Monday, October 31, 2011

Spaghetti Aglio Olio

A favorite late-night snack all over Italy, spaghetti aglio olio (spaghetti with garlic and oil) is as delicious as it is simple to make. Ironically, Chef John from Food Wishes (an American) has the more traditional version while the other recipe (Italian) is a bit unorthodox. The addition of tomatoes isn’t very common but it’s a fantastic little dish.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

This is not paella

Antwerp, Belgium is an interesting place. It is full of Flemish people. In Spanish, the word for ´Flemish´ is flamenco, just like the clap-based style of Spanishmusic and dance that all British people say they love. People from Antwerp are called Sinjoren. It´s from the Spanish word señor. It has something to do with the time the Spanish crown controlled the Low Countries. Now we begin to see the deep connection between Spain and Flanders. But that´s not all. People from Spain love French fries. You can buy them everywhere in Spain, for instance McDonald´s. And I have read somewhere that Belgians have something to do with French fries, but I don´t know if that´s just an urban legend. Also, I´m pretty sure you can buy paella in Antwerp, but it probably has peas in it, so it´s not really paella. It´s just rice with other stuff in it. When a Brit says the word paella, he says the l´s, so it rhymes with fella, or What the hella? But Brits don´t hear much Flemish on their island, so they are forgiven. At any rate, we begin to recognize the many mystical cultural links of the wonderful world we live in. The world is a magical place and travel broadens the brain. You should visit Antwerp. They are famous for beer.

Grilled Cuttlefish (Sepia a la Plancha)

This dish is as easy to make as it is delicious, or the reverse. Even in for folks who don't speak Spanish this video is a breeze to follow. Simply score the cleaned cuttlefish in both directions being careful not to cut too deeply. Then fry it on both sides for one and a half to two minutes per side. Mix olive oil, a bot of garlic, and parsley in a blender. Throw this mixture in the pan after you remove the cuttlefish and just warm it up a bit. Pour the liquid over the cuttlefish and serve. If you have guests you will need to repeat this several times as it goes quickly. I made it at a barbecue and it barely made it to the table before being devoured.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Villarreal vs Levante UD 22:00

Villarreal will take on Liga leader Levante tonight in a Valencia Community Derby. I try to mention that Levante is leading the league as often as I can. These are very exciting times for Levante as they are receiving a lot of national attention for their tough play and their David and Goliath story. We wish you all the luck this week.

Valencia CF vs Athletic Bilbao 20:00

Day 9 in La Liga with Valencia holding on to 4th position behind Real Madrid and co-leaders Barça and Levante UD. A big day for football in Valencia.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ayora Castle

Just to the south of Requena (and quite a hump by bicycle) lies the village of Ayora and this magnificent Moorish castle finished in the 13th century just in time to be reconquered by the forces of Aragon. The fortress sits at 640 meters in the valley of Cofrentes-Ayora. With walls reaching six meters at certain points the castle must have been a tough nut to crack for any would-be invaders. Access to the fortress now is prohibited but the view from the village is still permitted the last time I checked.

Ayuntamiento de Ayora, teléfono (962) 19 10 25

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs Valencia CF 20:45 & Braised Pork

Thus far in their Champions League play Valencia CF has drawn with Genk and Chelsea. That means that Valencia is winless or undefeated, however you care to look at it.

If you are looking for something to eat while you watch the game check out one of my favorite American chefs, Mario Batali. He is incredibly knowledgeable about Italian food as you can tell by his name and his enormous waistline.

Monday, October 17, 2011

More Valenbisi Propaganda

I just passed the one year mark with Valenbisi, Valencia’s great bike share system. The system itself began in June of 2010 but wasn’t really completely operational until last December or so. There are still some proposed new stations but it is all pretty much in place and working well. About the only complaint anyone could have against the program is that it is too popular. There needs to be more stations in the city center in order to accommodate just how wildly successful the system is right now. There are somewhere around 135,000 subscribers thus far which represents a bit over 10% of the population—not nearly as popular as the Vélib’ system in Paris after which our system here is based.

I was a hardcore cyclist long before the idea of bike sharing but Valenbisi has made my life much better. No matter where I am in the city I have a bike available to me. I go everywhere around town by bike. Almost everywhere because last night I was so tired after a great workout ride in the morning to the southern beaches I decided to take the bus home from my French class. I walked out of the door from class, walked a half a block, hopped on the #19 bus, and got off two doors from my apartment. But as easy as the metro and buses are in Valencia I rarely use them because the bike, for me, is the perfect urban transportation solution. I suppose that public transportation is a nice option when the weather is crappy but that isn’t the case very often here. Besides, I don’t mind riding in the rain.

