Sunday, February 24, 2008

Spain in beverages.

I'm not going to type about sangria, to be clear. I really want to talk about my two favorite drinks from Spain, so I'm going to start with a specific style of cafe con leche, pictured here with a delicious toasted croissant.

I find beverages with condensed milk, thai iced tea for instance, to be inevitably delicious. They're sweet and creamy and perfect. The average cafe con leche, or cafe au lait as the French call it, uses normal steamed milk. At the cafe, I discovered that condensed milk makes the espresso easy to drink. And as much as I love my tiny French coffees, this cafe con leche won me over because it is so leisurely and smooth- I might argue the perfect morning beverage. Though this is a beverage post, I'd also like to tell you that toasted croissants are delightful, and I want to eat them for breakfast all the time.

Drink number two is kind of a Spanish swindle, which made me love the place even more. I studied abroad in China, a place where I came to expect and almost masochistically enjoy a seller's culture trying to pull one over on me all the time. I mean, it is kind of charming, the sort of verve that requires. I'm not a wine connoisseur by any measure. I mean, in France I have drunk more wine than ever before, but I am new to the ways of wine snobbery. That said, I plan on wrinkling my nose at all kinds of cheap wine when I get back to the States. And some beers too, because I have been spoiled by life in a place where a genuinely tasty Belgian beer (Grimbergen, for instance) is cheaper than any American light beer.

But, I was going to tell you that in a Spanish restaurant, they will cop to giving you a cheap, "bad" red wine, and serve it with sparkling water, or in some cases coke. I didn't try coke and red wine, but fizzy red wine is kind of delightful, the way you'd expect it to be. The sweet cabernet sauvignon they served with my lunch in Barcelona went really well with carbonated water. Sacrilegious as that may sound.

And that was last week in beverages. Spain was very drinkable.

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