Calpe. Sunday 4th May

Having had a roast dinner for the past two Sundays we decided to try the Spanish equivalent. Paella.

We were advised to visit one of the Restaurants around the Harbour rather than one along the Beach but in reality I doubt there is a great deal of difference. We strolled along looking at the different places and ran the gauntlet of waiters who try to entice you to eat in their venue (rather than the one next door) with persuasion, wise crack’s and free wine. In fact one place was offering free glasses of Sangria whilst you looked at their menu.

The front of these places was stacked with what looked like Fresh Fish in tons of ice but I couldn’t understand how it didn’t go off or the Ice didn’t melt?

The dilemma was, how to choose the right restaurant.

The venue was virtually the same, the prices were roughly the same (about 10-12 euros each) but there were freebies like free bottle of wine or free sangria, free bread or a free sweet. In reality I didn’t want to eat anywhere that offered anything free as it seemed like a gimmick. I would have preferred to know which one offered the best Paella.

We decided to sit and have a glass of wine whilst we considered and managed to choose the only table in the only bar on the harbour to have a view of the car park and the litter bins rather than the boats bobbing away.

This didn’t bode well.

Jaki was keen to eat in one of the Restaurants that were hustling customers. Her argument being: if they’re popular with the Spanish they must be OK.

I wanted to go further round the corner where there was a place with a view and a nice balcony but only had a few customers.

Of course we ended up in the busy place that aJaki chose and we were seated at a table for two with a wobbly leg and a nice view of the kitchen!

We ordered Mixed Paella (rather than traditional sea food) and this was my first Paella lesson. You don’t get an all meat Paella, by it’s nature it’s full of Sea Food.

As a freebie we got a reasonable bottle of white wine and a sea food starter of whole fried fishes (slightly bigger than whitebait) fried Baby squid, octopus and calamari. All very nice but it was a lot of fried fish given we had Fish Paella still to come.

Then the big boy came. Served in a cast iron frying pan was about an inch of yellow el dente rice with a selection of sea food in or on top of it.

I have to say, it wasn’t the best meal I’ve ever had.

I don’t like my rice with any crunch, the Langoustine’s and prawns on top burst a red juice when you tried to get them out of their shells and the muscles had long since vacated their homes. However, we ate it but I would have preferred some thing with a bit more flavour.

We asked the waiter if he knew where we could buy chilli peppers and showed him a picture on Wikipedia . He got the owner, a Rumanian lady to speak to us and she told us where to find a specialist grocers in town that sells fresh Chillies. She went on to tell us she has two restaurants, this one is her husbands and hers is on the beach. She said she didn’t like this one, it was too big, too busy and people want stuff for free (which explained the wine and the starter). She prefers smaller quiet restaurants she said.

The restaurant was by now heaving with people all eating Paella or big black pots of steamed shell fish or plates of huge Prawns.

We ordered a jug of Sangria which was silly as they charged €10.50 for it which was more than the main course, and we left full if not completely satisfied with our traditional Spanish Sunday Lunch.

We returned to the Beach and found a sunny spot where we spent the rest of the afternoon. When the sun finally went down behind the Hotels (there are some tall blocks along the sea front) it started to get cold so we ambled along the prom, Jaki darting in and out of various shops as we went, before making our way back to the site, about 15 minutes away.

We finished the evening with a few drinks and a snack in the warmth of the van listening to a local radio station which targets a British audience. A cross between Gold, Radio 2 and BBC Radio Bristol. Old music, local news and a DJ who talks crap.

That’s what Sunday in Paradise is like. Honest.

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