City wanderings - and a pilgrimage to some of the best eating and drinking spots in Brussels. Or maybe not eating or drinking - ah, oh well.

Friday, July 29, 2011

L'Auberge Espagnole

 I was just back from Valencia with my Spanish class.  L'Auberge Espagnole seemed a good name for a restaurant, immediately reminding me of the film of the same name: the story of a group of Erasmus students under one roof in Barcelona.  I went inside. 

I saw a bar with olives, plenty of small tables with individual tea lights, pictures of elephants and a bullfight on the wall.  I soaked up dark red walls and salsa on the sound system.  This wasn't quite
the noisy locals' place we'd tried in Valencia, but it was good enough for me.

There was a long list of about twenty wines by the glass.  We drank rioja, and were tempted (but resisted) glasses of other things - sangria for instance.  Although we were ordering tapas to eat, this ordering of little things - a glass of wine here, a plate of patatas bravas there - meant that the bill totted up quicker than we might have anticipated.

We ordered five tapas portions between two, and they were enough to feed us without feeling like we were about to burst. 

Salt was the only negative point.  In Valencia our group tried a restaurant fêted for its paella, only for it to turn out to be the saltiest meal I have ever tasted.  It was almost inedible.  I rarely add salt to anything so I'm a biaised judge; however everyone round the table was saying the same thing.  This was coupled with moody waiters that insisted that two people had to choose the same paella and that the eight of us could not share a table.  Squeezed with our plates and big paella dish on our table of four, I did what any young child would do: I tipped the whole greasy, salty plate on my lap.  Diners at neighbouring tables looked aghast.  But for once I wasn't horrified to lose my meal.  I flicked it off me, looked around at my audience and shrugged "well, it wasn't that nice anyway", before marching off to the washroom to clean up the grease....

By the next evening, most of us had learnt our lesson.  We asked for only a little salt to be added to our meal.  I didn't make a point of doing so, and ended up with a tasty, but rather salty risotto.

So you see, I digress on the salt point because it seems that it is not only a practice confined to Spain, but can also be exported with Spanish cooking.  My old housemate went through a huge amount of the stuff and we'd have to negotiate a happy medium before each meal he cooked: he would add a certain amount of salt; and add more to his plate after the dish had been served.  As he put it, "the Spanish have a bit of a problem with salt."  In L'Auberge Espagole the saltiness was manageable with water on the table, but still a little too much for my taste.

Saltiness aside I'd still come back for a glass or two of wine or sangria and perhaps a few tapas again.   It's a little bit on the pricey side (43 euros for 5 tapas, plus water and two glasses of wine), but could be a good venue for a group after-work drink with a few appetizers. 

Becinbrussels ate:
Ratatouille Montana
Patatas aoili
Tortilla especial
Chili tapas
Poulet Maroko
Parvis de la Trinité 10, Ixelles
Tel: +32 (0)473 31 59 79

No comments:

Post a Comment