Tuesday, February 18, 2014
The temperature continues to oscillate between the mid-50’s and the mid-70’s. Yesterday it was the mid-50’s turn. At 11:30 we made our way to Carosel where we caught up with Jordi, Carol, Joana, Adrea, Eric, Calla and Florencia’s son (whose name obviously escapes me) for a guided tour of the Mercado Central. Eric and Adrea are foodies and Eric likes to cook and they both were looking forward to our late morning adventure.
We began a tour with a visit to one of the vegetable stands where Jordi showed us how to tell if certain vegetables were recently picked or if they had spent a considerable amount of time in storage before they made their appearance at the market. Directly opposite the vegetable stand there was one that specialized in salazones. Salazones are salted or smoked varieties of fish. When each of us left for the market, Jordi handed us a wine glass and we were about to use it for the first time.
Jordi had called ahead and within minutes of our arrival plates of anchovies, boquerones, tuna, and olives made their appearance. So did a loaf of bread and a bottle of olive oil. Jordi popped the cork on a bottle of Albariño and the food marathon began. Amazingly enough we managed to polish off everything. Having done that we moved on to our next stop.
Manglano won an award in 2009 as the best gourmet boutique in all of Spain. They specialize in meats and cheeses and they set out a number of plates for us with a sampling of their wares. We experienced a local goat cheese, the best Manchego in the world, as well as some Idiazabal. In addition to thin slices of chorizo and salchichón we quickly devoured a plate of pata negra, the best ham that Spain produces. To accompany this feast Jordi opened up a bottle of a 2001 Marqués de Cáceres that was the perfect accompaniment to the parade of pork that we proceeded to devour.
Our next stop was at Solaz where Jordi spied an appetizing and tempting example of sobrasada. Sobrasada is a type of sausage that has its origins in the island of Mallorca and is made with cuts of pork that are finely ground, paprika, and salt and pepper. It is spread on bread given its texture. Obviously the quality of this product can vary, but we got to sample some of the best sobrasada that Spain produces.
Our next stop was the Central Bar in the Mercado itself. Here is a link for you to look at http://www.centralbar.es/ While schmoozing there we managed to enjoy two bottles of wine, as well as some croquetas and some patatas bravas. Jordi has brought along his laptop and he showed us a video of a cooking program that he made with the hope of selling it to Canal 9, which up until a few months ago was the local channel that broadcast exclusively in valenciana. The government of the Valencian Community closed it down because a court case decided that they had incorrectly dismissed a significant number of workers and now needed to rehire them and provide them with all their back pay. Claiming it would be too expensive they opted to shut the channel down. Of course the Partido Popular, which made the decision as the party in power, had expanded the work force by hiring cronies who never did much of anything and underwriting programs produced by friends of the party and paying exorbitant prices for their production. Jordi’s goal now is to shop it elsewhere.
It was now 3:30 and our day was not yet over. We piled into Jordi’s truck and headed off to the port area. Jordi was going to take us to the fish auction that takes place six days a week where restaurants and food providers bid on the catch of the day. It was a fascinating procedure. Bidders are provided with a remote control. Trays of fish make their way on a conveyor belt and the type of fish and the starting price are shown on a TV screen. The price then begins to decrease and the bidder can stop the process and buy the tray at the agreed upon price. We got to see a great deal of monkfish, octopus and squid being auctioned off.
By the time we landed in front of Carosel it was close to 5:00. We said our goodbyes and we each went our separate way. I took a quick nap and at 7:30 I was on my way to a meeting of the CIVAC. I got home a little after 11:30 and went to bed soon thereafter convinced that I had spent one of the best days ever here in Valencia.