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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Spain -- Paella, Tapas & Sangria

                     * Barcelona    8.5 - 8.10                                                             * Monserrat    8.9

                     * Madrid         8.10 - 8.13                                                           * Segovia        8.12

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It began with two of my favorite restaurants in New York City.   

I first discovered Sevilla, a Spanish restaurant, in 1998.  The restaurant was sitting on a quiet corner in Greenwich village. Old servers wore red tuxedo jackets and black bow ties.  There were wooden booths with Tiffani ceiling lamps.  The setting was romantic and nostalgic.  The seafood paella was moist and full of flavor.  The red sangria was one of the best I have ever had.  By seven o'clock, the restaurant was jam packed with people waiting outside trying to get a table.  Over the years, I brought many friends to this restaurant.  Many of them fell in love with it, and became regulars. 

In 1999, a friend introduced me to tapas at Xunta tapas bar in the East Village. It was probably one of the first tapas bars in New York City, before all the tapas craze popped up in the New York restaurant scene. The place was casual and Bohemian.  Sitting at one of the wooden barrel tables, you felt like you were sitting at a local bar in a small fishing village somewhere in Spain.  I instantly loved the small portions of each dish and the ability to sample many different dishes without stuffing myself or breaking the bank.  Among more than fifty different tapas, the spicy potato and the mushroom in brandy were my favorites.  
Having such great experience with Spanish cuisine,  I was intrigued by the country.  From then on, I've always dreamed of visiting Spain for the paella, tapas, and sangria....


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