Wednesday, January 4, 2011
A cloudless blue sky greeted us this morning as we raised the persianas. Temperatures will be in the 70’s today and for a city like Valencia that has seasons it is nice to know that winter here is not the bitter cold that we experienced when we lived back east.
Our focus yesterday was Susan’s party and that helped determine what we would eat and what we would do with our daylight hours. Susan did an in-house workout while I went to the gym and got in an hour of cardio. We had lunch at home and it was fairly simple. We had a salad and some freshly baked bread. That was it. We took a walk after lunch and stopped by a newly opened bookstore that both Pepe and Zahava had recommended to us. It is called Leo, which as many of you know is Spanish for “I read”. They have a nice variety of books, including a children’s’ section. Although Spain has several chains that sell books here in Valencia – El Corte Inglés, FNAC and La Casa del Libro – it is heartening to see that there are still a number of independently owned bookstores in town. Additionally, Valencia still has a number of toy stores that accommodate a variety of budgets.
We spent the remainder of our afternoon reading. As it drew closer to 9:00 we showered and dressed for the evening’s event. We walked down to Carusel and when we arrived Ofelia, Olivia and Brian were waiting for us outside. The doors to the restaurant were still closed and that was a bit puzzling because in the Carmen there are a number of early diners. The mystery was explained five minutes later when Jordi opened the doors and told me that when I had made the reservation the other week it did not register that the 3rd was a Tuesday and he is usually closed on Tuesday evenings. Gulp!
The crew had the night off and Jordi and his assistant manned the kitchen and Jordi was our server. Klaus and Zahava arrived a few minutes later, as did Vilma. The last to arrive were Pepe and Sara. Pepe had gone to see Gioco’s magic show at La Sala Carolina and it had run late. When all were assembled we started our evening with a beer or a glass of red wine and after all the introductions were made, we all took our seat at the table. It struck me that this turned out to be an event with an international guest list. Zahava is from Canada, Klaus is from Germany, Vilma is from Honduras, Pepe, Sara and Ofelia are from Spain, Brian is from the USA, but he Ofelia and Olivia have lived all over the world.
No sooner were we seated than the parade of dishes began. First came a plate with a variety of cheeses, followed by a plate of the best quality ham. Next came some perfectly cooked croquetas de pollo and a duck foie gras. Jordi had baked some rolls to accompany the foie. The center of the table was cleared and Jordi set down an enormous pot that contained the most fragrant arroz con bogavante it has ever been my pleasure to smell. The amount of lobster in the pot was mind-boggling. Everyone had seconds and some of us had thirds. We did our best to empty the pot, but we were not up to the task. Dessert consisted of chocolate, turrón, and dried fruits. Jordi brought out a piece of chocolate cake that had a birthday candle in it and we all sang to Susan. We finished this most lovely of meals with coffee and Jordi brought out two bottles of homemade liqueurs. One was a mistela and the other was absinthe. Susan received some gifts from those assembled and shortly afterwards we decided that we needed to let Jordi get back home on this his night off. It was a little after midnight when we filed out of the restaurant.
Brian, Ofelia, Olivia, Susan and I walked Vilma back to her house and then we continued on our way to Calle Borrull. We said our good nights and the Oberles continued on their way to the Gran Vía de las Germanías. We stayed up a little while longer to let our meal digest and it was about 1:30 when we finally shut off the light and went to bed.