Sunday, May 13, 2012
Happy Mothers Day! After a rather late night, we slept in this morning. I managed to drag myself over to Opencor to pick up something for breakfast and even though it was a little before noon the temperature was registering 85 degrees. I think we will take life a bit easy today to give our bodies a chance to recover.
Some twenty years ago I started a tradition on my birthday. I have made it a point to get to the gym and to get in a good hour’s worth of cardio. I had been concerned that maybe this year I would be unable to continue the tradition. As it turned out, I did make it to the gym for a good thirty-minute workout on the bike and in the course of the day, between one thing and another, I managed to walk close to five miles.
Soon after returning from the gym we received a phone call from Ramón. He and Juan Diego were at Café Lisboa and we decided to join them. On the way we passed by Carosel and checked in with Jordi to make sure all was in order for last night’s dinner and of course it was. Two minutes later we were joining Ramón and Juan Diego at their table on the terrace. They had just returned from a brief visit to Prague and had some personal business to attend to in Valencia on Friday. They had decided to stay over so that they could join me in my birthday celebration.
While we chatted we ordered several tapas – patatas bravas, pulpo, and gambas al ajillo – and caught up on their adventures. It was a little after 3:00 when we took our leave of each other and I trundled back home to take a nap. We took life easy for most of the afternoon and after a quick shower we got dressed and headed out for Carosel at 8:45.
Our table for ten was set up on the terrace and the weather could not have been more cooperative. It was pleasantly warm and there was no breeze to speak of. Ramón and Juan Diego arrived at the same time we did. Next came Pepe and Miguel Gómez. Miguel is one of Spain’s best cardmen and he was and is in town to do some filming for Magic Agora. Brian and Ofelia arrived soon thereafter and took their seats and the last to arrive was Paquito who had competed in a race earlier in the day.
Sara had opted not to join us because she is on a rather strict diet, but she did stop by on her way home from the gym to say hello to everyone and to wish me a happy birthday. Nacho Diago was supposed to join us last evening, but as it turned out he was working and his performance time at a private party had gotten pushed back so he would be unable to join us for dinner. Since the hotel where he was working was nearby he did come by and chatted for a while.
We began with a beer and then, since Pepe had been kind enough to bring six bottles of Benjamín Romero’s Vía Mágica, the first two bottles were opened and we switched to wine. In the course of the evening we did make the six bottles disappear and we also managed to finish off two bottle of Albariño, not to mention the bottle of champagne at the end of our meal and the round of gin and tonics.
The parade of food began. I had given Jordi a budget and had left everything up to him. He started us of with a variety of embutidos, which were soon followed by some heavenly croquetas. Next came a salad topped with bits of ham and artichokes. We switched to white wine to enjoy some butterfish, which most of us had never tasted before. It was unbelievably good. Our next dish was a coca that was topped with a variety of marinated vegetables. Then, as if by magic, plate after plate of fresh shrimp continued to appear. They had been cooked on the flattop in some olive oil and coarse salt. They were some of the best shrimp I have ever had. There couldn’t possibly be more, could there? Indeed there was. The final course consisted of slices of steak accompanied by a variety of grilled vegetables. We all did an outstanding job because there was no food left on any of the plates.
The orgy of eating ended with a birthday cake, champagne, coffee and then a round of gin and tonics. The meal that had begun at 9:00 ended a little bit after 1:00. Brian and Ofelia helped me lug my presents back home and it was 1:30 when we crossed the threshold of our piso.
As I looked around the table last night it occurred to me that those assembled represented the highlights of my time in Spain: Susan has been a constant companion during all our visits to Spain and who was the one who proposed Valencia as a place to set up shop as opposed to Madrid; Ramón whom I met in 1990 in a magic shop in Madrid and who helped introduce me to a number of Spanish magicians; Pepe and Paquito whom I met some fourteen years ago and who are my connection to all the magic and all the magicians here in Valencia; and Ofelia and Brian who have become our closest new friends here in Valencia. The lines of connection here were very obvious – magic and food. That will come as no surprise to those of you who have been following my blog.