Monday, October 22, 2012
It is yet another cool and sunny day here in Valencia. Someone will be here in an hour to put together our new Ikea bookcases. We plan to have a light lunch at home after yesterday’s food extravaganza and I will attend a lecture this evening at the CIVAC.
Yesterday around noon I was putting the finishing touches on one of the translations that I need to do for the upcoming issue of El Manuscrito. Susan came into the office and sat down on the sofa and watched me work for a minute or two. I was a bit puzzled because usually she does not sit and chat when I am working on a translation. Another minute passed and she asked me if I was ready to go. Ready to go? What was her rush? We still had another two hours before we were to meet Nacho. Didn’t we? The answer was no, because when Susan had said what we were meeting a las doce, I had heard a las dos. That meant a quick visit to the shower, getting dressed and then making our way over to Cervecería Las Torres for an aperitivo.
Ten minutes later we were in front of the bar and it was closed. Susan called Nacho and he told her that he and Cayetano were at the bar on the other side of the street of Los Pikos and that both spaces were on Calle Quart. A few minutes later we were seated at an outdoor table and a clod Amstel beer was placed in front of us.
When you are with Nacho, Nacho will always dominate the conversation. Today he was talking about how he would like to move from his present apartment to one on Guillén de Castro. The flat above his store has been available for some ten years and it appears that the owners, a divorced couple, have reduced the price to the point where it is now affordable to buy and to remodel. It would probably take close to a year to remodel it, but when done it would be a large, open flat with a big kitchen and dining room, along with a terrace that would look out on the avenue. Nacho has made a proposal, but has yet to hear back and throughout the conversation he spent time dithering between not calling at all, calling on Tuesday or calling after we finished lunch.
Nacho currently lives on the outskirts of the city in a ten story high rise. His apartment is small. It has one bedroom, one bathroom, a small kitchen, a room that serves as both a living room and a dining room, and a balcony that has a great view of the high rises with the mountains in the background. In addition to being small, the problem with the apartment turns out to be the surrounding area. There is no street life. There is a total absence of bars, restaurants and cafés nearby. It turns out that Nacho, like us, enjoys being in the heart of the city where there are lots of people, lots of places to sit and have a drink or a bite to eat and lots of people to get to know.
It was close to 3:00 when we asked for our bill and by that time Nacho had downed four beers and was feeling a bit giddy. He owns a small Fiat and he and Cayetano sat in the front and Susan and I squeezed into the back seat. By the way, squeeze is the correct verb. I found myself with no knee room and no headroom with no possibility of using my safety belt. It would have made me feel a bit more comfortable because for the next tem minutes or so we re-enacted Mr Toad’s Wild Ride. We sped through the street probably at about fifty miles an hour with Nacho changing lanes at will. The good news is that we arrived at the gates of the underground garage in one piece. However, the wild ride continued as we made our way through the labyrinth of the garage at a high speed. We parked and then it was time for my next challenge…getting out of the back seat.
I do not exaggerate when I say that it took me a good five minutes to extricate myself from the back of the Fiat. If I tried to plant my left foot on the pavement there was not enough room in the back seat for me to angle my body out. Placing my right foot on the pavement meant having to almost lie down on the back seat and took away the necessary leverage to exit the vehicle. I did manage to find a leverage point and I was finally free of the Fiat. I got to ride back home in the front seat thus avoiding any further contortionist adventures.
Our plan for yesterday changed radically from its initial inception. Originally we were going to meet for a drink, have lunch at Restaurante Canela and then come back to our place for a Gin and Tonic and the chance for Nacho to take look at our new place. The plan now was to have lunch at Nacho’s. He was going to prepare an arroz al horno and because he usually naps after lunch on Sundays he asked for a rain check on the G and T. Of course, before we sat down to the main course we needed to have another beer and a few more aperitivos. As if by magic, the coffee table was soon filled with a bowl of chips, wedges of tortilla, smoked mussels and marinated razor clams. Cayetano and I watched TV while Nacho set to work making the arroz. Susan was there to photograph the event and her pictures will follow this blog entry.
The ingredients for Nacho’s arroz are as follows: potatoes, rice, red pepper, onion, tomatoes, garlic, morcilla, pork loin and pork ribs both cut into bite-size pieces. The dish starts out on the stovetop, as the ingredients are browned in a frying pan and rather than using some sort of broth as the medium for the rice, Nacho uses water. When the dish was cooked to perfection, it was moved to the small table on the balcony and with the addition of a little bread and some Faustino V, a very good medium-priced Rioja we dined like kings. We had brought a dessert from El Parisien and we each had a small slice. A quick clear of the table and Nacho insisted on taking us home.
The drive back was a little less frantic and sitting in the front seat was the only way to go. It was 5:30 when he dropped us off and five hours had passed since we first caught up on Calle Quart. A little nap was in order, as was a lazy evening. An episode of Inspector Lewis was the perfect solution and when it was over we headed for bed.