Monday, May 30, 2011
El auditorio Marina Sur se encuentra en 'La Marina Real Juan Carlos I' de Valencia, un amplio espacio privilegiado en el que hay lugares de encuentro para el ciudadano y espacios lúdicos donde se combinan actividades culturales, comerciales, deportivas y de ocio.
Tickets begin at 65€ but you are probably too late.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
IVAM Institut Valencia d’Art Modern
5 abril - 26 junio 2011
This exhibit consists of text and 68 photographs taken by Isabel Muñoz in 20 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and America for a panoramic view of children and their lives. Organized by UNICEF. Today would be a good day to stop in at the IVAM and check out these photos.Sundays are always free.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
London’s Wembley Stadium will host the 2011 UEFA Champions League final for a record sixth time, the first at the new stadium, on Saturday 28 May 2011. AC Milan defeated SL Benfica 2-1 in Wembley's first European final in 1963. Manchester United FC became the competition's first English winners thanks to their 4-1 extra-time triumph against the same Portuguese side in 1968. In 1971, AFC Ajax beat Panathinaikos FC 2-0 to lift the trophy for the first time, and there were also 1-0 wins for Liverpool FC against Club Brugge KV in 1978 and FC Barcelona against UC Sampdoria in 1992.
Who will prevail on tonight? Fútbol Club Barcelona or Manchester United Football Club.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Love and Rock Musical
If you are looking to get your hippie on head over to Teatro Olympia - San Vicente 44 - 46002 Valencia - Tel. 96 351 73 15
You only have until June 12th to see it so pull up your bellbottoms, fire up your bong, and drive your psychedelic bus over to the Olympia.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
The Ruzafa neighborhood of Valencia seems almost comically diverse as far as ethnic variation is concerned. Sit in a café for more than a few minutes and you will likely hear at least a half dozen different languages being spoken. Chinese, Pakistani, Algerian, Moroccan, South American, and at least one American make Ruzafa their home. Ruzafa is a great place if you are looking to cook food from any of these places as there are a number of stores catering to gourmets looking to make a good curry, or Mexican enchiladas, or Chinese noodles, or maybe you are looking for a Moroccan tajine.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Mercadona, one of Valencia’s biggest supermarket chains announced that they will no longer offer plastic bags to customers. This comes well over a year since the French chain, Carrefour, stopped giving away plastic. Reusable shopping bags are available for sale at Mercadona for .60€. It’s one small step by the food store and one giant step for the local environment. Valencia’s other big grocer, Consum, also seems ready to do away with free plastic bags as they have started selling reusable bags. People should welcome this change that may be a slight inconvenience at times but will mean a lot less trash.
Without fear of hyperbole I think that it is safe to say that plastic bags are one of the most evil creatures on the face of the earth. So stop being lazy and carry a shopping bag the next time you head out to the store.
Spaniards use an average of 238 bags annually, or about 9.2 billion. Of these only about 10% are recycled. It is estimated that plastic bags take about 400 years to break down and decompose. That's a lot of garbage just because you were too lazy to bring a bag with you shopping. The goal here in Spain is to completely eliminate the use of plastic bags by 2018.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Beyond La Dehesa, at the end of the bike trail that begins at el Centro Comercial el Saler in Valencia, you can follow this great gravel road which takes you to the turn off for El Palmar. It's about an hour of moderately hard riding to El Palmar so you may want to stop for a paella.
Monday, May 23, 2011
La Liga had its final matches this weekend with no surprises at the top but a fight to keep out of relegation. Valencia CF put the final nails in the coffin for Deportivo de Coruña with a 0-2 on Saturday night. Hercules from Alicante will be going back down after just this season in the first division, and Almería is the other club to try their luck in the second division next season.
Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao both earned spots in the UEFA Europa League while Villarreal, Valencia, Real Madrid, and Barcelona will represent Spain in next seasons Champions League. Unai Emery will be back to head Valencia CF next year after posting a pretty good year for the club. I have to say that other than a few really bad games Valencia played exciting and creative football. Only a complete fool could have expected a better result for the team than the one secured by Emery. To expect Valencia to beat out either Real Madrid or Barcelona FC in La Liga is just a silly dream. As long as those two clubs can spend over $7 million dollars per player (according to a ESPN study) the other teams in Spain don’t have much of a chance.
I could say something here about Cristiano Ronaldo winning the scoring title but I won’t.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
2 peeled and seeded tomatoes, diced
1 onion chopped fine
2 cloves of crushed and chopped garlic
1 16 oz can of Italian tomatoes
1 cup of white wine
2 bay leaves
¼ cup olive oil
salt to taste
I learned this recipe from an Italian cookbook years and years ago and I haven't changed a thing, so why change the name? If I remember correctly, the book was The Food of Italy by Waverly Root, a famous food writer. I have used mussels from the Mediterranean, Maine, and Penne Cove in Washington state. Penne Cove mussels are la puta madre (a good thing, in this case) of mussels but this dish is splendid with any sort of mussel. I made this at some friends' house the other night as we were having a dinner party and this dish doesn't travel well, even though we only live two blocks from each other. This isn't so much a soup as just a bit of broth to accompany the mussels. I will sometimes put a big baked croûton in each serving dish as an added touch. Nothing could be simpler than Zuppa di Cozze and few dishes are better when you are preparing mussels, wherever they were fished.
