Saturday, August 10, 2019

A Tapas and Wine Tour in Malaga

Finally, seeing Malaga at night again and introducing my friend Caroline to the magnificent city for her first visit to Spain.  She spun her head back and forth just like I did when I first saw the sea, the port, Calle Larios and the shops built below antique stone buildings.  We found Javier and the group for our tapas and wine tour, and we were six.  First, the oldest bar in Malaga where we drank a sweet wine, popular in Malaga called Pedro Xemeniz.  The tapas that accompanied the wine was on a large toothpick, white onion, two huge green stuffed olives with anchovies in vinagre wrapped around them.  I must admit, I like my anchovies better fried, called boquerones fritas.  Caroline couldn’t enjoy them either.  The others seemed to enjoy every bite as Javi gave the history of the bar, its owners, and the grapes that made the various wines.

Javi walked us to a bakery, la panadería, where he explained about the bread. It’s called pitufo, which means small like the smurfs.  “You know, like the little blue people,” Javi told us.  That is the bread you see as a typical Spanish breakfast where you grate fresh tomato onto toasted bread and put on ham (or not) and drizzle olive oil over it.  Pitufo.

Then, we walked a few blocks down narrow cobbled streets to a bar where we sat on the sidewalk around wine barrels used as tables.  He gave us a wine that was less sweet than the first bar and called it vermouth.  The server brought each of us a small wooden serving board with several layers of thinly sliced ham.  Javi explained the differences between the ham based on the food the pigs ate, from the local Serrano to the best ibérico.


What?  A shoe store with my name on it?  Amazing

Another walk led us to a beautifully set table with linens and crystal inside a restaurant with attentive waiters and smiling bar maids.  Red wine, Rioja.  White wine, Viognier.  Creamy white mayonnaise based soup with potatoes, celery and shrimp called gazpachuelo, need grilled with tantalizing spices I couldn’t name followed by encalada Russo, potato salad topped with mayonnaise and a huge shrimp. By then, the wine was smoothing out all of our edges.  The conversation was interesting.  Cecelia and Steve (I think his name was Steve)  from Dubai and Jonás was from Denmark.  Caroline and I threw ourselves into the middle of everyone.

What?  Next is a bar with 300 different types of wine?  Steve offered to call us a cab, but we laughed and said as long as Javi pointed us to the sea, we’d find our bus.  All in all, it was a lovely evening interlude in Malaga with the lights surrounding us, crowds of people jostling up and down the narrow streets and all the outdoor cafes filled to capacity in all directions.  As usual, Javi was a masterful guide and it was a delight spending time with him again.

A short bus ride home by 11:00 and we were back at Calle Jábega.  The breeze was a welcome change from the hot day.  The street was alive with people and we weren’t ready to close up our evening, so we went to the plaza mayor, found a table and enjoyed café con leche and pleasant conversation as children ran around the water fountain, raced around the nearby tree and essentially played around everyone in the plaza.  I can safely say there must have been about 300 people chatting, drinking wine or coffee and enjoying each other, just like us.

Glad Caroline made it to Malaga and she’s such a good sport that when I outlined our day tomorrow  in Los Nuñez, she just smiled.

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