Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Squid Heaven

One summer in college, about 14 years ago if you can believe it, I did some traveling around Eastern Europe and found myself in Piran on the Adriatic coast of Solvenia for a few days. I was alone and on a budget and subsisting primarily on canned tuna and gigantic hamburgers they sold at the bus stop. One night, though, I decided to eat at one of the restaurants on the water and treat myself to a good meal.

Keeping in mind that “treating myself”, given the exchange rate at the time and the generally suppressed post-wall economies of Eastern Europe, meant that I probably spent all of about $10 on that meal, but I was also spending about $10 a night on my room. At some point your economy of scale shifts and spending the same amount on a meal that you’re spending on your room feels just like it would if you were spending $100 on your room.

The point of all this, is that I had best, most scrumptious, melt-in-your mouth calamari I’d ever tasted. I always figured I’d have to go all the way back there to have squid that tender again. Until last weekend.

Diana and I went to Monterey for a couple days. Sunday night we ate at Isabella’s, a restaurant owned by Monterey’s TV Chef Tene, who greeted us at the door. Diana had Calamari & Artichoke Pasta. I passed on the Calamari Parmesan fearing the squid would be too chewy. Boy was I wrong. A sampling of Diana’s dish yielded bites tender enough to rival my Slovenian memories. She remarked several times that she kept thinking it was chicken, it was so tender.

Then the next day we ate breakfast downtown at Rosine’s. We chose it based on the awe inspiring cakes in the dessert case. I went with the Calamari Omelet of the specials menu and was not disappointed. The fluffy omelet topped Jack cheese was filled with diced, breaded and deep fried calamari. Oh my god. Again, so unbelievably soft and easy to eat.

Now I know I don’t have to travel several thousand miles and cross an ocean to have such tender calamari again. More importantly, I know my summer memories of a dinner on the Adriatic coast weren’t overly colored by time or enhanced by comparison to canned tuna or hamburgers. Squid really can be that tender.


  1. "Calamari Omelet"...I fucking want that!

    As for Solvenia, isn't that where they kidnap you and sell you to businessmen who subject you to torture and death?

  2. Maybe today. There weren't any hostels there 14 years ago. At least not on the coast.


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