Category Archives: Spain

Sangria

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While I was in Spain, I tried the local sangria. It was very nice, but only comes in 1/2 liters, so some went to waste! One thing I was dying to try was sangria made from the local sparkling wine, called cava. What’s not to like about sparkling wine and fruit juice? Unfortunately, all of the restaurants I went to only sold this type of sangria by the liter. It was expensive and too much to drink. My final attempt to wheedle a glass, the waiter explained that they had to open the entire bottle to make the cava sangria.

After accepting this excuse, I then opened the menu to see that cava is also sold by the glass… Am I the only person who senses something wrong here?

So when I got home, I did a little searching on the internet and came up with FIVE pages of sangria recipes – for white wine, for rose wine, for red wine – any kind of wine you wanted. Here is a sampling:

Barcelona Style Sangria – in honor of my trip to Barcelona!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • · 1 orange, sliced
  • · 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • · 1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger vodka
  • · 1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger cointreau or triple sec
  • · 1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger gin
  • · 1/4 cup orange soda
  • · 1/4 cup lemon-lime soda
  • · 3/4 cup pineapple juice
  • · 3/4 cup orange juice
  • · 1 cup ice cubes
  • · 1 (750 milliliter) bottle dry red wine

DIRECTIONS

1. Place the lemon, orange, and brown sugar in a large pitcher. Pour in vodka, cointreau, gin, orange soda, lemon-lime soda, pineapple juice, and orange juice. Add ice cubes and pour in red wine; stir well until the sugar has dissolved.

And here are two for Sparkling Sangria – before my battery runs out!

Sparkling Sangria

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Brandy
  • 1/2 cup orange liqueur Cointreau
  • 1/4 cup super fine sugar
  • 1 fresh orange, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries
  • 1 fresh lime, thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2 bottles sparkling wine or cava (chilled)

Directions:
In a large pitcher, combine the brandy and orange liqueur. Pour in the sugar, stir or shake thoroughly until sugar is dissolved.
Add all the fruit at once. Add the cava and serve with or without ice.

Jaleo’s white sangria recipe:

Makes 1 Liter

  • – 500 cl. (2/3 of a regular bottle) of cava sparkling wine from Spain, chilled
  • – 2 oz. Liquor 43
  • – 2 oz. Brandy
  • – 2 oz. White Grape Juice
  • – 400 cl. Ice
  • – 2-3 Fresh Strawberries
  • – 1/2 of a Fresh Peach
  • – 3-4 White Grapes
  • – 1 bunch of Fresh Mint

Cut the fruit into bite-size pieces (or smaller). Pour the ice into a 1-liter pitcher (or larger). Slowly pour the chilled ‘CAVA’ down the inside of the pitcher and not directly over the ice; we want to keep the bubbles from fizzing away.  Pour the Liquor 43, brandy and white grape juice into the pitcher.  Add the fruit and mint and you are ready to go!

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Gifts from Spain

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carmencita-paellero.jpgI tried really hard not to spend too much money on souvenirs and gifts to bring home. Of course, no one ever says “bring me a gift!” – except for maybe little children… But, the expectation is there. It’s also fun to bring back a little bit of what you found there. I often keep a bit for myself, so they are gifts for me, too!

While in Palafrugell, I went to the local supermarket, Carrefour, and just browsed. Often, you can find “gourmet” items there as everyday foods. For example, I bought Carmencita Paellero spice packets – now I wish I had bought more! The box comes with 5 packets (6 servings each) and a recipe on each packet. The first packet has “The secrets of good paella” and the other recipes are

  • Arroz con conejo y caracoles (rice with rabbit and snails)
  • Paella valenciana (non-seafood – I think there is rabbit in this, too!)
  • Arroz negro (has squid and its ink!)
  • Paella de marisco (seafood paella)

I also bought a jar of the Carrefour paella spice. I did not buy paprika. Honestly, with the poor exchange on the dollar, I could pay about the same in the U.S. Ditto for cava – the Spanish sparkling wine.

While I was wandering around Barcelona, I found a store that was selling Italian ingredients. I had read a lot about the Star brand of porcini mushroom bouillon, so when I saw those in the window, I had to buy some. Boy, are they fragrant! Even double wrapped in plastic bags, you can smell the mushroom! I had some dishes in France made with fresh porcini mushrooms (called cèpes) and really loved them. I saw some cans of
porcini mushrooms at the Carrefour, but decided not to buy them.

