LOS DOS HERMANOS GORDOS DO EL NORTE: DAY SIX - BUGGER BURGOS AND THE CREATION OF TAPATHEID
OK, to save time, let's just assume we both had blinding hangovers when we awoke, took some ibuprofen and some milk thistle (and Hairy Lemon) and staggered out of the hotel for our morning stroll about 10am. A reviving hot drink later, we managed a quick fire tour of the cathedral and headed out towards Burgos.
We took the Autopista Camino de Santiago, which followed almost exactly the route of the pilgrim's trail and we saw many people walking towards Leon en route to Santiago.
"Burgos is known for its elegance, its courtliness and civility" we were informed by The Footprint Guide.
The people are known to be quite proper and a little up themselves and it has a reactionary air to it. It is, in fact Harrogate ! Despite the fact it is achingly beautiful and the Cathedral was the most interesting of all those we saw, I found relatively little in the city to charm me and there is little wonder in my mind that Franco chose it as his base.
The people, from the moment we arrived to the moment we left, were charmless. Not the amiably gruff attitude of Asturias or Galicia, just downright surly and, at times actively noxious.
We arrived at the well appointed Meson El Cid (the most expensive hotel of our stay @ EU125 a night and named for the city’s most famous son who we found out was far from the Charlton Heston-like hero of yore but a mercenary who was as happy to fight for the Moors as he was against them depending on who paid the most)
Elmo the Grouch (I mean the receptionist) illustrated the service style that is obviously promulgated to the people of Burgos by the city fathers. She looked like someone had nailed a dead fish to her lower lip and then offered her poison. I can seldom think of a more unfriendly encounter. Still, the room was lovely and with stunning views over the Cathedral and the town, so we had high hopes.
Hopes soon to be shattered by the slothful service we received if we could be served at all. Now getting served in Spain is an art form. In Madrid one has to be forceful, in the South one has to be patient, in the North one has to be doubly patient. But one does always get served. In Burgos it appears, the service is wilfully glacial. We waited nearly 20 minutes in one bar while the woman (ah, there's the rub, we broke ROBIN'S RULE No 6 - All Spanish bars should be staffed by men in their late 50s wearing ill fitting jackets and bow ties) ignored us, chatted to friends, mopped up a bit etc etc. In the end we flounced out which is not much good if you have not been noticed in the first place.
Finally, we found a cerveceria in the square where we managed to drag a waiter to our table and order some Morcilla de Burgos, some picadillos (small cubes of pork in a rich sauce) and some pimientos. All were fine. No more.
So, somewhat sated, we headed out for a long stroll around what is admittedly one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. A town with a over 30 hospitals, a castle that was destroyed when it ceded from the town in the 12th century (perhaps they could not get one of the ornery bastards to serve them either) and a charming tree lined river walk. After a couple of hours we were pretty much bushed and wandered back for a siesta.
However, before we both fell asleep, the thought struck Robin that he had another week of holiday to follow this one as he planned to head to Malaga and meet with other members of the family. Me on the other hand had to go home to work. Being the kind compassionate and caring brother he is, this led to the rather puke inducing sight of a middle aged man dancing around the room in ill fitting boxer shorts singing “ I have another week off while you-oo don’t” I HAVE PICTURES TO PROVE IT!!
By the time we awoke at 7pm, the paseo was in full swing and the cathedral square , which had been empty all afternoon, was thronged with the delightful denizens of Burgos swapping stories about how rude they had been to pilgrims and tourists during the day.
We wandered out with a plan in our hands for an evenings convivial fun. A few bars, naturally , a decent meal, of course, and a nightcap, surely. What could be better? Well, think again boys. After a couple of bars we decided to call it quits and head for a ridiculously early supper. Why? Well, primarily because we encountered what I dubbed “ Tapatheid”
Now, we know enough about Spain to know that the regional differences in the bar culture are vast. In some towns a freebie is obligatory with your beer. In others you are expected to order your own pincho. Where we get thoroughly hacked off is when you order a drink, don’t get a freebie while every local in the bar is handed a lovely looking snack free , gratis and for nowt. That Sir, is just bollox and neither Robin nor I were prepared to take it. Let them stuff their patatas bravas up their collective arses. Bastards!
So, we went straight to El Angel, a highly touted restaurant just off the main square and, not unsurprisingly, at that hour we were the sole diners bar one lonely businessman.
Well, what a turn up for the books. El Angel proved to be a real winner and an oasis of good service amongst the slough of despond outside. A couple of glasses of house Albarino restored our good spirits and we ordered from an interesting menu that took classical Asador staples and gave them a Nuevo twist. Normally , this would give us the hee bee gee bees, but here the concept was handled rather deftly
We began with some sublime Iberico. I would argue the best I have ever had. Glistening in its oil showed it had been properly kept and sliced perfectly. Heaven on a plate.
With it, yet more croquetta. But these were different. Small, crisp balls of seafood on skewers. Perfectly cooked and melting on the inside. Spot on.
An interim salad course made use of that rather glorious jarred tuna that is so readily available all over Spain and gave us a brief respite while our main course was cooking.
We had ordered a beautiful Ribera, a bottle of Tarsus 1999 Reserva and it went perfectly with the quarto of Cordero that appeared some 15 minutes later. Again, this was some of the best lamb I have ever eaten. Crispy skin, creamy melting flesh and delicious fatty bits. There are few better things in life do not involve handcuffs, cream from a spray can and calling people Mistress. This was one of them.
The postre were better than average, but desserts are really not Spain’s thing. Still the glasses of Pedro Ximinez and Malaga that went with them certainly were. Both excellent.
A nightcap later and a bill of EU150 to the good we left the restaurant by now full to the brim, much happier than when we arrived.
The magnificient Cathedral at Burgos (you have to pay to get in but you get a nice little booklet which gives you a tour of the place)
some perfunctory tapas
lovely little croquettas
salady tuna thing before...
...the main event
Majumdar attacking on all fronts
I love you - you're my bestest brother no, really, you are...
I think our piccies got mixed up with someone's holiday snaps from Ayia Napa