Bay of Biscay to Segovia to Madrid
We got up early to do some shopping and sightseeing in Santander and Santilliano del Mar along the northern coast (or Bay of Biscay). Shopping was focused around food and wine, and we visited many of the gourmet deli shops. Most of them offered samples of quality olive oils, cheeses, wines and, of course, Jamon. The sampling set-up for the Jamon was efficient, but looked a little barbaric if you are not a meat-eater.
We bought some wonderful olive oil, a box of membrillo and some balsamic vinegar. We asked everywhere about the ability to bring Jamon Seranno back on the plane, as the customs booklet was not very clear on the requirements. Everyone had a different opinion. We decided to try to bring back only a vacuum-packed chorizo package rather than an expensive type of Jamon. Fortunately we went this route because even the vacuum-packed meat was taken from us in customs. They said a man came through last week with some expensive Jamon, which they confiscated, and then they fined him $300.00 on top of that for not declaring it on his customs sheet. I told the customs officials it was not clear on their website what was allowed and they got rather defensive, pulled out their customs booklet, started to read it…..and then just stopped and moved us on. Hm-m-m.
On to Burgos:
Food enjoyed in Burgos:
We stopped for lunch in a small (two-table plus bar) restaurant on the Plaza de Santa Maria by the elaborate Cathedral de Santa Maria in Burgos. The family running this restaurant was having soup from a big cauldron. It was not on the menu but it looked good, with garbanzo beans, greens, Bacalao and eggs. We asked if we could have some of that stew/soup and they were delighted to serve us family style. Tesla didn’t feel well so she wasn’t eating as much as the restaurant family thought she should and they started to worry that she didn’t like the soup. When they found out her stomach hurt, the home remedies started coming out quickly. She was served some great mint tea for her stomach and given a lot of advice. Advice flowed freely at this restaurant…between the family, to the customers, and anyone else that happened to be within earshot (see lessons learned below).
They ended our meal with a french toast type of dessert that was also served family style with them. I think we became part of their American family by liking their food, asking questions, and having a sick child. It was a great meal!
Lessons Learned on this leg of trip:
- Coffee comes in small, strong units, even when ordered as “Americano” and even when ordered from McDonalds. Cris had a hard time with this and although he loved the Jamon, he was happy to get back to his large mug of weak American coffee.
- Most restaurants are family owned and the smaller ones will often treat you like family; we started quite an animated, argument amongst the family members and customers in Burgos when we asked if we could bring Jamon back to the states on the plane. Mom, dad, grandpa, the aunts and all the customers got into a debate on what was the correct answer and what their “friends’ experiences were. They completely forgot about us during the heated debate and the question never did get answered.
- Mint tea will be offered if you don’t eat their food enthusiastically. Vinegar and oil will be rubbed around your nose if you are stuffed up.