I didn’t buy the piquillo peppers, either – although I bet they were good. If I make any tapas using that, I will probably just substitute the baby peppers that you can get at Costco. I was fascinated by the TINY baby artichoke hearts stacked in a lovely jar – 60 for around 25+ dollars – but did not bite. That was in the basement of El Corte Ingles, a huge department store in central Barcelona.

As far as sweets are concerned, I bought some dry mixes made by Royal (owned by Nabisco?) – two of crema catalana and one of Belgian chocolate mousse. I know post-5692-1160147210.jpgthat I could probaby make them from scratch, but I love mixes! I forgot to purchase the newest Lindt candy bars to take home – I’ll bet they are not available in the U.S. yet. I bought mine at a convenience store in the Sants train station – even their train food is classier! The one that we tried was dark chocolate filled with fig and caramel – it was very good. I didn’t try the cherry and chili one. I was thinking of buying some to take home but didn’t get around to it. I hope they can be found in the U.S. somewhere!

Final food note – I think: I found a $4.00 (2,5 euros) jar of black truffles. They are made by Ferrer, a Spanish company. We’ll see how Mom likes them!

Of course, I bought some Barcelona Football Club stuff for the boys. They had EVERYTHING – I wanted to buy a FCB dog collar and baby’s pacifier, but my husband restrained me. Oh, the ice cube trays in the shape of their shield were cool, too.

I bought a couple oburro1.jpgf Catalonian separatist items, including a t-shirt with the estellada (separatist flag) and an oval sticker for my car. I was fascinated by the oval stickers of the Catalan burro, but only bought a button for my purse. Our friend Alejandro explained to us that there really is a breed of burro unique to Catalonia. There is a similar phenomenon in Poitou, where I lived a long time ago. Then, I bought a Gaudi inspired T-shirt by Jordi Nogues that had the towers of the Sagrada Familia on it and the word “Barcelona” on it (the other T-shirt did not have Barcelona on it and the estellada is a pretty obscure reference).

Finally, Chupa Chups. I bought a few suckers – because Chupa Chups originated in Barcelona. The wrapper was designed by Salvador Dali, in case you did not know. My niece and nephews are not that fond of them – mostly because I have only purchased the ice cream flavors in the past. Most interestingly, I was walking on the street by the Diagonal Metro station and found a pamphlet from Chupa Chups. The paper has the rules from a game made by Chupa Chups called La Oca Loca. I found one on E-Bay (Holland…), so I will wait to collect that beauty. Still, it will be interesting for a lesson plan on making a personalized Oca game – something I want to do with a class some day.

All right, It may look like I bought a lot of stuff, but I really didn’t!

