Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spain 1

Dude. Here I am. 1.5 weeks left of school in my senior year. I started this puppy up back in freshman year. I was reading the blog French Laundry at Home and I noticed a "Create a Blog" button in the top right. The rest is history.

But the rest after that is mystery. I don't really know what's gonna happen with this blog or my food life in general. Next year when I'm at the University of Pennsylvania, I will be required to join a meal plan, which means I'll be eating the majority of my meals in the cafeterias, where, everyone seems to agree, the food is what it is--cafeteria grub. Unless I get lucky with housing, I won't have a kitchen in my dorm either.

So will readers wanna hear about that? Will a student's attempt to make the most of a measly meal situation create a compelling storyline? I don't really know, but I'll try to make it work and we will see what happens. I'm here for now though.

And I've really missed writing on my blog. I've missed writing the disjointed, non-flowing sentences and paragraphs, and incomplete thoughts that I feel is really my style, but can only create on the blog. I've had my mind on other things: finishing my senior year, graduation, prom, Lacroix, what I'm doing over the summer. But I'm happy I'm back here writing. Cause ya know blogging is the coolest thing ever. The fact that I basically just talk about myself, and people listen, and offer support, really blows my mind.

Now to Spain.

A few months ago I was chillin at my friend's house, and my friends dad, a big-time psychologist, approached me. Knowing that I'm really into food, he told me that he was asked to speak at a conference in Spain hosted by the restaurant Mugaritz.

I freaked out. Then he said I could come. I freaked out more and with good reason. My trip to San Sebastian was the best vacation I had ever been on. It was so perfect for me. Everybody always says that San Sebastian has more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere on earth and our trip turned out to be a completely food oriented trip. I loved it so much.
We were brought to Spain by this company that was was organizing the conference and we were treated like absolute royalty. They paid for us to stay in this incredible hotel, and they payed for incredible meals every lunch and dinner. I really hit the jackpot on this trip. I was experiencing all the incredible food and wine in San Sebastian without breaking the bank.

The hotel even had a bidet!

Some vegetables and serrano ham with olive oil at Bar Hazea, a random tapas bar in San Sebastian that was actually the tapas bar that Anthony Bourdain visited in No Reservations.
At a Txakoli winery overlooking the Cantabrian Sea. Txakoli is a sparkling wine native to the Basque region of Spain. The grape that makes the wine is found only in Basque country. The wine is typically taken in the early afternoon with some tapas or whatever. It was great. I ordered it everywhere we went. Champagne San Sebastian style.

Tuna and anchovies from the sea that the winery overlooks to go with the wine.

That's me in the white shirt talking to the manager of Mugaritz.

Fish testacles. Absolutely delicious. Seriously. I ate a lot of these.
My friend's sisters.
Me and Isabel Conde, one of our guides who works for the company that put the conference together. She's told me that she's engaged to Ferran Adria's right-hand man.
There's a shot of Andoni Adruiz, head chef of Mugaritz. We were essentially his guests so we were hanging out with him non-stop and I was able to talk with him in-depth about his philosophy on cooking etc. Unfortunately, my Spanish is good, but not great, and he doesn't speak English, and so a good amount was lost in translation.

More about Spain to come. I feel like I didn't do a good job of explaining the experience in this post so I will work on that more in the next.


Zhana Sandeva said...

Amazing, I'm so happy for you! And I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you get into a dorm with a kitchen - though a lot of dorms have a shared kitchen on each floor (cleanliness varies).

Tags said...

Dude, you're blessed.

Lucas said...

Incredible trip. The whole experience sounds just phenomenal. In regards to the dorm thing, just get those portable electric burners and cook for yourself and your friends.

Unknown said...

Well that was worth waiting for Nick!

Anonymous said...

OK, this is a good excuse for the sporadic postings on your blog.

Brandy said...

Cool trip!
An important lesson that took me far too long in college to learn: don't look at the cafeteria grub as FOOD, pre-made and ready to eat. Look at it as ingredients. (Sub-par ingredients, but still.) I had a friend who made some excellent macaroni and cheese with the noodles and cheese from the pasta bar, ground beef from the burger station (crumbled, cooked hamburger patty), cheese from the deli counter and nacho station, and breadcrumbs made from a slice of bread he ran through the toaster a few times.

When you graduate, you could probably write a whole cookbook on making do as a foodie in a dining hall!

Christine said...

Lucas and Brandy have the right idea, Nick. Post about what you create on meager equipment and ingredients. Shoot, Kenji over @ seriouseats.com did an article on 50 or so ways to quickly and cheaply dress up ramen with condiments and/or simple fresh ingredients. There's a market out there for this information, and your entrepreneurial talents could easily tap into it. Go for it!

Unknown said...

also, the dining hall is fun. you get to eat all of your meals with your friends. it really helps keep you sane. and figure out what happened on saturday night...so yeah, you're rely heavily on the salad bar, but there's definitely an upside!

Anonymous said...

What Brandy said would be really interesting postings for "Foodie on a Meal Plan"!

Anonymous said...

Foodie on a meal plan indeed. FLAH ended and was "resurrected" as AAH...I'd keep it bookmarked.

As a foodie that went to a military school instead of a culinary school, or even a traditional university, I still like to live vicariously through people's "regular college" experiences.

Anonymous said...

I am watching a No Reservations rerun that is about Spain and features Mugaritz and Bar Haizea. Bourdain mentions the light sparkling wine, any data on that?

Andrew said...

What made you choose business over cooking?
I'm in a similar position, having wanted to become a chef but now set my sights on university next year, and I too am trying to work out what to do about the cooking situation. I'll probably have to leave my immersion circulator at home. =(

Bing said...

I think a chronicle of your attempts at eating well in a dining hall would be fantastic, actually.
Also. Bryn Mawr has a top-rated dining hall, which is not to say that the food is exquisite, but it is better than most dining halls. If you want someone to swipe you in there, feel free to shoot me an email. (iasplund@brynmawr.edu)