The train jostled slightly around a curve and roused me from my nap. Traveling from Madrid to Barcelona for the first time, I hadn't been prepared for the beauty that is Spain. The tracks eventually found the coast, and shot in and out of mountainous tunnels along the sea. Dark black broke into brilliant sunlight as we came out of the last tunnel, then I was fully awake. My first view of the Mediterranean is vibrant still, the star of the scenery and the first thing my eyes settled on after a late afternoon snooze. Such glorious blue ashine with the same bright intensity as the sun reflecting off the whitecapped waves, twinkling like diamonds.
Barcelona did not disappoint either, and remains, my favorite city in Spain. I enjoyed my time there immensely, and the allure of this country does not stop at the breathtaking landscape. It's the people, the passion, and especially, the food. Known for their laid back culture, Spaniards cherish their social time, and dinners can often last for several hours. A long midday siesta break for lunch and a nap is quite common, pushing dinner time late into the evening.
Located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula, Spain has both an Atlantic and Mediterranean coastline, which is reflected in the use of seafood in traditional cuisine. With such a prime location, it is not surprising that some of the delicious aspects of Spain would drift across the ocean to us, namely, to Chop's Wine Bar.
Although dinner didn't start quite on time, it was well before the Spanish norm of 10 pm. Mark Kalachnik, brought with him wine from the Torres winery, straight from the heartland of Spain. A family company, the secret to their wines has been passed down from generation to generation; tradition and vision has grown Torres into a world renowned company with products in more than 140 countries.
The talented Chef Brian Shreffler paired his take on traditional Spanish food with the fine wines, introducing the courses amid hearty toasts and general warm applause. Winter in Indiana, especially this year, always seems to lag on a little too long. This dinner, with wine, friendly faces, and the dark brick and wood of the bar creating a cozy atmosphere, was almost like a mini trip to Spain. As I sat in back and observed, I could almost hear the waves washing up on the beach in Barcelona.
All it takes sometimes, is just the right amount of wine.
Photos by Tony Frantz
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