Thursday, November 29, 2007
When you move to a new country it's important to have connec-tions, however tenuous. You know, someone to call when your apartment burns to the ground, your boyfriend of three weeks steals all your money and you're arrested for public nudity. At least that was the scenario my mother put to me before I moved to Barcelona, where I did not know a soul.
So, before leaving, I pestered friends, acquaintances and random strangers for possible contacts. The conversations went a little something like this: So, do you know anybody in Barcelona? Spain generally? Europe? The northern coast of Africa? Anybody you know like to travel? Have they considered Spain and are they prepared to bring bail money? I was a little desperate.
As it happens, the strategy did pay off. By the time I arrived in Barcelona, I had a surprisingly long list of people I could call, many of them people I now know and rely on as friends. At the top of that list was Deirdre.
Deirdre is a beautiful Canadian girl married to Jordi, a handsome Catalan boy. Deirdre and Jordi met at school in Paris. Once they graduated, she moved to Barcelona, learned the language (actually, two languages, Spanish and Catalan) and made a life here so that she and Jordi could be together. They were married this year. Really, it doesn't get much more romantic.
Deirdre is actually a friend of a friend of a friend. And not only is she an excellent resource for everything from restaurants to apartment rentals to language schools to hairdressers, she's an extremely warm, funny and generous woman.
I realized what a truly good friend Deirdre is last Friday night. Jordi was away on business so Deirdre and I went out. We began with quite a lot of wine at Barcelona's best tongue twister restaurant, Tantarantana (pictured above, c/ Tantarantana 24, 93 268 2410, reservations recommended). Relaxed, welcoming and candle lit, Tantarantana is ideal for an intimate evening with a girlfriend, a boyfriend or a group of friends. The place practically screams birthday dinner. Most importantly, the food is excellent: one of the best caprese salads I've ever had--enormous slices of mozzarella di bufala, perfectly ripened tomatoes and (who would have thought) anchovies; an outstanding tuna, avocado and sesame salad; baby sepia in a fresh basil sauce accompanied by a wild mushroom sautee; and a warm melt in your mouth brownie with vanilla icecream for dessert. If only the duck had been a little more tender or if I'd ordered the risotto that the friend who recommended the restaurant raved about, it would have been perfection.
After dinner, Deirdre humoured me by agreeing to check out Harlem Jazz Club (see Girls' Night). Secretly, I wanted to see if the principe azul of the weekend before was there. He wasn't. But a soul band was playing: the Gangsters of Love. The lead singer is American and may believe that he's Elvis. He does have that vibe--at least spiritually if not physically. I think it's the hypnotic hip movement. In any case, I knew I was smitten when he started playing the harmonica. I'm not even slightly kidding. But in order to preserve my steamy harmonica playing Elvis fantasy, I was forced to look away when he would mop himself down with the grungiest towel on God's green earth. Deirdre took the full weight of the blow and only let me look when the towel was out of view.
Now that's a true friend. I have no doubt that she'll also bail me out of jail if the law ever catches up with me. No more need to worry, Mom.