Sunday, November 20, 2011
It rained heavily last night, but this morning’s sky is dotted with patches of blue. It is supposed to be a rainy week, but they promise that skies will clear towards the end of the week. Since Spanish meteorologists are as about accurate as their Los Angeles counterparts, we will adopt a wait and see attitude. We have been invited for paella at Pepe’s this afternoon and it will be the first time that we will have caught up with him and Sara. Needless to say, we are looking forward to their company and the meal.
Yesterday morning’s activity consisted of a visit to the Mercado Central. It was sprinkling as we made our way to the market. Several of the building facades along Borrull have been restored and painted and there are a few more that are in process. A new deli style specialty store has opened on Borrull at the other end of our street. In addition to the variety of meats in the display case, they also carry a number of gourmet items and wines. Closer to the market we noticed that they are almost done with the construction of a new apartment building and they are in the process of demolishing the building across the street in preparation for another new building. Traffic was heavy this morning and we enjoyed more than a few opportunities to avoid cars and puddles.
Our first stop at the market was Solaz where we picked up enough ham and cheese to take us through the weekend. Our next visit was with Amparo we were restocked our fruit and vegetable supply. We asked Amparo if she knew of a stall at the market that might have fresh cranberries and she indicated a stall that specialized in Latin American products and might possible have them. We looked and no luck. However, as we were making our way through the market looking for another stand that carried dried fruit and nuts, we came across a stand that sold vegetables and right before our eyes we spied two smallish boxes of cranberries. We snapped them up none to soon because they were the last ones they had left and the guy that was behind us was interested in them, too. When we asked if they would have more on Monday, the young lady who was waiting on us said that she doubted it. In fact they had received the boxes of cranberries by mistake because they had not ordered them. Go figure!
Our last purchase at the market consisted of shelled walnuts, dried apricots and dried cranberries. The rain had stopped while we are inside the market and so we carefully made our way around the puddles on our way back home. We stopped off at the new deli on Borrull and picked up some bitter orange marmalade and a can of our favorite brand of stuffed olives. That means that Susan now had all the ingredients to make her world-famous cranberry relish for our Thanksgiving dinner.
Susan has decided that it would be fun to celebrate Thanksgiving here in Valencia and share it with several people who have never had the opportunity to experience a typical Thanksgiving meal. We have invited Sara, Pepe, Vilma and Brian to join us. Cristina, she of Solaz fame has volunteered to get us the turkey from one of her suppliers, we will provide the bird, the mashed potatoes, the sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows and a vegetable to be named later. Brian has offered a pumpkin pie and a side of his choosing. Pepe and Sara will bring the wine. We plan to eat around 3:00, so if you are in the neighborhood drop on by. You will need to bring your own chair, plate and silverware since we only have service for six.
By the time we put our purchases away, we realized that we needed to give some thought to lunch. We headed out to The Ginger Loft only to rediscover that they do not open for lunch on Saturday. We decided to go to the Taberna de las Meninas, where we had eaten before and was only two blocks away. Our previous experiences there enjoying a meal or two, as well as several stops for tapas had been most positive. The quality of the food was excellent and the service was very attentive. Since our last visit they have added terrace seating and they are now at a point where they have insufficient personnel to cover all the bases. The food is still of good quality, but the service was abominable. At one point a server knocked over Susan’s bottle of water. She was quick to get some napkins to mop up the spill, but it never occurred to her to say, “Let me get you another bottle of water since I managed to spill half of yours. I had ordered a beer when we sat down and before our appetizers were delivered. I signaled the waiter and asked if I could have a glass of wine. He brought over the bottle and proceeded to fill up my beer glass with wine. I called that to his attention and he brought a fresh glass. Later in the meal when I asked for another glass of wine, he did not show up with bottle in hand until I was done with my main course. I told him thanks, but no thanks. As I mentioned before the quality of the food was good, but it sure took its time in getting to our table.
Susan had ordered a soup made with garbanzos, spinach and ham to start and it was quite tasty. I opted for grilled vegetables as a starter and they were cooked perfectly. We both ordered an entrecote for our main course and it was a generous cut of steak that was well cooked and accompanied by French fries and several pimientos de Padrón. Dessert was a fluffy piece of a commercial chocolate something or other. We passed on coffee, asked for the bill and left convinced that we had paid our last visit to this establishment. There are too many other good choices out there.
Since we were close by the Corte Inglés we decided to stop by its supermarket and pick up a few basics including salt, sugar and a bottle of a good white wine. From the Corte Inglés we went to FNAC to take a look at TV sets and to pick up some ink cartridges for the printer. The TV set in the apartment is rather old and has not connections in the back that would allow us to plug in newer technologies. We saw a couple of 32 inch true HDTV’s and will make a decision soon since there is a current promotion offering a 12% discount on prices. We then got the printer cartridges, paid for our purchase and headed back home.
One of my last purchases before I left home was a Fitbit (http://www.fitbit.com) that allows me to keep track of my exercise and the distance that I walk in the course of the day. It record the number of calories expended during the day and, if you want to take the time to manually enter what you consume during a day it will show you how well your doing in your battle to either gain, maintain or lose weight. The Fitbit comes with its own small base that connects to your computer via USB and it will read your device if it is in the vicinity. Leaving your device on the base is how you recharge the battery. This entire prologue is included so that I can tell you that in the last two days Susan and I have walked 11 miles and none of that was exercise in a gym. It reflects the amount of ground we covered in the performance of our daily outings.
Our evening at home was rather quiet. We worked on the computer, read a bit and watched a little TV. It was kind of ironic watching José Andrés’ program, Made in Spain, with a voice over in Spanish. While we watched we nibbled on a few munchies with a glass of wine and, as it turned out, that was supper. We called it a night at 10:30 since we were both very tired from the combination of jet lag and extended travel on foot.