Wednesday, February 14, 2007



Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know! I've been catching hell from all of you in the VTB Chat Lounge lately for not writing much in 007. And I've been catching hell for the same from Big Mamma and Borat behind the scenes. an effort to publish a little sumthin' and try preserve the few Blogger buddies that I have left at this late stage, I am pleased to provide the following, largely unedited, stream of consciousness-heavy post.

Take it away, Don Pardo...


Pu-leeze!!! I don't do writer's block. This writing thing is as easy as breathing--and certainly, a lot easier than talking. So we can't blame my dearth of blogging on that.

Nor can we blame food poisoning. I wish that I could, but alas...there's not an Indian restaurant within 30 miles of my house.

No...the reason is simply colossal weariness. After publishing 300+ posts on the VTB, 70+ posts on Expatica (from which I've recently retired) and more than a dozen on The Spirit World (from which I'll retire after this month) over the past few years...I just kinda hit a wall of colossal weariness. "Lost the Eye of the Tiger," to quote that old guy with odd-looking face.

I therefore decided to take an unannounced blogging vacation. Not permanently, of course! That would be silly. I'd then have to do more talking permanently...which is twice as exhausting as writing.

And, ya know what? The nasty thing about relaxation is that it rarely achieves the intended goal of re-charging one's batteries. To the contrary, it causes lethargy and makes you crave more relaxation. It's a slow death by rusting. So...methinks [that was for you, Trac!] that I'd better take my hands off my belly and put them back on the keyboard.

Mystery solved! Is it writer's block or food poisoning? No and no.

"...or food poisoning?"

" poisoning?" Hey! How about a song?

Just can't resist those accordian players. Anyway..believe it or not, I saw this same guy play the same song live at a blues bar called The Station Tavern several times when I was studying in London in 1988.


Well waddya know?! It *is* Valentine's Day!

Call me a hopeless romantic, but I really feel infected with VD today.

Hey! How about a song? Here's a Valentine's Day wish...from Felix, George and all of you.


For reasons that I doubt even they understand, Mr. and Mrs. The Big Finn are flying to Madrid next month solely (purportedly) for the purpose of visiting me.

When I asked TBF what he wanted to do when he arrives, he responded as follows: "We've already seen Madrid a few times, so let's spend the day eating tapas."

Clearly, he and I will be friends.

But still, a visit from a pair of VIPs like TBFs requires prep work. So I recruited my long-time friend and Madrid-area radio personality, Drew, to assist me with planning/executing a tapas tour dry-run last month. was a dry-run, but I can't honestly say that it was dry.

Please pardon my hair in the picture above and those that follow. It was very cold in Madrid, I was suffering some serious hathead, and--further aggravating matters--recently got a haircut that was far too closely-cropped for my liking.

Anyway...we started with coffee and croissants at Cafe Oriente, near the Opera House. Then had raisiny sweet wine and cookies at an old bar called "El Anciano Rey el los Vinos" (Calle Bailen, 19). Legend has it that the king's grandfather boozed there. Above we see a pale, yucky-haired me, Drew and his son Oliver. We are holding glasses of that "sweet wine."

We then wandered into the Calle Cava Baja neighborhood for a series of quickies.

We had tajadas de bacalao (battered and fried hunks of salt cod) accompanied by a hideous house wine at a bar called "Revuelta."

Then to an Andaluz-style bar called "Sanlúcar" (Calle San Isidro Labrador) for a glass--Ok, two glasses--of Manzanilla Sherry, a bowl of salmorejo (a very thick gazpacho topped with diced cured ham and hard-boiled egg) and chopitos (strips of deep-fried calamari).

Then to the highlight of our tour---Casa de Amadeo (Plaza de Cazcorro, 18).

Meet Amadeo! Cute as a button, isn't he?

Of all the tapas bars we visited that day, his was the most interesting--not just because of the food, but also (especially) because of his gregarious personality. Amadeo is like the mad great-uncle at Thanksgiving dinner who insists that you join him in eating the giblets--and then launches into a manically-animated 20 minute rant about how turkey livers are good for both longevity and virility.

Looking at the picture above, you can see the various plates and bowls of Amadeo's other tapas on display. Upon receiving your order, Amadeo will grab a handful (no spoon, no glove) of whatever, slap it onto a dish and hand it to you. Bacteria be damned! Starting from the left hand side of the bar, we see (or perhaps we don't see, but you'll need to trust me) the following: blood sausage with rice; snails (i.e., that earthenware bowl with the shiny red liquid); a large, white, oval plate of deep-fried bacon cubes (!!!); crawfish in the Amadeo's standard oily/paprika-heavy broth; and battered and fried hunks of bacalao (i.e., salt cod).

Drew is a frequent patron of his bar. So...the moment that we walked in the door, Amadeo seized Drew's hand, vigorously shook mine, and immediately poured us each a glass of "jugo de caracoles" (i.e., "snail juice").

Yes, I said "snail juice."

