PAPA BEAR

We followed the map but was led up a very derelict road so turned around and went back to the market to ask for directions. The man at the shoe section pointed completely away from the road we had just come from and with a lot of interesting gestures, we gathered that the place we wanted was in the opposite direction. We walked passed a lot of interesting places selling food but we were on a mission to find this cheap working man`s pub. After turning left, left and left again, we were back at the street market which was now packing away, probably getting ready for their siesta time.

“I`m starving ” I groaned, ” It`s nearly 1:30pm and we have had no food all morning, lets go around again and this time check out the other food places”.

Once again, we walked, turning left and left again landing us in a large cobbled square where lots of people sat happily in the sun eating food, but more tempting to my eyes were the beer and wine they were guzzling. My stomach was sounding like a Boeing 747 waiting to take off and my taste buds were swelling up to the size of a watermelon from the thought of a cold white wine.

We found a small shop selling tapas, but with little translation, and with little help from Google translation, we decided that anchovies and olives were not what we wanted. We walked along and entered a small bar/ restaurant. After a long and painful conversation (still lacking translation) between Shona, Bindya and the owner, we soon exited with tonnes of apologies, once we realised all they pretty much served was every part of a pigs body and Shona don`t do pork!

“What about the 1874 place we have walked passed twice” I suggested, now almost to the point of starvation.

“Sounds good” Shona replied starting to try and find it on her map. I grabbed her arm and steam rolled them all to the restaurant that I now knew how to get there off by heart (well we had passed it numerous times by now!).

We quickly scanned the menu in the window and all decided that 25 euros for the mains they offered was absolutely appropriate for our hollow and growling tummies. When we started out on our quest for lunch I think we were all looking for an extravagant Tesco sarnie meal deal for £5…however, stepping into 1874 was one of the best decisions we made during our 3 days.

We walked through the glass door and descended down the stone stairs into what one could only describe as a rustic, darkened cave like room decorated with amazing paintings and the candles that were scattered here and there provided a romantic and charming atmosphere.

We were immediately met by the owner, a charming and twinkly eyed grey haired man who asked us in somewhat broken English how many the table was for.

After replying we wanted a table for “quatro” he led us to an intimate area of the `cave` and showed us the wine list – a man after my own heart.

“Do you speak English well?” Shona asked the owner.

” A little” he replied and then beckoned over a young blonde lady who was waiting by the kitchen.

“What would you like to drink?” he asked. After the quickest conversation the four of us had had since we met at the airport we all decided a bottle of red wine would be fantastic.

“EXCELLENT” he yelled and sent the blonde lady away to fetch our wine.

” and food?” he continued passing out 4 menus.

“What would you recommend?” Bindya asked, browsing the menu that was all in Spanish. Once again, our ignorance of the language of the country we were staying in was letting us all down.

The owner started to go through the menu attempting to give us a break down on what was on offer, using his little knowledge of English.

Now, I`m a teacher and a mother, so I have witnessed numerous teachers and parents speaking patiently and repeatedly to their children and students….. however….. this amazing and adorable man standing in front of us deserved an OBE. After 4 times of going through the menu, we all finally understood what was on offer and then agreed that the fish he had originally suggested (selling it as being `wonderful, homemade and freshly caught` ) was the winning choice, along with the steak (medium to rare) and a small bowl of rice. It was at this point I decided his name was to be Papa Bear.

The lady brought over the bottle of Red and we all raised our glasses to a toast to ” Papa Bear and his choice of food”. She also brought along a bowl of olives and freshly made, (and still warm), bread buns. We were all starving and devoured everything within minutes. I went for a quick cigarette outside and when I returned the olive bowl was replenished.

“Wow this is really good service” I said pointing to the bowl of olives. The girls started laughing and I asked them what was so funny.

“Bindya topped them up from the olives she brought earlier” Shona explained.

“Oh my god you can`t do that” I exclaimed. ” Papa Bear might be outraged and kick us out and I am so looking forward to our food”.

” It will be alright” Bindya replied moving the bowl very subtly off the table as Papa Bear appeared with our dishes.

He placed them all in the middle of the table somehow knowing that we were all going to share the food.

“Enjoy” he said with a welcoming smile.

” We will” said Rupy ” It looks delicious”

We all took a quarter of each dish and our plates were full with delightful food that not only smelt great but also looked very pleasing.

Silence over took the table as we started to eat our way through the dishes. The only sounds heard was mmmmmmmmmm and ahhhhhhhh.

The steak, we all agreed, was the best steak we had ever had, and despite not ever having heard of the fish that we were eating, that too also got an extremely high score.

Once our plates were empty, and I mean empty..there was not morsel of food left, I ventured to find the toilets. The signs on the door quickly told me I was in the right place. The girls sign was a cartoon type picture of a girl crossing her legs and lets just say the mens picture was quite phallic!

Whilst reliefing myself, I passed the time with making up a profile for Papa Bear (would be rude to leave him out of the game)

Name: Papa Bear

Age: 70 (should be retiring but he loves his job)

Description: 5ft 10, soft short grey hair, sparkling grey eyes with a gentle and patiient demeanour.

Likes: English customers who listen to his FIRST recommendations

Dislikes: His bowl of olives being filled up without his consent.

Family Status: Caring husband and grandad to a large number of grandchildren.

Job: CEO of his restaurant business..I would like to think that he has many restaurants and we were just lucky that day that he was working in this one.

On returning to the table, (that was now cleared, apart from the return of the newly filled olive bowl..Bindya!!!!!), I sat and topped up our glasses.

” Papa Bear is bringing us the desert menu” Shona informed me.

I groaned “I hope some of it looks familiar so that we don`t have to go through it a gazillion times”

Right on cue, Papa Bear appeared with 4 new menus. His recommendation was the Foam Topped Coconut dish along with the apple pie. We all agreed immediately putting all our trust in him and within minutes, the table was full of puddings (minus the olive bowl – good work again Bindya!)

The coconut pudding was out of this world and nothing like this could be found in England ( I have been trying, but not to any luck). It was literally a light, airiated foam of cream covering slices of coconut and white chocolate in a white chocolate sauce and the apple pie was self-explanatory.

Completely stuffed and satisfied, we happily paid the bill, leaving a large tip, and gathered our belongings, thanking Papa Bear over and over again.

We left the restaurant and decided it was time to head back home and get ready for our night in Barcelona.

We walked back through the square which led us out to the main road and outside the pre mentioned winery, that lucky for us was just closing as it was the beginning of Siesta time.

“No” wailed Bindya,

“It`s alright” Rupy said, “We can stop at the corner shop and get wine there”

” That`s not why I am wailing” said Bindya, “I`ve left the rest of the olives at the restaurant”.

” It`s alright, leave them” Rupy said, but Bindya had already turned around and was heading her way back to the restaurant.

” I better go with her” Rupy sighed and jogged after Bindya.

Shona and I sat down and I had a cigarette, laughing about Bindya and her olives.

Finally the girls returned, with a very happy Bindya and we started to make our way back to `home` via the corner shop.

” Look out for a bus” I said to the girls, ” Mind you, we still haven`t seen one bus all day!”