Piriapolis, a first stop in Uruguay on our drive from the Montevideo airport to Punta. Weird little beach-ville with a Niceoise boardwalk, a crumbling yet not THAT old hotel, some houses plucked out of Frankfurt. Beautiful blue water, soft white sand, towering hill in the backdrop and that painfully green, cattle-spotted Uruguayan countryside behind that. It was the first sight of blue ocean, palm trees, warm sand, sun and content, crispy tan people for my parents who visited me during their winter in BA which offers nothing like this. We had to stop and get some fishy bites.
We decided on this place, a peaceful little boating-club-looking restaurant overlooking the yachts parked in the port. Don’t remember the name of it and don’t really feel the need to as it is more of a TYPE than a restaurant in itself. Not far from us was a boisterous group of smartly dressed 50-60 year olds celebrating some sort of reunion, empty bottles strewn across the table. As we were looking through the menu, discussing options in a conspicuously non-Uruguayan-Spanish language (Hungarian), one of them leaned his chair back just far enough to almost fall and boldly told us to get the miniaturas, chunky little deep-fried goujons made of the freshest catch of the day. We did that. And rabas. And beer, Patricia, good beer. Refreshing as hell on a hot sunny day, golden light beer with some depth and actual flavor. Ice-cold, in a cooler full of ice, frosted over on the sides. First thing I get (or at least appreciate fully) when I arrive in Uruguay and one of the things I miss the most when I leave. I have an empty bottle of it as a token here in my room. Blah blah Quilmes sucks, blah.
Bread that came with it was fresh and warm, the mayo that came with that was mixed up with chunks of heart of palm (always exciting). Cri-crac for those in need of a crunch.
Fresh rabas fried in a crispy, not too thick, golden-brown batter. The animal itself was not chewy (as when over- or undercooked), nor did it taste like paper (as when frozen and thawed). Instead it offered a perfect little crunch with a series of tender little chews following. No extra grease, a squeeze of lemon rendering inconceivable any feeling of oiliness. Unnecessary but always appreciated fresh green sprinkled over the top to shake the colors up. Simple, awesome little snack to enjoy while adjusting your eyes to the sunlight beaming off the bright white boats parked just meters away.
And on the other plate, miniaturas, bite-sized little chunks of who knows what kind of local fish undoubtedly caught just a few hour before. White, flaky, almost creamy flesh, pleasanty light on the batter. Lots of lemon over the top. Fresh sea-breeze all around and joyous laughter from one table over. A little tired from the trip but just enough, a lull from the beer, parents holding hands across the table…