Sunday, April 13, 2014

Enjoyable weekends

While In Albania I am getting spoiled by my friends who always invite me during weekends. This is luxury time for me since I am not used to take rides and get out of town just to get a meal.  This would be unheard of in NYC, where my weekends are usually spent indoors, but in Tirana everyone seems to be escaping the city on Saturdays or Sundays.  Favored by short distances in the tiny country that is Albania, one can have lunch or dinner in the countryside or even in another city within an hour drive.  

Last Sunday I had lunch with one of my friendly families in the port city of Durres, where they wanted me to try a new restaurant called ‘Vertigo’. The name was very appropriate since it was on the top floor of a high-rise, right along the seashore, and totally glass enclosed, with unobstructed views all the way around so that one has the impression, while eating, of being suspended right above the Adriatic sea! 

Here I enjoyed a new, very tasty appetizer made of creamed zucchini in a shell and I had the pleasure of having an Italian “fritto misto di pesce e verdure” (mixed fried fishes and sliced vegetable). A treat I have not had in years!  Although this restaurant had a very nice café`-bar annexed to it on the same top floor, for dessert we moved to another new establishment not too far away that has an enormous showcase of all sorts of pastries, home made ice creams, drinks and coffees. By 6pm we were back home……with a full belly and the need to just snooze a bit….(a habit that Albanians have also during the work week, after their main meal in mid-late afternoon).

During this weekend I went through another round of treats. On Saturday I was invited by an old (dating back from the US) acquaintance for lunch at his home, where I met the rest of the family, children and grandparents included. 
They live in attractive penthouse quarters, spanning over two floors, and spacious enough to have separate bedrooms for each child, a playroom for them, a sizable area used as gym equipped with a stair master, and balconies all the way around. 
Their building is located near Tirana’s Botanical Garden and Lake area, and offers great views of the entire city.   It was a very enjoyable sunny day, with a leisure lunch for the grownups since the children ate in a separate room, and a great afternoon overall!

Today, Sunday, is a grey and rainy day.  With other friends we chose to stay in town, and returned to a favorite restaurant where I always enjoyed a local (very garlicky) dish of stuffed green peppers and eggplants (named Imam Ballajdi). It was served with other assorted appetizers, and was followed by some sizzling fillets of veal, cooked to perfection, in their own hot pan for each individual. An excellent bottle of Chianti accompanied this meal.   

Again we ended up in another café`-bar, also known for good desserts, where everyone chose different pastries and had a ‘macchiato’ to close this other round of goodies!  Thank goodness tomorrow is Monday, and a return to normality is a must! 

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