We are up in Roses, north of Barcelona. Roses is a tiny, gorgeous town like a mini San Sebastian. Tiny streets with no cars, tons of tapas bars, bars, little stores, etc. Since this is a beach town almost everything is closed.....but Rafa´s reopens tomorrow. Maybe.
We are kicking it for three valuable days to eat at this tiny little place called Rafa´s. This is supposed to cheer me up after days of airline flu, driving with maniacs and crappy, expensive meals. Rafa takes reservations....but doesn´t guarantee he will open: if he doesn´t get fish he likes he says "Fuck it." You have to call after ten on the morning of your rezzie to check.
They only do seafood, only cooked a la plancha.....on a wood or steel grill. There is one grill, and one guy. And one wife. We got here yesterday and immediately checked out the spot, two alleys over from our beachfront place. They were scrubbing and painting and sweating like dogs. I offered to help....even in my broken Spanish I got across that Amanda and I would rather work than take a vacation. "Prefiero limpiar que descansar!!" They said no......two people were enough. Yeah, they were at work at 8am yesterday.....and still at it last night at 10pm. And all day today. I have been back three times to offer help. My rezzie is under "Our Clean American Friend."
Turns out this area is where Salvador Dali was born. He was a rich kid from Figueres, an actual Marques. His parents had a place in Cadeques, which is an even tinier port city than Roses, and about 10 crazy Cachagua style miles over a mountain from here. Matisse, Miro, Picasso and guys like that also painted in Cadeques. And, the most famous restaurant in the world, El Bulli, is on the same tiny road. The chef there, Feran Adria is another insane person worthy of his old neighbor Dali.....frozen oils, popcorn dust, melon caviar... (www.elbulli.com )
What to do while recovering from plane flu, and Comerc24 poisoning....we are definitely off the food track till Rafa´s..... Let´s go look at a CLOSED restaurant. Off to find El Bulli and visit Cadeques.
The road was so small....mostly dirt....and so insane that Amanda reflexively snacked on her juana loaf on the way. Think Big Sur before the Coast Road. The area must date back to the Romans or before, because it is terraced almost Inca-style.....obsessively, everywhere, every crazy mountain....just with smaller rocks. There is no NO ONE around. I have no idea how anyone gets back alive from El Bulli. Brendan says they all hire private drivers. Yeah, well.....when dinner is $400 a pop, what does a driver matter? (At The Store, we have the opposite rationale: "Dude, dinner is only 50 bucks for two.....take a friggin´ limo, you cheap prick!") This is mountain bike heaven: dirt roads, beautiful mountains, no people, and hidden beach every two kilometers. Will Chesebro take note.
El Bulli itself has its own private bay....big gates.....lots of security even in the off season. They only open from April to October, and have been sold out for 2007 since LAST October....
Cadeques itself is amazingly gorgeous....right up there with Vernazza in Cinqueterra. They built it on lava rocks, and sometimes IN lava rocks. It becomes immediately clear that there are no tort lawyers in Spain. The roads are tiny and mostly base lava....and still have cars. When the road ends, sometimes there is a steep staircase with a railing, or just slates mortared into the wall with no railing. The town has real fishing still, cafe´s.....maybe like the south of France was a hundred years ago.
Dali´s house was closed of course, but we found a bistro with a pile of fresh sea urchins out front.....always a good sign. The place was right on the water, full of white linen and French people. Not always a good sign.....but hey.
I ordered them right up, with Cava, the local champagne and a pile of mussels. Amanda had no wine and fish soup. Suddenly, she went completely grey and dropped like a rock. Bang on the floor of the nice bistro! Too much juana bread!! I have been trying to convince her that "Cava is Bettah than Juana".......
I have fotos...... though publishing them will cost me alotta time on the couch!
By way of recovery, we went back on a nicer road to Figureres to the Dali Museum. Way wack. He was a busy man....eight hours a day of crazy detailed madness: jewelry, sculpture, line drawings, holograms, tapestries, clothing, films....yeah, and big weird paintings.
I have my own Dali stories. The old guy used to eat every Thursday at The Colony when I was the maitre d´ back in the seventies in New York. He would come after the theatre matinee let out and drink a bottle of Vichy water and a half bottle of champagne.....in full Dali regalia of cape, silver cane he made himself and big moustaches. He always sat with his legs stretched out at a tiny bistro table, and would sit and sketch in a copy of his own book that was shaped like a candy box. He was adding sketches to the blank back pages of the prints in the book.
One day some drunk bankers from Texas were finishing lunch when he came in. They stared, giggled and started making comments. I tried to shut them up and not embarrass Sr. Dali, but hey, they were Texans. Finally, one of them asked out loud to Sr: "Hey, Mister! Are you on drugs?"
I was appalled and raced over. Dali just looked up from his sketch.
"Sir.....I AM the drug. You should take me!"
This shut them up long enough for the veternary laxative I had added to their complimentary Drambuie to take effect....about 45 seconds.
Dali´s visits to our place were easier than when he used to visit Auberge d´Lil in Strasbourg when Gerard Bechler was working there. The place is a Michelin three star. Part of Dali´s deal was a girl under the table to......well, let´s just say that at Auberge he didn´t sit with his legs stretched out........And I am not sure he was sketching.
Turns out at The Colony Dali was sketching each performance of Jesus Christ Superstar. His crazy wife Gala was fascinated with the lead, some pretty boy named Jeff. She wanted to give the guy a present, so she sent Dali to fill up the backsides of every page of the candy book.....some hundreds of pages.
This was fine with us.....who wouldn´t want Dali hanging around at least a couple of times a week? I did have to poison a few more bankers to keep the peace, but......
Finally, Gala herself came to us one day and wanted to book the whole restaurant for lunch. The book was done, and she wanted to present it to Jeff.
We said "Sure, why not." When it came time to figure out menus and staffing, she just gave us a list of champagnes, chocolates, fruits and such. For two only! Then she asked when she could pick up the key. What the hell?
Gala wanted the whole place to herself. She insisted that we set up, then all leave. She left the key at Madame Romaine de Lyons next door when she was done.
Just Dali´s kinky wife and Jesus Christ Superstar for six hours in a beautiful old restaurant full of champagne and chocolate. Where´s the video!
Dali and his wife are buried at the Museum in Figueres. The monument is a giant column of tractor tires with their little boat on top. Dripping from the bottom of the boat are blue tears made of condoms.