I love to cook and consider myself to be a culinary adventurist, insomuch as I’ll try almost anything once. I’m always a bit more excited than I outwardly show when I arrive in a new country to explore the grocery store offerings, to see what dietary options will become my staples while I’m there. I’m also always hopeful to discover a delightful local eatery, to experience whatever local people consider to be delicacies worth paying for on a night on the town.
Here in Tremp, Spain, I quickly discovered that the local grocery store, the Esclat, carries some items I’ll certainly miss – namely, gigantic sweet red peppers, enormous avocados, goat cheese made locally in the Pyrenees, inexpensive olive oil, numerous yogurt options, fresh salmon and tuna filets, a wide assortment of refrigerated filled pastas and sauces – plus entire aisles of dark chocolate and wine, mostly much cheaper than what you can find in the States. The 65-cent box wine shockingly isn’t terrible; the chocolate is delicious. Of course, I miss things from home just as I enjoy the tastes here; I’m looking forward to savoring some great coffee, delicious natural peanut butter (and dark-chocolate almond butter), but overall, I’ve been quite pleased with the culinary offerings in the grocery store.
Unlike our day-to-day diet here, which has been quite delicious overall, our eating out experiences have proven wildly variant in quality – our first attempt, early in the trip, yielded a total failure. To make a long story short, the highly recommended restaurant that we attempted to go to (and even emailed in advance) acted angry when we showed up, saying it was a total inconvenience…so we left, not wanting to intrude upon the proprietor (because who wants to eat out while getting cast resentful looks the entire time?).
Thwarted and starving, we ventured into Tremp and tried our luck at another restaurant (that shall remain nameless), where we had the worst meal out I’ve had in years. Canned, poorly prepared, not-fresh food made us wince and moan; we were so hungry from climbing and not eating that we ate the meal despite the fact that it was worse than anything we could have made at home. Yuck; what a colossal failure. It put us off eating out for more than a month…until yesterday, when Alisa talked a restaurant that’s usually closed on Mondays into opening up for a lunch serving especially for our group, seven hungry climbers in search of a delectable meal…(to be continued)