4.11.17

benzodiazepine withdrawal diet.

"Stopping a benzo 'cold turkey' without medical assistance is not recommended." -American Addiction Centers

No shit. Putting this out there for other desperate people. I can recommend the following. It could be strictly coincidence, timing, "throwing everything at the problem", etc. But I was in a situation where my symptoms were all just unpleasant...this very good resource takes the trouble to list them:

symptoms may include anxiety, panic, insomnia, muscle spasms or tension, nausea and/or vomiting, diarrhea, blurred vision, seizures, hallucinations, short-term memory impairment, trouble concentrating, clouded thinking, mood swings, agitation, drug cravings, twitching and weight loss due to a decreased appetite. 

I had all of them! Except seizures, and no real hallucinations but everything just looked like it was moving a little when it wasn't.

Anyway things were not improving, and then I started eating like this and let's say a week later I'm much better. Like I said, maybe no correlation, but I can tell you that the eating of the foods themselves did successfully provide moments of relief, I guess that normally would've been "pleasure", it just seemed like "less bad".

So for five days I only ate the following foods, for either their tyrosine content or dopaminic (probably not a word) properties:

Eggs, salt, lean beef, miso, chilies, peanuts, cucumber, salmon, herring, dark chocolate, almonds, kiwi, blueberries, ginger, pickles, yogurt.

And I would try to have a green or beet juice here and there for vegetable content. After my stomach started functioning again I added cheese, for this reason. I was just trying to feel better. And it mostly worked. I tried a lot of things. I tried very expensive CBD oil with varying degrees of success, but it turns out that just smoking weed is way way cheaper and worked better, except for the terrible heart racing episodes.

Oh and, really, do not drink alcohol. At first I thought that it was making my symptoms go away, but no it was really just getting ready to lower my elevator 100 floors lower into the center of helllllll. So, while it may seem like a good idea, especially if you have to function in public, for say a solo guitar gig or something...a good idea it is not.

Anyway, I'm not perfect yet, hands still shake when I button my shirt or peel a potato or try to play guitar carefully. But my RLS is mostly gone, and I slept 5 hours last night. You know what may be working? Magnesium. I've tried it before with no detectable results, but I've been taking it every day for a week and I've been sleepy before midnight the last four nights in a row or something. Insert thumbs up.

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btw.




















This is the Surinamese peanut butter you want. Spicy but not too hot. No weird over-coriandered aftertaste. I'm putting it on celery sticks but you might want to make peanut butter cookies out of it, no joke.

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1.11.17

search for pleasure dome 2.

I can't tell what's going on, but this is another kind of home run.

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salmon burger with hoisin mayo, miso butter, roasted sweet potato, cucumber pickles, jalapeno, peanut.

salmon

2 tsp hoisin
2 tbsp mayo
1 tbsp miso
2 tbsp butter
1 sweet potato, sliced like potato chip thin
grapeseed oil

cucumber pickles
pickled jalapenos
peanuts, chopped

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30.10.17

search for pleasure dome.

Well, your host is having some kind of pharmaceutical problem again that is only made marginally better by pushing a pleasure button, when he can manage to locate one. Believe you me we will be launching a Nostromo-like salvage mission to go in there and methodically detail the recovery process should there be one and maybe even learn something from it this time, but for now let's just thank our lucky lucky stars, shall we, for in a moment of true inspiration/desperation I have found/developed a super surprising, healthy-ass pleasure button. Check this shit out. I think it's "Southern food". Maybe it would need to be trout or catfish or catfish instead but you feel me.

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blackened salmon with kale and sauerkraut slaw + blue cheese and peanut.

4 x 125g salmon
2 1/2 tbsp paprika
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 cups of shredded kale
1 cup fresh sauerkraut
2 scallions, diced
1/2 cucumber, sliced
3 tbsp cider  vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard or piccalilli
1 or 2 tbsp agave syrup
I guesss you should probably put some mayonnaise in here, but we'll try it without

the necessary amount of blue cheese, crumbled
a handful of dry roasted peanuts

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21.10.17

romantic + vegan + food.