Going Home

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I think that we still have 2+ hours left on this – the longest flight in the world.  Ten hours!  I know that people who travel to Asia think that’s nothing, but it’s pretty long from Europe.  Still, we are very happy to be on the plane, going home.  The flight is not too crowded, so I was even able to snag a row of 3 seats to make a bed!
I have never been able to do that – just too slow on the pick-up on my other trans-Atlantic flights.  By the time I make my way to the bathroom after the meal, I realize that other people have taken advantage and are already sacked out.  Apparently, there is no such thing as sleeping in shifts, either.  I tried to get my husband to move, too, but he is able to sleep in a smaller space than I am.
Still, sleeping’s tricky.  There’s the adjustment of those three little pillows they give you:  I finally stuffed them into my sweatshirt and that seemed to work well.  Then there’s still a lot of turning and arranging clothing and underwear and the thin blankets they put out for you.  I slept about four different times, getting up for lunch, and for bathroom breaks.  I slept through the Haagen-Daaz, though.  Bummer.
When we get off the plane, and after we go through customs, we get to go and pick up my rental car at Enterprise at the airport.  My husband is such the technical genius – I used Skype to check on my car – and it’s still not ready.  I don’t remember whether I mentioned I was in a car accident two weeks ago.  My little car is laying disassembled at the mechanics, waiting for the insurance adjuster to come and approve more damage found once the bumpers were removed.  It may not be ready for 2 more weeks!
Lucky for me, I was able to contact the guilty party’s insurance company and they hooked me up.  Good thing, too, because we didn’t really have a ride home from the airport.  As soon as we pick up the car, I will drop my husband off at my mom’s place to pick up his car, then go to the kennel and pick up my doggie!
My husband had made some contacts regarding a Bob Moog Tribute Concert that will be going on in February.  He works as a volunteer for the Bob Moog Foundation –  see the link for more info (it’s too much for me to explain) – and thought that he would get in touch with the organizers to see if they would make a plug for them here in Spain.  We finally got one of the guys on the phone, only to have him babble on in panic about not speaking English and insisting that we take the phone number of another organizer that did.
We called him and made arrangements to go up to his suburban recording studio in Terrassa.  The ride up was interesting, and we found his studio without much trouble.  He understood more English than he spoke, so I was along for translation.  He apparently has this big collection of vintage analog electronic instruments, and teaches classes in playing them.  He also sells recording equipment from his shop.  He gave us a DVD of Bob Moog’s visit to Barcelona in 2004, and called yet another electronic music guy to see if we could visit him.
After that, for my fee as translator, I insisted that we eat out.  We ate at a little restaurant called Frankfurter.  Yep, it’s just what it sounds like – sausages on buns.  We had the Tiroleana, an herbed Bratwurst on a bun.  And a Diet Coke, of course.  It was good.
During the afternoon, we took the metro to Montjuic and walked through some of the 1992 Olympic grounds.  Then, we made our way to the Poble Espanyol.  The Poble Espanyol was built for a World Exposition in 1926 or so and is a conglomeration of all of the architectural styles found in Spain.  The complex houses all sorts of gift shops and artesan shops, as well as as several restaurants.  It’s pretty touristy, and costs 8 euros to get in.  Being a Tuesday afternoon, it was pretty dead, but I enjoyed walking around (the weather was in the upper 60’s) and making my husband take pictures of things.
After we went to Montjuic, we had a tiny snack – I bought better bread for my sandwich later – and headed over to meet the other Moog fanatic.  We were advised to take a taxi, because it was “just 10 minutes away” from our hotel, and there was no direct subway line to get there.
When a Spaniard tells you that something is “just 10 minutes away” take it with a grain of salt.  They also seem pretty quick to suggest a taxi, even though they are not cheap!  Whenever you get into a taxi, the charge is already set at 3 euros – do they charge you for their time to get to you?  Then, our driver took two minutes to look up directions – charging us for that time as well.  Lucky for us, we got a ride back to the nearest Metro station on our way back.
Joan, the guy we were meeting, has an even more extensive collection of electronic equipment behind his official store, where he sells computers.  We were led through two doorways into what we joked was the Bat Cave.  There, he shared with us the impact that Bob Moog had had on his life.  He has met Bob a couple of times, and has visited his home.  He also was involved with bringing Moog to Barcelona in 2004.
Bob Moog’s death in 2005 hit him hard, and made him take a look at the way he was living his life, he told us.  Moog and his wife lived very simply (they were not rich, contrary to opinion) and Joan decided to a simpler life.  He has sold some of his instrument collection to benefit an orphanage in Chernobyl, for example.  He was a really nice guy.  He gave us many MANY of his CD’s – he also composes and records music – and offered any help he could give.
So, it is experiences like that for which you travel.  Everyone here has been so nice.  Hey, even the waiters that were robbing us blind were nice!  😉  Still, I will be glad to be home – I miss my doggy and my house – but not the cold!

Stoppa da tapas!

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I hate this – I have had a fabulous time here in Spain – Palafrugell was beautiful, our hosts were great, I am over my stomach illness. When we got to Barcelona, however, internet access became scarce and expensive (and even risky, according to a sign up at the internet cafe near the Subway fastfood…). So, I have not written anything since my last short entry.

What happens is – while I am having a great time, I often don’t have time to capture that. Barcelona has been fabulous – the weather is warmer and sunnier here than it is in Georgia. We have walked up and down the Rambla, seen the port and Columbus pillar, toured the Templo de la Sagrada Familia.

Last night, we went up to the Parc Guell, one of my favorite places. It is exactly as I remember it from 23 years ago, except I forgot that it was up a steep hill (thank God for the escalators they have installed for most of the way). I also forgot that you have to wander through this maze of garden paths to get to the lovely mosaics and sculptures. I had Wheat take close up pictures of many of the mosaics – I saw some postcards like that and they looked awesome.

The only thing I did not appreciate was my tapas experience. After doing some research on the internet about the best places for tapas in Barcelona, I came across two places: El Xampanyet (near the port) and Txapela (near Passeig del Gracia). I then looked at our DK Eyewitness travel guide that said the cava was cheap and the prices were great. I was happy to find it, but of course, the place was packed.

