I am in Valencia, enjoying an all-too-brief holiday in the warmth of the Spanish sun. It isn't exactly steaming hot but 15 degrees (that's umm... about 60 degrees F) is a definite improvement on Geneva's -2! Valencia is truly beautiful with ancient buildings and long green parks. Having been to Madrid and Barcelona, I think Valencia beats them both hands down.
One of the many joys of being here is the food. Visiting the markets today was wonderful. It is a feast for all the senses: the scent of fresh fruit, vegies and fish in the air, the sounds of the bargaining the feel of a smooth skinned capsicum and the rough texture of a cabbage followed by the tastes of a breakfast of fresh pastry and a thick luscious hot chocolate... what a sublime experience! The market in Valencia is one of the largest covered markets in Europe, with 959 stalls below its vaulted stained-glass-edged ceiling. As you can see, it is a very pretty building:
Lunch was a veritable market feast of manchego cheese, paper thin serrano ham and tasty bites of cheese-stuffed fruits and vegetables... pimento, apricot, fig, plum as well as some teeny fresh cheeses. I forgot to take a pic till we were half way through, so I can only share a view of some of the meal:
In the afternoon I wandered around the fine arts museum while my friend (who is suffering from a strep throat) slept. When I got back to the hotel, we went for a wander to find ourselves dinner, and ended up in a local bar/restaurant. There we indulged in a large jug of sangria and tapas (as ya do):
- Patatas Bravas - oh so fluffy on the inside, these potato wedges are generously sprinkled with cayenne pepper and served with a big dollop of garlicky aoli. Last time I ate them they actually had a pepper sauce, but these were equally good, in a different way.
- Calamares a la Romana - fantastically tender in a thin crunchy shell of batter.
- Verduras Rehogadas - we had no idea what this dish was when we ordered it, but guessed by the "Verduras" bit that there might be something green. It turned out to be a tasty mixture of broad beans, asparagus, mushrooms and artichokes.
- Oreja de Cerdo. Again we ordered having no idea whatsoever we were going to get. Once it arrived we identified that it was pork. The texture was confusing... a crispy edge, a layer of wickedly melt-in-the-mouth fat and a hard cartilegenous middle. We debated about what bit of pork it was... artery perhaps? It couldn't be... Then it struck me. Pigs ears! Once back at the hotel a spanish translation program confirmed it. Folks, I can tell you that if you are in Valencia, be brave and try Oreja de Cerdo - it's divine. There is no way a photo can do justice to this dish.