And here are those glasses of snail juice! The name is deceiving, however. It's not really the end product of a snail pushed through a RonCo juicer; but rather, it's the oily, paprika-heavy broth in which the snails were stewed.

Briny, spicy, earthy...probably a great tonic for someone suffering from a cold. Not bad in small quantities, although I wouldn't want to down a tumbler of it.

Aside from the snail juice and two rounds of beer (one of which was on the house...thanks, Amadeo!), we had a huge dish of stewed snails. And man-oh-man...those snails were good. Spicy, even...which is always a shock where Spanish cuisine is involved.

Those were the tapas bars that we hit (TBF...take note!). Here are some others that we wanted to hit, be didn't/couldn't:

- La Castela (Doctor Castela, 22): This, BTW, is my favorite tapas bar in the city.

- La Montería (Lope de Rueda, 35): Great salmorejo and other Andalucian-style, deep-fried fishies.

- Cerveceria Cervantes (Cervantes, 34): For shellfish and assorted pig parts. The "Torta del Casar" (a creamy cheese to be spread onto bread), Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician octopus) and Navajas (knife clams) are highly recommended by my ex-wife.

- Casa Lucas (Calle Cava Baja, 30): For tortilla española (potato omelette).

- Txirimiri (Calle General Díaz Porlier, 91): For Basque tapas...properly called "pintxos."

- Txakoli (Calle Cava Baja, 26): More pintxos.
El Almendro 13

- Almendro 13
Tel. 91 365 42 52
Metro: La Latina
En la calle hay muchos más, todos más que recomendables. Os nombramos éste, por ser uno de los veteranos en la zona, dedicado a las manzanillas y los finos que puedes acompañar con sus famosos "huevos rotos" o las "roscas". Pides y te avisan a toque de campana. Ojo, cierran pronto: 24.00

- La Taberna de los Cien Vinos
Nuncio, 17
Tel. 91 365 47 04
Metro: La Latina
Otro de nuestros preferidos, la verdad es que la zona no tiene desperdicio. Selección de vinos, y tapas elaboradas, calidad de embutidos y tostas excelentes. Los domingos no hay cocina ... caliente, puedes intentar la cecina con aceite de oliva.

- Tempranillo
Cava Baja, 38
Tel. 91 364 15 32
Metro: La Latina
Amplia carta de vinos, algunos por copa, debilidad por las setas y revueltos.

- La Salamandra
Alfonso VI, 6
Tel. 91 366 05 15
Metro: La Latina
Vinos por copas y en botella. Excelentes tapas, que varían por temporada. La cocochas de bacalao con trompetas negras estaban exquisitas.

- Taberna Matritum
Cava Alta , 17
28005 Madrid
Tel. 91 365 82 37
Metro: La Latina
Reciente descubrimiento a añadir a nuestra ruta croquetera. Croquetas variadas, de jamón y espinacas que puedes acompañar de una excelente y cuidada selección de vinos. Además muy recomendables los calçots con salsa romescu.

Methinks The Big Finn will leave Madrid bigger.


Well...remember Tiinakala? You know, our lurking friend from snowy Estonia. She has been quietly chugging away on her own blog, which I stumbled upon with no thanks to her.

And let me tell you...she is hilarious!

It's not for the faint-hearted. But if you like your humor wrapped in barbed-wire and marinaded in undiluted vinegar...then click HERE!


That's enough. I think I've more or less fulfilled my blogging obligation for this week. Or, at least, for tonight.

Are you in the mood for one last tune? If so, then here's my favorite version of one of my favorite George songs (Billy Preston on vocals).

Forgive my flagrant abuse of YouTube in this post, but it's easier than writing. And it's definitely easier than talking.

Catchyawl soon.


At 1:45 AM, Blogger Trac said...

Well... that was well worth waiting for (with the exception of the 'M' words of course!?) :O)

I love Leonard Nimoy, well who doesn't?

YouTube#1 - Are you sure you're alright?
YouTube#2 - That Eric Clapton has to come along and ruin everything doesn't he? He always does that!
YouTube#3 - Awwww... Good Old Billy Preston! The finest moment of that gig from what I remember when I watched it on TV. I don't remember much though, Too busy shouting at Eric 'I think'??

Happy VD

At 12:33 PM, Anonymous Alison said...

Despite a bit to much talk of edible snails I am now incredibly hungry :)

At 12:52 PM, Blogger Ms Mac said...

Gosh, I miss the days when VD meant something completely different.


At 6:08 PM, Blogger CanadianSwiss said...

I had to giggle too, when I read that you were "infected with VD" (you poor thing!).

However, I'm really disappointed that we won't make it this time with TBFs (sent you a short e-mail about that). However, I will not miss the snails. I just can't get myself to eat the little buggers. All in the mind, I know. But it's like oysters. I'm up for deep-fried bacon cubes though.

BTW, lovely songs you had up there.

At 9:30 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Trac! I totally agree. Isn't it enough that Eric stole George's first wife?! Seriously...the guy used to be the cat's pajamas back in the Cream days. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to take him seriously since the first time I heard "Wonderful Tonight." YACK!!! Can't deny, however, that Paul still has it.

