Restaurant & Hospitality Consultants

September 2015 Newsletter

My Love Affair with Spain — Some Bumps, Some Bruises, Lots of Rosés and Lifelong Memories
Happy September Everyone!

Is it possible to fall in love with a country? I think so.

As you may know, once a year I set out to see the world with my besties Sharee, John and Linda. This trip marked our 11th year and we decided on Spain for a third time.  We had spent a very short time in Barcelona ten years ago but were eager to get back. We decided to start there and go south to check out the beach and end in Valencia.

The journey started off a bit rocky. I won’t go into too much detail but I partied a little too hard (thanks Eat Drink SF) the night before I left and had the brilliant idea to pull an all-nighter to get ready. I hit the plane had a few glasses of wine and then a little sleeping pill (like Patti Duke in Valley of the Dolls). Fast forward to our first day in Barcelona: I arrived in the breakfast room and abruptly fainted (and knocked myself out!). I woke up in an ambulance with a very handsome Spaniard male ER attendant – I thought for sure I was dreaming. So long story short, we spent our first day in a Barcelona hospital. The great news is I was fine (a little exhausted and dehydrated), and just had to deal with a major bump on the noggin and some serious whiplash. I must commend the wonderful staff of the hospital in Barcelona –they were absolutely amazing despite our language barrier. (First tip –make sure you have trip health insurance –you never know what can happen.)

Okay back to the trip — day two I was a bit wobbly but intent on seeing the city. Our hotel was the lovely Hotel Constanza in a great residential neighborhood right near the Gothic Quarter and La Rambla. From the hotel we spent two days exploring the magical city. We had a great walking tour of the Gothic Quarter and then went to Gaudi Park which was extraordinary. Of course we ate and drank whenever we could – paella and tapas were our staples, and Tapas 24 and Casa de Tapas Canota were by far our favorite places here.

Next stop – Peniscola, one of the most charming beach towns we have ever visited.  It was a wonderful mix of families, couples, friends and children. We were the only Americans! Everyone was out and about enjoying the perfect weather and the balmy nights. Our hotel – theBoutique La Mar – was perfect. It was set against the Papa Luna Castle and right on the beach.  Here in Peniscola  we lounged around, drank Gin & Tonics, took siestas and then hit the sweet family owned restaurants (one night we had an epic meal of meat). Peniscola is a fairy tale city —  the sunsets were exquisite and the energy was electric. We danced the nights away, and it was at this snazzy nightclub on the beach when I know I was falling hard for this delicious country.

Our last stop was Valencia, and all I can say was wow. The city is full of spectacular architecture, rich history and more gorgeous people.  Our hotel here was very, very special as it was set in a palace from the late 19thcentury. If you go to Valencia you have to promise me you will stay at the Hospes Palau de la Mar. We loved it and the spa is worth checking out too. On to the sites — we had a fun walking tour of the city center with Pablo from Libertours.  We visited historic sites and ended at one of the most amazing markets I have ever seen. Later that day we walked along the “river”, now an extraordinary park that runs the length of the city and ends at the stunning Arts and Science Museum and Oceanography center.  This is a must visit place. Our last day – we hit the beach again. Valencia is known for its beaches, its lush lifestyle, its oranges and it truly is the home of paella. So we had paella and lots of it. Our last evening we broke the mold and had a memorable dinner at an Italian gem Lambrusqueria. It was the perfect way to toast to our romance with Spain.

Gracias Espana! Along the way we met memorable people — the staffs at our hotels were truly service oriented and everywhere we went the locals were warm and welcoming. Each stop inspired us and I will never forget this magical trip. Special thanks to Lemon Valley Holidays out of Spain for all your assistance. (Tip two – use Nicola to help you plan everything).

Back to reality! September kicks off one of the most crazy fall seasons in AF&Co. history. We have two Taste America events, three openings, signature events at all of our clients and one wedding to top it all off..

Read on for all the juicy details and I hope to see you very soon.


PS – If you can’t make it to Spain soon – I suggest you check out two of our very best clients – Canela and Gitane.  From the menus to wine and the décor, these restaurants will transport you to Spain. No airfare required.
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