The first step is to clean the mussels. You need to de-beard each mussel which just means ripping the fibers from the shell. After this I like to use a piece of steel wool to thoroughly scrub each shell. Let the mussels sit in a pan of fresh water after they have been cleaned.
In a large soup dish, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil. When this has cooked thoroughly, add the chopped tomato. Let this cook until most of the moisture has evaporated. When the mixture is beginning to stick to the pan, add the cup of wine to de-glaze the pan. Add the can of whole tomatoes (I crush them by hand in a bowl before I put them in), throw in the bay leaves, and season with salt to taste. Allow this to simmer for about 15 minutes.
Next, add the mussels and cover the pot. They only need a few minutes to cook and as they do the shells open. Discard any which do not open.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
The dogs here all seem to be very well behaved. If they have such things as leash laws here most people are in violation, yet their loose mutts never seem to stray very far or get into mischief. You see dogs waiting patiently outside of grocery stores while their masters are inside buying all of the strange things Spanish people buy in grocery stores. People take their pets with them practically everywhere they go. The main cathedral in Valencia actually has a special pew set aside in the back just for dogs. OK, that isn’t true but it should be. If dogs aren’t allowed in churches this might explain why nobody here goes any more. I guess the Catholic god is more of the cat-loving type of superior being.
I guess that you could say that dogs have a privileged place in Spanish society, sort of like movie stars have in American society except without the drug rehab and DUI arrests. Dogs don't have any issues that can't be remedied with a rolled-up magazine. Even considering all of the crap and barking, I think Spanish dogs are a lot better behaved than American celebrities. The subjects of American tabloids leave a bigger mess in their wake than any Spanish Chihuahua, and just try cleaning up Paris Hilton's latest social dump with nothing but a plastic shopping bag wrapped around your hand.
Friday, May 20, 2011
Another iconic dish from Valencia. It's like paella but instead of rice you use noodles. Fideua is always served with alioli, a garlic mayonnaise.
For alioli, process finely chopped garlic, lemon juice and egg yolks in a food processor until smooth. With motor running, add 1 1/2 cups (375ml) light olive oil, a few drops at a time, then in a slow, thin steady stream until mixture is thick and creamy.
A Short History of Fideua
Fideua was invented in the Valencian town of Gandia in the 1960s. According to the apocryphal story, a man invited friends over one day for a traditional paella but he forgot to buy rice. His friends were just about to draw and quarter* him which was the punishment at that time for forgetting to have rice when you made a paella. Just as they were tying the horses to his hands and feet the man asked if he could make the dish with noodles instead of rice. His friends were hungry so they said, “Hell with it, let’s try it. We can draw and quarter him later if we don’t like this new dish.” And fideua was born.
* pull (a person) apart with four horses tied to his extremities, so as to execute him
Thursday, May 19, 2011
A lot of restaurants in Spain have a little walk-up window that connects the street directly with the bar which obviates the need to even walk into a place to get your cortado or your quinto (a small 1/5 liter bottle of beer). So not only are there more bars per capita in Spain than any other place in the world, they make it even easier for you to get your shot of coffee or whatever suits your mood.
I first noticed bars with walk-up windows in Miami. At the time I thought it was a Cuban thing—which it is but its origin is Spanish. I had been to Spain a couple of times before I moved to South Florida but I didn't notice this feature in Spanish bars. There was a little café near my apartment in Florida that had one of these windows and I thought it was pretty cool. I have never seen one of these walk-up windows in Mexico, Peru, or Puerto Rico, and I've been to a lot of bars in Mexico, Peru, and Puerto Rico—the only other Spanish-speaking countries I have visited. Perhaps this aspect of Spanish life immigrated to other Latin American countries.
The whole notion of knocking back a quick shot of coffee at a walk-up window almost seems antithetical to the unhurried pace of life here, unhurried at least until people get behind the wheel of an automobile. If I were forced to explain the phenomena of the walk-up window, I would say that the services provided by bars are so important in the quotidian life of Spanish people that direct access to the street if sometimes necessary. It's like removing a buffer zone between citizens and espresso. I'm surprised that they don't have waiters with trays of espresso patrolling the sidewalks so people don't even have to stop walking to have a shot.
Depending on the weather, I usually prefer to sit at a table outside at a café or stand at the bar inside. This is an important part of every single day for me. If I am alone I use the time to read a book, a football paper, or a newspaper. I sometimes study my vocabulary lists or I study what is going on around me. If you are a tourist, bars provide the best place to connect with Spanish people, something that is true even if you aren't just passing through. If you are out to literally “rub elbows” with the locals, the walk-up window is the place to do it. Whenever I stop for a drink at one of these widows I always feel like I couldn't be more Spanish if I were wearing a matador's costume. I would love to have a picture of a matador at a walk-up window (to digress a bit, I saw a little boy the other day wearing a matador costume and it was so cute that I almost tinkled myself). The walk-up is also handy if you are on your bike and don't feel like locking it up to go inside.
