night 5: vejer de la frontera.

Vejer was absolutely nothing like what I expected. For starters, in my initial "research" I somehow missed that it was a Pueblo Blanco (ehhhm, "White Town"). My personal tour guide told me at some point, probably over our first exhausted/triumphant/"We Survived Africa" dinner, that Vejer and Ronda were consistently voted (here, for example) two of the most beauuuuuutiful pueblos blancos in Andalucia.

And indeed it was beauuuuuutiful. But having spent several days in Ronda by now as well, I have to say that Vejer itself left me a bit (ahahahahaha) cold. Whereas Ronda feels alive, like a real city with a pulse (I imagine this has to do with its size, 40,000 people or so), Vejer was just too small and well-preserved, kind of like a giant hotel.

Although I must say, I did not see a whole hell of a lot of the city. Vejer would be the second city in a row where I immediately and forlornly realized that my navigation plans had not at all considered altitude. Our asses and feet were already more than a little sore after a couple of multi-hour walks in Tangier, and Vejer's hills were really playing on an entirely different level. It seemed to be (illogically) all uphill, and just when you thought, ok, I really need 30 seconds of level ground, there'd be a hill so steep that it featured stone stairs instead of an incline.

And it was still really fucking hot outside, 42C/108F. My trusty tour guide had secured accommodations that featured a bathtub on the roof (fyi this was not the only bathtub), and this helped some, but you kind of had to wait until dark to use it. Or at least I thought that that seemed like the right time to schedule my own baths, you know, for the neighbors' sake.

All the rest of these photos are taken from the extremely pimpish roof terrace of the aribnb, it was a great place to stay.



This was an impro that turned out remarkably like what I had in my head.


szechuan tofu or chicken and cucumber something.

1 cucumber
1 block of tofu or 1 chicken breast
1 or 2 cloves garlic
1 tsp five spice
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp ketjap manis
2 tbsp shao hsing
1 or 2 tbsp Szechuan chile paste/oil (with peanuts and Szechuan pepercorns)
1 or 2 tbsp ginger syrup
2 tbsp rice or light apple vinegar
salt and pepper to taste



vulture bait: the planning post.

This is the official planning post for Vulture Bait 2015. A work in progressssss, this is an attempt to prioritize.  The idea isn't to go to all of these places; it's to never have no idea where to go. We don't have time to fuck around.

Richardson's. The only restaurant I visit every visit. Real Southwestern Food, it remains to be seen what a vegetarian will eat here.
Waffle House. A undeniable part of my youth.
In-N-Out Burger. For a vegetarian, the only point of this would be to demonstrate a "secret menu".

to LAS VEGAS (5 hours?)

Yardbird Southern Table. Besides Waffle House, this is the closest The Captain is going to get to real southern food during this doomed adventure.
Bachi Burger. Only if there's time, but a grrrrrrrrrreat looking menu and one of the best burgers in the country supposedly.
Dino's Lounge. 24-hour classic.
Frankie's Tiki Room. Kitsch and fire. And open 24 hours.
Circus Circus. Fear and Loathing.
Ronald's Donuts. Vegan donuts. Open 4am-4pm.
Sunrise Coffee. Vegan/vegetarian coffeeshop.
Hash House. For those non-vegan non-donut food groups.

to LONE PINE (4 hours?)
Amargosa Opera House & Hotel. "A once-in-a-lifetime experience".
Erick Schat's Bakkerÿ. "European" breads. Just because it seems like the best option between Lone Pine and Tioga Pass.
Alabama Hills Cafe. kind of seems like if you eat anywhere in Lone Pine it should be here.
Margie's Merry-Go-Round. Winner by name. Of course it's Chinese and Mexican food.

Tioga Mobil Gas Mart/Whoa Nellies. A gas station with fish tacos and live bands.
Crane Flat Campgrounds. "Dispose of garbage immediately in bear-proof dumpsters."

to NAPA/SUGARLOAF (4 hours)
Gott's Roadside. A classic?
Benziger Family Winery. Their tour is supposed to be "good for beginners".
Frog's Leap Winery. Recommendation from a trusted source.


North Coast Brewing Company. Sounds like the consensus for good beer.
Piaci Pub & Pizzeria. Sounds like the consensus for dinner.

Dick's Place. This was just about the first definite thing on the itinerary.
Harvest at Mendoza's. Grocery store if we don't feel brave enough for fancy vegan.
The Ravens. Fancy vegan, reviews wildly mixed.

Casino Bar & Grill.  New entry, recently changed chefs, more 'search needed.
The Duck Club. We'll see.
Gourmet Au Bay. I'm skeptical.

