Sunday, October 23, 2011

At The Vermouth Bar With Vladimir...And Why Drinking On Sunday Morning Is Good

I mentioned in my last story about moving to a new apartment and how I love the new neighborhood that I live in. Everything that a person could need is probably located within a five-block radius. It makes me begin to understand how people can live in a place like New York City, which I wouldn't have even considered in the past. But this story's not about NYC but rather about how some things just give you that little kick once in a while.

So last Sunday morning the three of us were up early just hanging out eating our (new) customary Sunday-croissant-and-coffee breakfast when Vladimir asked me if I wanted to go for a vermouth. What? A vermouth? On Sunday morning??? Actually, I didn't even question it because my first reaction when someone asks me to do something is to say "YES!!!" no matter what it is (like when my friend Ruma asked me to go to with her and her daughter to Israel for her brother's wedding last year--an unexpectedly amazing time!!!) . I've learned that the best things happen when you least expect them and one way to make sure that more unexpected things happen is to say yes when someone asks you to do something. And off we went to a vermouth bar about two blocks away to have my first-ever vermouth:

I didn't know it at the time but going for a Sunday-morning vermouth is a tradition in Spain. If someone asks you to go get a vermouth, it's really an invitation to spend some time together just hanging out and talking. Family members and/or friends will go enjoy an aperitif before lunch at a local bar or restaurant (remember that lunch is usually 2pm or later here). I also didn't ever think of having "straight-up" vermouth as a drink because I've always thought of it as something that you wet a martini glass with before adding the vodka. (My dad has always said that the best martinis are when the glass is only wetted - is that a word? - down with the vermouth before you add the vodka; no more or you ruin the drink.) Anyway, at my local vermouth bar, they drink their vermouth on the rocks with a couple of olives and an orange twist:

The pub/bar/restaurant is called the Gran Bodego Elkano No. 45 (the 45 is the address - not at all like Roberto's or the other Mexican restaurants in California where they number them sequentially) and it's for sure an interesting place. It's decorated in what I'd call "early Spanish garage sale" in that every square inch of the place has pictures and knick-knacks (and maybe some junk...) hung on it:

Vladimir's a bit of a local in the place, which is truly amazing when you consider that it's a hardcore SPANISH bar, not Catalan but actual Spanish as in everyone there was speaking Spanish. I know that might sound a bit strange being that we're in Spain but, in case you're not familiar with Barcelona, the local language here is Catalan and it's verrrry rare to go to a place where the locals are NOT speaking Catalan (for background, go back to my stories about the Catalan language and/or Catalan independence movement). Everyone there was from central or southern Spain and we were definitely the only foreigners so, like I said, Vladimir fitting in is quite the compliment to his style and personality. Here's everyone's favorite Bolivian enjoying the Charcuteria (meat and cheese) platter with his vermouth under the watchful eye of Franco (!!!) (top, left-hand corner):

I'm a pretty lucky guy, I know. I'm having quite the adventure. Experiences and days like this one give me a nice little reminder of how lucky I am. I could have never, in a million years, thought that I'd find myself with a way-too-smart Bolivian somewhere in a traditional (Spanish) bar in Catalunya Spain eating a plate full of processed meats and a bunch of cheeses drinking vermouth on the rocks on a Sunday morning:

Whoever believes that drinking on a Sunday morning isn't a good thing probably hasn't had the adventure I'm having. For this, and a few other reasons, I think it's good to occasionally drink on a Sunday morning. SALUD!!!

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