SAL DeTRAGLIA'S VIRTUAL TAPAS BAR
Observations on food, drink, sport, life and silliness in the US, Spain...and beyond! [Copyright © 2004-2016. All rights reserved.]
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
CALLING ALL COCONUTS...
Just wanted to inform all of you that Thanksgiving has passed, and as such...Tis the season of Vince Guaraldi.
Yep...I've listed to my well-worn, ten year old "A Charlie Brown Christmas" CD no less than eight times since last Thursday.
And you should, too.
[God! I really need a painting or something for that wall.]
Sunday, November 26, 2006
AND NOW FOR A PRIVATE MESSAGE TO THE AMISH.
But the fact remains that a number of VTB Chat Loungers and lurkers have not yet entered the 21st century. That's right...they have no blogs of their own. We'll call these people, "the Amish."
And the Amish are simply not carrying their weight around here.
So...I'd like to briefly enlighten the Amish on how they can quickly, easily and *anonymously* create their own blogs.
Step 1: Go to www.blogger.com
Step 2: Click that big orange arrow that says something like "Create a Blog.
Step 3: Follow the instructions and you'll have your own blog up and running in three minutes. Literally.
That's it! A whole lot easier than driving a horse and buggy. And a lot less messy, too.
Friday, November 24, 2006
AND NOW FOR ANOTHER MOMENT OF SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION.
Well, stop wondering...because now I have.
My scholarly dissertation on the flaming Galician cocktail called “Queimada” is now published in The Spirit World.
Check it out by clicking HERE.
THE OFFICIAL SONG OF “EXPATAPALOOZA 2007.”
So overwhelming, in fact, that I felt that the event needed its own song. So, I wrote one.
I mean, I wrote the lyrics. The music is lifted from the classic pinko folk song, “Little Boxes.”
Click the YouTube video above to familiarize yourself with the music. And then, start memorizing the new lyrics below.
Why? Because *everybody* attending Expatapalooza 2007 will be expected to sing along as Pam and I play our ukuleles.
In Sal’s basement.
Drinking shot glasses.
Full of ticky tacky.
And they all whine just the same.
See them standing.
In the supermarket.
For JIF peanut butter.
Craving root beer.
And they all whine just the same.
They are lawyers.
And they’re all.
Deprived of vegemite.
And Pep Chews.
And Almond Joys.
When they’re gray and crusty.
They will move back.
To their native lands.
Where they’ll all pine.
For old Europe.
And they’ll all whine.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
KLONDIKE KAT ALWAYS GETS HIS...ESTONIAN?
Through the magical, mystical forces of peace, love and COCONUT...the VTB Chat Lounge now has its very own Estonian!
Recall that in yesterday’s maiden voyage of the good ship, “Out That Lurker,” we made a desperate plea for the introverted Estonian who religiously checks this blog each day to step forward and join the party.
And he did!
Or she did.
Quite honestly, I’m still not sure about our new friend’s gender. But it really doesn’t matter, because most people in blog chat rooms don’t tell the truth, anyway.
So, let’s hear what our new friend has to say:
A couple words about myself. (Gosh, that sounds like "English for beginners" course). My employer is Fish Murderers Inc. and I proudly pose as the Executive BS Tester for their 3 companies. `nuff said.
I enjoy your blog, Sal, with the COCONUTS and all. It is safely tucked in my IE "Favourites" and during my coffee brake I sometimes click on the link and say to myself quietly (Hannibal Lecter-like) "Sa-al. Hi Sa-al".
How I got here. I will probably be moving to Southern Spain in a year or so if all goes as planned. I had to do some research. After typing "life in spain blog expat" , i got all sorts of info. Expatica Spain had your article and I found your blog. Tadaa!
BTW it`s not that cold here yet. Around zero Celsius. The`re promising tons of snow for Christmas though.
I’m sure that I speak for the entire VTB family--and of course I do, because I’m the dictator around here--when I say, "Tere tulemast!"
