Trying out Ole Ole, the new Spanish restaurant in town, allowed me to keep up my resolution of eating only at local establishments that are not a part of the big chain restaurants. Ole Ole is just a few minutes' walk from the campus where Amy and I work, and last Friday afternoon, we decided to try it. We had everything to ourselves-- both the restaurant, which was empty at that time, and the campus, which is deserted on a Friday afternoon. The restaurant is brightly colored, with lots of yellows and reds and splashy Picasso-influenced art. The food was terrific. We started with fat margaritas and a plate of jamon serrano. The jamon serrano, which is basically prosciutto, reminded me of when Nour & I used to live in Morocco and would go to Spain on vacation. Ham became the forbidden fruit, and after parking the car in the line for the ferry, we'd buy a couple San Miguels and I'd get a sandwich from a local cafe with low-grade jamon serrano and queso manchego, the salty, hard Spanish cheese.
Amy and I also tried their patatas bravas, potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce, which didn't taste anything like they do in Spain, but the waiter said it was an Argentinian recipe. The highlight, though, was without doubt the baked chorizo - sausage and potatoes baked in brandy in an earthenware dish that arrived flaming at our table. We waited for the flames to subside and dug in. After our mid-afternoon tapas excursion, I made Amy go back to campus with me and enjoy the view of the lake, sitting underneath the palm trees, live oaks and Spanish moss. Although my first Florida winter was mild by anyone's standards, at this time of year the weather is absolutely perfect-- in the 70s or low 80s every day and not too humid. What more could anyone ask for-- a good friend, a strong drink, some tapas, and some tropical foliage to sit under?