I left Barcelona with wine on my mind and in the trunk of the car. I was headed to Girona, a city Angela and I had visited in 2011 (we had a reservation at El Celler de Can Roca). This time I was going to visit friends who lived there. They were opening a wine bar, and I thought it would be fun to observe their work and give them some help. I had taken a train from San Sebastien down to Barcelona, and, after a few meals and a night at Camp Nou seeing Messi & Co. work their magic, I rented a car and headed toward the ocean. (I did make one stop, for lunch, at Can Fabes, more on which later.) (Update: Here is the story of my afternoon at Can Fabes.)
Girona is a beautiful city, with a small river running through it. It is not far from the French border, and its people are fiercely independent. I had my trusty GPS unit, and had programmed into it the village in which my friend and her husband lived, about 20 minutes outside of Girona. They own an amazingly beautiful bed and breakfast in which I stayed one night during my visit, and I recommend it highly.
They were not home when I arrived, so I called and arranged to meet them in Girnona, near Mon Oncle, the name of the soon-to-open wine bar. It is in a building in a large open square, in the old district; in other words, a perfect location. Plenty of space for outdoor dining, for sitting and enjoying wine with friends.
When I reached the square, after a stroll along the river, Mon Oncle was abuzz with activity; Axel, one of the owners, was helping affix a sign to the building’s exterior, and his sister, Marie, and her husband were inside unloading supplies and going over inventory. I had not seen Axel since 2005, and the last time I saw Marie was in New York in 2002. We greeted and I told them I was available for work. We toasted with beers and I started helping ready chairs and tables for the square. Mon Oncle’s opening night was two days away, and cases of wine and water and beer were stacked inside the restaurant, ready for the open-house crowd that would gather to celebrate.
What occurred two days later was magical, and perfect. Hundreds of people showed up (even a group of drummers), and they drank and dined and danced and, in short, created the perfect atmosphere for the premiere of Girona’s newest wine bar.