To Market to Market – September 19, 2009

It was a little after 8:00 last night when we headed out to the supermarket at El Corte Inglés in search of those items necessary to set up housekeeping.  For the most part, we were quite successful.  We made it back to the apartment around nine and quickly put everything away so that we could go down to the nearby plaza to have a glass of wine and a tapa or two.  By 11:00 PM we had called it a night knowing that Pepe was coming by at 9:30 tomorrow morning to take us to El Mercado Central.

We got up this morning at 8:00 and Susan got dressed and went out to the nearby bakery to get some croissants and a small loaf of bread to have with breakfast.  We fired up the stove top espresso maker and had our first breakfast in Valencia.  True to his word, Pepe rang our bell at 9:30 and we were off to the market.

The building that houses the market has been recently renovated and the inside has received a fresh coat of paint.  Architecturally it is an exquisite building.  In terms of the treasure trove of all things edible that it is home to, it is absolutely amazing.  Pepe introduced us to several of his favorite vendors as we made our way through the market.  We ended up purchasing some serrano ham, two types of cheese, some olives, some peaches and nectarines, and a loaf of fresh bread.  You guessed it.  Along with a bottle of Spanish red we had all the ingredients for a perfect lunch.

Pepe was heading off to Pedreguer to have lunch with his mother and she had asked him to pick up a few ingredients for the paella she was going to make.  One of our stops was at the stand of a good friend of Pepe’s who sells all kinds of spices, including the best saffron that money can buy.

I learned that the best grade of saffron is called “coupe” and it is pure red in color and does not contain any of the yellow strands that one tends to find in lesser grades of saffron.  The saffron has already been toasted by the producers as part of the process of getting it ready to sell to vendors.  The toasting, which is done over low hear with the product being turned regularly to dry it out uniformly.  Unscrupulous vendors will add water to the finished product to increase its weight, as well as their profit margin.  Needless to say, Pepe’s friend, in addition to being very knowledgeable, is also very scrupulous.  Pepe purchased two grams of saffron.  Each gram was wrapped in a separate piece of paper and using what looked to be a tool similar to a ball point pen in shape, Pepe’s friend ground the saffron into a fine powder so that it was ready to be added to the paella.  Saffron that has had water added cannot be ground into a fine powder.  The cost of two grams of saffron of the finest quality was 10 Euros, which is roughly $15.  Also, keep in mind that it takes a little more than 28 grams to make an ounce.

We stayed on in the market after Pepe left so that we could look around a little more.  After dropping off our purchases, we made another trip to El Corte Inglés in order to pick up some bath towels and a table cloth.  When we arrived home again, we put our new cloth on the table, took out all the goodies that we had bought at the market and had a most wonderful lunch.

We are currently playing on our computers and will take it easy until around 9:00 when Pepe will come by again and we will then go out in search of dinner.

The fountain in the little plaza near our apartment.

The fountain in the little plaza near our apartment

Valencia 04

Frutos secos or "nuts" to you.

Frutos secos or "nuts" to you.

Spanish paprika

Spanish paprika

The scrupulous saffron seller

The scrupulous saffron seller

Valencia 08

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