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.