Determined to have our tapas experience, we pushed our way to the back of the bar and were thrilled to find a tiny ledge in a corner against the old wooden refrigerator. Our waiter was busy, but seemed a decent guy. He immediately took the things we had stashed on the second ledge below our ledge. He assured us that he would put them somewhere safe, and asked what we wanted. Well, we asked him to suggest something. He replied that he would bring us a little sampling of items.

So, he arrived pretty quickly with two cream-cheese stuffed cherry peppers, a plate of anchovies, a huge plate of sliced hard sausage, some ham, some tuna in olive oil, and olives, I think. This was accompanied by a plate of pan con tomate (sliced baguette with tomato innards rubbed on them – there must be one person whose job in back is to smear tomato on bread – my husband has dubbed him the “tomatador”).

This was all very well and good – and we received refills of the tomato bread when we asked for it. He then asked if we wanted cheese – sure, why not? But we finally had enough – it was very claustophobic and no one would move from their tables. We asked for the bill, declining the “cookies” offered. That took about 20 minutes to pin down. As we waited, we wondered how much two glasses of cava, two bottled waters and the above assortment would cost us. The euro is about one and 1/2 the worth of the dollar, so we wondered aloud: 15 euros? 20 euros?

The waiter returned to us with a hand-tallied bill on a small pad of paper. THIRTY FIVE EUROS!!!! That’s like, $50!!!! That was a $50 snack – because, in theory, people go from place to place eating these tidbits. We were too much in shock to argue. We did not tip, however.

That is how much it cost for a three course meal with drinks at San Miguelito, a really nice restaurant in Morelia, Mexico. That was unbelievable!!!

We went out again last night to eat seafood paella at La Barceloneta, by the port. Instantly wary, we plotted our game plan. One order of paella to SHARE, a salad to share, and sangria – water for my husband. Our bill was about $80 – we didn’t catch the “we charge for bread” scam there…

Let’s just face it – poor Americans have no business going to Europe right now. We were very fortunate when we were in Palafrugell – we had a free place to stay, and Wheat’s boss generously paid for even my dinner – he cooked half of them himself. I loved it there… And, don’t get me wrong, I love Spain – it’s just too expensive right now.

Country Girl

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I ended my last post by mentioning that I walked from Palafrugell to the coast.  I have not done so much walking in a while!  Palafrugell is a good-sized city – there are around 23,000 year-around inhabitants.  Most of the Costa Brava is dedicated to the tourist trade – with the range of cities varying from really tourist trap tacky to very nice.  The former usually have very tall high-rises consacrated as time shares or rentals to German, British, and French tourists.  They do not, however, have a large population until summer hits.

There is a two laned boulevard that takes you from the edge of Palafrugell to a crossroads, where you can choose to go right to Calella de Palafrugell or left to Llafranc.  When I reached the crossroads, I decided to go straight, hoping for a shortcut to the ocean.  After encountering one dead-end dominated by a hotel, I quickly found a great path that goes along the sea from Calella to Llafranc.  I will post photos later.  The weather was quite mild, so I made it all the way to the Hotel Llafranc, where my husband went for coffee that morning with Alejandro.

I sat down to rest and have a glass of cava, and took a picture of the large black and white photograph of the owners’ father (nicknamed El Gitano – the gypsy) and his friend Salvador Dali.  He is dead now, and his sons run the hotel.  Alejandro says that there are some pretty wild stories about El Gitano, Dali, and their cronies in the day – I’ll bet!

I managed to make it back home before darkness fell, but I was tired!  On Wednesday, I was scheduled to go into Barcelona and visit a school north of there.  On Thursday, I was booked to visit the classroom of a nearby high school taught by a friend of Alejandro’s.  I will write more about my day in Barcelona in my next post.

Two Days in Palafrugell

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So, I am now ending my second day in Palafrugell.  The man who hired my husband to come here is a native Catalonian and couldn’t be more gracious.  So far, he has taken us out to dinner and cooked for us twice.  I told him that he can have a second career as a chef along with marketing his cutting edge video editing software.

When we arrived on Sunday night, Alejandro took us out to a local restaurant called L’Arc, where we had French onion soup and I had lovely duck in mustard sauce with french fries and zucchini.  My husband had the Hungarian goulash.  We didn’t need dessert, but Alejandro convinced us to share a local specialty called recuit, with is a sort of fromage blanc made from cow or sheep’s milk.  It was served with honey.

