Our first real adventure out (other than to the village) was to Montblanc (not to be confused with Mont Blanc. There were no pens or Toblerones here.) It is a beautiful medieval town, which answered yesterday’s question as to whether they had a medieval period here. They did. They have castles and walled cities and everything. In fact, this place is just like Wales, but with more sun. And fewer sheep.

We had found a a couple of restaurants on TripAdvisor that might be suitable for lunch. I have written quite frequently about TripAdvisor on these blogs over the years and how reliable, or not, the reviews are. Before taking any reviews too seriously, just remember that I am a level 10 restaurant critic on that website and look at the tosh that I write. Take it all with a pinch of salt (which was actually the title of a review I wrote about a restaurant in Vienna which had issues with its seasoning).

We ended up going for the second highest rated restaurant. I think this is always the best option, as the second best restaurant will work harder as they want to be the best. (It’s a bit like my rule of thumb about choosing the second cheapest bottle of wine.) It was also famed for its snails.

It was canny busy considering it was a Thursday lunchtime slightly out of season. It was also full of locals, which was a good sign. It was in an old mill and we were shown to our table. The waiting staff were surprisingly “mature” shall we say, and one waitress reminded us all of the Victoria Wood “2 soups” sketch (if you don’t know it, click here).

The menu was in Spanish and Catalan which meant that Rachel had to translate most of the menu for us, occasionally consulting Tibu for words she didn’t recognise. Unfortunately he didn’t know a lot of them either which makes me thing this place was just making dishes up.

After much meandering, consulting, asking for translations, re-asking for translations, the final choices were made.

Starters: Nik and I went for the Cannelloni. Now before you start going “that’s not very Spanish”, the reviews did say that the Cannelloni was very good so we were just going on recommendations. Admittedly, the review which recommend it was written by Valentino Gusseppi, Spain’s number one supplier of pasta, but we took a punt on it anyway. It was tuna, which was a slight surprise, but that was just because I don’t read menus correctly regardless of the language they are written in. I have to say (and this is no disrespect to Gusseppi’s pasta) it reminded me of a tuna bake I used to make when I was a student. Basically I made it using a tin of tuna mixed with a tin of Campbell’s condensed mushroom soup, all in a dish with bread on the top and baked in the oven. I asked Karen if she remembered this from when we were courting, but she didn’t. She only remembers me wooing her with the cheese toasties I made with my secret ingredient (Branston Pickle) which gave it a lovely zing, but had the downside of heating the pieces of pickle to the same temperature as the centre of the sun and so always resulted in a burnt mouth. Young love eh?

Karen had a langoustine on a large cracker. There is a proper Spanish name for this bread, but anyway, it looks like this:

Rachel had a bucket of Gazpacho with olive oil ice cream (to make it even cooler) and Tibu had snails. 63 in total (and that was just a half portion).

Mains: Nik was intrigued by the leg of of goat.

“Will that be in a casserole”

“No, it will be a whole leg” replied Tibu.

“Really?”

It was.

Karen had lamb chops, I had Sea bass:

And Rach had hake with langoustine:

Tibu went the whole Spaniard and went for pig’s trotters.

In the years I have known Tibu I have been introduced into eating most parts of the pig; tail (bones so you nibble it); ear (tastes like one of those chews you give to a dog) and the trotter (tastes like the jelly you get in a pork pie but without the bonus of it being encrusted in pastry).

Dessert: this is where it got interesting. I was mega traditional and went for Crema de Catalana. (Let’s be honest, pasta, fish and custard is the Spanish equivalent of a Maccy D’s Happy Meal.) Nik had an ice cream float with Gran Marnier (which they the call a Submarine over here). Rach had “sin by chocolate”….

And Karen and Tibu had…errr, nuts. Seriously, a long plate of sugared nuts which led to Tibu declaring “this isn’t a real dessert” on more than one occasion. You did get the feeling that someone in the kitchen had just accidentally sat on a box of granola and then tipped it onto a plate to hide their mistake. It came with a shot of Robitussin, which they call Muscatel over here.

There was a delay in getting our digestives (as in drinks, not biscuits), which lead to paranoia from Tibu that it was because he spoke to the waiter in Spanish and not Catalan, but eventually three bottles were deposited on our table. A non alcoholic peach one for Karen; a herb one which Tibu refused point blank to even taste and a Crema Catalana liqueur which was literally liquid custard soaked in meths. (Note to self: must remember to bring a bottle back for the parents for Christmas.)

We left the restaurant at about 5:00 ish….just in time to do a top-up shop at the supermarket. Well they say you should never shop whilst hungry.

Tomorrow: “This cloud will pass in 15 minutes”.

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