Ferry Building Marketplace. I think the point would be Il Cane Rosso or Mijita or Acme or Cowgirl, etc.
4505 Burgers & BBQ. Supposedly one of the best burgers in America.
Hopwater Distribution. Close to the hotel.



design note: fancy baths.

Interior designers of the world: your attention please. Sometimes it's OK to keep part of the decor "traditionally functional". The above faucet, yes, in this picture, looks fantastic. In reality, once you were able to turn it on, the "waterfall" either shot out over the far rim of the sink, soaking the belly and waist area of whatever you were wearing, or spluttered/gushed downward onto the ledge where the toothpaste is standing, immediately ricocheting/overflowing onto the floor and just generally making a mess.

And then, the toilet. Let's say for example a couple is going on one of their first romantic getaways together, off into the Spanish countryside to overnight at a totally pimped-out farmhouse. I know it's Europe, but is this really what the bathroom door should look like?

Yes this is the only toilet.


day 8: marbella/málaga.

This is Carlos. Or Klaas, depending on who you ask. He came to our lunch table in Marbella for some tapas. He started with a little bread, then came back for some patatas fritas.



My shoes didn't make it. Structurally weakened by long walks on the +100°F streets of Seville, the hills of Tangier delivered another deadly blow, and the ridiculous stairs of Vejer finished them off. I was just hoping to not have to tape them together for the flight home.



spanje recap.

Welllllllllll....where to start? Unromantic as it is, I'll start here: I just got an email from trusty cohort Papa J-Kim which said, among other things, something to the effect of it looking like I "spent a fortune on lush snackies" in Spain. Aside from the fact that "I" was not doing most of the spending, this is one of the amazing things about Spain: you really have to try hard to spend a fortune on food. OR (as we'll see), you have to make a bad Plan B after your Plan A is closed that day under mysterious circumstances, a scenario which seems to be the most likely reason by far that you would either eat badly or expensively or both.

Some examples: I think our favorite meal of the week was a lunch at Bodeguita Romero in Sevilla. In addition to wonderfully polite and efficient service, we had: a plate of homemade potato salad with vinegar and scallions; two bocadillos (just a little sandwich, ideally on toasted, crunchy bread) one with a good stinky roquefort and one with their celebrated pringa (blood sausage and pulled pork), €1.50 each; a plate of cumin-y stewed chickpeas and spinach; albondigas de choco (ehhh, cuttlefish meatballs, the Spanish sounds quite a bit better, no?). And four glasses of really good tinto de verano (red wine and lemon soda over ice). Total bill: €23.70. In Amsterdam you'd pay that much for the four drinks.

The "nicest" meal we had was probably at La Brunilda in Sevilla (an excellent Plan B, after La Azotea was mysteriously closed and our feet were totally destroyed so we were desperate for something close by), receipt pictured above, meal pictured below. A slightly-too-giant piece of burrata with a very smart and delicious salad of homemade pesto, oven-dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes and arugula cost €5.50. I'm sure that in most cities you would be hard-pressed to find a giant piece of burrata for that price in the grocery store, much less at a "nice" restaurant. A lovely bowl of Idiazabal and wild mushroom risotto for €4.70. I had a delicious fucking (difficult to attractively photograph) langostino burger for €3.70, you can barely find a falafel for that price in Amsterdam. I'm just saying: it no make no sense. More soon.



night 7: vejer, la oficina.

Abacería La Oficina was the first restaurant I found during my Vejer research, and wellllllll it turned out to be the restaurant directly below our airbnb. Like at dinner we sat beneath our bedroom window:

But due to a mix of hunger, timing, and logistics, we didn't manage to eat there until our last night in town. It was really quite great, and quite a (oh how I cringe at using this word) "special" little place: apparently they're only open two months a year, July and August. The cook is from Seville and the waiter is from Bilbao, and they only come down to Vejer in the summertime. The cook is also a painter who teaches art in Seville and the place is full of his work, pretty nice stuff I thought.

Anyway, so we were lucky to be there while they were open, and the food and service were both great. Below: one of the week's better salmorejo; tuna and potato empanadillas with soy and green beans, the empanada dough was pretty perfect.

The next thing was described to us twice, but all we could figure out was that it was "something with the head of the tuna". Looking at their menu online, I think it was "morrillo de atún", which is, how you say, "ze forehead of ze tuna", served with very buttery mashed potatoes and again, soy sauce. Then risoto de veduras, really good, and then kind of the highlight, tarte de la abuela (which was tarta de galletas plus a cinnamon-y custard called natillas plus milk chocolate).

Tarta de galletas is a "cookie cake", traditionally made in summertime because you don't have to turn the oven on, and the whole assembled thing was awwwwwwwesome. It was made even awwwwwwwesomer by the glasses of vino de naranja we had with it, a kind of sweet but not too sweet orange wine made only in Vejer.