There definitely seems to be more cyclists on the road now than there were only one year ago. There needs to be a lot more, but I think that will happen. There is still the major problem of brutish drivers and the overall lack of respect given to cyclists here in Valencia. The bike path network is growing every day so it’s not like the city itself isn’t committed to making bicycling a viable option in Valencia.  I think that I speak for many citizens here when I say that I’d like to see Valencia become a first-rate city for bicycles sooner rather than later.  

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Levante UD vs Málaga CF 18:00

League leader Levante UD, that's right, folks, League Leader Levante UD will host Málaga CF in the 8th game of the season. Levante is even with FC Barcelona with 14 points. Pinch me, I think I'm dreaming. Well, their were co-leaders with Barça but Barça won last night so it's up to Levante to win today to stay o top.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

RCD Mallorca vs Valencia CF 18:00

After La Liga took off a week for Eurocopa qualifying matches Valencia CF is back in business with a trip to Mallorca. The team is only a single point behind league leaders Barcelona coming off a win with Granada. It's a good day for football!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Another Day, Another Bike Wreck

I was cruising through Turia Park the other day on a Valenbisi bike and pumping my guts out. There is a little dip as the path goes under one of the bridges. As I was grinding up the other side, rounding the corner the chain broke. I was standing up on the pedals at the time and I started to fly over the handlebars. I was able to stop myself but I was going down and going down hard. My Professor at my old jiu-jitsu school would have been very proud of my break fall as we call it in marital arts. I was able to kick the bike away from me and slap my left arm down to help break my fall as I instinctively tucked my chin to protect my head. The scrapes I have on my left arm, leg, and butt cheek are evidence that I did everything according to plan as the wipe-out occurred (to me it was like in slow motion as I have practiced falling so many times).

The lesson I should take from this is to stop treating the Valenbisi bikes like rented Porsches and try to take it easy. With that said I’d also like to point out that this isn’t the first chain that I have broken on these bikes. In my cycling life I have only snapped two chains on my mountain bike and that was when I was climbing two gruelingly steep hills.  Chains shouldn’t be so easy to break.

UEFA EURO Play-Off Draw

The UEFA EURO 2012 play-off draw will be made in Krakow on Thursday 13 October, defining the four pairings that will contest the last four available places in Poland-Ukraine.

The draw for the qualifying play-off matches for UEFA EURO 2012 will take place from 13.00CET on Thursday 13 October at the Sheraton Hotel in Krakow, Poland.

The draw ceremony will be conducted by UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino and former Poland forward Zbigniew Boniek, one of the final tournament ambassadors.

While the nine qualifying group winners and the best runner-up qualify directly for the finals in Poland and Ukraine, the eight remaining runners-up will participate in the play-offs.

These eight sides will be divided in two pots containing four seeded and four unseeded teams respectively, in accordance with the national team coefficients established at the conclusion of the group stage.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mid-Week Summer Vacation in October

1893 replicas of Niña, Pinta, and Santa María
Historically I doubt that this holiday, Día de la Hispanidad, has been celebrated by a mass exodus to the beach. Whether today is unique, climatically speaking, I can't say but I do bear witness to the fact that I have never seen so many people on the beach bike path to El Saler. The temperature is supposed to reach 33 degrees today.  Back when I was a teenager my family lived in Hawaii. That’s about the only comparison that I can make to our current weather here in Valencia. So you can think of Valencia as Hawaii but with much better food.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Spanish Chorizo

Spanish chorizo is made from coarsely chopped pork and pork fat, seasoned with smoked pimentón (paprika) and salt. It is generally classed as either picante (spicy) or dulce (sweet), depending upon the type of smoked paprika used. A general rule of thumb is that long, thin chorizos are sweet, and short chorizos are spicy, although this is not always the case.

While the basic ingredients of Spanish chorizo are more or less the same all over Spain—pork, pimentón (the smoked Spanish paprika), garlic and vinegar—there are various different types of this delicious Spanish sausage, depending on the length of curing and the use it is intended for.

There are typically two varieties  of chorizo. There is a firm, cured chorizo to be sliced and eaten as a snack or tapas and a softer one for use in cooking. The lean to fat ration in the initial preparation determines the uses of the chorizo. Ones to be used in cooking have more fat, to flavor stews and prevent drying out when grilled. Chorizo for slicing is leaner and cured for a slightly longer time so that it is firm and slices well.