I actually Googled this the other day because nothing was immediately coming to mind. Oh I know romance isn't about the food it's about the beer, joking, but certainly we can all agree that there are foods that are more romantic than others, for example poor broccoli, jeez. Smoked mackerel. Turnip.

I think the dish in the photo above would satisfy just about anyone's ok I didn't realize this sentence was going to sound so half-assedly perverse if I started it that way. I'm trying to say this was a really good date night dinner. It is this carrot osso buco + these roasted garlic mashed potatoes + this rosemary gremolata (plus pine nuts). The gremolata would be good on just about anything. The carrot itself is sweet but has been braised in a broth of  red wine and mushroom powder for a long time and has totally absorbed those flavors. The potatoes are, well, garlic mashed potatoes. Vegan mods include oat milk and olive oil in the potatoes instead of milk and butter, and oh two strips of lemon zest in the carrots, which I guess is just a mod isn't it.

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19.10.17

bless your heart.























I have other things I should really be doing, but felt compelled to share. So I was out on TripAdvisor for a moment because tomorrow La Nelson is visiting Amsterdam, where I myself am for a few weeks visiting creatures like the above cuddly bundle of joy, and you know I just wanted to you know brush up on what's what here since I imagine I haven't had a restaurant meal in the city in a long while I think.

So I'm checking out some nearby places that are pretty unique to Amsterdam that I used to go to and I'm brainstorming a bit and whatnot and I think, oh yeah, wonder what ol' Japanese Pancake World is up to these days. Case you don't remember they serve okonomiyaki, a much-loved substance of this blog's earlier days, sometimes debatably referred to (is it wise to highlight a word your spellchecker disagrees with, wtf "debatably", that's a word you asshole) as the Japanese equivalent of pizza, not because it tastes anything like or has a single ingredient in common with pizza but because it's all over the place and comforting and commonly eaten late at night after drinking, like dude omfg I'm wasted i need a slice or something etc. In any event, it almost always contains seaweed and/or optionally, dried fish. It will definitely remind you of the ocean, which come to think of it is not even really La Nelson's bag in the first place so it probably shouldn't even be on the list in the first place.

MY POINT BEING: the second TripAdvisor review out there could almost be a troll/parody but I'm pretty sure it's not, the reviewer is from Atlanta after all where, bless their ignorant fucking Trump-voting little hearts, by and large they know absolutely fuck all about the rest of the world (thinking about, among many other things, last November's visit to L5P, where we met a lovely young man who was pretty sure Holland was in Norway or Denmark, despite our insistence to the contrary).

By the way sometimes you just have to love Urban Dictionary's succinct and vulgar accuracy, describing the so very Atlantan colloquialism of "bless his/her/their heart" as "(...) the most Southern 'fuck you' there is. Can be put at the end of a phrase to nullify any cruelty." I guess the trick to said nullification would be to not insert additional cruelty between the "bless" and "heart" portions of the euphemism. Ah well.

Anyway, TripAdvisor review. Here it is:
We went here because it was rated one of the top 5 pancake restaurants in Amsterdam. It's a nice little place, but the food was horrible. So bad neither of us could finish ours. First of all, the pancakes we got smelled like dried fish even though we did not order any seafood on our pancakes. This was very weird and unsettling. Second, the pancake was mushy, more like dough then a cooked pancake. They had way too much ginger on them. The flavors didn't meld. They were terrible. I lost my restaurant-choosing privileges after this meal. Avoid this place, the food is horrible. 
First of all, I have eaten these pancakes and they are 1) large and 2) not cheap. I would looooooved to have seen rob1270's face after he took his first bite, chewed like 1.5 times, maybe 2 times, and then slowly looked down at the enormous rest of the pancake he had on his plate.

And this is why not to have a restaurant. And this is why some people shouldn't leave the house. Thank you rob1270, that will be all: absolute shittiness of people and the diabolically cruel double-edged-swordness of the Internet that I helped give to everybody confirmed for the quadrillionth time this month.

