Friday, April 27, 2012
I’ve been reading Dave Eggers’ What is The What, the book that chronicles the hardships suffered by former Sudanese Lost Boy Valentine Achak Deng.
During Sudan’s second civil war, the 8-year-old Deng was displaced from his home in Marial Bai and began walking through the desert to Ethiopia. After enduring unimaginable levels of suffering he arrives in Ethopia only to find it worse than Sudan. Soon after he’s forced (by the gunfire of Ethiopian rebels) to flea to a refugee camp in Kenya.
Throughout his entire journey Deng's primary goal is to return to Marial Bai, where he hope his family is still alive. While on his trek he hitches a ride in the back of a cargo truck. At first he’s unsure of the bizarre surface he’s standing on inside the truck until he realizes that he’s stepping on a decomposed head and is surrounded by the corpses of tens of dead refugees.
Today while shopping for dinner at the Santa Caterina Market I saw a lobster walking on top of countless pounds of gutted fish and all I could think about was how badly I wanted to buy that lobster and safely ship him to Marial Bai.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Even more reviews of restaurants that my five friends reading this blog will most likely never eat at.
Barrio: La Ribera
Address: Carrer de Carders, 46
Price Range: Fairly Cheap
The duck. The motherfucking duck. Whoooooweeee. The most flavorful crispy skin ever (actual fact, not hyperbole). Yet somehow the meat is melts in your mouth. This is the kind of succulent duck that Poppy was afraid of.
The dumplings are also ridiculous. A small selection of good draft beers and a massive collection of bottled beer.
The only downside is that it made me think of Joe Shanghai’s for the first time in three months and then I got homesick for NYC. But if you’ve never been to Joe Shanghai’s, your life sucks a little more than mine, and you’ll enjoy Mosquito slightly more than me.
Barrio: Sant Antoni
Address: Ronda de Sant Antoni
Price Range: Fairly cheap
This place is silly. The staff wears terribly weird outfits that appear to be taken from a gamesmaker in Panem (topical reference!!!). The entire establishment would fit right in at Desert Ridge (Scottsdale reference!!!) as it’s massive even by Arizona standards and by BCN standards it borders on the size of VY Canis Majoris (red hypergiant reference!!!).
Barrio: El Gotico
Address: Baixada Viladecols, 3
Price Range: Reasonable
This is my fancy place. It's a traditional Catalan restaurant built inside walls from the Roman Empire. Their salmon-and-guacamole salad caused me to reconsider my entire existence on Earth. Their coques (Catalan square pizza thing) are also delicious and they have an apple tartin dessert that completes the whole meal.
On top of all that the the husband-and-wife that own and run the place are incredibly nice and even though I've been there just a few times, they always remember my name. All stupid jokes and exaggerations aside, this is the best place I've eaten at in Barcelona.
Barrio: El Gotico
Address: Baixada Viladecols, 3
Price Range: Super cheap
This place serves up massive tasty sandwiches for 3 euros and change. It also serves up the paradox that is how even though sometimes the language barrier frustrates me, I still hate hearing English. Then I get upset at myself for getting upset with study-abroad kids who frequent this place. Then I lose my mind a bit more. Then I bite into their sandwich and all is well again.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Posted by Justin Adler at 3:02 AM
Monday, April 23, 2012
I never wanted to be one of those assholes who blogs about their shitty dates. This is why I decided to avoid shitty dates and the temptation to write about by getting engaged to the only person I ever seriously dated.
That being said, here is the tale of my crappy“date” with an unemployed truck driver/drug addict.
Technically, and thankfully, I haven't been going on real dates, but rather a series of blind meet-ups with Spanish-speakers under the guise of trying to improve my Spanish (which actually needs a lot of work) while I desperately try to make any a friend.
Oddly enough, for every one response from a guy, I’ve received 10 messages from girls my age. In my current bizarro world, I always hope these girls will have a cool boyfriend who is just like me. But I don't think writing "guys only" in my Loquo posting sends the right message. I also believe it might be too frank to write: "Looking for a dude who enjoys smoking, eating their weight in patatas bravas, and having a serious discussion about Dani Alves' neck beard."
Yet my bevy of intercambios has taught me many Spanish words and introduced me to some cool people. Once I got over my heartbreak, I quickly learned that Pilar is super nice and full of interesting stories. I met a Peruvian who learned to drive in Rome and as a result of which, had to take driving courses in Barcelona to learn how to drive like a civilized human being. I went to a fancy cafe with a woman who was so attractive that it made me uncomfortable and I went to another cafe with another girl who wasn't quite as mind-bogglingly pretty. Tragically neither of these girls had cool boyfriends.
But my luck of exchanging languagues with kind, normal folk ran out with a man named Luis, who let me know he was bat-shit crazy from the moment he yelled at me for being three minutes late.
As the Catalan native walked me to some shitty café – the equivalent of me taking a visitor in New York to the Red Lobster on 42nd Street – he stopped dead in his tracks. Before I could ask what was going on, he bolted 15 feet away to snatch up a dropped pack of cigarettes. Then he returned, entirely too satisfied and offered me a smoke from his new-found pack, which I politely declined.
Once we sat down, he seamlessly transitioned from the fact that he used to be a truck driver to, naturally, his movie idea.
He introduced me to the main characters: Armando who owns a semi truck, and Lucas, who owns a caged tiger. The he told me that Armando was an “Ass guy,” before I could teach him that “Ass guy” means something different then his intended meaning that Armando was a bad person.
Then the found-cigarette bliss vanished from his face as he turned stone-cold solemn as he explained that Armando murdered the mother of two kids, even worse one of the kids was autistic.
