It’s been a while since we were last at L’Abadía, our favourite restaurant in Gandia. If this were England and L’Abadía a pub, we’d call it our local. The warm welcome and creative home cooking of Ana comforted and restored our well-being after The Infamous Episode of the Hacking of the Trees. We have our guardian angel to thank for leading us to Ana’s on our very first time in Gandia, way back in January, when we were still searching for a house to buy. We were on the main pedestrianized shopping street in Gandia, called Carrer Major, when we spied a blackboard directing us a few meters away to the restaurant. And by now after so many visits over the past months, including once when our daughter and niece were visiting, L’Abadía is quite like home, and Ana and her husband almost like family. A tall glass of beer for M and a shandy for me –- both glasses very well frosted – came at once. I learned a new word – clara – for the mix of beer and fizzy lemon that is one of my staples for a summer refresher.
On Saturdays, Ana does not have the menu del día that is her standard on weekdays. She recommended three dishes of ocean delights: pulpo a la gallega, pescaditos, and camarones a la romana. The octopus was a small one and very tender, flavoured generously with sweet smoked paprika and olive oil, and came atop thinly sliced potatoes. A very satisfying dish to start with, especially on a hot, humid day. Breezes blowing in from the sea entered through the open door, making the heat bearable. Ana apologized, and said they were putting in air-conditioning this coming week.
Next came the camarones fried in a crisp batter on a layer of vinaigrette-dressed red cabbage and lettuce. After this I was quite full.
But there was more to come: exquisite fried boquerones (and one red mullet) – their flesh white and silky sweet. Although I thought I could not eat another bite, I kept up with M, as the flavour of the boquerones was irresistible.
Why is it that there is always room for dessert? Especially if they are home-made? M went for flan de queso, while I chose mousse de limón. I think my dessert was the better of the two, and appropriately refreshing after the seafood and fish dishes. I loved that there was quite a lot of lemon zest in it, but M is not a fan. So I managed to enjoy my dessert without M dipping into it beyond the first taste.
Ana’s husband, who’s front of the house while Ana is in the kitchen (though she always comes out for a chat), could not let us go without complimentary liqueurs. M was driving, so received a non-alcoholic mora (raspberry cordial). I got a very herby liqueur that tasted like Jaegermeister. Both were very well chilled, including the glasses, and we barely felt the heat as we walked back to the car.