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16.10.17

inspirrring?

In an effort to increase my dopamine levels, I'm looking at burger porn. Well that's not the whole story, I plan to be eating more protein and yeah just wandered off into the dangerous part of the internet where they have pictures of protein between two pieces of bread.

Well OK, it's just that after so much goddamn experimenting with trying to make a truly delicious veggie burger that felt decadent, I look at this list and I see one thing that compels me to make a note. Well two things. OK three: 1) cheese, 2) sauce, 3) onions.

Here's the list, good luck. And remind me to steal some ideas from Block 16. And Mott Street. After looking at this i just grabbed whatever and made a curry-rubbed steak burger with hoisin-aoili, pickled jalapeno, galangal creamed spinach.....just go mess with your forgotten Asian condiments.

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28.9.17

pindasoep.

This is the soup that we should've made an extra 8 liters of. One Italian guy tried it, then immediately came back and ordered another cup, and then proceeded to order everything else on the menu over the next hour. Not braggin', just sayin'. That was one of the nicest compliments of the day because it's what I would've done.

So this is pretty classic Dutchified pindasoep I think, it tastes very much like the one I've eaten the most of, from Soep en Zo in Amsterdam (come to think of it, I may have eaten there more than any other Amsterdam restaurant...can that be true?). This recipe is something I can take very little credit for, it was all Nelson's doing except for the hearts of palm and the seroendeng. If it's not dark enough for you, I'd add a shot of ketjap manis.

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surinamese peanut soup. 

1 onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 plantain, more green than brown, diced
1 cup palm hearts, diced
5 allspice berries
1 bay leaf
1 or 1.5 liter water
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1 madame jeanette/habanero chile, whole
300ml natural, smooth peanut butter


1/2 cucumber, julienned
1 cup dark celery leaves (selderij), minced
seroendeng (an Indonesian condiment that's in every grocery store of any size here, basically toasted coconut, roasted peanuts, salt, sugar, ground coriander and probably a few other things)

Apparently you can just throw everything except the peanut butter in a pot for 45 minutes, turn it off, add the peanut butter, make sure it melts/dissolves, remove the madame jeanette, and serve with the accouterments.

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26.9.17

ok now it's day one.























Test mission accomplished? The above photo was taken at around 15:00 Sunday, after we'd run out of pumpkin and had to reduce our Tres Tacos to Dos Tacos.

In fact we'd run out of more than half the menu by then. Had we made more food, I'm sure we could've sold 4 times as much banana bread, and probably 3 times as much pindasoep (we should've made this the day before we did make it, stupie). The one "miss" on the menu was this breakfast sandwich idea, which we sold maybe 8 of, and which I'll elaborate on in general in just a second.

Well OK I'll elaborate on it right now actually, in the form of a General Lessons Learned list, some of which are Super Painfully Obvious, but you know, in the frenzy/daze of trying to get the truck open you can easily space on some of the basics, like:

1) Know how much money you started with. Superstupie, I know. I didn't even consider it frankly. And we had the additional complication of also having a clothing stall, and our opening till was split between that and the truck. We eventually came close to figuring it out: we are pretty sure we did €455 in food sales.

2) Write down every order and take names. Another one. The duh benefit is knowing exactly how many customers you served at the end of the day, and plus it's a bit more personal when you ask someone their name instead of sticking your big head out the door of the truck and yelling "TWO TACOS, ANYONE?". Someone we only lost one order, our second to last of the day. She came up very sweetly after 15 minutes or so and said "Um, how long does it normally take?" And we're like, "You ordered food?" We'd just been sitting there congratulating ourselves on surviving the day.

But number of customers served? Yeah, we don't know. We were doing well with writing things down until the lunch rush. We know that we sold 10 pieces of banana bread and 20 bucks' worth of pindasoep. And maybe 35 sandwiches. And 30 or 40 orders of tacos. So we think we had at least 80 customers and probably more like 100. Our research had suggested, amazingly enough, that we should expect to be able to serve between 80 and 100 if there was sufficient foot traffic. Zero idea where this research came from, other than probably Googling "average food truck customers per day".

