Living and working in such a small town, it doesn’t take long to get to know pretty much everyone. One of the people we have come to know best is Alex. Alex is a jolly fellow who comes to visit us in the restaurant and check up on us almost everyday. He owns the oldest house in Taüll, Santa María, which he has turned into a rural house where visitors love to come and stay because the house is so authentic and full of history. Alex invited my friend Thor and I over for lunch one Saturday afternoon to check out the place and to share a nice meal.
Now Taüll is, like I mentioned, a very small town and on such short notice for the event not only did we make an impromptu menu, we also had to go down the mountain, two towns down from us in Barruera to gather all of our ingredients. It had been quite a long time since Thor and I had see anything that even resembled a market and we were very excited to be let loose and buy the things we needed!! First on our list was to go to the butcher to pick out the perfect sized, fresh, whole chicken. There, we bought two kilos of chicken and some seasonal mandarins that even had the date of when they were picked off the tree hand written on the label. That is what I call fresh! After all that shopping Alex thought we should probably stop in to the local bar to greet some of his friends and have a glass of wine…mind you it was 11 in the morning. Surprised to see some of our frequenting customers down there as well, we stayed and chatted for a while.
After that is was off to the wine and cheese store. We had a hay day picking out wines made from grapes from the Spanish Pyrenees and goat and sheep cheese made right here in the valley that we live in and not to forget the duck foix pâté which compliments any good Spanish meal. As we walked out of the store and crossed the street, what do we see but a herd of sheep. I guess we know where our cheese came from too! We made one last stop into the bar to salute our friends over another glass of wine and some aperitifs, clams and sardines, and then we were off to cook our meal.
Alex, though his house is classic, he has put in an awesome new kitchen, which Thor loved, being the chef at our restaurant and all. So on the menu for the day was cognac lemon chicken with potatoes. Luckily the chicken was already cleaned so we plopped a couple lemons inside, cut up some potatoes, drizzled some olive oil and salt over the top and it was ready to go. Alex advised us that 20 to 30 minutes in we would be pouring the cognac over the top to make it extra delicious and give it a unique flavor.
Not to worry though, those twenty to thirty minutes were not wasted waiting around for the main dish to be ready. We had plenty of food and drink to fill up on in the mean time as Celtic music played in the background (Alex’s favorite) and we conversed in a beautiful mixture of Spanish, English, and Spanglish. We got out our cheeses, pâté, chorizo, and of course the most necessary ingredient, fresh bread, and had ourselves some delightful ‘pinchos’ or appetizers. It was amazing how fresh and delicious everything was as we sat in Alex’s kitchen and looked out over the valley of snow covered mountains while the sun shone in the window.
As it came close, Alex checked the chicken and poured the sweet smelling cognac over the hot chicken, and as it sizzled we knew we were in for a treat! Another 10 to15 minutes for the potatoes to finish and the outside of the chicken to get nice and crispy and we were ready to enjoy!
After having a mandarin to cleanse our pallet, we dug into the chicken and were amazed at how delicious the flavors of both the chicken and potatoes were. Yum!! It was a delightful afternoon spent with our dear friend Alex.