Not every bar in Spain has a walk-up window. In fact, when I went out looking specifically for bars with this attribute I found a lot fewer of them than I thought I would. However, it seems like the bars that don´t have a window were just built wrong, with the bar being against a back wall away from the street instead of along the side of the place moving up to the sidewalk. If I ask an older person here about this I'm sure they will tell me that back in the good-old-days every bar had a walk-up. I actually had someone tell me the other day that there used to be a lot more bars in Spain than there are today. I can't see how that is even possible unless there used to be bars inside of other bars.
I'll probably never find out why the Spanish feel these windows are necessary and other people of other nations don't. Spanish people probably just feel that it is too much of a chore sometimes to walk inside of a bar to get a coffee. I mean, if you have to actually walk through a door you might as well cover the place in barbed wire or build a damn moat around the place. When you are walking the block and a half home from the market who needs the hassle of opening a stupid door just to get a beer?
It's not like there aren't millions of cars in Spain but walking is still a big part of city life. I have yet to see a drive-up window here and I hope that this never catches on—anything that keeps people inside their cars is a bad thing in my book. I'm sure that a walk-up bar window would be breaking about nine million laws in the U.S., although I have bought a cocktail at a drive-thru window in Montana years ago and even then it seemed like a disastrous idea. On the other hand, anything that caters to pedestrians is OK by me. What kind of culture are you looking for, walk-up or drive-thru?
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
|Basílica del Lledó|
Castellón (or Castelló de la Plana in Valenciano) is a mere 70 minutes north of Valencia on the cercanía, or local train. I’ve passed by it a couple of times by train but I wasn’t able to see anything because the rail lines are underground through the city. One of my Spanish friends is from there and we have talked about this city of about 100,000 inhabitants on many occasions. He praises Castellón for its progressive approach to transit issues and he has been bugging me to take a look for myself. I finally made it up there this weekend.
I rode my bike to Valencia’s Estación del Norte and arrived at about 10:05 this morning. I bought my round-trip ticket in one of the machines (9€) and found the train waiting on track #1. There are trains every hour to Castellón on weekends and 40 a day during the week. Spanish trains are incredibly efficient. I am reminded of this every time I'm on a train.
You are allowed to take bikes on the cercanías and I have on several occasions but this time I played it smart and brought along something to secure my bike so I wouldn’t have to hold it the entire way. I brought a bunch of climbing gear with me from Seattle even though I haven’t used any of it yet and I doubt I will. I knew I had a short length of thin-gauge climbing rope somewhere amongst all of the other shit like my harness, an assortment of carabiners, etc. I had some sort of device used for locking your harness to a piece. It is adjustable, strong, and easy to use. It has a carabiner on one end and I knew this was exactly what I was looking for. I just wrapped it around my bike, attached the carabiner to the overhead hand rail, and tightened it. My bike was perfectly secured instead of being a safety hazard for everyone in the car.
The Castellón station is modern and looks more like an airport than the usual stately structures of most European stations but it’s clean and efficient. Castellón has had a bike sharing system for a few years now and of course there is a station directly in front of the station. The entire downtown area is what they call a Zona 30 which means the speed limit is only 30 kph (18.6 mph) to encourage more cycling. Most of the city center is off-limits to all vehicles except for residents so the streets are extremely pleasant for pedestrians. It really is a beautiful city. I would compare it to Portland as far as modernity and the overall progressive nature of the urban planning.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The new high speed rail line between Madrid and Valencia was inaugurated this past December amidst heavy fanfare, pomp and circumstance, hype, and a lot of well-deserved pride on the part of the Spanish. Spain now has more high speed rail kilometers than any country in Europe. These rail lines, called AVE for Alta Velocidad (ave is also the Spanish word for bird) now link Madrid with Sevilla, Barcelona, and now Valencia. A round-trip trip now takes less time than a one-way rail voyage took previously which means it’s feasible to go to Madrid and come back the same day. I told some friends in Madrid to expect me to stop by soon for a cup of coffee.
There are a lot of complaints from Spaniards that this rail line is expensive and out of reach for the average rail commuter. Many argue that the money spent on this service would have been better spent upgrading existing tracks. I can go both ways on this issue. I’m all about democracy but these high-speed lines are just so fucking cool. I’ve taken the one between Madrid and Sevilla and I must say that it is truly a marvel. I can’t wait to try out this new line. I have been meaning to visit Madrid again and this gives me a great excuse. While I am there I was thinking that I may return via the AVE line to Barcelona and then return to Valencia from Catalunya. That way I can cross the Madrid-Barcelona line off of my to-do list. After that I need to do the Chunnel trip from London to Paris.
The AVE reaches top speeds of over 300kph and it does it safely. They project that the added traffic on the new AVE will prevent 27 traffic fatalities as people abandon their cars in favor of the more sophisticated rail service now available. The trip takes three and a half hours by car; over twice as long as the train. Flying takes 55 minutes and the plane leaves you 20 minutes from the city center at both ends. What method would you choose for your trip between Valencia and the capital?