3) Pricing. I personally think the pricing was right on. It would´ve been nice to ask for an extra euro for the tacos. People would´ve paid it. But a broodje tempeh shouldn´t be more than the 4 euros ours was. Banana bread should probably be a euro per small slice, although it´s pretty gourmet banana bread and could maybe be 2. A little cup of soup for 3 euro also seems right.

4) Keep a pan for cooking new food. In addition to leaving the pineapple salsa at home, this was my biggest fuckup of the day: when we got to the market the black beans were still frozen. We had two cooking surfaces to work with for the day: 1) one induction burner with two possible pans to use, although nowhere to put the pan you weren't currently cooking with, and 2) a big electric skillet. I used the big skillet to defrost the beans while I set up the steam table, which was totally unnecessary foot-shooting. I could've just defrosted the beans in the table. Instead, I dirtied one of our three pans and since we didn't have running water, it became "the bean pan" all day instead of "the place to cook new food." Stupie.

5) Fucking squirt bottles. Uggggghhhhcccckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk. These were terrible. I don't know how much you have to pay to get a squirt bottle with a wide nozzle where the top won't explode off if it gets stuck, but whatever that amount is, it's got to be worth it.

OK, part of the problem was also my design flaw. It started like this: my formative green salsa memory is from Tortillas in Atlanta back in the 1990s (another recipe here?). They had a squeeze bottle of green salsa on every table, and if, for example, you were taking a two-hour lunch break from work, you (I) could easily go through most of an entire bottle on your shrimp burrito, it was awesome stuff.

So I've long fantasized about passing the same luxury on anyone else I ever served a taco or burrito to. But jesus, no way, not with these bottles, it would be about 4 minutes before someone's day was ruined by a geyser of fragrant, viscous salsa verde. In the kitchen we had enough mishaps to just switch to little bowls about halfway through service. Which leads me to:

6) Spoons. Bring lots of spoons.

7) Don't be afraid to take something off the menu. At some point months ago, we decided that it would be nice to have a savory breakfast sandwich on the menu, since we were going to open around 10:00. I know how it all happened: it was a nice idea, we put a lot of time and effort into it, the components themselves were all delicious....but it just never clicked as a sandwich. Some brilliant person suggested that we should've made it a breakfast burrito, and yes, in hindsight that seems like a much more doable proposition, less bread/dough would better highlight the inner components and a tortilla would also let us leverage our salsa efforts shoot me for using the word leverage but it's accurate. Anyway, my point is: if it's not awesome don't do it.

8) Estimates. This went pretty well: we went through one "steam table unit" of everything except tempeh, which we did twice as much of. I think we sold 25 broodje tempeh, because we bought 30 buns, and there were something like 5 left at the end, so that was pretty durn good estimating. We'd guessed we might sell 150 tacos, so we bought 200 tortillas just in case, and I think we probably sold 120, not too shabby either.

9) Surely something else.


14.9.17

ok now it's day one.

I was sick for three days immediately after have proclaimed Another Fresh Start. Here we go.

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sunflower chorizo. 
2 sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon dried Mexicano oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander seed
Pinch ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons red wine or distilled white vinegar
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp soy sauce

11.9.17

day one.

It is.

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lazy hummus.

225g cooked chickpeas
2 tbsp tahini
2 cloves garlic, peeled
juice of a lemon
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp paprika or smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Put tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and cumin in a food processor and process until the garlic is totally tiny. Add the chickpeas, then the olive oil, and process to a smooth, well, hummussy consistency. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprankle with paprika if you feelin' fancy like.

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"pimiento cheese."

1 cup cashews
2 cups water

1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3/4 cup this vegan mayo
1 tsp miso
2 roasted red peppers
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp grated onion
salt to taste

27.8.17

the new tapenade.
























hazelnut and red pepper tapenade.
2 roasted red peppers from the jar
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp good, non-bitter olive oil, or hazelnut oil if you are living in a world of luxury
1 or 2 tsp sherry vinegar
handful fresh basil leaves
salt to taste
sugar if necessary

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zjft 2017.


















