Thursday, September 15, 2016

El Matador

This place reminds me of the Oregon coastline.  The huge boulders that stand in the waves and on the sand are a rarity from the beaches I'm used to seeing.  I guess El Matador beach in Malibu is one of those best kept secrets.  The parking lot is a little tiny, but people seem to be coming and going so it's best to just wait around a bit until you find a spot.  We lucked out and someone gave us their day pass as they were leaving.  The day was spent laying out out over a picnic of spicy mango ceviche, jicama, strawberries and chips n' salsa. It was all perfectly relaxing.  We talked about our upcoming road trip to Zion national park in Utah and our even sooner adventure to see Jack Johnson and Rebelution at KABOO the music and arts festival on the beach in Del Mar this weekend.  I'm really looking forward to this next month ahead.  I can't wait for the season to change and transition into fall weather, it's my favorite time of the year.



Sunday, May 1, 2016

Seville, Spain

Seville, What can I say about Seville? Other than if it possible to fall in love with a city this one is "the one". Walking into Old Town Seville is like walking back into time where castles and horse-drawn carriages still exist amongst the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Maybe that is why they chose to film Game of Thrones there. The city is beyond beautiful. The vibrant colors of the old buildings, tiled archways and tall wood panelled ornamented doors. The architecture of muslim meets spanish gothic is beyond enchanting, but it is more than just that. The people are in love with their city and you can feel it. It's like they've mastered the secret to happiness and it's simple, love what you do, eat well, and take it easy. Have a two hour lunch break it won't kill you. If anything it will make you more proficient and whatever it is that you do and I agree.
The view from our window

There are tons of hidden gems to wander into in Seville. One night we came across a small hole in the wall by the name of El Librero.  I was lured in by reading the written menu on a chalkboard that said they had a Paella arroz negro. My mission out of this whole trip to Spain was to try a Paella, but negro paella made with squid ink sounded beyond palatable. Let me just paint the picture of how this went down. When you walk into El Librero the aura is like walking into someone's kitchen meets dining room. There are wooden tables with shelves lining the walls behind them holding books and bottles of wine. The other patrons seem to be deep in conversation in the midst of their vacations or locals on romantic dates where their eyes are locked on each other and nothing else until their food arrives. This place is definitely special. The waiter/owner I presume had probably had this business passed down to him through his parents and maybe even his parents parents because the authenticity seems too well crafted. The Paella arrived at the table in a hot metal pan and steaming. The pan was filled with rice, clams, calamari, and shrimp. The only problem I had faced was that the shrimp came with the shell still well intact to its steaming body. So I looked around to see how other people were eating theirs, but I couldn't catch anyone taking a bite out of the same dish. So I attempted to use a fork and knife to take the skin off, but that wasn't working. So what else could I do, but use my fingers right? Well, sure I guess that's how us animals used to do it, but this is Paella arroz negro we're talking about. The first few bites were fine. When I went to grab my glass of wine is when I had realized the mess I had made with the squid ink. It was everywhere and a napkin wasn't helping. Not to mention that squid ink stains your skin. I looked like an auto mechanic and all I could do was laugh because there was no way I wasn't finishing that whole plate of Paella and I did, I had too!
After our late dinner we found a gelateria that was just about to close, to help wash it all down. 

 There are tons of cute places like this in Seville. There is so much character and color in this town it seems like editorials could be shot on every corner. It's the perfect place to escape for a romantic getaway. I kept having this sensation like I was on someone else's honeymoon while I was there.

We did a tapas tour with a Devour Seville tour guide. They showed us the best local eateries of the city. The places we went to would be nearly impossible to find on our own because they seemed like the sort of places you would only come across after years of living there.

 This sandwich will change your life. It's marinated in whiskey and garlic. Maybe that doesn't sound appealing to you, but it was something I will never forget the taste of. I would fly back just for this baby. You can get it from a place named Casa Moreno.

