Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Casa Nun, Cadaques

August 31, 2009. 9 PM.

Massive fooding fail. That was all I kept thinking as we walked back to town for dinner after having a short walk and a long sleep to work off the colossal pasta lunch. Pictures don't do justice to how much we ate at Els Pescadors...but still, there were things to do. Walks to be walked. Dinners to be dined. Practice to stay in shape for the next night's extravaganza at the Best Restaurant In the World.

Under the guise of a random walk, we eventually found ourselves in front of Casa Nun, which I confess was recommended by some online forums. But seriously, we did walk around the waterfront and old town quite completely, and I don't think there's a better-looking place to be had. The main square in particular is a bit bereft of interesting options facing the packed-earth petanques area. It's as if everyone wants to eat exotic food on vacations, and exotic food for the French and Spanish people who vacation in Cadaques consists mainly of pizza.

Here's the House of Nun - flowery print half-wall paper, green moldings, cane's a quaint mix of seaside and turn-of-the-last century parlor. Lovely! It's also tucked into the northwest corner of the harbor and set back a bit from the road, behind a large olive tree. Somehow, there was a table outside on the terrace, and all that was just too good to refuse. I loved the service as well; throughout dinner we wondered about the family relationships and even countries of origin, but the basic fact is that the woman who served us was really lovely. When we attempted a further fooding fail, she proactively saved us.

Just something light, OK? Settle the stomach, stay healthy and tip-top, all that rot, what. Perhaps this is how gazpacho is done in Spain. Both times I saw it during the week, the presentation followed this two-stage approach. A big bowl of tomato soup comes first...

...followed by a plate of condiments. The interactivity is nice, but do they really think you're not going to eat some of these? My favorite bit is the quail eggs in the background. Nothing too exciting here, but pleasant and soothing, with a few croutons and fresh peppers for textural interest .

This is where we realized we were in danger if a larger fail - early signs of stomach rejection ocurred at the sight of just one of these bowls, nay tureens, of tomato soup. We started discussing among ourselves that we were in trouble, and the waitress heard us and came back to ask if there was any problem with the food (Mr. Nun had taken our order in mixed languages). She talked us back through our order and let us cancel the whole fish that we had ordered, which was a real blessing.

Because there was this plate of squids to be attacked. Perhaps not quite the equal of the ones at Cervesaria Catalana, but it's difficult to go wrong with a freshly-grilled cuttlefish and his good friend Mr. Lemon.

And even harder to do so with good-quality ham. If you keep following this blog through the massive dinners coming up and then into the bits after, you'll see The World's Best Ham, but until then, please be content with this. It had a very deep and rich flavor but was a bit too salty for all of us; I'm sorry that I wasn't yet sufficiently-versed in ham to enquire about the salting method, or the hanging time, or which part of the leg they cut these soft, whispery slices from. We just kept working on it until it was done, drinking white wine from plain, flat tumblers. These slices of bread, rubbed with tomato, are of course a very normal thing in Spain but not something that has appeared here yet.

Suitably relieved at not attempting to eat a fish on top of the above, we decided that we might as well dessert (the verb). This was some type of airy lemon tart, not overly memorable. But big. No one will accuse Mr. Nun of having "terrible food...and such small portions."

This was a chocolate-nut cake - foreshadowing, perhaps, the nut-dependent dinner at The Best Restaurant In the World. More on that shortly.

Another funny feature of the Cadaques waterfront at night is the street performers. It's either quaint or irritating depending on who's doing it. While we were at Casa Nun, we were first treated to a long-haired guy doing Bob Dylan covers in a heavy Spanish accent (this was not the quaint part) and then instrumental favorites from a West African guy who lives in France and spends the summers in Cadaques. His music was nice to listen to, and he was forthcoming with the loan of his guitar, which finished off dinner perfectly and left us ready to brave the dark, quiet walk back along the water to the hotel.

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