: these are NOT margaritas; they are micheladas. He offered to bring a drink with tequila. We agreed. Next appeared a glass of beer with a shot of tequila in it…The man at the next table informed the waiter that I didn’t want beer. We gave up and ordered sangria.

Todd was able to pull the beer bottles out of the “margaritas.” They were still not margaritas: too much pina and not enough citrus. So he drank the beer and I drank the “margaritas.”

In the meantime, at the table behind me, the guy dropped the beer bottle out of his margarita. Cleanup promptly ensued, but they never brought him another beer. I took over one of ours, and he raised his glass in salute.

As we were eating our rather tasty (but not authentic Mexican) food, another “margarita” arrived – courtesy of the guy at the table behind me.

So, the tally: we had each had 3 glasses of wine earlier at the InterNations mixer down the street + 3 “margaritas” and a sangria for me; 3 bottles of beer + another large beer with tequila for Todd.



A leisurely lunch at La Mascleta

A leisurely lunch at La Mascleta

Now that the rain’s over and the wind has calmed down, we’re finally roaming beyond our neighborhood into the town.

We came upon an arroz restaurant: La Mascleta. We stopped in for lunch and were greeted enthusiastically by the owner.

No English menu. He spoke NO English. Todd started using his phone to translate the dishes, most of which had no translation. Romero (we found out his name later) came over and told us we wanted paella, probably with mariscos. When he mentioned octopus, I told him no. He disappeared, then returned with two artichokes in hand to see if those were okay. Todd added the calamari with blood sausage as an appetizer, and we settled in with our wine and beer.

While we waited, we admired the menu. Every surface of wall was covered with bullfighting memorabilia and professional quality photos of Fogueres.

Romero brought us two types of bread with mustard alioli, a refreshing change from the mayonnaise disguised as alioli normally served here with everything. The calamari arrived in a rich stew. Romero then brought us a board with two types of salad – “from me.” One was salmon and the other was crab with mayonnaise. And then: a plate full of clams in a rich butter sauce!

When the paella arrived, it was in a pan as big as our table. No plates – just eat from the pan! Shrimp, octopus (he had said atun, but we didn’t find it) and artichoke. Enough for four people, even without the appetizers! We worked at it as long as we could, then told him basta.

But we weren’t done yet. Romero arrived with two shot glasses of what turned out to be home-made rice milk liqueur with cinnamon sprinkled on top. When we asked him about it, he brought out the bottle, then came out with a bottle of whiskey infused with lemon and cinnamon, as well as a dessert that was some kind of raisin-based cookie-dough-textured wonderfulness. When we asked him what it was, he brought out a package of raisins and sprinkled several onto the plate. When Romero realized Todd was interested in whiskey, he brought out a bottle of 48% from Bhutan, of all places!

At this point, Romero’s son Daniel came into the restaurant. Introductions all around, then more rice-milk liqueur. We visited with Daniel while he ate. He has a house in the mountains outside of Alicante, but lives in Peru and travels all over making documentaries, mostly using drones. He was spending Christmas and another month at home, then headed to Thailand. He had lived in Shanghai for a while, apparently going to school.

It was the kind of meal we envisioned in Spain: friendly, leisurely, endless.



Travel travails: the original

All of our travel travails are measured against the original: our trip to Lisbon, Thanksgiving 2014.

The cheap fare was out of Houston with an overnight layover in Istanbul each direction. We had to book separate flights to and from Houston.

When we arrived in Houston, Todd went to retrieve and recheck our bags while I went to the Turkish Air gate. By the time he got our bags, the Turkish Air ticket counter was closed. That left him with no boarding pass to get through security.

The agents at the Turkish Air gate were unable to issue a boarding pass if he wasn’t there, so I couldn’t get one to take to him. Security was willing to let him through if one of the agents would come escort him, but no go.

So: we missed our flight and had to spend the night in Houston. The rest of the flight was uneventful – but we now make it a point not to be separated by security: Stay on the same side of security!

On our return trip, the same TSA agent was on duty. Onlookers were shocked and amused when I gave him a big hug – I picked up info and sent a love note to TSA on his behalf; I’m guessing no one does that!