Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Why this blog?

Why this blog? The simple answer is that a 100 Montaditos franchise is opening near me and I'm an adventurous eater and I want to try every one of those montaditos.

But my excitement over this place (with which I have no affiliation) does go a little deeper. A few years ago my wife and I flew to Madrid and took a train to Barcelona and went on a Mediterrenean cruise and then spent a little more time in Barcelona and then Madrid. "If I had to choose two words to describe this vacation," I wrote when we returned home, "they would be 'ham sandwich.' "

I took to Spanish cuisine, but I was quick to say it was pretty much bread and ham and eggs and potatoes, and more bread and ham and eggs and potatoes. The signature ham sandwich in Barcelona came from a Mark Bittman tip. He directed anyone in Barcelona to try the sandwich at the nondescript chain Cafe Viena, and it just so happened that one of our Barcelona hotels was just a few blocks away. Bittman was right -- that was one great sandwich. But it wasn't the only one -- Serrano or Iberico ham on baguette-like bread is a constant in Spain. I never heard the word "montadito," but it refers to a tiny version of the "bocadillos" that I saw everywhere.

Scenes from Viena in Barcelona.
Bocadillos at the legendary Boqueria market.

The fact that 100 Montaditos serves beer and wine also resonates with me, not only because I'm such a big lush but also because of my memories of another spot by one of our Barcelona hotels. Alt Heidelberg was a German-themed bar/restaurant (mostly bar) right across the street, and I fondly remember downing a caña -- a small glass of draft beer -- there. I don't know whether 100 Montaditos serves cañas. I hope so, but I might have to settle for a full-size beer.

Scenes from Alt Heidelberg.
The location of this particular 100 Montaditos has some personal significance as well. My wife is the JD behind JDLand, the Web site that has chronicled the transformation of Near Southeast (or Navy Yard or Capitol Riverfront if you must), the neighborhood just south of the house where we've lived for nearly 20 years on the south side of Capitol Hill and the location of this eatery.

I am probably setting myself up for disappointment. I doubt the mass-produced bread from this chain will equal the breaking-glass-crust quality of the bread from Viena. The fillings will probably disappoint as well. But I am cautiosly optimistic. And hungry.

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