 I'm not a photographer by any means, but I had my camera out at all times because I wanted to capture the essence of each city that we were lucky enough to visit on this trip. So if I've enticed you at all I beg of you... go to Seville! The Devour Seville tour is worth every penny because there is no way you can come across that much expertise on a compilation of local flavor other than taking a tour. That tour was definitely a day I will remember forever.



Saturday, April 23, 2016

Barcelona, Spain

I went with two friends from High School to three different cities, Barcelona,  Sevilla, and Madrid. We divided up the responsibility for one person to book a tour and a place to stay for each city. This was nice because we got to try different things that we might not normally go for. There was only one problem with my week break to party and have fun. I was assigned a take home midterm assignment as well as a review exam. I barely had any free time to study so I told myself I would do it on the 7 hour flight to cross the Atlantic or maybe the 5 hour flight to cross the U.S. back to Los Angeles, but no I kept falling asleep every time I would begin to start the assignment. So I got it all finished when I got home, but I don’t regret anything because I had the best time of my life in Spain.

I knew that Spain was going to be different than the United States, but I didn’t know that it was going to be so delicious. The cuisine in each of the cities that we visited were unique. Barcelona was more a touristy college town and their menu was mostly sandwiches with thinly sliced Jamon de Iberico. There was a café below our flat that was owned by a Japanese guy. We got breakfast there each morning of a sandwich and café con leche for under 3 euros.

Dulce de Leche pancakes + Bellini

 Park Guell

Over lunch we had asked our hip server if he could recommend a good club to go to and his answer was easy, Razzmatazz. Sounded sweet just like the candy, but approaching this urban oasis we noticed that it was in a huge warehouse. Going in felt like we were walking into see a concert by one of the most popular artists of Spain. The line wrapped around the corner and this group was young, eclectic, and weird. It was a lot of fun.

We walked around the ancient thin streets of the Gothic Quarter, marveled at the outside of the Cathedral De Familia, wondered around the unique architecture of park Guell and walked to the top where there was a beautiful view of the city and the Mediterranean Ocean. Since we were on a completely different time schedule than we were used to we tired out by 4pm and woke up by 9pm just in time to grab dinner of fried foods like calamari, salchicha sausages over toast, croquettes, and crème brulee before hitting the clubs and after the clubs we ate churros, french-fries with mayonnaise, ketchup and hotsauce on them.

In this moment there was a musician playing a beautiful spanish song on a violin meanwhile I was easily amused at the square sugar.

This place in the Gothic Quarter had tapas for 2 euros each while you stood at the bar and had wine. Each little tapa was different some had raw salmon on it and some had lobster and crab. Why don't we do this in the U.S.? 
This here is a Spanish Omelette. I'm determined to make this at home. That is a garlic sauce on top. 

Cal Pep is one of those restaurants that you have to try. If you prefer sitting at the bar this is how it goes... there is about 30 seats and it gets so crowded that there are about 30 people waiting behind each person because it's a long skinny restaurant. When a party gets up then you are invited to sit down. At this kind of a place you don't order there is a fixed menu I guess. They ask you what you like and then they just keep giving you dishes to eat. My kinda place! My favorite was the duck foie gras sausage. 

We went on a wine tasting and tapas tour in Barcelona where we visited an old estate that specialized in making cava (champagne) and olive oil. We ate thinly sliced dried meats on toast at this beautiful historic home. Our host told us stories of how the house had been apart of the owners family for generations and even played a part in some civil war, for soldiers to re-up on amo and guns. One of the most beautiful moments of this tour was when we were taken to this cold chamber where all of the cava was being made. It was outside in this building made of stone. The room was pitch black so he lit a couple of candles so we could see. We tried a bottle of cava that our host popped for us and Then we headed to the next winery that was at a castle. There, we learned to analyze the wine and how it was made as well as pair it with different types cheese.

I used to think I would never really get to see the world, but now I realize that it’s actually not that hard to do and it's worth it. I used to be scared to go to a place where I didn't know the language or currency, but people are more than willing to help you out in anyway that they can. It’s so important to travel. It's important to open up your eyes to the great big world around you. There is so much to explore and see. It will change your life forever! We were only gone for ten days and I have so many good memories and things to be grateful for.