The clock turned over five, and none of us had a cocktail in our hand.
It was a ritual that Sherry brought to us in Mexico, and it continued when we reunited in Girona. Replace mezcal with gin, but the scene was similar. We’d take turns crafting the drinks and distributing; the music turned bouncier and the laughter was more frequent. We’d keep working but were increasingly distracted. And as the hour grew longer and our stomachs began to audibly rumble, an addition to our ritual emerged.
Plates of ham. Tomaquet. Fresh market cheeses.
Inasmuch as Pete and I would both love to blame Sherry for the extra pounds we sported after leaving Girona, given her enslaving of us to her rigid observance of this cocktail hour, it would be slightly unfair. She never forced us into gin number two and three (or four), nor did she insist on the overindulgence of ham. Unaccustomed to the late dinner hour we usually found ourselves overindulging on the mouth-watering meat, and then supplementing with another meal a few hours later.
And we couldn’t do all of that without working in something sweet as well. Bring on the gelato.
It was a gluttonous time for all of us there, in the small city of Girona, those things that left us salivating and anxious for next day’s supply were numerous.
LET’S START WITH THE GIN
I never considered myself a gin drinker (I am more of a whiskey girl), but I was schooled upon arrival in Girona a year ago, when our host opened up a wooden chest full of different spices to use with our cocktails. And since then both Pete and I have sampled many and come up with our favourites.
To aid in that, we even went to a dinner with gin pairings at Indigo Restaurant and Lounge. We were expertly ushered through our four course meal with a medley of gins, tonics and spices that perfectly complimented.
A ham connoisseur will be able to tell you the differentiating qualities and which ham is better for what reason, but to me, it is all just so damn good. We made our way through the city sampling the humble pig’s finest offering as we went.
We can tell you that the tastiest ham was to be found at the Mercat del Lleó (Lion’s Market), or in the market in Devesa Park every Tuesday and Saturday. They also gave us the best bang for our buck compared to the stores in the historic centre.
AND FINALLY, GELATO
Truth time: one of the main reasons that we were so happy to return to Girona was because of Rocambolesc. You may believe that the best gelato must exist in Italy but I have to say that such an understanding is simply wrong. It’s in Girona.
Through the efforts of Jordi Roca, the dessert chef at the award-winning El Celler de Can Roca, this gift to sweet-tooths everywhere was born. Several of the offerings are unique and may seem wacky to some – an ice-cream hot pocket, coconut and violet flavoured gelato, and even a sorbet replica of Game of Throne’s character Jamie Lannister’s severed hand (made partially of blood orange sorbet, of course) – but the care and creativity that goes into each creation is undeniable. Each bite or lick is to be savoured.