Fast forward through 20 bizarre minutes of my life and the orphaned kids are trapped in a boarded up shack with the tiger, because Ass Guy Armando stole Lucas' tiger trailer and freed the tiger in the shack.
Throughout the entire story, Luis would burst up laughing over nothing at all. Better yet any time he’d teach me a Spanish word, he call himself the “best teacher in the world” or “sensei” or "maestro." Forty five minutes into our painfully long session, I theorized hat Luis' lunacy might have something to do with the fact that his pinky fingernail was a half inch longer than rest of his nails.
Coincidentally, or perhaps not, as I made up an excuse why I had to leave asap, my master sensei taught me the term “se piro,” which more or less means to sneak out.
And just before I was able to get the fuck away from Luis, he confessed that this was not actually a movie he made up, but instead a film he saw on TV last night.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
There I stood in the Dalí museum looking at "Basket of Bread," an oil painting that, yes, depicts a basket of bread. Just below the painting sits a glass display case holding a gold-coated sculpture of the same heal of bread that's in the painting. And in my pocket were four slices of a baguette that I had stolen from lunch in anticipation of the fact that I might be hungry again soon.
It seemed to make perfect sense. I'd never executed a reverse art heist in my life. However, earlier in the week, I had pulled a reverse dine-and-dash, where I paid for a mozzarella-and-caprese salad that never made its way to our table. I like to believe that the phantom caprese subliminally inspired me.
I gave it a bit more thought, consulted my friends/accomplices, then suspiciously checked my surroundings before placing my pocket bread atop the glass case.
"Got 'em!" I softly said out loud before I strolled away feeling as smooth as Danny Ocean, but really snickering to myself like a fucking idiot.
Then I had Sarah become the Thierry Guetta to my Space Invader and document my work.
The coup de grâce of my stunt occurred when a docent proceeded to lecture about the "Basket of Bread" with my lunchtime addition in place.
The only question I now have to ask myself is whether or not I should update my résumé to include: "Collaborated with Salvador Dalí."
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
And so it continues... more restaurant reviews that barely review the food.
Barrio: El Born
Address: Carrer de Comerç, 4
Price: €10.90 for the menu del dia
This place is 1/3 art gallery, 1/6 streetwear shop, 1/6 graffiti accessory shop, 1/6 restaurant, 1/6 cafe. The restaurant only does lunch, but their menu del dia is pretty, pretty damn good. Almost every restaurant in BCN offers up a menu del dia, which gives you a three-course meal (plus bread!) and the drink of your choice for €8 - €12. It should also be noted that only real bastards up-charge you for an alcoholic beverage.
They offered up some traditional Catalan dishes that I knew were traditional Catalan dishes because the waiter told me really slow in Spanish. Sarah and I had some ground cabbage, a nice mushroom soup, some onion dish, and some meat thing I kinda can’t remember. The desserts were strangely not Catalan but instead a terrible attempt at cheesecake and a decent scoop of icecream with Oreo crumb sprinkles.
Montana is also the first and only place I've been to that's gave me a frequent flier punch card, meaning that 16th menu del dia is going to taste oh-so good.
This is not a restaurant but it's the grocery story that supplies me with the vast majority of my food, so I’m putting in on this list. It was Carrefour that first introduced me to el mundo of tortillas de patatas (like potato latkes on crack) and for that I’m forever grateful.
They also sell discount beer which is all sorts of gangster. I actually have not seen the 40s in real life, but they sell discount cans of store-brand brew for 23 cents a pop.
The closest Carrefour to me is the one directly on Las Ramblas, which means it’s some times over ran by tourists, but most those motherfuckers don’t know about the bottom floor or the secret check-out lanes in the back of the shop. Except for today when I had to wait a good five minutes because apparently motherfuckers do know about the secret registers.
I recently became a Carrefour socio card holder, which means I get no further discounts or promotions but for every €8 I spend I get a sticker and if I collect 15 stickers, and then pay an additional €3.95, I get the right to buy a 10-inch stuffed toy piece of produce.
So really the only advantage of the card is access to what is a €123.95 toy broccoli. Currently I'm at 8 stickers and you better believe that once I get 15, I’m getting that plush broccoli, because that my friends will be a status symbol.
Monday, April 02, 2012
The Good (or maybe Sad)
For all of last week, whenever I was not working out on the beach (this is something I actually do) or lounging around the house (which in a ratio of getting fit, occurs 9000:1 times as much), I wore the same blueish-grey J. Crew pocket tee. This is one of the perks of having no friends or anyone you see on a regular basis.
On Friday I realized the only stain I'd acquired was a coffee and/or chocolate icecream blotch that was neatly hidden on the inside lip of the shirt's chest pocket. Although it was an accident, I felt personally responsible for this ideally located stain and I declared it my proudest achievement of the week.
I posted language-exchange flyers around the University of Barcelona's language school hoping I could meet someone who could help me better my Spanish, potentially become my friend, and give me a reason to not wear the same shirt for six days straight. I only received one response from a person named Pilar.
At 11am on Saturday morning, I stood outside the Santa Maria del Mar excited to meet, what I assumed/hoped would be a cool 20-something guy who would instantly become my Barcelona BFF. Then our blind-language-exchange date became blind no more when a woman walked up to me and said, "Justin?"
The grey-haired woman who wore weird checkered pants and a silly jacket that in the States would only be worn by a 60-year-old Jewish woman, said, "Hi, I'm Pilar."
I one fell swoop I was crushed and thought to myself, "I'm a fucking idiot." Pilar is a girl's name through and through. It's not even a Jaime, Alex, or Kelly. It's more like a Jessica. And a Jessica is never a dude.
I've taken a few photos from my balcony looking down on the restaurant below. As always, the idea in my head looks a lot cooler than the end result, but here they are: