GGGOOOAAALLL!!! Football in Spain Part II: Copa del Rey in San Sebastian

Editor’s note: We’re going to do something a little different on ThePoeLog and declare this “Soccer Week.” Guest editor and soccer expert XFE has kindly written up a series of posts on the soccer games we went to in Spain. Part 1: UEFA in Bilbao is here.  


The next game on our agenda was in San Sebastian, and was a contest scheduled as part of the Copa del Rey. The Copa is a tournament that allows teams from across Spain to compete for a title. The teams not only include those in the top tier of the league (La Liga), but other teams from lower divisions who are selected based on both competition and a lottery. The tournament starts in September with 83 teams and will work down to a single winner by the following May.

The game we attended was one in the round of 32 where teams play a home/away format to determine the winner. This means that each pair of teams plays twice to determine who will move on to the next round. Each team plays one game at home and one game away and the aggregate score of the two matches determines the winner.

The match we attended was the second leg between the home team Real Sociedad and Las Palmas, which is the team from the city with the same name that is the capital of Gran Canaria, one of Spain’s Canary Islands off northwestern Africa. Real Sociedad had lost the previous match 2-to-1 so they needed to score at least two goals in order to win the aggregate and move on to the next round.

Unlike our previous experience in Bilbao, we did not run into any traveling fans from Las Palmas, at least that we know of, and since the stadium is removed from the central city, it was tougher to identify fans that were out for pintxos before heading to the game.

Poe and I absolutely love the old part of San Sebastian and were perfectly happy grabbing vino and pintxos in the city center before grabbing a taxi for the 10 minute ride to the stadium.

Once on the stadium grounds, we saw fans streaming in from the neighborhood as well as what seemed like 50 different public buses that were convening near the front entrance. As is our custom, we quickly purchased a scarf with the colors of the home team and headed to our seats.


The Anoeta Stadium opened in 1993, but appears to have used a 1970s design and left much to be desired aesthetically, especially after Bilbao’s shiny new San Mames stadium. But it was holding a good crowd that night as we took our seats in the second level at about midfield. The tickets, which our hotel concierge had helped us get, were really good and among some of the best in the stadium. It was clear that we were seated among several of the city’s diehard season ticket holders.


As kickoff time neared, we did seem to notice some angst amongst the small group of locals next to us. They were particularly bothered by the heavy cigar smoke wafting up from a few rows in front of us. Poe and I also found the smoke to be annoying and on some level nauseating, but the woman next to us was frantically waiving her program to disperse the smoke, all while glaring at the group of smokers two rows ahead.

So as glaring continued and smoke rose through the stands, the game finally kicked off. It was clear almost immediately that these two Spanish teams were not quite on par with some of the other popular Spanish clubs or even the teams we had just watched five nights prior. The game took on a ragged sense and the fans sense of disappointment was clearly evident as each missed pass or bad shot was met with loud groans or halfhearted sighs of disappointment. The crowd became further disappointed when midway through the first half, Las Palmas scored meaning that on an aggregate basis, the home team was now trailing 2-0.

Halftime was Poe’s favorite part because immediately every single person around us broke out their own bocadillos – sandwiches – to eat during the break.

Halftime became welcome relief for the fans as their hope for making it to the next round of tournament play seemed all but lost in the current score. So as the second half started and a fresh round of cigars were lit, Poe and I moved to some open seats at the end of our row for fresh air and the second half.

Things were underway and it was not long before Real Sociedad had their first goal of the match, which instantly injected the fans with a fresh dose of hope for a victory. The goal was almost a cruel treat for the fans surrounding us as it did not represent hope for a team struggling to come back against a perceived weaker opponent.

One of the offending cigar smokers.

As the half continued, the cheers grew louder, the jeering at mistakes grew more vile, and the hand talking became more dangerous to those sitting nearby. Somewhere in this stretch of fans, Poe and I were able to pick out most of the foul Spanish language we learned as kids growing up in El Paso and southern California, respectively. It was around this time when the woman down the row from us pointed out that one of the player’s mothers was a woman of questionable morals, perhaps even accepting money in return for affection. Several more chances for the tying goal were missed until the crowd threw in the towel as the final whistle blew.

