8 December 2021
John and Tina taught me to sail. Not really. John told me which sheets to pull and when. I loved those evenings. The sound of wind and water and nothing else. Advice given. Listening. Kindness shared. Support I am forever grateful for in a difficult time.
Ali is Tina’s son. I met him once when Tina and John hosted us, Davey and Di. He is a chef. He cooked us a great meal. It was a great night.
When Tina heard of our travels she put us in contact with Ali. He has lived in Spain for twenty years. He is now in Barcelona.
When we arrived he made contact. By phone, not text. Alarming habit.
COVID has been tough for a lot of industries, hospitality more so than most. You would not know with Ali.
He has an exuberance about him. He is always smiling. Enthusiastic. Generous. He lost his own restaurant a few years back. Then COVID hit. You could forgive him for being frustrated. Negative. The opposite. He is an optimist who chases dreams and opportunities.
Failure is no deterrent. He has no ego.
Ali and Nuria were amazing hosts. Ali cooked us a beautiful dinner. Fideua to start. Slow-cooked pork shin with gratin dauphinoise. Brazo de gitano for dessert.
A friend from Italy had given Ali dried boar. Matched with cheese and olives and pa amb tomàquet. All incredible.
No phones. The conversation is broad. Family. Travel. Food. Wine. Hunting and more.
Salame and balsamic vinegar.
Ali’s family in Italy produces mortadella and balsamic. At the end of the evening, Ali produces two bottles of his family's balsamic. One is from the 1960s the other from the 1890s.
Just a few drops of each. I have never tasted something so complex. The oldest, thick like tar, concentrated, sweet like caramel. The other is lively, more acidic.
Ali and Nuria hosted us like old friends when they barely knew us. Welcomed us and made us a meal.
Is there a kinder gesture?
Gracias mi amigo.
The walk home. No GPS. We stray off course and stumble upon The Basílica de la Sagrada Família. Religiosity aside it is a breathtaking piece of architecture. Incredible in its scale.
2020 Bodegas Vinyes Domenèch Vinyes Velles de Macabeau
2017 Álvaro Palacios Dofí
2013 Bodegas Vinyes Domenèch Teixar