Last night, Alejandro made a dish that his aunt used to make for him.  It was shrimp with spinach.  He sauteed the gambas (shrimp) whole, in their shells.  After they had cooled a bit, we peeled the shrimp, saving the heads and carapaces.  I cut the shrimp in smaller pieces (if the shrimp had been smaller, he would not have sliced them) and set that aside.  Alejandro took the shrimp shells and heads, added some fish stock to it and mashed it with a wooden mortar, then took one of those lovely hand blenders and smashed it all into mush and strained out the liquid.

Then, he thawed out 6 bricks of frozen spinach and sauteed it with olive oil.  He added the shrimp liquid and simmered it for a while.  He topped it off with some cream and simmered the mixture for a while longer.  Finally, he added the shrimp pieces, serving the dish after the shrimp was warmed.  He served it alone, but it would have been great with pasta, too.

He also served us some pan con tomate, which was just sliced bread from a fresh baguette with tomato “guts” smeared on it.  He served this with anchovies in oil,  olive oil, and two artisanal hard hams.   He served more bread with tomato for the meal tonight, but added small sauteed shrimp and steamed cockle shells to the mix.

The dish tonight was made with sepia or cuttle fish.  He was going to make it last night, but the only cuttle fish available was gigantic.  Tonight, I came in a little late, but I could see that he had cleaned the cuttle fish and set aside the ink sac and the “sauce” – innards, I suppose.  He sauteed the sliced cuttle fish in olive oil and added some sliced garlic to that.  Then, he added the “sauce” and cooked the mixture some more.  He added some small steamed clams that looked like coquinas (small clams we used to find on the beach of the Gulf of Mexico) and served it all tossed with spaghetti that had been cooked in fish stock.  It was awesome!

I ate lunch today at La Girbal, a cafe and pastry shop in downtown Palafrugell – I had a flauta (nope, not a rolled taco, it’s a sandwich made from a baguette) of ham and brie with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise.  It was great.  For dessert, I had two of the three tartlets I chose – the truffle and the crema catalan.  I could not eat the strawberry one, so I packed it up with one more of each of the others and brought it for dessert.  I also bought a bag of the specialty of the house, called garoines de xocolate.  I just looked up garoines and that means sea urchin.  I don’t think the candy had sea urchin in it, they just look like them.

I walked a looooong way after I dropped off those things – all the way to Calella de Palafrugell and along the sea path to Llafranc.  It must have been at least 5 miles!

We made it to Palafrugell!

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I am writing from an internet cafe in Palafrugell. I am surrounded by old and unemployed men,  one of whom is speaking to me- probably in Catalan.  I cannot understand a word he is saying.  He has a poodle, and I think her name is Margaret.  I bought a Coca Cola Light, and am paying 2 euros per 20 minutes – the cigarette smoke is free.

Things are fine right now – Unfortunately, when we got to the airport on Friday, we found out that my big suitcase with all of my carefully chosen outfits was not with us.  It is either in the back seat of our car (at my mother´s condo) or it is at our house – a friend brought us to the airport. Since we had about 3 hours until our flight took off, we took a taxi to the nearest Target and I just grabbed a bunch of clothes and underwear while Wheat bought a $13 rollerboard to put it all in. Imagine a really not fun version of one of those spending spree shows, and you´ll get the picture.  We paid for the taxi to wait for us, but he informed us that he could only do so for 25 minutes.

Lucky for us, my make up kit had all of my toiletries, my brown shoes, and my medication in it.  We made our plane in plenty of time, and had an uneventful flight to Madrid, where we changed planes for Barcelona.  I, of course, was in charge of asking all questions – but I am sure that my Spanish was like caveman Spanish at the moment.  We took a bus to the Plaza de Catalunya, where I was determined to take the Metro.  I had never taken the Metro in Barcelona, but it seemed pretty straightforward.  I found the way to the Metro stop marked Sant Gervasi figuring that that was in the name of our hotel, so it had to be near there.  I was wrong, and after lugging our bag for blocks and following the finger pointings of several citizens, we were finally able to hail a taxi to take us to the hotel.

I took a shower, and we slept for about 3 hours before getting up for dinner.  I tried on some of my new acquisitions and naturally, some of the clothes didn´t fit.   We will have to hem two of the pairs of pants that do.  I will return the other clothes to Target when we return.  I had to tie up the bottom of the legs of my velour sweat pants in order to go out that night.  Wheat was so tired that he wanted to just hit a McDonald´s and go back to bed.  But I refused to settle for that.  We walked down the Ramblas and found a restaurant on a side street called Santa Anna.  I had a version of pan con tomate with grilled vegetables and goat cheese and some sangria.  Wheat had a pizza.

