Sunday, January 9, 2011

Guadalajara, Spain: Amparito Roca, A Truly Memorable Lunch

We took a break from our final preparations yesterday to take Ricky out to the park.  He wants to learn to ride a bicycle.  I took off the training wheels, and put the bike into the car, and we drove to a very nice park near the Henares River, in Guadalajara.  There are lots of flat walkways there, and a playground, and it's not a crowded place.  We spent about half an hour with Ricky riding and me running along beside him, holding on to the seat, or his shoulder, as the need of the moment required.  He did fine.  If we spend another few days on it, it would be a done deal.  But we're off to Morocco tomorrow!

After our hard work at the park, we went out for lunch to Amparito Roca, in Guadalajara.  The previous day, we had eaten at a restaurant in Guadalajara for the first time.  Yesterday, we had lunch at what is widely perceived to be the very best restaurant in Guadalajara.

We arrived at 2 p.m., the usual time for lunch in Spain, and there were only a handful of tables occupied.  We were given a nice table in a corner, surrounded by windows, so it was a bright and airy space.  The chairs were large and comfortable, and we were quickly approached with menus and asked for our drink orders.  The chef, Jesus Velasco, came to our table and greeted us.  He asked us what we were having, and Ana asked him about the meal being offered called La Cocina de Siempre.  It consisted of three appetizers, followed by an entree, followed by dessert.  She told him that we liked everything, and asked him to make our selections for us.  He asked what Ricky would like to have, and offered to make him spaghetti, which was particularly nice, I thought, since that was not even on the menu.

While we waited, we were brought olives and bread, as well as our drinks.  The olives were very good, and the bread came in two varieties, a sourdough and a flat, round, fried bread which was very good.  Then the food began to come.  First came a small plate that had croquettes on one side, stuffed with ham and bechamel sauce, and on the other side a small piece of pork with the crispy fried skin still attached.  It was great. The croquettes were wonderful.  Ricky was brought a plate of croquettes, which he ate eagerly.  Then came the first appetizer, which was Gazpacho con helado de oricios y tropezones de salpicon. Gazpacho is a traditional cold soup, made with a tomato base.  It was poured over a tiny dollop of sea urchin ice cream and small greens.  Each spoonful was delicious and refreshing and clean-tasting.  Ricky declined to try it.  He was too busy with his spaghetti, which was perfectly cooked and made with a tomato sauce that was much more Spanish than Italian, tasting strongly of chorizo and pimenton, not of oregano.  Ana and I did not hesitate to try the spaghetti.  It was excellent.   We tied a napkin around his neck, and he went to work at it.

Next we were brought a really fine looking little plate, with a fried egg on it.  Sitting on the fried egg was a piece of truffle, and under it was a bed of thinly sliced potatoes and wild mushrooms.  The whole thing had been cooked in the truffle oil.  The yolk of the egg was more red than orange, and it mixed with the rest of the plate in a delightful way.  It was fine, very fine.  Ricky kept working on his spaghetti, drinking his Fanta Limon.

Then came a small plate of rice, which had squid and clams and which was cooked in the squid's ink.  The rice was rich and crunchy in places and delicious all over.  It was caramel colored and we did not speak while we ate this.  It was very special, extremely pleasing.

Then came the main dish, which was bass.  It was simple and great.  It was deboned and baked with slices of roasted garlic on top. Ricky ate a good deal of the bass. 

Desserts then were brought.  Ricky chose to have vanilla ice cream, which was of the highest quality, served just a little bit soft, and very tasty.  I think that it must have been made in the restaurant.  Ana and I were brought one final great dish.  There were two soft white round shapes on a plate, one made of mascarpone ice cream, the other made of cheese.  There was a raspberry sauce.  There was great taste and texture.  I had thought I was full, but I ate all of it without stopping.  It was a great meal.  Friendly service, too, and a willingness to cater to children (the spaghetti was not on the menu, and was suggested as a meal for Ricky).  It was worth coming to Guadalajara from Madrid for this meal.  It is quite possibly worth coming to Guadalajara from New York for this meal.

Amparito Roca, Calle Toledo, 19, Guadalajara.

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