Monday, September 29, 2014

Dinner with Vincent

 After the debacle of dinner @ #256, we are taking the recommendation of our concierge for dinner tonight at Mencia, a restaurant that specializes in fresh fish ~ fresh cod, to be more precise ~ served every way imaginable.  

I order the cod "Mencia-the-style", for two reasons.  First, since it's the name of the restaurant, I figure it's probably their specialty.  Second, I've never had something baked with "all-i-smelled" as an ingredient, and I'm curious.   There's another whole page of options, but you get the idea.

Mr. C orders it with onion and cream cheese. He's playing it safe.

Vincent was our host / owner / server / entertainer for the evening.  Even with the language barrier, he was most charming, greeting us warmly and giving us the grand tour (of the tiny restaurant), obviously proud of his baby.  He seemed pleased that I was photographing his establishment, and throughout the evening as he brought each dish to our table he would say "Picture-Picture" (is that like, "Pizza-Pizza"?), and he'd snap an invisible shot with an invisible camera to demonstrate what I should do.  Very cute!

He has a nice wine selection, and, even though he does not speak much English and we speak no Spanish (or Castilian), he helped us pick out a bottle of Blanco that we enjoyed with dinner.

I get this question allot ~ how in the world do you order (or ask directions, or buy band-aids) when there is a language barrier?

I think the answer is ~ you have to be willing to be surprised.  You do the best you can with whatever English they know, you use some sign language, you guess a little, and then you have to be willing to be surprised with the results.  It might be just what you expect.  It might not be.  Sometimes it's wonderful.  Sometimes in an "ooops!".   Which becomes one of the stories you tell back home.......And it's all part of the fun of travel.   Yes, we have an interpreter app on the I-Phone that we can use if we're really in a jam.  But where's the fun in that?

So I don't try to ask him what "all-i-smelled" is, I just order it and hope for the best.  Sounds like a lost-in-translation thing to me.

Our starter dish was a warm mushroom salad ~ very unique, and quite delicious.   Those little things that look like noodles are actually shredded fish.  Shredded cod, to be exact.  We see them at the fish markets in the next day or two, that's how I know. 

And surprise!  Our cod dish was also quite nice.
Perfectly cooked, very moist, and the sauce was just yummy.
Never did figure out what the secret ingredient was.  Didn't care.  

 Mr. C was happy with his, too.  These are uncharacteristically large servings for tapa-land, but we are not complaining.

Lots of crusty bread to soak up all that yummy sauce.  Perfect!

Then dessert.  No Catalan creme this evening.  Even though it's on the menu, he tells us it is "Finished".  Complete with hand gestures.  No Mos.  Done.  (See what I mean?  No interpreter needed)  Bummer, though, 'cause that's my fav.

 So we let Vincent recommend a couple desserts ~ one was fresh figs and something.  
 The other was kiwi something.  (Please remember that I do not speak Spanish and the menu is not in English.  Thus, the descriptions are appropriately vague.   You know as much as I did when I ordered.)  Both were really good and really unique.  Plus we got to try something new.

This is where the story gets cute.  Unsolicited, he brings out a specialty after-dinner drink for us. Something with an olive in the bottom of a short tubular glass.  

We are appreciative, right down to eating the liquor-soaked olive.  Have I mentioned how fabulous "real" Spanish olives are?  A delight under any circumstances, a real treat when served like this!  

Then, because we are enjoying it so much, he brings out the whole "do-it-yourself" kit.  A cute little carafe with mystery liquor, and a whole jar of these magic olives.  We are having fun!

A quick picture with our new friend, and we close out the evening knowing that we just had an experience, as opposed to just having dinner.  

 Muchas gracias, Vincente.   
This is one we will be talking about for some time to come.

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