We found out that although the stores are usually closed on Sundays, this was a special weekend – los Rebaixes.  That means the day that all of the stores offer big big discounts on their clothes.  We got up the next morning, put our bags in the hotel storage, and took the Metro to El Corte Ingles, a big department store.  We had an unimpressive lunch at the top floor cafeteria, then hit the sales.  Believe me, trying on clothes with a size system that I am not familiar with was not what I planned to do on my vacation.  I bought a pair of pants, a shirt, and a skirt, after trying on a LOT of different sizes and leaving all of my clothes on the floor of the dressing room.  Apparently, that is not done in Spain, but I did not care much.  I just wanted to find the train to Palafrugell and get us on it so that I can take some time off as interpreter.

My time is running out, so I will continue this later!

Merry Christmas!

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It’s not time for New Year’s Resolutions yet, so I have been eating a bit.  On Christmas Day, we went over to my brother-in-law’s place to eat a dinner (4:30 to 8:30PM – very civilized).  I brought pate and cheeses with crackers for an appetizer – Liver and truffle mousse, a wedge of Brie, and a slice of Bucheron, which is a goat cheese log.  We had turkey with dressing, beans, spinach salad with pear, scalloped potatoes, and an apple cranberry chutney.  My brother-in-law is gluten-intolerant, so my mom made a French Silk pie on a bed of meringue.

I do not feel like I over-indulged that night, but have had a great time with the left-overs, and some candy given as gifts.  My mother made pecan puffs, my sister sent pecan pralines, and there was a lot of chocolate with mint – Lindt truffles, peppermint bark, and Frango mints.  I laid waste to the pate and the pecan puffs yesterday.  It looks like I will be finishing up the pralines and Brie today.  I had some veal stew I had made in the slow cooker, and used the left-overs to make two pot pies.

The only other cooking I have done was to try this Mexican chocolate cupcake recipe – it is gluten and lactose free.   The cupcakes were okay – mainly due to the Ghirardelli chocolate chips – but next time I would use white rice flour instead of brown.  I hope my bro-in-law likes them: they are for his birthday.  I made cupcakes, then a two layer cake with chocolate icing.

Last Friday, I met a friend and we went to eat at Eclipse di Luna – a tapas bar and restaurant across from Perimeter Mall.   I had been to the restaurant at Miami Circle a couple of years ago, and it was by pure accident that we happened along on this one.  I had a glass of cava (Spanish sparkling wine – my latest drink), and two plates: Empanada de Pollo y Chile Poblano (Roasted Chicken and Poblano Pepper Empanada w/ Manchego cheese & fire roasted tomato jam) – it had a cilantro cream squiggled on top.  I also had a mini-panini with roasted vegetables.  For dessert, I had their awesome fig and sherry ice cream.  I’ll definitely have to go there again.

So, I know that there will be more Spanish food in my future – we leave for Barcelona on January 11.  I got a great hotel deal for our first night there, and we are supposed to have accommodations on the coast while my husband is working.  I just need to book a hotel for the last two nights.  I don’t know what is going on that weekend, but the Saturday, Jan 19 rates are significantly higher than the other nights.  It will still average out reasonably, though.

I have left off of my Maison Celeste production a bit – hope to get re-energized in January.  In a bizarre twist, I just got this bedraggled package returned to me – I had mailed it in February 2007 to Austin, then it tried to go to Terlingua, Texas.  Now it’s back to me!  The sheer shrine inside of it was unharmed, but I will have to investigate and see if the person who ordered it can be located!

By the way, we’re going to Spain!

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My husband got a technical writing job – he must go to Spain to document the software.  I am going with him!  We will be traveling to Barcelona, staying there one day, then taking the train to a town north of Barcelona called Palafrugell.  While my husband is documenting all day, I will be entertaining myself in a borrowed apartment in nearby Llafranch, on the coast.   We will spend one or two days in Barcelona before returning home.  Woo hoo!

I have visited Barcelona once.  It was 23 years ago.  I imagine it has changed a bit!  I went with one of my co-students when I was living in Angers and I really loved it.  My husband has never been – so, although he will be working most of the time, I hope that he gets to see stuff.

