Saturday, February 26, 2011
Ana and sangria.
We're left to our own devices tonight and it's a good thing I've been to Managua a couple of times because I'm not daunted and we venture forth into the night to seek a nice meal. A hotel car to whisk us to the Saturday night madness of the Galerias Santo Domingo where a wide selection of restaurants is for our choosing. After a bit of deliberation, we decide on Meson Espanol.
The Meson is an interesting place. Done in a traditional Spanish style, the food is tapas and a selection of paellas, all seafood. For a moment I ponder the notion of Spanish wines until our server tells us of the jarras of sangria. Hmmm, fun sangria for guzzling or serious wine for sipping? You guess the choice!
Olives stuffed with pimentos.
The problem with tapas is that it's too easy to get carried away and order too much. Before you know it, you're table is inundated with the complex and dizzying array of tastes and textures. Choose carefully and you are rewarded. Choose gluttonously and you will be punished.
Moderation and balance is the order of the day, but some things are too interesting to miss - like the Jamon Serrano and the olives. A homage to healthy eating, the mushrooms have a bitter quality that I'm not fond of. The croquetas are merely perfunctory and disappointing and I'm wishing we had ordered the anchovies instead.
Happily, the quantity is manageable and by the time the paella real arrives, we're ready.
Paella is such an interesting dish to me. Varied and complex, I really don't know what is truly a "good" paella and what is an "okay" paella. I do, however, know what a "bad" paella is - having had a bad one in Baltimore about a year ago. Truly detestable.
Meson Espanol's Paella Real is filled with clams, mussels, shrimp, fish and lobster. No meat of any kind. It's got a slight tartiness to it but is quite tasty. I can't get enough.
Meanwhile, the pitcher of sangria is flowing fast and I'm very glad that we have the hotel car to take us back.
Jamon y queso croquetas.
Mushrooms on the plancha.
A little salad.
Juan Pablo and Paola look for their assignments.
As does Rebeca and Isaura.
From the seats.
Head Judge Ana Garcia.
ACEN's Dieter Delgado.
Our Judges: Juan Pablo Oporta (s), Isaura Zeledon (s), Paola Brenes (s), Indira Arias (t), Egda Reyalvarez (s), Yours Truly (H), Ana Garcia (h), Claudia Lovo (s), Rebeca Vergeli (s), Edwin Ruiz (s), Dieter Delgado (s) and Marisela Martinez (s).
Indira and Claudia talk tech with Ana.
Paola, Edwin and Rebeca discuss the drinks.
Tech Judges Indira Arias and Claudia Lovo.
Ana's team evaluates espresso.
The Finalists: Carlos Lopez, Dina Salazar, Manuel Martinez and Jose Herrera.