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A Feast with Wine

Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up at 8:20 am on December 15, 2012.  Ivan and I had the free breakfast which was a fried egg, fruit salad and freshly baked bread.  Lil Dave had two bananas.

We walked to the main square Plaza Independencia at 9:40 am.  We saw a few people waiting there for the bus to pick us up.  Today, most of the people from the Oasis group were going to a winery for a 9 course lunch with wine pairing. 

At 10:15 am, the bus arrived and we were taken to Bodega Santa Julia

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Our tour guide was a girl named Milagros.  She took us around the winery talking about the process of making wine.  Ivan and I have been on so many tours that we didn’t really care about the talk of the grapes and barrels.. we just wanted to get on with the wine tasting.  I’m so glad that we think along the same lines.

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The wine tasting was up next with some lovely wines. 

The group walked across the street where lunch was being served at the restaurant Casa Del Visitante. 

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There was a lovely outdoor area with lots of trees and grass.

Lunch was up next with the 9 tapas with wine pairing.

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The dishes were actual decent sizes of gourmet food so I would say it was a 9 course meal with 7 different wines.. with unlimited servings of wine.  I decided to go with the regular menu with the meat options while Ivan substituted the veal steak with trout.

Our first dish was a raspberry gazpacho, trout tartare and caramelized sweet potatoes.  It was the prettiest dish and tasted really good, but not the best dish of the meal.

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There were lots of unique dishes.  I would say one of my favorites was the asparagus cold soup with bread and olive oil ice cream, bacon oil and almond biscuit.  It was a great combination.

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The lamb’s liver was too heavy.  I don’t think I’ve ever liked animal body parts.. it just never tastes right.  Ivan had this dish and he gave his away to Kerry.  I took one bite of my liver and then gave it to Katie since she really enjoyed it.

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One of my wine glasses had Consume Responsibly written in Spanish on the bottom of it – for some reason I was the only one with this message written on their wine glass.  The wine just kept coming and I had to pace myself or I would probably end up passed out on the floor if I wasn’t careful.  Maybe that’s what my glass was trying to tell me….?

The veal steak was lovely and I’m glad it wasn’t a huge portion since I was getting stuffed since it was the 6th course. 

The next course was Cucumber spray and tomato jelly with lemon balm aromas.  It actually came with a spray bottle filled with a cucumber spray. 

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Ivan liked spraying it on his face while I thought it was refreshing sprayed in your mouth. 

My favorite dish was the last dessert which was a chocolate and carob parfait with rye bread, a touch of olive oil and sea salt. 

Ivan and I were so stuffed after the delicious feast and wanted to take a nap when we got back. 

We got the bus back and then we got a taxi and arrived back at the house at 4:30 pm.

I took a long nap while Ivan used the internet.

We dressed up a bit since it would be the last big night out with the group.  Ivan and I walked to the square at 8:30 pm.  We saw Anna and she said that Melinda and Franco were running late.

We met up with the group and walked to a buffet.  Mel wasn’t sure if we wanted to do it since it’s was 70 pesos per person.  I don’t think a buffet was a good idea when most of the group went to the 9 course lunch earlier today which was quite filling.  We walked to a place down the street that sold pizza and empanadas.  That didn’t sound appetizing neither… the pizza looked really gross, like something you’d find in a school cafeteria.  Ivan and I decided to find food somewhere else.  Ivan was disappointed…he thought Mel would have found a nice restaurant since it would be the group’s last meal out with the current group. 

Ivan and I ate across the street at Ailen.  It wasn’t anything special with a salad with eggs, beets and cheese and a salmon ravioli.

We walked across the street to see what the group were up to.  Some people were still eating.  Mel said that some people were going out to a club.  Ivan and I decided to head back to the house since the clubs don’t start hopping until really late.

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Winery Tour

Ivan, Lil Dave and I had the free breakfast on September 12, 2012.

We grabbed our bags and left La Casa Verde saying goodbye to the hyperactive dogs who looked like they didn’t want us to leave!

We drove to Ysios which has a winery with a really cool wavy building.