Bottom photo: yes that is a herd of sheep sleeping in the bike path at 11pm and all the white dots are their reflecting eyes.

Above: leaving the city on the way to getting lost for the only real time the whole day, but it was untangleable enough for us to miss the first concert. Which, who knows, maybe wasn't a bad thing, the concerts we did see were mostly annoying as fuck due to I don't know quite how to say this so I'll just say assholes.

The couple who asks you to scoop over so they can sit down, and then proceeds to tell every person who stands in front of them, "sorry please don't stand there," and then when the concert starts they barely look up from their concert program that they're loudly rustling the pages of. We almost didn't survive that one.

I could go on. OJH's cowboy hat and dancing. A swarm of photographers probably doing noble things and thinking they weren't really getting in anyone's way, but yeah, they were. Half the venues not having beer or wine, only coffee. Anyway: we did it.

Below: despite smelling like an infected tooth, Hekkum was rescued by having curious cows and one perfectly located picnic table that was thankfully upwind from the center of its decay.

All in all, yes, 38km of ass-crushing, ball-breaking bike riding. All those things but beautiful and challenging, especially the ride home, zooming through the pitch black country night in between a forest on one side and a canal on the other, down a path just wider than our bikes, not being able to see anything except the pile of sheep that didn't seem at all surprised to see us.









24.8.17

broodje tempeh.

Tempeh attempt #1, based on this, which rings true to me at first glance.
UPDATE: here it is with fixes.

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broodje tempeh tempeh. 

400g tempeh sliced typically
2 tbsp coconut oil
big pinch coarse smoked salt

1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 small madame jeanette chile, minced
70g tomato paste
2 tbsp ketjap manis
1 tbsp tamarind concentrate
1/2 tsp salt
100ml water

Melt oil in wok, add tempeh, stir-fry for 10 minutes so that the tempeh has taken on more than a little color and is a bit crisped up, because you be about ready to de-crisp it during the next step. Add everything else and cook for another 15 minutes.

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surinamse pickle. 

1 cucumber
salt
1 cup vinegar
1 madame jeanette
1/4 tsp allspice or 10 allspice berries
1/4 tsp cloves
1 bay leaf
maybe a dash of sugar depending on your vinegar

Cut the cucumber interestingly and salt it. Add the chile and the spices to a pan with the vinegar, boil the vinegar, when it comes to a boil pour it over the cucumbers. Refrigerate. This should really be served the next day.

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18.8.17

vizcaina.


















Yes, I know, cabo de penas, ha ha. Anyway: there must be a way to get a version of this into my regular life that doesn't involve 1) flying to Spain and 2) eating cod. Just now I opened a can, ok two cans (but the second one only because the first one was so remarkably good), threw it in a pan, added some crushed red pepper, a handful of kalamata olives, and at the end half an avocado. Man, just super good.

Now what is the vegan version of this. Chickpeas and potatoes in place of bacalao? Something like this is the recipe I imagine.

17.8.17

13: tarifa to malaga.

Terrible sleep. And the beginning of what would be roughly a week of terrible sleep. Nonetheless, by morning Tarifa was back to its pleasant, boring, empty self. Right outside our bnb was a churros place, it seemed that fate was finally ready to let us have churros for breakfast.





Then a drive across town to "a nice place with free Wifi where surfers hang out, plus there's sushi." Mmm, well, no, not til dinner there's not. Commence slow-building Death Mope. This was maybe 13:00. We had to pick up the puber in Estepona and be at the Malaga airport by 18:00. We didn't have tons of time to fuck around is what I'm saying.



So I had the super idea to go check out this picturesque little hotel that we kept passing, they probably had food right? Back in the car, drive for 15 minutes or something.



It was not quite as cute up close, more calculated to look cute than honestly cute. Good fonts though.