I have not blogged in a while – I have been very busy with school and with designing more Milagros for my CafePress shop!  I didn’t get to do the tin ornament Feliz Navidad t-shirt, but that’s okay.  Check out my shop – I have added two designs with La Adelita, and one with the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  I also have put together two new calendars:  Milagros and Quilt Loteria No. 2.

Got to go to bed – I shopped until I dropped yesterday, then had no energy to wrap.  We went to my Mom’s this morning to give her the gifts for my sister’s family and my Dad.  She is going to visit today.  I somehow managed to wrap all 13 packages in 45 minutes – ouch!  I took a nap and then got up and made pizzas, quiches, and peach spice cakes.  Time to go to bed!

Weekend in Guanajuato

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I’m on the slow bus back to Morelia.  I don’t know if I mentioned it, but getting from Morelia to Guanajuato is tricky. There are no direct busses.  Even the Primera Plus luxury bus had about 3 stops on the way, and they are usually direct One of my language instructors commented on how silly this was, given how close the cities are to each other.  On Friday, we boarded the bus at 3:15 in the afternoon, and got to GTO at around 7:00. On the way, we were shown two movies: one starring Cedric the Entertainer (something about a family vacation) and then x-Men 3 (Of course we missed the very end, arriving in GTO about 10 minutes before it finished.)  Wheat said that someone should set up a bootleg stand selling the videos shown on the bus so that people can see the ending.

BTW, YES, we have already seen X-Men 3, but it’s the principal of the thing!

We took a taxi through the hills and catacombs of GuanaJuato to arrive at the back of our hotel, the Posada Santa Fe.  It is a very impressive structure, with huge painting theh size of murals in the lobby and the dining room.  The tilework is fabulous – tiles are laid on most of the walls up to the window line.  Our room was modest with a huge and very firm king sized bed taking up most of the space.  There was no air conditioning, of course, but there was a ceiling fan and a portable fan by the window.  Our little “balcony” looked out over the taxi entrance to the hotel.

The first thing we did was to eat.  We decided on the hotel restaurant, as it was right on the plaza.  In fact, the plaza almost overlapped into the restaurant.  Lining the negligible iron fence barrier to the restaurant was a row of iron benches, overburdened with teenagers.  This was a very interesting plaza.  Instead of being a pretty large open space like the one in Patzcuaro, this one was 1/4 the size and dominated by a canopy of carefully trimmed dense trees that hid the center of the plaza and indeed the other side of the street from view.

At the restaurant, I decided to order flautas as an appetizer and the regional pozole as my meal.  Wheat ordered something called enchiladas mineras, which were filled with cheese and vegetables.  As usual, I over-ordered.  There were four flautas, with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, guacamole and crema – enough to make a meal.  I ended up eating the ends, anyway.  The problem with flautas is that the chicken inside tends to be dry and overcooked.  They were still great.

Okay, about the pozole.  A few years ago, my students made dishes for an international lunch and one of my students from Guanajuato made pozole with all of the trimmings: radishes, fried tortillas, onions,lettuce, and lime.  When I mentioned to one of my language teachers that I planned on having pozole, even though I had read it came from Guadalajara, she corrected me.  Pozole originated in Michoacan.  Of course.  This version had a red-colored broth, probably from achiote, and was filled with cubes of pork.  It was awesome, but way too big for one person to eat (after eating flauta ends.). I changed my order of tamales to sweet tamales, but I couldn’t even finish one of the order of two.  I gave my other one, still wrapped in its husk, to a beggar.

We then decided to check our e-mail.  Friday was my mother’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Mom!), and we thought of maybe using Skype to call her.  As usual when entering a new wireless environment, we had to work out the system.  Although the bar was supposed to be part of the wireless environment, with computers for the guests to use, this was not entirely true.  There was a computer (maybe two) but I could not access the wireless network.  We finally found out that this would work only if we were very near the front desk, and also let into the network via a password.  I know, we computer users are a pain.

I realized that I knew very little about Guanajuato, but apparently a lot of other people did.  There were tons of tourists – most of them American.  Our hotel was host to a large group of college students, apparently bent on savoring the nightlife.  As we arrived, one of the girls was trying out her Spanish by telling the front desk lady that there was no light or electricity in her room and the neighboring rooms, occupied by her friends.  Later on, the verdict came down: the girls were not going to be able to use their hair dryers in their rooms!  I wondered how they coped.