Anyone who can mention Hannibal Lecter, Fish Murderers and COCONUT in the same four-paragraph e-mail message is certainly welcomed with open arms and open wines bottles.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
AND NOW FOR ANOTHER INSTALLMENT OF...“OUT THAT LURKER!”
In a sense, he’s the digital equivalent of that creepy guy behind the one-way mirror in a WalMart dressing room.
Now...in a perfect world, being a lurker here at the VTB should be a secure, relaxing activity—with said lurker being comfortably wrapped in the warm, cozy cloak of his own impenetrable anonymity.
But alas, the VTB world is far from perfect. Why? Because that little Site Meter box at the bottom of my blog knows all...and tells all.
What does it tell me?
Well...it tells me the city and country in which every reader of this VTB sits, how long was his visit, how many pages he viewed, and which Google search words got him here. And let me tell ya...that latter nugget of information can be pretty darn interesting. ;-)
So...with that background information in hand, I am pleased to announce a new VTB segment called, “Out that Lurker!”
That’s right...every now and again, I am going “out” whichever lurker has grabbed my attention of late. And today’s outting victim is...
THAT GUY OR GIRL FROM TALLIN, HARJUMAA, ESTONIA!
Yeah, that’s right. I’m talking to *you*! Stop looking over your shoulder! There’s only one person from Estonia who ever reads my blog. So...if you’re reading this and there's a snowmobile in your driveway with Estonian license plates, then congratulations! You’ve just been outted.
Now, get your ass over to the VTB Chat Lounge and introduce yourself. No need to give your name or political affiliation, but at least tell us what is your favorite candy bar and whether you have a tattoo.
And don’t worry if English isn’t your native language. Here at the VTB, we speak only the language of love.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
SILENCE OF THE LAMB.
I hated them as a kid, because it meant that my two sacred days of watching late night TV had ended.
I hated them as an adult living in the US, because it meant that I had to return to work the next morning—and, cruelly enough, it also meant that work-related stress would return right around bedtime.
But above all, I hate them in Spain. Why? Because a Sunday in Spain means that everything is closed and there is NOTHING to do.
It’s for this reason that I woke up this morning in a panic.
“Sunday! Nothing to do! Dangerous! Very dangerous!”
Believe me, folks—I really, REALLY don’t relax well. In fact, I can’t even begin to fathom what other people find so relaxing about relaxing.
My body tenses like an over-tuned violin string. My teeth start grinding like a mortar and pestle. And my mind starts wandering into neighborhoods where no mind ought to wander.
“Must occupy myself! Must occupy myself!” I cried as I leaped from bed and bounded down the staircase.
I started rifling through cabinets. I tore through magazine racks. I scanned the neighborhood for any signs of life. It was all for naught. Until...I opened the refrigerator door.
And there—staring me right in the face—were a leg of lamb, a whole chicken, a sweet potato and a COCONUT.
My trapezius softened. My head tilted back. I let out a long, drawn-out, quasi-orgasmic breath. And then—refocusing my gaze on those four objects sitting on the refrigerator shelf—I snarled, “You’re smoked!”
Enter The Salivator.
We all know the procedure by now. I fired up the charcoals (Minion Method, for those who are interested), and turned my attention toward prepping the food.
The first order of business was to name the meat. This is important, because Q’g can take anywhere from five to fifteen hours. And given that I live alone...I need someone or something to talk with during that long haul.
I named the leg of lamb “PATCHES” and the chicken “CORKY.” There was no need to name the other items, because—as we all know—lambs and chickens have a tendency to dominate conversations.
PATCHES had been marinading overnight in a mixture of one part Kikoman Soy Sauce and two parts vegetable oil. CORKY was in a brine of 6 T. table salt, 3/4 cup of sugar and 1 quart of water.
I removed and dried them both. I dusted PATCHES with a dry rub called “Magic Dust” (recipe can be found in the book “Peace, Love and Barbecue” by Mike Mills).
I washed the as-yet-unnamed sweet potato and jabbed it several times with a fork.
