Monday, February 25, 2013
The streets of Valencia were alive yesterday with the sounds of Fallas. From the despertá at 8:00 in the morning to the official opening of the Fallas period at 8:00 at night the sound of bands parading through the streets and fireworks exploding in the air, the pace of the city suddenly quickened.
Our only plan for the day was to have lunch with Brian and Ofelia. It was a belated birthday celebration and it was belated because Ofelia was in Madrid when her birthday came around. Brian had made a reservation for us at a restaurant called Alma del Temple, which is located in the basement of the Hotel Caro. The “caro” in the hotel name does not refer to its average nightly rate, which is 149 Euros a night for a double, but rather to the fact that the building was the former palace of the Marqués de Caro. When transforming the building into a hotel a number of archeological treasures were found. It seems that the land on which the hotel was built was the former site of the Roman Circus and house treasures from that area, as well as from the time of the Moorish occupation of the city. The Moorish walls are part of the décor of the restaurant. Here is a video that will give you a tour of the space and the food that is served within. http://www.carohotel.com/videos/2012-11-21-restaurante-alma-del-temple-caro-hotel
We had a 1:30 reservation and so it was no surprise that we were among the first to arrive. Susan and I entered through the hotel and walked down the stairs that lead to the restaurant. When we walked in there was nobody there. Little did we know that we had not entered the restaurant proper, which was beyond a glass and mirrored wall. We exited the hotel and caught up with Brian and Ofelia and entered the restaurant from the outside stairs. This time we couldn’t open the door. So, we entered the hotel again and inquired as to when the restaurant opened and, more importantly, how to get into the dining space. Someone at the front desk accompanied us downstairs and one of the servers greeted us and showed us to our table.
The space is not overly large and the décor is sleekly modern and contrasts with the remnants of the Moorish walls. It is not overly noisy and you can easily hear the conversation of your fellow tablemates. Service was smooth and very professional. The wine list is quite extensive and easily accommodates all pocketbooks. We chose a 25 Euro bottle of a reserve Pesquera and passed up the 995 Euro bottle of Pingus. We studied the menu for a while and decided to order three appetizers that we would share and that each of us would order a main course.
We began our meal with a Carpaccio of octopus, followed by a Caesar salad that was topped with fried chicken. Our third appetizer was an eggplant dish that was smothered in a tomato and pesto sauce and topped with Parmesan cheese. While the eggplant dish was good, the Carpaccio and the salad were the excellent. Ofelia chose the hamburger for her main course and I opted for the steak. Both Susan and Brian had the lamb. We all pronounced our dishes as delicious and Susan ventured that her lamb was the best she has ever tasted. As we ate our meal we were taken by the fact that most tables were ordering paella. It was not surprising since paella is part of the weekend menú del día. We will certainly try it on a return visit.
Three of us ordered dessert. I had the chocolate cake, Susan had a concoction called chocolate and coffee and Brian chose the berries topped with a yoghurt sorbet. We finished the meal with coffee and a bit of magic.
It had gotten noticeably colder during the two hours we spent in the restaurant and that quickened our pace as we walked back home. We decided that the rest of the day would best be spent inside our warm home and that is precisely what we did.