And I'm all, well then yeah I think we should find somewhere else. This is how Death Mopes happen. You think you can "do better". So I'm frantically poking around and cursing at TripAdvisor, while we're driving basically back to Zahara de los Atunes, the wrong direction. Something flashes across the screen, it's Italian, the safest vegetarian cuisine in Spain, ok ok pull over.

We end up in the parking lot of Osteria Del Sole, which reallllly doesn't look like much, but we are out of time, and the 17 seconds worth of research I did said it was wonderful.

 

















And yes, lucky as hell. That's ravioli with asparagus and saffron cream, it's as good as it looks. It was all good, truly Italian. Then we hit the road, off to the airport.


8.8.17

12: tarifa, or "I am in the european southern point."


















Above: coffee/breakfast at Pozo del Duque, the hotel we retreated to when Nelson fell ill last year. Below: the road to Tarifa, two times.



















Then: the first thing we did was to walk 30 minutes out of town looking for an outlet store. Arguably my idea, but I'd imagined driving there. Anyway, it was closed, like permanently, and even the closed location was difficult to find, and then someone pointed us "just down the road" to another place, etc etc etc etc.

It was hot and windy, and the idea of walking back the way we came was Death Mope x 1000 so these are pictures of the cab ride back into the center. Lasting Corporate America Lesson #8: any hotel worth a shit will always call you a cab if you don't look homeless.

 

















Then lunch at the one address I had truly researched, La Burla, Italian/Spanish cooked by Italians, which I didn't know at the time is kind of a thing in Tarifa. Pictured: pulpo alla Gallega, Galician-style octopus with smoked paprika and potatoes, which I'd kind of been waiting to try. Not pictured: stuffed fried zucchini flowers; bacalao alla vizcaina, one of my very favorite Spanish things to eat, basically bacalao with olives, tomato and capers, but that really doesn't do it justice; Nelson's ravioli with sage and brown butter. All really good although in retrospect it seems to have dimmed a little because our next several meals were surprisingly good. Expectations and whatnot.



















So then we got back to our hood and did something, probably just sweated for a while. It was hot. Above: our room's window, which you'll see a view from by the end of this post.

Below: Bar Frances, kind of across the street from our apartment, which served two of the best versions of Spanish things I've ever had: patatas bravas and sangria. I should learn to make both of these exactly like this, just stupendous, fantastic, spectaaaaacular. The other things on the table are eggplant with goat cheese, stuffed mushrooms and some kind of vegetable timbale, none of it bad but not as superlative as the taters.

























The rest of these pics are just Tarifa, another nice surprise of a city. Our dinner, not really pictured, at No. 6 Cocina Sencilla, was one of those "how can they possibly serve this food at these prices" dinners. I had a tuna skewer with coarse sea salt and wakame that was maybe the best thing I ate on the whole trip, 2 euro 50 cents. Like wonderful steak. So good I ordered another one immediately. We had a broccoli tartare (basically a slightly refined version of my Nan's broccoli salad); a "wok of vegetables" which unexpectedly included 8 wonderful shrimp (if you're a vegetarian in Spain, always ask); a mango salmorejo that was one of the best of the trip; and some kind of slightly disappointing hazelnut ravioli. Plus 4 glasses of really delicious Rioja: 23 euros (note to self: Lopez de Haro, 2014). I mean the whole thing cost 23 euros, not just the wine.



After dinner we wandered the streets a bit. Tarifa was really kind of waking up, by the time we left the restaurant at 11pm or whatever, the wait for a table was an hour.




















The idea was to have a quick nightcap at Bar Frances, the place with the sangria (above, we made it there, too crowded so we drank our sangrias sitting on the curb, where this picture was taken from). On the way there we passed some excessively crowded and loud bars that looked kind of horrible in a young drunk people meat market kind of way, and we were like "no way are we getting involved with that", and then we turned the corner and there was our apartment. 

Oh, so we were getting involved with that, because it was basically underneath our window, from where these next two pics are taken. This was 1am. Shortly thereafter we got in bed, and the street noise was so loud we had to shout to hear each other. In bed. I turned on the fan, and my portable white noise generator and we couldn't hear either of them. It was......funny. Until about 5am.