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Ivan drove us to Hector Oribe for lunch. It was located in a small village up in the mountains. We each had the menu of the dia (menu of the day). The menu was in Spanish, but it sounded like the main course was duck foie pate in the ravioli (Ivan doesn’t eat meat).

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Ivan and I got goats cheese salad with fruits, sardines with vegetables, ravioli with duck foie pate (I ate some of Ivan’s ravioli and gave him sardines). For dessert, we got the creme con leche with rice. The food was quite tasty. We really enjoyed the dessert and the salad.

We walked around the small town near Logroño – can’t remember the name.

Ivan drove us to the Marqués de Riscal winery.  We took a tour with about 20 people and one monkey.  The first part was a stupid video that was telling us all their accomplishments (awards the winery has won) and how they export to 92 countries.  They’re going to be exporting to India which Ivan thinks is a bad idea since only tourists drink wine in India.  They could have mentioned how the winery got their name.

One of the buildings is a cool design by Frank Ghery. 

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Ghery said that it captured the essence of wine. (He also said a lot of other pretentious stuff which kinda went in one ear and out the other for us). The wavy steel of the building makes me want to slide down it.  Why couldn’t Frank have said that on the video. “Yeah I designed this building because it looks like it would be a fun thing to slide down!’

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The tour took us to the fermentation tanks and we got to see workers wash the barrels. We also got to walk around the vast cellars.  It was a great tour.  We even got to see the bottling area. 

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60% of their wines are exported.  This has been the best wine tour we’ve been on since you get to see so much.

The last part was a wine tasting of two wines.  The first was a white wine called Rueda Verddejo 2011.  The wine was dry and sweet.  I thought it was fruity while Ivan said it was studious.  I scored it 8.5 out of 10 while Ivan gave it 7.5.  The second one was a red wine called Rioja Reserva 2007.  I thought it was a smooth wine giving it 7 out of 8, Ivan really enjoyed it giving it an 8.9.  Unfortunately he couldn’t drink too much of it as he had to drive!

Here’s a picture of us with the tour guide.

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Next, we drove four hours to get to our next destination San Sebastián. 

We found parking underground, otherwise we’d have to move the car at a certain time for free parking on the street which seemed like too much of a hassle. 

The Airbnb apartment Ivan booked was in a great location right in the centre of town.  We met the couple at their apartment and they talked about San Sebastian.  The guy said that the two things to do in San Sebastián are to eat and to relax at the beach. 

Our room has a lovely view of the cathedral (name? look on foursquare or google) from the little balcony right outside.

The guy printed out some suggestions for pintxos places nearby.  San Sebastián is THE place for pintxos. 

We were settled in.  The guy said that they were all going to a few pintxos restaurants if we wanted to join them.  Ivan and I thought it was a good idea.  We went with them and an American girl who was also staying at the apartment.

The guy (I have no clue what his name was) really looked like Shlomo.  I kept looking at him and was a bit disappointed that he didn’t bust out a song using his voice making sound effects like Shlomo. 

Our first tapas bar was La Cuchara de San Telmo.  Ivan and I both got white wine.  Lil Dave got a few banana tapas made for him like banana bravas and banana and cod on bread.  Ivan and I shared salted octopus and cod with tzatiki – both dishes were so very tasty.

The next tapas bar was Zeruko which is a fancy pintxos place. 

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You choose your pintxos from the big variety of pintxos on the bar and then the server heats it up for you.  We got goats cheese with caramelized apple on top, 2 cod dishes (the one with red sauce was the better one) which came with olive oil soaked toasted bread and a sweet round dessert. 

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Ivan, the American girl and I were still a bit hungry so we went in search of another tapas bar that was open.

We tried La Mejillonera which is famous for their patatas bravas, but it was closed.  Ivan loves patato bravas.

Ivan spotted Naturally which is a frozen yogurt place.  Ivan and I shared a great yogurt with berries and muesli.

The Airbnb couple found a pintxos place.  The American girl got some food and we all chatted about traveling and books.

It was a good night filled with lots of pintxos.  Definitely looking forward to trying more.

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