And then, I sawed the COCONUT in half. If you think sawing a COCONUT is easy, then think again. It took ten minutes and I’m damn lucky to have escaped with all my fingers.
I somehow squeezed all this food on The Salivator’s top grate, shoved a digital probe thermometer into PATCHES, and closed the lid.
And then I sat down, and commenced a conversation with PATCHES and CORKY that ran the gamut from middle-eastern politics...to animal husbandry...to the best method for making hats out of yarn and empty beer cans.
I removed the COCONUT after three hours—which was probably an hour too much, because it was a bit dry. But interesting, nonethless. Smoky COCONUT is very niiiice!
At hour four, CORKY'S breast was at 160F and her thigh was at 170F. Time for her to come off!
She was so beautiful, I almost didn't want to shred her. But shred her I did, because CORKY gave her life so that my daughter can have chicken salad for dinner tomorrow night. Sorry, CORKER. I didn't invent the food chain. I just follow it.
At hour four and a half, PATCHES hit 170F. He was drop-dead gorgeous. I wrapped him and the sweet potato in heavy-duty aluminum foil, and put them into an empty beer cooler. They sat in there for another hour...keeping toasty warm while PATCHES re-absorbed his juices.
Finally, I sliced and then chopped PATCHES into little bits, served him on Wonder bread and drizzled with an Owensboro, Kenucky-style "black sauce" (i.e., Worchester sauce, white vinegar, lemon juice, brown sugar and garlic).
And, so...I successfully navigated the pitfalls of another Sunday. All thanks to PATCHES, CORKY and COCONUT.
In case you're wondering, I'm going to have a salad for dinner.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
For each of the last ten Novembers, he has travelled to Michigan to hunt deer...and returned with nothing more than a chest cold and a case of foot fungus.
But this year was different, he--to quote Ted Nugent--"whacked" two deer during his first morning. And one of them was a six-pointer.
[For the benefit of any confused Europeans reading this, feel free to write me privately and I'll explain what a "six-pointer" means.]
Yes...most American families will sit-down next week to a Thanksgiving meal of roast turkey with stuffing.
But at FrankenFeet's house, the menu will proudly feature roast venison with stuffing.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
FOR ONCE...SAL'S TAPAS BAR DROPS THE "VIRTUAL."
After two and a half years of diligent blogging, I finally got to meet a fellow blogger tonight. And we met the old fashioned way: in person.
That’s right… Angie—Indiana’s most trusted journalist—and her fiancé, “The Boyfriend,” made a triumphant return to Madrid to relive the days of her bygone youth and give me an excuse to stay late in the city drinking wine.
It’s always a risky proposition when you meet your heroes in person. I once met Andre the Giant at a bus depot in Fairbanks, Alaska and was crushed to discover that he was not only 5’10”…but also a classically-trained oboist.
But when those heroes prove to be as nice and as genuine as you’d imagined, it makes the risk worthwhile.
And such was the case with Ang and The Boyfriend tonight. They were the real deal.
We had several rounds of wine and tapas at a mercifully quiet, mercifully uncrowded Madrid bar and babbled-on like old friends for a full three hours—fifteen minutes of which were devoted to the all-important topic of COCONUT.
Oh, and by the way…Ang is about as tall as Andre the Giant. I have the stiff neck to prove it.
All this brings me to my next separate-but-related point—which is the very real need for a 2007 European Blogger Reunion. And since nobody else has jumped on this grenade, I’ll do so now.
Christina, Trac, Lady Di, Cream, Tat, TBF’s, C-Swiss, Nerd’s Eye, Bueller…Bueller…Bueller? What do you think? We can discuss possible dates and location later, but for now…just give me an indication of your general level of interest.
Does this idea sound remotely appealing to anyone?
If we build it, will you come?
Sunday, November 12, 2006
AND NOW FOR ANOTHER INSTALLMENT OF..."GRAMMATICAL ERRORS IN ELVIS SONGS."
I was just waiting for the right moment (i.e., a moment when I had nothing more interesting or intelligent about which to write).
