Sunday, August 26, 2007

You name it, we've got it

I’d offered to take the whole house out to lunch as a thank you for P and T’s wonderful hospitality. We ummmed and aaahed about the various possibilities and plumped for the Restaurant Planes Del Rey in Pratdip. What P and B had debated was that as this restaurant served several huge buffets, everyone would find something they liked and could eat as much as they wanted. So we headed off to the hills in the sizzling Spanish sun for Sunday lunch.

There was indeed every imaginable food laid out before us. Firstly, an altar to Spanish hams and chorizo and other meaty delights that LLcT was happy to worship at. Rows upon rows of various salad items and seafood bits in the chilled area and a hot plate heaving with paella, various stews, fat prawns, sausages, potatoes and a plethora of vegetables and vegetarian dishes. The idea was to take your lurid patterned coloured plate to the abundance of food and make your first stack of delights and then return when necessary. We noticed on the adjoining table that the Spanish family were instead piling up platters of various treats and arranging these sharing plates in the middle of the table. But as I guess we all have differing tastes it was much easier in own case to attack the buffet individually.

Personally one of the things I really enjoy about eating in a restaurant is the perusing of the menu. It’s the tantalizing start to the experience pondering the perfect combination and weighing up one dish against another and hoping that your dining companions haven’t ordered better than you and you have to suffer meal envy. D and I often totally avoid that possibility when dining together by ordering two dishes we both fancy and then cunningly swapping halfway though. And that’s one issue about a buffet, there’s no menu and no introduction to the possible pleasures ahead. And I share a strange cat-like behaviour – I have an extreme apprehension of being poisoned so I do like to know what I’m eating before I eat it.

I know it’s strange but I guess it’s the fear of coming across some unanticipated tomato or other despised food. And rows upon rows of unidentified foodie objects don’t really delight me; I just want an explanation of what I am about to receive. I know, I’m just not adventurous enough, but truly like a cat I am on poison avoidance mode. I peer at the salvers and chaffing dishes and try to determine where I should start and realise that I probably got a little buffeted out on the cruise. That’s why I developed the strategy of having fresh omelettes made to order by Oscar every day and for lunch visited the carvery instead of serving myself a dollop of whatever communal dish was on offer. On the cruise buffets at least there was a label to read for clues but here even if there were labels I guess they’d be in Spanish or even Catalan and I’d be none the wiser.

The other thing I don’t really enjoy about the buffet concept is the problem of serving the food at optimum temperature and condition. Meat can dry out quite quickly so a sneaky policy is to cover everything with various sauces to ensure moisture is retained. But again herein lies the rub, what is in the unidentified sauce?

So today I dabbled with some sausages and meat and potatoes and then some paella though unfortunately my scoop contained unopened mussels so I couldn’t enjoy those.

I quickly moved to the fruit as the heat had made me crave water melon and lashings of pineapple slices. And I was sure they been no strange sauce napped over the fruity slices. E(D) kindly located a strange little tub of cinema style vanilla and slightly strawberry ice cream to finish. Not personally my favourite meal but at least we couldn’t have possibly left hungry. I still have a craving for proper tapas though. Only one day left!

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