No Need for Menus

Snails with sauces and cava at Bonay.
Snails with sauces and cava at Bonay.

I’m going to admit something here.

I’m not a foodie.

Let me say that again, make sure you understand.

I’m NOT a foodie.

In the travel writing and blogging world I feel like everyone is a self-proclaimed foodie and I might get my passport revoked for this blatant admission. But amateur foodies/critics/photographers can be found in all walks of life. All you have to do is look at your Instagram and Facebook feeds to see what that girl who was in that once class with you in high school had for lunch. Now, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a good meal and give a thumbs up when I know that local ingredients are used, but I am far from an expert on the subject.

Merluza at Restaurante Tramontana in Emporda, Spain.
Merluza at Restaurante Tramontana in Emporda, Spain.

That’s why I hate menus, especially when I travel. I’m an adventurous eater in that once it’s in front of me, I’ll try it but I’m not educated enough about cuisine to know what to order. I love it when I walk into a restaurant and am simply told what I will be eating for that meal – I think that’s why I loved eating out in the Roman neighborhoods so much. When the waiter hands me the English version of the menu I simply hand it back and ask what they suggest.

Tart Tatin at Restaurante Tramontana in Emporda, Spain.
Tart Tatin at Restaurante Tramontana in Emporda, Spain.

Or, if I’m eating with a local, I leave it entirely up to them. That’s one of the things I loved most about my European DTour – I didn’t once have to look at a menu. I dined with locals almost every meal and by allowing them to order for me I was able to try foods that I would have never ordered on my own. Nowhere was this more the case than in Spain where food and meals are much more of a social practice than a nutritional one. The Spanish term sobremesa says it all – meals aren’t only about eating, they are about conversing over the table. Spanish meals are not rushed, they’re enjoyed, shared, savored.

Because of the importance of food in the Spanish culture I took notes on what I was eating and snapped a few iPhone photos as each course was presented. Norma, my Spanish guide and meal companion, ordered for me so all credit goes to her along with the chefs at the various restaurants.

Cuchaoita de escalivda con anchoa de escala, galletita de foie, croqueta de carne de olla at Restaurante Tramontana.
Cuchaoita de escalivda con anchoa de escala, galletita de foie, croqueta de carne de olla at Restaurante Tramontana.

Restaurante Tramontana, located at the DoubleTree Hotel in Emporda, Spain. I enjoyed a lovely welcome lunch with Yassine Bouallala and Norma Guitart. Yassine and Norma did the ordering, I never laid hands on a menu.

  • Cuchaoita de escalivada con anchoa de la Escala – onion, red pepper and eggplant with anchovies from Escala (famous for anchovies)
  • Galletita de foie – little cookie of foie
  • Croqueta de carne de olla – meat filled puffs
  • Jamón con Ibérico con pan con tomate – ham with bread and tomato
  • Merluza – hake fish, in the cod family
  • Tart Tatin – local dessert specialty
Jamon at Restaurante Tramontana
Jamon at Restaurante Tramontana

Restaurante Sargantana, located in Girona, Spain. I enjoyed dinner with Norma who, again, took charge of the ordering. Sargantana, I learned sobremesa, is a local lizard and is good luck.

  • Venduras – vegetables
  • Lo Revuelto – scrambled eggs with prawns and mushrooms
  • Carpaccio veal with parmesan
  • Mejillones – mussels
  • Fresas con espuma de canela – strawberries with cinnamon whipped cream
Rice with mushroom, artichokes, botifarra and bull negra at Moli del Mig.
Rice with mushroom, artichokes, botifarra and bull negra at Moli del Mig.

Moli del Mig, located at Hotel Moli del Mig, Girona, Spain. I really enjoyed the large glass window in this restaurant, allowing diners to watch the chefs at work. Again, Norma took the reins in ordering.

  • Duck confit cannelloni with foo and truffle béchamel sauce
  • Galician-style octopus
  • Suckling lamb stuffed in catalan style with foie and honey sauce with vanilla
  • Rice with mushroom, artichokes, botifarra and bull negra
Aubergines & langoustines au gratin at Bonay
Aubergines & langoustines au gratin at Bonay

Bonay, located in Peratallada, Spain. The wonderful chef came up with our menu for this meal. Even Norma was a little hesitant about the snails but we ended up liking that portion of the meal immensely!

  • Aubergines y langoustines au gratin – homemade duck mousse
  • Snails
  • Sautéed rabbit ribs with garlic and parsley
  • Goose with turnips
  • Quail eggs stuffed with Norwegian lobster
  • Cava – local wine
Snails at Bonay.
Snails at Bonay.

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