Monday, January 12, 2009

Is it Heaven or Spain?

Saturday was our first real day in Spain since yesterday was arrival day and I was still very in the altered state zone of exhaustion, disbelief, and what adrenaline rush my body could muster. The connection on Swiss was, not surprisingly, a breeze and made the trip to Barcelona short and sweet with incredible views of the Alps.
We were picked up at the airport by our host, we didn’t see anything of Barcelona except a distant view of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Our host drove at about 160k/h but my airplane meds were still in effect so it seemed to not phase me.

The house is in the middle of fields and much is merely plowed up earth waiting for the coming crop to be planted. Formerly a stone “ruin’, the house is now a lovely renovated casa/villa with separated living quarters connected by grand rooms and a long, large, bright kitchen designed for entertaining. The renovated barn at one end houses the master bedroom as well as a huge open living room. Native clay tile-brick floors are throughout and domed brick ceilings are in three of the rooms. The old barn has its original post and beams exposed. Beautiful original paintings done by the owner, an accomplished, professional painter, adorn the walls.

Our bedroom/living room is ample but not huge. Since we are traveling very lightly it works. Our kitchen is tiny, but has everything we need. Certainly it is bigger than many New York apartments. The rest of the house is quite spacious with large airy rooms, and is clearly designed for entertaining and vacationing.
After a late meal (but quite early by Spanish standards) of chicken curry and rice, vino tinto, and uno poquito café, we all fell dead asleep on our comfortable beds and could barely move after twelve hours of shut-eye. We forced ourselves up and set off to explore the villages around us of which there are three. L’Escala is an old port town, now mostly filled with modern apartment buildings for the onslaught of summer tourists. There are three large foreign owned supermarkets which have a tiny amount of things I was interested in – the gluten-free baguettes and croissants were high on that list. The organic Spanish olive oil was only 4.25 Euros for a 500ml bottle and the local red wine (vino tinto) was 3 Euros a bottle.
By the time we went through the village of Torroella de Montgri everything was closed for the usual 1:30-4:30 siesta and lunchtime. We carried on past Torroella to l’Estartit and parked at the sea. We could have walked for miles (I think almost ten to be exact) on the flat sandy beach, but instead just took a ten-minute stroll along the rolling waves. We were saving ourselves for the walk into our closest village. Once back at our casa, we had a snack of goat cheese (queso de cabra), gluten-free baguette, and the freshest, sweetest Spanish clementine oranges. We then headed off on our twenty-five minute walk to Bellcaire d’Emporda, our local village. A tiny village filled with stone buildings, it has our three favorite stores thus far. One is Santi, a charcuterie with local delights. We bought queso de obeja (sheep cheese), pesto, rice grown in the region, and a special salami made from Iberian pigs. Our next stop was a café/bar with free wifi and delicious espresso for 1 euro – strong enough that three of us could share the tiny cup and all feel the effects of the caffeine. We bought two Cuban cigars (because we could) and checked email. We then walked up and over through residential areas and picked an orange from a tree overhanging the street. We passed a beautiful home, one that could be my dream home if it had just a little more yard. We walked home along a tree-lined canal on a muddy clay-dirt road with the sun setting ahead of us.
Once home I cooked our local rice, with local zucchini – hard and fresh- served with melted queso de oveja, pesto (some of the best I’ve ever had), fresh, orange peppers grown in Valencia Spain (four hours south of here), and just a few slices of chopped Iberian salami as topping. Wow – so simple, so local, so fresh, and so good! For dessert we experimented with a local sheep milk product called cuajada de oveja – a cross between a custard and a yogurt with no eggs – very bland, but divine with grated chocolate on top, which is just what we had – yum! The cuajada is sold in a red crock jar at the grocery store. Did I mention the delicious – truly – 3 Euro bottle of vino tinto we had with dinner? Are we in heaven? Well if not heaven, certainly Spain and we feel fully here now after our first day.


Unknown said...

You all are INSPIRING! I want to be there! (As you can see, Dor, I found the blog. Also clicked on the link to order the France book! Inspiring, like I said!) The photos are wonderful. I would also request some pics of your handsome male companions. (This would be my brother and nephew, people. I'm not getting weird here.) Can't wait for the next post! Hope DNN didn't choke too much on his cigar smoke. love, love. XOXO

Transitions said...

There you are in sunny Spain. I LOVE it. I am reading your blog and vicariously enjoying your adventures. I have started the blog. Check it out if you get a minute.