Sunday, March 9, 2014
Well, it certainly has been a whirlwind weekend. Little by little the streets are becoming more and more crowded and traffic is backing up nicely, thank you. Since a lot of the action is taking place at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, many people are making use of Calle Linterna to get there. Parking is always improvisational in Valencia and it has now become creative. The weather has been holding in the mid-60’s during the day and cool nights.
Friday we had tickets for the symphony. It turned out to be a very popular program and there were very few empty seats. We were at the back of the auditorium for this particular concert, but the sound was excellent. The program started with Haydn and ended with Tchaikovsky. It was the first time that we heard the orchestra play an encore. That’s how good the concert was!
On the walk back home we stopped at a faux 50’s diner here in Valencia called Tommy Mel’s. Since Mel’s is a copyrighted name they chose the name Tommy Mel’s. Interestingly enough it is hard to make out the Tommy part of the sign. I wonder why that is. The menu is essentially burgers with a bit of chicken and Philly Cheese steak thrown in. Sakes and sundaes occupy a prominent part of the menu. Susan and I both had burgers and we shared a side of fries and a side of onion rings. Susan had a vanilla shake and I had a couple of beers. We split a sundae for dessert. The burgers were okay. In truth, I do not expect to find standout burgers here and this was probably my third burger in the last three years. The bottom line is we had a good time and that’s what counts.
In a previous post I mentioned that Susan and I had been named falleros de honor of the casal Plaza de Jesús and last night was the opening event. It took place in a tent erected close by the physical casal and it is one of many tents that populate the city during Fallas. As a matter of fact, on Monday they will erect the one outside of our apartment building. Festivities began at 8:00 and it consisted of a series of introductions and acknowledgements of those people who make all the events associated with a casal happen. Additionally, a number of falleras from different casals were introduced. After the rather lengthy presentation, supper was served. There were a variety of cold cuts and cheeses, albóndigas de bacalao, ajo arriero (similar to a brandade), empanadas and individual casseroles of huevos rotos which consists of a base of French fries, various sausages all topped with a fried egg.
Dessert and coffee were served and a bottle of cava made its way to the table and we all toasted to a successful Fallas 2014. Next the falleros de honor were recognized and Susan and I received a small gift basket with sweets and a small bottle of mistela. There was a musical presentation scheduled after the meal, but it was getting close to 12:30 and our energy was flagging. Juanjo drove us home and we did not get to bed much before 1:30.
Sunday presented us with a bit of a dilemma. Last night we were invited to witness the paella competition at the casal and taste the results. That invite came rather unexpectedly. We had plans to visit with Jerry Lazar. Jerry is a magician from LA who is spending time here in Spain and is currently in Valencia. We were scheduled to have lunch at Carosel at 2:00. We did indeed have lunch at 2:00 at Carosel and Susan helped solve the problem by showing up at the casal at 11:30 and taking pictures of the competition.
The process is fascinating. First of all the street is blocked off. It is strange to see a sign that reads, “Streets closed because of paella!” There were twenty-five contestants and each had their cooking space delineated. A layer of sand is first laid down to prevent damage to the street’s surface. Next the wood for the fire is placed under a metal stand that holds the paella pan. All the contestants start with the same ingredients and are then left to their own devices. The contest brings out a cadre of observers and critics who suggest the cook needs to do this or that. Most advice is ignored. When the paellas are done, the judging begins. And the winner was our friend, Juanjo, who along with Vilma did an outstanding job in order to win the competition. They stopped by the house later to deliver a generous serving of the winning paella. It will be tomorrow’s lunch.
Our lunch with Jerry Lazar was very enjoyable. Jerry has been involved in the world of print media and television for a goodly number of years. He is a member of The Magic Castle and a friend of David Groves, a magician whom I know from time spent together at Dean’s Shoppe. Jerry is spending a week here in Valencia, having spent six weeks in Valencia. Thursday he is off to Madrid for a week and from Madrid he will head to Seville for another two weeks of magic and fun. We finished up our meal around 5:00. I will meet up with Jerry tomorrow evening and take him over to the CIVAC so he can meet some of our members.
The rest of our day was uneventful. We did watch the third episode of the first season of Sherlock. I have already downloaded the second season and the third season is on our future download list. Now it is time for bed. Goodnight, all!