Alison and C-Swiss: Guess what? I learned of a new delicacy from my habitual bartender while having a coffee this morning. It's called "Zarajos." And as you might've guessed, it's a ball of tightly-wound lamb intestine marinaded in vinegar. Now...what exactly do you have against snails?

Ms. Mac: Here's the funny thing: I suspect that *nobody* under 25 who read your Comment knows what you're talking about.

At 9:38 PM, Blogger The Big Finn said...

We are SALivating!!!! Nicely done, as far as the research goes. You are definitely a tapas scholar.
All the places sound good to us. We'll have to hit the ones you checked out and ALSO the ones you didn't have time for.
Only three weeks from this Saturday... We're really looking forward to it!
I'm already practicing my lisp.

At 11:52 PM, Blogger christina said...

- Wow, what a post, you must have drunk a LOT of coffee.

- accordions are the cat's pyjamas! My dad has one and used to play it when we had visitors from Austria. Much yodeling and wearing of lederhosen took place.

- Mmm...snail juice! I bet that stuff would make an interesting Bloody Ceasar. And TBF is right - forget museums and monuments - the only way to really get to know a city is to eat your way through it. Trust those Spaniards to improve upon bacon.

- great choice of Valentine's songs. :-) And yes, Paul still has it and he always will. *sigh*

- And last but not least... stop obsessing about your hair, will ya?

At 4:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't resist those accordion players, eh?

Some people can't resist ukulele players.

At 10:24 AM, Blogger Trac said...

Am I right in thinking (or am I just being a bit thick?)that there is no way of leaving the lovely and very funny Tiinakala comments on her blog?

Tiinakala - Come on now, you took your first step by 'coming out' of hiding, now I think you are ready for step two. Let us speak to you! :O)

(Apologies if I am indeed being a bit thick)

At 12:11 PM, Blogger CanadianSwiss said...

I totally agree with Track. I've been there too, and was :( to see that I couldn't leave a comment. Tiinakala- Pleeaaaase?

At 11:33 PM, Blogger woman wandering said...

Sigh, so it's confirmed ... you're slowing down.

They say men begin ageing at 18 whereas women are just still going strong in their 40s ... sigh.

Okay, I'll go ponder my blogging future ... the shock of 'if it can happen to Sal, it can happen to anyone' however my silence can be bought ... tapas in Madrid seems like it might be my price ;)

At 2:12 AM, Blogger Headless Blogger said...

"They say men begin ageing at 18 whereas women are just still going strong in their 40s ... sigh."

Sal - Blogging IS a metaphor for other things. Pfizer markets a product to address your inadequacy. It is available for descreet delivery from many websites.

Retiring from The Spirit World? I hope this is just contract renegotiation posturing. You will be missed.


At 3:21 AM, Blogger Headless Blogger said...

Sal - It is troubling to find that the inspiration for resurrecting my sorry-arse blog is becoming Amish.

Giddy-ap and don't forget the orange triangle.

NB - Yes, I know the correct spelling of "descreet" is "discreet."

At 8:02 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

You're right. Our Estonian friend Tiiiiiiiiiiiinakala does not have her Comments activated. I'll will do my part to ramp-up the peer pressure, as it is indeed unacceptable that we should be deprived of leaving obnoxious comments on her blog.

And for the rest of you, am not quitting the blogging world. I was just taking a short breather. I don't intend to quit the VTB.

As for Expatica and TSW, they were great fun and great portfolio builders. But my new policy is that--except for this VTB--I don't publish anything anymore without being paid.

Till soon...

At 10:05 PM, Blogger Trac said...


At 9:06 AM, Blogger christina said...

What Sal needs is a martini and a good long nap. Works for me. :-)

At 4:50 PM, Blogger tinakala said...

Aww. I was going to bitch about Sal being missing and probably touching uke or something but that`s tough to do now. Crap. And all the rest of you are too darn nice too. Will see what I can do about those comments.

At 9:53 PM, Blogger Chris said...

I was wrong....I told Alexis that you weren't posting because you strained your back doing that crazy ukelelee (spelling way off but I'm too lazy to look it up) pose in that last entry;)

Enjoy your vacation.

My Blog

At 7:04 PM, Blogger Culinary Fool said...

Oh fine. You are leaving TSW because you aren't getting paid? And here I thought it was because the bestest editor in all the world was leaving! I'm crushed.

I've actually come to appreciate accordians - mostly because I spent 4+years with a guy who's family made them. They had a factory in Italy that did most of the production and finished them by hand over here. They had a worldwide business and a 2 year waiting list for the top models! Who knew?

Happy (belated)VD. It can happen to anyone...

At 9:00 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Beep: Don't you see? Having you as my editor *was* like being paid. I may be easy, but I'm not cheap.

Christina: How about if you take the nap, and I take the Martini?

Chris: What do you think? Cro Cop over Sylvia by KO in 30 seconds? Or 45?

At 12:24 AM, Blogger Culinary Fool said...

Good save!


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