La cuina de Catalunya, from the beach of Caldes d’Estrac edition.

The houses and inns along Passeig del Mar in Caldetes/Caldes d’Estrac.

It seemed like a good idea at the time to relish the beginning of fall on the beach in Caldes d’Estrac, swimming in the Mediterranean’s surprisingly strong current, and tucking into a delicious lunch at a tiny seaside restaurant. We had been teased with a quasi-sunny day the previous Friday, but clouds intervened before we were able to stay outside for long (not that it stopped me from at least getting a momentary dip in the sea) and so when that Monday dawned bright and sunny, there was naught else to do but go to the sea, armed with chairs and towels and books. I spent most of my time in the Mediterranean, either swimming or standing strong against the intense tide to collect seaglass, shells, and pieces of clay tile.

In retrospect, I think this was a bit of a mistake because I am now sure that this was the day that ruined the rest of the fall season for me and Michael. It doesn’t help that since we touched down in JFK that following Wednesday we’ve had more than our fair share of lousy weather (see: frankenstorm and then nor’easter), but even on our nicer days I’ve been yearning to go back to the little bar in front of Kalima and eat tapas, drink beer, and watch the sea while bathed in sunshine.

Boquerones with olives and beer.

Our lunch that day was very simple: a starter of some anchovies and olive oil and bread, and then gambes a la planxa for me and pintxos moruns for Michael. I had been looking forward to getting those whole shrimp since we booked our tickets, but it wasn’t surprising when Michael went with some pork with a side of papas fritas; while we enjoyed at least a few meat dishes at every place we went to, the portions were not large and often they were cured, so when he had an opportunity to enjoy some fresh meat to himself, he took it.

Gambes al la planxa/gambas al la plancha.

Pintxos moruns/pinchos morunos

It wasn’t an elaborate meal, but it was delicious. Between sucking out shrimp heads—a pleasure that’s so difficult to replicate here in the states because it’s hard to find them sold that way—and plopping pieces of pork in our mouths between sips of beer, we ate well without stuffing ourselves. That we were able to do so while watching some quality Catalan cooking segments, already planning our post-vacation cooking exploits, was bliss indeed. The walk along the beach following lunch was the lovely end to a glorious afternoon.

The seaside.

Can you blame me in never wanting to leave?

  1. Those photos are gorgeous, especially the one with the shrimp; beautiful color. Try Chinatown or some other ethnic markets. That’s where I find them here. They definitely are NOT sold in the American markets.

    And no, don’t blame you for never wanting to leave at all!


    • There aren’t many Asian markets where we live that sell fresh fish (or many Asian markets, period) and the only sure bets I know are in Manhattan and in New Haven, and both are long hauls to carry fresh fish, you know? More research needed.

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