Every Saturday, in the village of Sant Julià de Lòria, Andorra, there is a group of people meeting for lunch at El Principat, more familiarly know as Ramon’s
It’s not a formal group. Anyone can show up and be welcomed, anytime.
There is only one rule: the gathering is for English speakers only, though not necessarily as a first language.
We went once a month.
The group can range from 4 to 30 and include British, American, Dutch, Spanish, French, Andorran, Belgian, German, Scandinavian, Irish, and other assorted unknown ‘English speakers’.
People start straggling in around noon for coffee or a drink at the bar. At 1:30 a nose count is taken and Ramon is informed of the number. The table is set-up in the dining room and around 2:00 the group slowly meanders in.
Ramon walks by, depositing 1 bottle of red wine in front of every two people. A few bottles of white and maybe, just maybe, a bottle of water or two fill in the middle.
Ramon, yellow post-it note in hand, starts taking the order.
Now, his menu only offers a choice of six starters and six main courses. It hasn’t changed in 10 years and the same people come for lunch most Saturday’s.
Still, some are always unsure what to order. A discussion in many languages ensues (no, the ‘bacalao’ is halibut, not cod… You’re wrong, it’s monkfish. What’s merluza again?)
Ramon is from Paraguay and speaks Spanish and Catalan (Andorra’s official language); the group orders in Spanish, Catalan, French or English depending on which names have been learned for the food.
Periodically Ramon plops another bottle of red on the table.
A couple of hours of eating, talking, mild arguments and bland jokes follow (much the same as the week before – thus our monthly as opposed to weekly attendance).
Around 4:00 Ramon starts sweeping the floors and putting up the chairs – a not-so-subtle hint.
The bill is asked for.
It’s presented – one number scrawled on a post-it note.
A new price is established each January, but for the rest of the year it stays the same, regardless of how many bottles of wine are consumed and how many peach schnapps are served with coffee.
Still, the calculator comes out and after several minutes of serious discussions, recounting of noses and frantic punching of buttons, the individual tab is announced.
This week? Same as last week, and the week before, and the one before that…
Last time we had lunch at Ramon’s it was a whopping 8.45 euros per person, including tip. It’s probably up to 9.25 by now, it’s been 4 years.
Everyone carefully counts out the exact change and all toddle out the door for a nice siesta before dinner.
On the other hand, being in the garden means that salad season is here.
It’s too early for fresh lettuce in my area, but the spinach has been beautiful.
Spinach is packed full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It is known to promote cardiovascular health, prevent prostate and ovarian cancers, and slow the loss of mental agility. But the two big benefits, for me, are it’s ability to promote strong bones and strong eyes.
Popeye was really onto something….although, I prefer mine fresh.
Toss in some quinoa, and we have a near perfect meal, and my entry for this week’s edition of Weekend Herb Blogging, started by Kalyn, of Kalyn’s Kitchen and hosted this week by Anh, of Food Lover’s Journey. Stop by her blog on for complete round-up from around the world!
Spinach Salad with Chicken, Quinoa and Avocado
2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
2 tbs teriyaki marinade
Fresh spinach 6oz (180gr)
1/3 cup quinoa
2/3 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup walnut halves
1 tbs snipped fresh chives
1 tbs snipped fresh basil
Pour marinade over chicken and set aside.
Combine quinoa and stock in small saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until done, about 15 minutes (or whatever your package says).
Cook chicken on barbecue grill over direct heat for 8 – 10 minutes per side. When done remove and slice. Or cut into strips, toss with teriyaki sauce and stir-fry in nonstick skillet in 1 tbs oil for 4 – 5 minutes.
Slice avocado. then cut it into large cubes. Snip herbs.
Wash and spin-dry spinach if needed. Tear any large leaves.
To assemble: Prepare spinach and put into large salad bowl along with the herbs. Toss with about half of the vinaigrette – be careful not to use too much to start. Fluff the quinoa and spoon it around the spinach. Toss lightly to distribute. Add chicken, avocado and walnuts. Toss lightly. Taste, add more vinaigrette if needed, and serve, any remaining vinaigrette on the side.
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs Balsamic wine vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon-style mustard
4 tbs olive oil – the good stuff
In a small bowl whisk vinegar, soy sauce and mustard. Slowly whisk in olive oil.
Note: We only used about 2/3 of the vinaigrette – but we like lightly dressed salads.
Note 2: This is another, slightly reworked, post from the archives – actually one of my first, back in the beginning of time…. You may have missed it ;-)). One must make hay (or in my case, pull weeds) while the sun shines…