Another choice to be made is whether the chorizo is smoked or not. Spanish chorizo already has a gently smoky aroma from the pimentón spice, but in the wetter climate of Northern Spain the chorizo was typically smoked during the curing process to help the preservation process and this tradition continues today, even though industrial drying rooms mean that the smoke is no longer essential for preservation.

At the top of the chorizo family tree is the Chorizo Iberico de Bellota. Like the famous hams, it is made from the meat of Iberian pigs who have roamed free among the oak trees and enjoyed an acorn diet in their finishing period,sort of like their last meal before the gallows. This meat has a unique sweetness and richness.

Many of Spain’s signature dishes are made with chorizo such as Fabada Asturiana. A little care and a little experience is needed when cooking with chorizo as some varieties will release a copious amount of fat when fried. I tend to fry the chorizo separately and drain off much of the fat before adding the meat to the dish otherwise what you are making will be swimming in grease.

Spain vs Scotland 20:45 Eurocopa

The final game of the group stage and there is a lot on the line for Scotland. Spain can basically take the game off tonight or will they win another match to make their record 100% wins?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Defensive Towers in the Valencia Community

On the road to Sagunto

These defensive towers—of Moorish origin—can be found scattered all around this part of Spain. They were used primarily for vigilance and communication as they sit on prominent hillsides. Using smoke or fire, messages could be passed from one end of the coast to the other as quickly as a telegram, or something like that.It must have been a lonely job to man these sometimes-remote outposts waiting for something to happen.
Near Valencia's Polytechnic University

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Moving to Spain

If you are looking for a place to rent in Valencia is the place to be. However, if you are looking to buy a property you definitely need to meet his man, Graham Hunt. Check out his videos, the will tell you all you need to know about living in Spain and buying a property.


Things to Do During a Weekend When There Is no Football

Because of Eurocopa qualifying matches there is no Liga this weekend.  No problem, we can find stuff to do. Valencia has plenty of art galleries, museums, and historical points of interest worth visiting. There are concerts and operas to attend. You could read a book. You could even take a short trip out of town to see one of the many lovely villages in the Valencia Community. You could leave town but there are no football games in any of those villages you were thinking about visiting so what’s the point? You could try to make a time machine to jump one week into the future to next weekend when there will be football. The time machine idea is highly unlikely in my case as I know so little about technology that I accidently deleted all of my family pictures from my hard drive. 

Oh my God, this is going to be the longest weekend ever!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Czech Republic vs Spain

From Stadion Letná, Prague, Czech Republic, Spain has to simply go through the motions tonight as they have already clinched their place in the next round of the Eurocopa.  The Czech Republic are looking to end Spain's long winning streak in competitive fixtures as they go after the win that would seal the runners-up spot in Group I. Spain came from behind to beat the Czech Republic back in March with two goals from David Villa.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Turia River Park Bike Path Work Has Begun

Work has begun in earnest on new bike lanes in Turia Park which will eventually include bike paths on either side of the park while leaving the center area free for pedestrians. As it is now the bike path through much of the park is a free-for-all between cyclists, dog walkers, joggers, and policemen on horseback. The center bike lane is also a muddy quagmire through many wet winter months and becomes rutted and downright dangerous at times. These new bike-specific lanes should make life easier for everyone who uses this wonderful park. Much of the work has already been completed, I'm very happy to say. I ride through the park (or at least parts of it) on an almost daily basis and I must say that this work is certainly a welcome addition.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Stuffed Peppers

Some variation of this dish can be found all over the Mediterranean. As you can imagine, there are as many different recipes for this dish as cultures that prepare it. What we have in this video is perhaps a bit of an American twist on this classic. Peppers are in season now so go crazy and Buen Provecho!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

El Congreso Mundial del Arroz

From 29th September until 2nd October, the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia hosts the World Rice Congress in Valencia and homage to the Paella, organized by the Provincial Council of Tourism, València Terra i Mar.

This gastronomic event will be able to gather more than 50 well-known and prestigious chefs in the city, establishing itself as a meeting point for the exchange of culinary knowledge.

Various presentations of specialists, with nine major international chefs among them, will offer a particular viewpoint of the Valencian paella through a tribute to the most international Spanish culinary specialty.

VIDEO: how does Globexs work?