¿Dónde está el bar?
Our home for 12 months from September 2016 is a lovely village house owned by a friend of a friend. The travel business provided access to some really lovely people, and these people always seem to remember you and welcome you back with open arms.
The house ticked every possible box for us - very traditional village where English is not spoken by the locals. It is VERY traditional - to the extent that there is no bar or shop in the village; just a church. There had been a bar once upon a time, with no signage and hidden behind one of those multi-coloured plastic strip curtains that flaps over a front door. It looked like someone's house, but we were reliably informed that it had been the bar, but it was now closed. Sadly, my Spanish is not yet up to the level where I could find out if it was ever likely to reopen again this side of 2020, but I live in hope. The nearest bar is an hour's walk away, but I think we can manage that.
Have you ever been for a walk in the Spanish countryside, in the summer when the sun is at its hottest? And I don't mean at 2pm in the afternoon, as that would be madness, but a morning walk before it gets too hot. If you have, then you will know how amazing it is to find a little bar at the end of the walk, order 'dos cervezas' and wonder at how nothing has ever tasted so good as that ice cold little glass of lager.
We will also be extremely lucky to be living in one of the few corners of Spain that still offer free tapas with your drink. I expect everyone now knows what tapas is, but it still excites me to see little plates proffered at the least likely bars whenever you order a drink.
On one of our visits over the past couple of years. we went on such a walk, and a beautiful walk it was, following the river valley through orange and olive groves, and hearing no noise but the sound of birds. We probably arrived back at the village at around 1pm, so just before the temperature really hit the highs of the day, and we were parched by the time we descended into one of the small village squares. On one side of the square, there were three or four small tables set outside an unpromising bar - Taberna Montoro - but anywhere selling beer seemed like heaven at this particular point. We were seemingly the only guests. There was little sign of life.
Grabbing a table, just in case there was a mad rush and we missed out, I then opened the door onto the dingy interior of the bar. It was dark, apart from the feeble light emitting from a strip bulb somewhere towards the back. There was a shuffle behind the bar, and a figure appeared, the figure, presumably, that belonged to Senor Montoro, our host. I ordered two beers and scuttled back out into the brilliant sunshine.
Moments later, Sr Montoro emerged with a small plate of sliced Jamon and an accompanying pile of crisps. Well, just what the doctor ordered.
Our second little beer ordered (the first went down without touching the sides), and Sr Montoro emerged again, this time with a small slice of tortilla, just as welcome as the jamon and equally delicious. There had been no sign of any culinary prowess in that dark little bar.
I popped in to order a third beer (they are small glasses, alright!), and Sr Montoro lifted out a small aluminium pan and turned to put it on to a single hob, counter top cooker. I thought to myself, "what now?!" before scuttling back outside.
A short delay, and then a hiss.
Andrew and I were taken slightly by surprise, as we looked around to see what was making the noise. The hiss came again, and we noticed that a little window had been pulled to one side, and Sr Montoro's head was poking out, along with his hand bearing yet another small plate. This time, there was a warm pork and tomato casserole, with some bread, that tasted absolutely delicious, presumably warmed up by Sr Montoro on his tiny hob.
The bill for this lovely lunch of tapas and ice cold beer came to around €8 or €9, if my memory serves me right.