Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Next Tuesday at 9:00 AM we need to be present at the Oficina de Extranjería located at Motilla del Palancar 23 for a meeting where we will present all necessary documents and, hopefully, have our residence visa renewed for two more years. This process will be infinitely less painful than our experience last year when we had to wait in line for five and a half hours to hand in our documents. We arrived at 7:00 AM to insure our getting a number and we then waited outside on the cold until 12:30 when we were finally let into the building. Our actual ID card was not ready until early January and that necessitated another visit and another line, although that line was mercifully much shorter than that of November.
We are getting the house ready for the arrival of our personal belongings. We are clearing spaces so that we can unpack everything into its proper place. For me that means making sure that there is enough space for all my magic books, as well as decks of cards and other magic effects. The bookshelves that are being delivered from Ikea in about an hour will house all of my books and will provide the storage for all my decks of cards. The bookshelves that are already in place are where all my magic apparatus will live. Having put everything away I can then focus on hanging my photos and posters and the office will then feel like it is totally mine.
We were hoping to have dinner at Jordi’s last night to give his new barbeque grill a try, but it was not to be. Jordi has closed down Carosel until tomorrow. That being the case, we waited until Brian came by at 8:30 and while we talked about life in general, we also made a decision as to where to have dinner. Last night’s winner was La Comisaría. We headed out a little after 9:00 and we were seated by 9:30. On the way we passed by El Molinón and chatted with Vilma for a bit. We decided to sit indoors and we made ourselves comfortable at the table for four that is closest to the kitchen. Eddie was nowhere to be seen and a chef, new to us, was cooking in his place.
We were warmly greeted by Ana and she gave us our menus and the wine list. We chose an icy cold Albariño for our wine and we settled on four dishes – chupa chups de langostinos, dim sum, a semi-ceviche of blue shrimp and some crispy ravioli stuffed with goat cheese and other goodies. While we were working on our second dish, Eddie and his family – including the dog – arrived and took a seat at one of the outdoor tables. Ana told him that we were inside and he came in to apologize to us. We were a bit puzzled as to what the reason for the apology was.
The last time that we ate at La Comisaría was early July. It was a Friday night and Juliet Henderson was visiting with us. We had a reservation and the place was packed and the service personnel were all over the place. Ana’s steady hand was missing that night and the younger servers were scurrying all over the place without accomplishing much of anything. Eddie was under fire in the kitchen trying to fill all the orders that kept coming and coming. We said a quick hello to him and he nodded our way and seeing that he was incredibly busy we went back outside and took our seats. No harm no foul. He was obviously busy and had no time to talk and on another occasion when things were a bit calmer we knew that he would come our table and chat us up.
Eddie was now at our table and apologizing for his behavior that night. He told us that he was in a very bad mood and that it had to do with the service personnel. He said that he was afraid that he had angered us to the point that he had lost us as customers. We told him that truly there was no problem, nor was there any offense taken. We could see that he was under fire and that he needed to focus on producing the food. Having set the record straight, Eddie went back to join his family and he later returned to our table with his daughter, Grace, who is now five months old.
Eddie was excited because he will be opening a new restaurant in early March. It is located a block away from La Comisaría and its focus will be entirely different. The menu will focus on steamed dumplings and every table will be outfitted with a steam table in the center that will allow the dumplings to be served at the perfect temperature. It will be the only place that we know of in Valencia that will feature what will be essentially dim sum. He has gotten very favorite terms from the owners of the space and will be meeting with the architects shortly to discuss the design of the new space.
One of the topics of conversation that came up last night was how it was the Brian ended up in the Foreign Service. He was twenty-five at the time and was working with the court system in Michigan. By chance he happened to pick up the newspaper and in one of the columns that was devoted to answering people’s questions someone had asked how one went about getting into the Foreign Service. The columnist explained about the Foreign Service Exam being the first step in the process. Brian put down the paper and said to himself, “I want to do that!” As he then explains it, he took down his typewriter and dashed off a letter requesting information about the exam. He traveled to Chicago to take the exam and then he had a follow-up interview some weeks later. Before he knew it, he was off to Washington for six months of training.
While in training, all the trainees were asked to look at the map of the world and indicate nine choices for their first assignment. Brian’s ninth choice was Nigeria, a most dangerous post as he would discover later, and, wonder of wonders, he was the only member of his class of thirty-five who had indicated Nigeria as one of his choices. That meant the Nigeria post was his. We have heard stories about his time in Nigeria and the armed compound where the diplomats lived, but that is perhaps something to discuss later. Brian’s difficult first assignment was probably the reason why his next assignment was Portugal. Where he would later return as the Head Consul.
We finished our meal with a shared dessert, coffee and the obligatory chupito. Brian walked us back to our place and then continued on to his flat. Ofelia is in Brussels visiting with friends and family. She will be there until mid-November. We, of course, miss her, but we look forward to catching up with Brian for another meal and perhaps even an excursion or two.