In the end, Real Sociedad was not able to overcome the deficit and the fans quickly filed out of the stadium to return and fight (ok cheer) another day.


Check back later this week for my final post on a La Liga game in Bilboa.

Totally Pretentious Food Truck Review: Rolling Ficelle

DC is known for many things: hoards of sweaty red tourists crowding on our metros and sidewalks walking four astride; young, eager and painfully self-important congressional staffers who aren’t very well paid; old, bloated and painfully self-important lobbyists who are overpaid.

For the last couple of years, it’s also been known as a food truck mecca. OK, perhaps I’m over-exaggerating a bit.

Following the lead of much cooler and hipper cities such as Austin and Portland, our very own lil’ol DC has itself a food truck scene. And like summer interns working on the Hill and shopping at Forever 21, DC has thrown itself headlong into the trend.

So like the trendy blogger I am, I’m going to review some of these fine rolling establishments, starting with Rolling Ficelle.

First of all: How the hell do you pronounce Ficelle??? You pronounce it “skinny long baguette-type bread.” But you could just call it, “quite delectable.”

I did not take this picture. Some other food truck expert did.

Today happened to be Truckeroo, a gathering of rolling culinary artists all in one high-brow location, in this case, the Navy Yard. It’s kinda like Bocuse d’Or, but for food trucks. I happen to work in downtown DC, near that Algonquin Rondtable for bike messengers, Farragut Park. So I knew my food truck options would be limited today.

After perusing the Twitter, the name Rolling Ficelle caught my eye. Now, I am a connoisseur of food trucks, yet I was unfamiliar with this Rolling Ficelle. Must be new, I thought. But alas, no! They’ve been around since at least May. And they are really, really proud of this Ficelle bread stuff. It’s made at some Lyon Bakery. Whatevs.

I meandered over to fine Farragut Square at about 12:15 and got in line. It wasn’t especially long, but I know how these things can go. Even a short line can take an excruciating amount of waiting. I settled in, eyeing my fellow alfresco diners and their painful sartorial choices (please, if you must buy Tom shoes to help the poor children, do not wear them. Keep them in your closet or use them as house slippers, for which they are clearly intended.)

The wait was, surprisingly, only about 13 minutes. I say surprisingly, but when you really think about it, they are pre-made sandwiches for heaven’s sake. There were about 7 sandwich options to chose from, all of them named after artists, including Rothko, Calder, etc. There was also a delectable-sounding Frieda Kahlo salad with jicama and watermelon.

I placed my order and handed over my money. The prices were terrific — $8.95 for a DeKooning sandwich (roast beef, provolone, tomato, crushed cherry red pepper relish, draped with a light horseradish aioli), Ms. Vicker’s chips and a sour cherry lemonade that was really refreshing. A bargain for the area, let alone a food truck. I can’t remember the last time I paid less than $10 for lunch and didn’t have to bring it from home. Just a sandwich would have been $6.95.

Since I had paid to little to begin with, I wasn’t expecting much, so when I got a long skinny and hefty sheath of white after about two minutes of waiting, I was very surprised by both the size and the quickness of my repast. I hurried with my bundle back to work, heartily proclaiming my conquest to co-workers I happened to pass along the way.

Dear reader, the sandwich was delightful. A revelation, if you’ll indulge me. The ingredients: fresh and plentiful. The bread: delectable, satisfyingly crunchy on the exterior, heavenly soft on the interior. The roast beef: succulent and satisfying. The aioli: an alluring, ambrosial surprise clinging gently to the delicious bread. The red pepper relish: piquant and the perfect accompaniment. The tomatoes: ruby-red slabs of juiciness.


The balance between beef, cheese, veggies, red peppers and aioli was heavenly. The slightly spicy red peppers provided an interesting counterbalance to the smooth lemony garlic-mayo mixture. Neither the meat nor the cheese overpowered the sandwich. This is a gourmet sandwich properly prepared and sold at a reasonable price, I thought to myself with satisfaction.

And they have a credit card machine.

I’m saying I liked it. You should go. It was very yummy. I’m giving it four out of four truck wheels.