Hotel Palaciode la Velada, Ávila, Spain, March 31, 2013—WE RETURNED TONIGHT to a place I remembered much liking last time we were here, a number of years ago — snug parlor with fireplace, big L-shaped dining room, white tablecloths, dark heavy beams, lots of game trophies on the walls.
I'd had sopa Castillana for lunch, not a very good one at one of the cafés on the Mercado Chico, but didn't let that stop me from ordering it at dinner, and I was glad. This was a fine version of the classic dish: torn bread in tomato-flavored hambone stock, with a fine egg broken into it just before serving. I eat half with the spoon, then lift the soup-bowl to my lips, that's the kind of guy I am. Delicious.
I did pass up the cochinella, though. Instead, I ordered the ternera a la plancha, which turned out to be a veal cutlet, a little dry and overcooked, I'd say, with nice little pommes frites on the side. Dessert was a fine almond ice cream with chocolate ice cream and whipped cream.
Rioja, Cune (Crianza), 2009: very approachable and mature (in half bottle)
• Meson El Rasto, Plaza del Rastro, Ávila, Spain; 920 21 12 18