Well, that moment has arrived. So...at the risk of incurring the wrath of Trac, I give you the first installment of "Grammatical Errors in Elvis Songs!"
Love me tenderLY, ["TENDER" IS AN ADVERB, ELVIS. IT REQUIRES THE SUFFIX “-LY.”]
Love me sweetLY, [OH DEAR, ANOTHER PESKY ADVERB.]
Never let me go.
You have made my life complete,
And I love you so [“I LOVE YOU” SO WHAT? SO DEEPLY? SO OBSESSIVELY? SO COCONUTILY?].
Love me tenderLY, [JESUS! DIDN’T I JUST CORRECT THIS SAME ERROR?]
Love me trueLY, [LOOK...NOW I'M STARTING TO GET PISSED-OFF.]
All my dreams ARE fulfilled. [OH GREAT! NOW WE’RE TREATING VERBS AS OPTIONAL, TOO?]
For my darlin'G I love you, ["DARLIN'?!" HEY, ELVIS...I KNOW YOU'RE FROM MISSISSIPPI AND ALL, BUT...]
And I always will.
Love me tenderLY, [ARGHH!!! LOLLY’S, LOLLY’S, LOLLY’S...GET YOUR ADVERBS THERE… LEARN IT! LIVE IT!]
Love me long, ["LONG?!" DO MEAN, "LENGTHILY?"]
Take me to your heart.
For it’s there that I belong, [WELL...AT LEAST HE USED THE PROPER CONTRACTION OF "IT IS."]
And we’ll never part.
Love me tenderLY, [I'M NOT READING ANYMORE. I AM NOT READING ANYMORE!]
Love me dearLY, [GRRRRR...!]
Tell me you are mine.
I’ll be yours through all the years,
Till the end of time.
When at last my dreams come true
Darling this I know
Happiness will follow you
Everywhere you go. [WOW! AN ENTIRE VERSE WITH NO GRAMMATICAL ERRORS! MAYBE THAT OL' BOY IS LEARIN' GOODER THAN I THOUGHT?]
Thursday, November 09, 2006
AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF...APPLE FRITTERS.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
I'M SO WHAT?
First, I value all seven of my readers and don't want to risk alienating any of them.
Second, let's be honest. The only thing more boring than politics is being forced to listen to another person's views about politics.
And third...the last time that your virtual bartender ventured outside of the politics-free zone, he got his fingers burnt.
It's with that background in mind that I remained merrily aloof vis-a-vis the pivotal mid-term elections that took place last night in the US. And now that the results are in, please allow me one fleeting moment outside "the zone."
Jack, Eric, Ginger...take it away!
[Oh yeah. Don't forget...COCONUT!]
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Sunday, November 05, 2006
BORAT, MEET MY DAD. DAD, MEET...OH MY GOD!!!
Friday, November 03, 2006
AND NOW FOR A POST OF UNSPEAKABLE BANALITY.
Why am I telling you this? Well, there are several reasons:
1. My brain—and in particular, that creative hunk of it with the Latin name—is barely running on fumes these days. Tossing-off an unspeakably banal post about an article of furniture seemed like an easy way to fulfill my semi-weekly publishing obligation.
2. This table spurred an interesting conversation with the woman who sold it to me. I bought it at a plant/tree nursery in town. They had no mosaic tables in stock, but agreed to place an order with the distributor. The saleswoman informed that they sell very, very few mosaic tables. I asked why? She said that Spaniards much prefer those hideous, molded-concrete table/bench combinations for their outdoor patios. But, I said, this table isn’t for my outdoor patio. It’s for my dining room. She looked at me as if I had offered to cook and eat her first-born child. Then she said, “Oh, no...nobody puts these tables indoors.” Go figure!
3. I have the same table—albeit, a smaller, round version—in my kitchen...and Angie has mentioned several times how much she loves it. So...there, Ang. This one’s for you.
4. And finally....that hairy little brown sphere in the middle of the table provides me with the perfect segway to say something of great importance: COCONUT!
OK! Now I can enter the weekend with a clear conscience.