Today was the much-anticipated yearly pilgrimage to Casa Isabel (aka Casa Juanín) in Pendones (Caso), Asturias.
To use the old saying "the anticipation exceeded the actual event" would be... totally wrong. It was fabulous! If possible, even better than I remembered. And this time, I had a camera.
The flavor of today's sopa de pescado had even more dimension than usual.
The picture may not look like much, but lurking under the surface (orange from some paprika and, if I'm not mistaken, a tiny pinch of saffron) are shreds of fish and crab, as well as the visible clams.
Isabel surpassed herself with the fabes con jabalí. The famous large white haricot beans of Asturias in a rich stew of wild boar and bits of pimiento tasted better than ever.
Picadillo de venado was the usual fantastic, this time with the addition of two utterly fresh eggs from the hens in her back yard.
Think a sort of hash made from minced venison, paprika, and garlic. Accompanied by fried locally-grown potatoes, of course.
When we tried the cabrito, José Angel and I looked at each other and simultaneously expressed astonishment that it could be even more wonderful than usual. I was glad to know I wasn't just imagining it.
I don't know how Isabel does it - she's a sorceress in the kitchen. And I couldn't tell you what's in the sauce, aside from "nothing that doesn't belong there".
Although I'm a huge fan of the arroz con leche asturiano - and Isabel's is, of course, excellent - I can't seem to order anything but her flan for dessert there any more. It is truly the best I have ever tasted.
Casa Juanín (aka Casa Isabel)
Pendones 33997 Caso, Spain
(+34) 985 61 37 25